All About Animals: Secondary Teachers: Compassionate Quotes

Compassionate Quotes are perfect for beginning a discussion about the rights of animals or as essay topics!

Louisa May Alcott, 1832-1888

Vegetable diet and sweet repose. Animal food and nightmare. Pluck your food from the orchard; do not snatch it from the shambles. Without flesh diet there could be no bloodshedding war.
Life, Letters and Journals

St Francis of Assisi, 1181-1226

Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission – to be of service to them wherever they require it.
Quoted in the Life by St Bonaventura

Francis Bacon, 1561-1626

Nature has endowed man with a noble and excellent principle of compassion, which extends itself also to the dumb animals – whence this compassion has some resemblance to that of a prince towards his subjects. And it is certain that the noblest souls are the most extensively compassionate, for narrow and degenerate minds think that compassion belongs not to them; but a great soul, the noblest part of creation, is ever compassionate.
Advancement of Learning

John Austin Baker, Bishop of Salisbury, 1928-

Christians, then, who close their minds and hearts to the cause of animal welfare and the evil it seeks to combat are ignoring the fundamental spiritual teaching of Christ himself. They are also refusing the role in the world for which God gave us brains and our moral sense, to be God’s agents to look after the world in the divine Spirit of wisdom and love. As we know, Christians like others are apt to justify leaving animal welfare aside on the ground that human needs are more urgent. We must hammer home that love is indivisible. It is not ‘either-or’, it is ‘both-and’, because a society that cannot find the moral energy to care about gross animal suffering and exploitation will do little better about human need.
Sermon in Salisbury Cathedral, 4 October 1986, World Day of Prayers for Animals

Brigitte Bardot, 1934-

I gave my beauty and youth to men. Now I am giving my wisdom and experience – the best of me – to animals.
Quoted during auction of her property in aid of animal protection

Dr Christiaan Barnard, 1922-2001

…I had bought two male chimps from a primate colony in Holland. They lived next door to each other in separate cages for several months before I used one as a donor.
When we put him to sleep in his cage in preparation for the operation, he chattered and cried incessantly. We attached no significance to this, but it must have made a great impression on his companion, for when we removed the body to the operating room, the other chimp wept bitterly and was inconsolable for days.
Good Life and Death

Jeremy Bentham, 1748-1832

The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which could never have been withheld from them but by the hand of tyranny … a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week or even a month old. But suppose the case were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being? The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes …
Principle of Morals and Legislation

Henry Beston, 1888-1968

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals… We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken a form so far below ourselves. And therein we err and err greatly. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.
The Outermost House

Robert Browning, 1812-1899

I despise and abhor the pleas on behalf of that infamous practice, vivisection.
I would rather submit to the worst of deaths, so far as pain goes, than have a single dog or cat tortured on the pretence of sparing me a twinge or two.
From a letter

Robert Burns, 1759-1795

From To A Mouse
I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken Nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion
an’ fellow mortal!

Edward Carpenter, Dean of Westminster, 1910-

To make a sport of taking life, to do it for fun, to organize it into a form of collective enjoyment, is to fail to act responsibly and with a proper reverence for God’s creation. It is to fall back into that bondage, into that predatory system of nature, from which the Christian hope has always been that not only man but the natural order itself is to be released and redeemed… Hunting represents, in dramatic form and often in colourful dress, both man’s lack of sensitivity to his real condition and his unwillingness seriously to try to lift the whole order of creation into a higher estate, closer to the pattern ‘shown in the mount’ – an estate more noble, more divine.
From Against Hunting, ed. P. Moore

Lord (Kenneth) Clark, 1903-1983

We love animals, we watch them with delight, we study their habits with ever-increasing curiosity; and we destroy them. We have sacrificed them to the gods; we have killed them in arenas in order to enjoy a cruel excitement, we still hunt them, and we slaughter them by the million out of greed …The overwhelming majority eat their kinsmen without a thought. They do not think of the stockyards and slaughterhouses which, in most places, are kept decently out of sight. They look with rapture at the new-born lambs without considering why in the end they are there.
Animals and Men

Stephen Coleridge, 1854-1936

The knowledge that horrible mutilations may be daily and hourly executed upon the bodies of living creatures with no adequate security for their insensibility, makes very many humane people profoundly miserable; it rises day and night between them and their peace of mind; it haunts their lives waking and asleep; it deprives them of joy in this world which might otherwise be theirs.
Vivisection: A Heartless Science


