Leonardo da Vinci and Animal Rights: 500 Years Ahead of His Time

Posted by on April 23, 2019 | Permalink

PETA and our affiliates are kicking off an international memorial campaign with a public unveiling of our new “Leonardo da Veggie – Eat Like a Genius” ad in Milan, Italy, where da Vinci spent much of his life and where many of his best-known creations can still be seen today.

In addition to being a great artist, architect, botanist, engineer, mathematician, cartographer, geologist, and musician, this Renaissance man was also an animal advocate. That’s why PETA and our affiliates are marking the 500th anniversary of his death – on May 2, 1519 – with a celebration honoring his memory as an animal rights pioneer.

What Did da Vinci Say About Animal Rights?

These are just some of the ways in which da Vinci advocated for animals:

  • According to some accounts, da Vinci – who preferred to dress in linen so as not to wear “something dead” – bought caged birds only to release them, restoring their “lost liberty”.
  • He spoke out for lobsters: “How cruel for one whose natural habitat is water to be made to die in boiling water.”
  • He lamented chicks who “will never come to birth” because humans steal hens’ eggs.
  • Da Vinci was clear about not eating meat: “From countless numbers will be taken away their little children and the throats of these shall be cut, and they shall be quartered most barbarously.”
  • He disputed the idea that humans were superior to other animals: “If you are, as you have described yourself, the king of the animals, why do you help other animals only so that they may be able to give you their young in order to gratify your palate?”

What You Can Do for Animals

Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci? There are easy ways to speak up for animals and help end speciesism.

We can all show equal consideration to all beings through the products we buy, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, and how we choose to spend our time.

To learn more about making kind choices, visit the “Living” section of our website and order our free vegan starter kit.