The Buddhist Monk: 'People must think about what they eat'

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The Independent Online
The town of Hexham is close to where the whole outbreak started at Heddon-on-the-Wall. I drove through it and headed over the moors to the upper part of West Allandale. Here there is a community of Zen Buddhist monks and you can often see them striding along the lanes in their distinctive brown robes.

The town of Hexham is close to where the whole outbreak started at Heddon-on-the-Wall. I drove through it and headed over the moors to the upper part of West Allandale. Here there is a community of Zen Buddhist monks and you can often see them striding along the lanes in their distinctive brown robes.

Daishin Morgan talked to me in his study, which looks out over a glorious moorland panorama. Since Buddhists don't eat meat, I wondered how foot and mouth affected them. "People are worried about spreading the disease, so we decided to be as tactful as possible and restrict our movements," he told me.

Was there a lesson to be learnt from the current outbreak? As a Buddhist, did he think that our treatment of animals leaves something to be desired?"I hope that the images of burning cattle make people think and understand that animals have feelings," he said. "I wouldn't advocate banning meat production, but I hope people will think more carefully about what they eat. People who rear animals become attached to them. When they send them off to slaughter they have to compartmentalise their lives to cope. That divided life means people are separated from their individual selves."

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