Buy captive creatures and set them free. Hold fast to vegetarianism and abstain from taking life.
Whenever taking a step, always watch for ants and insects. Prohibit the building of fires outside (lest insects be killed) and do not set mountain woods or forests ablaze.
Help people in distress as you would help a fish in a dried-up rut. Free people from danger as you would free a sparrow from a fine net.
Benefit living creatures and human beings. Cultivate goodness and happiness.
Yin-chih-wen, a Confucian-Taoist treatise

His Holiness The XIV Dalai Lama of Tibet, 1935-

I do not see any reason why animals should be slaughtered to serve as human diet when there are so many substitutes. After all, man can live without meat. It is only some carnivorous animals that have to subsist on flesh. Killing animals for sport, for pleasure, for adventures, and for hides and furs is a phenomenon which is at once disgusting and distressing.
The Vegetarian Way, 1967

Charles Darwin, 1809-1882

Animals, whom we have made our slaves, we do not like to consider our equal.

Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519

I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and 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.
From da Vinci’s Notes

Doris Day, 1927-2004

Killing an animal to make a coat is a sin. It wasn’t meant to be and we have no right to do it. A woman gains great status when she refuses to see anything beautiful killed to be put on her back. Then she’s truly beautiful!
Newspaper interview

Isadora Duncan, 1878-1927

Who loves this terrible thing called War? Probably the meat-eaters, who having killed, feel the need to kill… The butcher with his bloody apron incites bloodshed, murder. Why not? From cutting the throat of a calf to cutting the throats of our brothers and sisters is but a step. While we are ourselves the living graves of murdered animals, how can we expect any ideal conditions on Earth?
Quoted in The Indelible Complex, by Carol Adams

Thomas A. Edison, 1847-1931

Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.
Harper’s Magazine, 1890

Albert Einstein, 1879-1955

It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind.
Letter to Vegetarian Watch-Tower, 27 Dec 1930

George Eliot, 1819-1880

Women should be protected from anyone’s exercise of unrighteous power… but then, so should every other living creature.
From a letter

Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882

You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)

Let the law of kindness show no limits. Show a loving consideration for all God’s creatures.
General Advices, 1928

John Galsworthy, 1867-1933

If you know anything of politics, you will realize the enormous difficulty there always is in getting Parliament to pass a law which does away with, or seriously curtails, a vested interest, or even a time-honoured fashion. The moment it comes to trying to save beasts from suffering at the expense of a definite class of men or women, the reformer is right up against it…
We simply have to recognize that the whole movement towards decent treatment of animals and birds is a terribly slow one, and that its only chance of real progress lies in gradual educational infection.
A Sheaf

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, 1869-1948

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

I hold today the same opinion as I held then. To my mind the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take a life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that, the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.
An Autobiography, the Story of My Experiments

Thomas Hardy, 1840-1928

The establishment of the common origin of all species logically involves a readjustment of altruistic morals, by enlarging the application of what has been called the Golden Rule from the area of mere mankind to that of the whole animal kingdom.
From a letter to The Humanitarian, 1910

Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864

… and we have so far improved upon the custom of Adam and Eve, that we generally furnish forth our feasts with a portion of some delicate calf or lamb, whose unspotted innocence entitles them to the happiness of becoming our sustenance.
The American Notebooks

Chrissie Hynde, 1951-

The way I feel about [eating meat] is, if you’re going to kill someone’s child and eat it, you might as well kill your own child and eat it. I mean, I’m a mother. I know. I have a pretty good idea of the kind of emotions that it would put me through to have somebody take my baby away from me. Now why, as even a remotely sensitive creature, would I wish to inflict that kind of suffering on any other creature – be it human or whatever?… There’s no way anyone who has humanity or any compassion can stand here and take a calf away from its mother and think that’s all right.
Interview reported in Vegetarian Times, September 1987

Glenda Jackson, 1936-

No one really needs a mink coat in this world… except minks.
From a syndicated newspaper interview

Franz Kafka, 1883-1924

Now I can look at you in peace; I don’t eat you any more.
Reported remark made while admiring fish in an aquarium

Aga Khan (Prince Sadruddin), 1933-2003

The philosophy behind vivisection, the sacrifice of creatures we regard as ‘inferior’ beings, differs little from that behind the concentration camp or the slave-trader.
Observer newspaper, 16 August 1981

Milan Kundera, 1929-

True human goodness, in all its purity and freedom, can come to the fore only when its recipient has no power. Mankind’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 mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it.
The Unbearable Lightness of Being

