Wise Words: Quotes on Animal Welfare & the Virtues of the Vegan Lifestyle

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

— M.K. Gandhi


The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.

— Leonardo Da Vinci, Italian Painter, Sculptor, Architect, Musician, Engineer, and Scientist


True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power.

Humanity’s true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals.

And in this respect humankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.

— Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1984


The assumption that animals are without rights, and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance, is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.

— Arthur Schopenhauer, German Philosopher


Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

— Albert Einstein, letter from 1950, quoted in H. Eves’ Mathematical Circles Adieu, 1977


If only we can overcome cruelty, to human and animal, with love and compassion we shall stand at the threshold of a new era in human moral and spiritual evolution – and realize, at last, our most unique quality: humanity.

— Jane Goodall, Author of Reason for Hope


Humans – who enslave, castrate, experiment on, and fillet other animals – have had an understandable penchant for pretending animals do not feel pain. A sharp distinction between humans and ‘animals’ is essential if we are to bend them to our will, make them work for us, wear them, eat them – without any disquieting tinges of guilt or regret.

It is unseemly of us, who often behave so unfeelingly toward other animals, to contend that only humans can suffer. The behavior of other animals renders such pretensions specious. They are just too much like us.

— Dr. Carl Sagan & Dr. Ann Druyan, Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, 1992


A man is ethical only when life, as such, is sacred to him, that of plants and animals as well as that of his fellow man, and when he devotes himself helpfully to all life that is in need of help.

— Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Alsatian Theologian, Musician, and Medical Missionary


The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that’s the essence of humanity.

— George Bernard Shaw, Irish Playwright


I abhor vivisection. It should at least be curbed. Better, it should be abolished. I know of no achievement through vivisection, no scientific discovery, that could not have been obtained without such barbarism and cruelty. The whole thing is evil.

— Dr. Charles Mayo, Founder of the Mayo Clinic


The Animals of the planet are in desperate peril and they are fully aware of this. No less than human beings are doing in all parts of the world, they are seeking sanctuary.

— Alice Walker, Selected Writings, Living by the Word


Did We Miss One?

If you have a favorite quote on animal welfare or the virtues of a vegan lifestyle that we haven’t included here, please post them in the comments.

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