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Question: As I am aspiring to be a Buddhist vegan also committing to the Five Precepts, what should I do with old non-vegan stuff like wool shawls and leather bags? Since they are already bought, should I continue using them till they are damaged? Or should I give them away?

What about bottles of wine, which are intoxicants, to be avoided due to the Fifth Precept? (Note: Vegetarians are those who do not consume meat, while vegans are those who also do not consume or use other animal products, such as dairy products, eggs, honey, silk, down… as they are all derived from animals’ suffering.)

Answer: The answer might come as shocking, but it is most sensible. Not only should they not be used or given away, they should be damaged and thrown away. The following are four reasons why this is not a waste. First, if you are to continue using them, it sends confusing messages to others, on whether you are truly a committed vegan or not, as they might not know the non-vegan products are not newly bought. It would be a hassle to have to keep explaining. Second, if you are to continue using them, they might appear appealing to others, who might be inspired to buy and use similar products. This defeats your purpose of not supporting the creation of non-vegan products by consumption or promotion.

Third, if they are given away, others’ use of them can create the same problem just mentioned in the second reason. Fourth, if they are thrown away, they might be picked up and used, to create the same problem in the second reason. Thus, the only way to avoid all these four problems is to damage the items first, such as by cutting through, to make them unappealing, before throwing them away. To express repentance for having purchased these products, there can be chanting done to dedicate merits to the deceased animals involved. (Even sheep involved in the wool industry often get injured by rushed shearing of wool, that leads to cuts with infections, before being killed for meat later when deemed not productive enough.)

The cutting up and throwing away expresses clear renunciation of attachment to the products, while not wishing anyone else to form attachment to them either, which would condition needless suffering of more animals due to the cycle of supply and demand. Continual use of animal products also deepens negative karmic affinity with the animals involved. Thus, this recommended solution is with compassion for all, to not let oneself and others create more negative karma.

For the wine, it should all be flushed away, with the bottles recycled. Likewise, wine should not be given away. Recipients might over-consume and lose mindfulness, leading to harmful breaking of the precepts, even if they claim it will not happen.

Related Articles:

Should Vegans Give Away Non-Vegan Food?
https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2020/01/should-vegans-give-away-non-vegan-food

Should You Avoid Intoxicants Or Intoxication?
https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2014/09/should-you-avoid-intoxicants-or-intoxication

Why Avoidance Of Alcohol Is So Important
https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2016/08/why-avoidance-of-alcohol-is-so-important

How The Buddha Taught Veganism:
上求佛道者应当如何饮食?
How Should All Aspiring For Buddhahood Eat And Drink?
https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2016/10/how-should-all-aspiring-for-buddhahood-eat-and-drink

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