John Lawrence, 1753-1839

Can there be one kind of justice for men and another for brutes? Is feeling in them a different thing to what it is in ourselves? Is not a beast produced by the same rule and in the same way as we ourselves? Is not his body nourished by the same food, hurt by the same injuries, his mind actuated by the same passions and affections which animate the human breast and does not he, also, at last, mingle his dust with ours and in like manner surrender up the vital spark? Is this spark or soul to perish because it chanced to belong to a beast? Is it to become annihilate? Tell me, learned philosophers, how that may possibly happen.
On the Rights of Beasts

C.S. Lewis, 1898-1963

Vivisection can only be defended by showing it to be right that one species should suffer in order that another species be happier … If we cut up beasts simply because they cannot prevent us and because we are backing our own side in the struggle for existence, it is only logical to cut up imbeciles, criminals, enemies, or capitalists for the same reasons.
The Problem of Pain

Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1865

I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.
Complete Works

John Locke, 1632-1704

This tendency [to cruelty] should be watched in them [children], and, if they incline to any such cruelty, they should be taught the contrary usage. For the custom of tormenting and killing other animals will, by degrees, harden their hearts even towards men… And they, who delight in the suffering and destruction of inferior creatures, will not be apt to be very compassionate or benign to those of their own kind. Children should from the beginning be brought up in abhorrence of killing and tormenting living beings… And indeed, I think people from their cradles should be tender to all sensible creatures… All the entertainment and talk of History is of nothing but fighting and killing; and the honour and renown that is bestowed upon conquerors, who, for the most part, are but the great butchers of mankind, further mislead youth.
Thoughts on Education

Paul McCartney, 1942 –

We don’t eat anything that has to be killed for us. We’ve been through a lot and we’ve reached the stage where we really value life.
Interview in McCall’s Magazine, August 1984

James Mason, 1909-1984

I don’t think you should hurt or kill animals just to entertain an audience. Animals should have some rights. But there are a lot of directors, including Ingmar Bergman, who will injure animals to further a plot. I will have none of it.
Quoted late 1980, explaining why he refused to play opposite Sophia Loren in a film containing a cock-fighting scene

Yehudi Menuhin, 1916-1999

Why is compassion not a part of our established curriculum, an inherent part of our education? Compassion, awe, wonder, curiosity, exaltation, humility – these are the very foundation of any real civilization, no longer the prerogatives of any one church, belonging to everyone, every child in every home, in every school.
Just for Animals

Spike Milligan, 1918-2002

If a robin redbreast in a cage
Puts all heaven in a rage
How feel heaven when
Dies the billionth battery hen?
Rage in Heaven

Cardinal Newman, 1801-1890

Now what is it moves our very heart, and sickens us so much at the cruelty shown to poor brutes? I suppose this; first, that they have done us no harm; next, that they have no power whatever of resistance; it is cowardice and tyranny of which they are the victims which make their sufferings so especially touching… there is something so very dreadful, so Satanic in tormenting those who have never harmed us, and who cannot defend themselves, who are utterly in our power.
Parochial and Plain Sermons

Plutarch, c.46-c.120 A.D.

I, for my part, wonder of what sort of feeling, mind or reason, that man was possessed who was first to pollute his mouth with gore and to allow his lips to touch the flesh of a murdered being; who spread his table with the mangled forms of dead bodies, and claimed as daily food and dainty dishes what but now were beings endowed with movement, with perception and with voice.

Pythagoras, 6th century B.C.

Alas, what wickedness to swallow flesh into our own flesh, to fatten our greedy bodies by cramming in other bodies, to have one living creature fed by the death of another! In the midst of such wealth as earth, the best of mothers, provides, nothing forsooth satisfies you, but to behave like the Cyclopes, inflicting sorry wounds with cruel teeth! You cannot appease the hungry cravings of your wicked, gluttonous stomachs except by destroying some other life.
Depicted in Ovid: The Metamorphoses, translated by Mary M. Innes

Jean Jacques Rousseau, 1712-1778

The animals you eat are not those who devour others; you do not eat the carnivorous beasts, you take them as your pattern. You only hunger for the sweet and gentle creatures which harm no one, which follow you, serve you, and are devoured by you as the reward of their service.

