On December 27, Golden Year 3 (2006), the 24th Annual Great Kagyu Monlam commenced in Bodhgaya, India, the place where Sakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment. This is the time when Buddhists from all over the world gather together for eight days to pray, meditate, and discuss teachings.
The event was presided over by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, who gave a powerful speech on vegetarianism on January 3, Golden Year 4 (2007). He called for all who belong to the Kagyupa School to give up meat. He said, “Any monastery that belongs to Kamtsang Kagyu, the monastery kitchen cannot and should not make any food with meat. And if you bring meat and cook it in the monastery kitchen, then that means that you are not taking me as your teacher, you do not belong to Karma Kagyu. And there is nothing to discuss about that. That’s finished. That is very important.” By quoting some of the Buddhist script-xures and some discourses of past lamas, such as the Mahayana, the Vinaya, the Bodhisattvayana, Do Lanka Shepa, Na Nyen Le Depa Do and Mikyo Dorje, etc., he supported his point that eating meat is prohibited in Buddhist tradition. He also emphasized that the use of alcohol and meat for offerings is also not acceptable and no one is to be involved in the business of selling meat. For all of his followers these practices must stop.
To help the attendees quit the meat diet step by step, His Holiness the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje asked them to raise their hand if they would be willing to start doing that by eating meat only once a day, eating meat only once a week or only once a month, not eating meat on auspicious days, giving up eating meat for a period of time like one year or three years, or reducing the eating of meat slowing and then stop it completely. The Karmapa was very delighted with the response from the people.
For five days during the festival, the Tibetan Volunteers for Animals (TVA) successfully spread the message of vegetarianism to the general public through picture displays and the distribution of CDs, documentary videos and magazines.
It is especially encouraging to witness a religious leader openly emphasize the importance of being vegetarian which used to be considered difficult in Tibet.
For the entire speech of His Holiness, the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorj, on January 3, 2007, please refer to: http://www.kagyumonlam.org/Monlam2007/veg.htm (English) http://www.shabkar.org/download/pdf/Talk_on_Vegetarianism.pdf (English)