Anna Sewell, 1820-1878

My doctrine in this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt.
Black Beauty

George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950

Public support of vivisection is founded almost wholly on the assurances of the vivisectors that great public benefits may be expected from the practice. Not for a moment do I suggest that such a defence would be valid even if proved. But when the witnesses begin by alleging that in the cause of science all the customary ethical obligations (which include the obligation to tell the truth) are suspended, what weight can any reasonable person give to their testimony? I would rather swear fifty lies than take an animal which had licked my hand in good fellowship and torture it. If I did torture the dog, I should certainly not have the face to turn round and ask how any person dare suspect an honourable man like myself of telling lies. Most sensible and humane people would, I hope, flatly reply that honourable men do not behave dishonourably even to dogs.
Preface to Doctor’s Dilemma

The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them. That’s the essence of inhumanity.
The Devil’s Disciple

Percy Bysshe Shelley, 1792-1822

I address myself not to the young enthusiast only, but to the ardent devotee of truth and virtue – the pure and passionate moralist yet unvitiated by the contagion of the world. He will embrace a pure system from its abstract truth, its beauty, its simplicity, and its promise of wide extended benefit. Unless custom has turned poison into food, he will hate the brutal pleasures of the chase by instinct. It will be a contemplation full of horror and disappointment to the mind that beings, capable of the gentlest and most admirable sympathies, should take delight in the death pangs and last convulsions of dying animals.
A Vindication of Natural Diet

Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894

We consume the carcasses of creatures of like appetites, passions and organs with our own, and fill the slaughterhouses daily with screams of pain and fear.
Quoted in The Vegetarian Way

Nothing more strongly arouses our disgust than cannibalism, yet we make the same impression on Buddhists and vegetarians, for we feed on babies, though not of our own.
Familiar Studies of Men and Books

Henry D. Thoreau, 1817-1862

No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does.

The squirrel that you kill in jest dies in earnest.
Familiar Letters

Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy, 1828-1910

Not long ago I also had a talk with a retired soldier, a butcher, and he too was surprised by my assertion that it was a pity to kill, and he said the usual things about its being ordained; but afterwards he agreed with me: ‘Especially when they are quiet, tame cattle. They come, poor things, trusting you. It is very pitiful.’
This is dreadful! Not the suffering and death of the animals, but that man suppresses in himself, unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity – that of sympathy and pity toward living creatures like himself – and by violating his own feelings he becomes cruel. And how deeply seated in the human heart is the injunction not to take life! But by the assertion that God ordained the slaughter of animals, and above all as a result of habit, people entirely lose their natural feeling.
The First Step

If a man aspires to a righteous life, his first act of abstinence is from injury to animals.
The First Step

A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetites. And to act so is immoral.
On Civil Disobedience

Tu Fu, 712-770

I see shining fish struggling within tight nets, while I hear orioles singing carefree tunes. Even trivial creatures know the difference between freedom and bondage. Sympathy and compassion should be but natural to the human heart.
Hsin yeh-fe shih

Mark Twain, 1835-1910

In studying the traits and dispositions of the so-called lower animals, and contrasting them with man’s, I find the result humiliating.
Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to.
Following the Equator

It is just like a man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perception.
What is Man?

Queen Victoria, 1819-1901

The Queen has done all she could on the dreadful subject of vivisection, and hopes that Mr Gladstone will speak strongly against a practice which is a disgrace to humanity and Christianity.
Letter to Mr Gladstone, 1881

Voltaire (Francois Marie Arouet de,) 1694-1778

How pitiful, and what poverty of mind, to have said that the animals are machines deprived of understanding and feeling…
Judge (in the same way as you would judge your own) the behaviour of a dog who has lost his master, who has searched for him in the road barking miserably, who has come back to the house restless and anxious, who has run upstairs and down, from room to room, and who has found the beloved master at last in his study, and then shown his joy by barks, bounds and caresses. There are some barbarians who will take this dog, that so greatly excels man in capacity for friendship, who will nail him to a table and dissect him alive, in order to show you his veins and nerves. And what you then discover in him are all the same organs of sensation that you have in yourself. Answer me, mechanist, has Nature arranged all the springs of feeling in this animal to the end that he might not feel? Has he nerves that he may be incapable of suffering?
Philosophical Dictionary

H.G. Wells, 1866-1946

In all the round world of Utopia there is no meat. There used to be. But now we cannot stand the thought of slaughterhouses. And in a population that is all educated and at about the same level of physical refinement, it is practically impossible to find anyone who will hew a dead ox or pig. We never settled the hygienic aspect of meat-eating at all. This other aspect decided us. I can still remember as a boy the rejoicings over the closing of the last slaughterhouse.
A Modern Utopia

Rt Reverend John Chandler White, 1867-1956

As a Bishop of the Church of God, I am ashamed to say that the Church as an organisation has never made any official pronouncement on the subject of the care and treatment of animals that I am able to find. I am more and more amazed as I have studied the matter to find that the Church has almost completely ignored the animal kingdom…
It is time, fully time, that all Christian people awake to the necessity of taking an active part in the fight against what I dare to call the Crime of Animal Cruelty. Everyone who loves God and animals should help bear the burden of the fight against this insidious evil.
The evil practice of vivisection is damnable in its effect on human character.
Voice of the Voiceless