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Life is good for animals in Bhutan

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Meat shop in Thimphu, Bhutan

Meat shop in Thimphu, Bhutan

Most Bhutanese are devout Buddhists. And one of the cornerstones of Buddhism is that it’s wrong to kill animals because they are part of the divine creation.

Unfortunately, most Bhutanese also like eating meat. And that opens up a dilemma: if you want to eat meat, you have to slaughter animals.

But what can you do as a Bhutanese, if you like traditional meat dishes like phak sha laphu (stewed pork with radishes) or no sha huentseu (beef with spinach)?

strips of meat hanging out to dry

strips of meat hanging out to dry

The solution these clever Buddhists have come up with is simple – even though it might not be 100 % in line with what Buddha wanted: they have “outsourced” the slaughtering of animals to India.

Every piece of meat you eat in Bhutan was slaughtered across the border and then imported.

Animals in Bhutan lead a good life

Cows in Bhutan wander the streets like in neighboring India, and no one gets mad at them for blocking the road. It’s taken for granted. They have a right to be there.

Offerings to the gods become a meal for the pigeons

Offerings to the gods become a meal for the pigeons

Cattle is only there to help pull the plough across the rice paddies or to get milk.

Chickens are only kept to get eggs.

In the country’s many Buddhist monasteries, the monks and nuns leave offerings of rice, which pigeons and other birds will happily feed on.

And no true Buddhist would swat a fly or a mosquito – it’s better for your karma to shoo it away than to kill it.

Thimphu’s dog dilemma

In Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, the roaming dogs caused problems for tourism in recent years: the dogs would sleep all day and bark all night. That didn’t seem to bother the Bhutanese, but the tourists complained because they couldn’t get any sleep.

Of course, the Thimphu city council couldn’t just call a dog catcher and kill the stray dogs.

Instead, the city had an animal shelter built high up in the hills above the city,

Every once in a while, the dog catcher now drives around the streets of Thimphu, collects stray dogs and brings them to the compound in the mountains.

And there, the dogs can live happily ever after.

Unless they choose to dig a tunnel under the fence and make their way back to the streets of the capital. But then, the endless Buddhist circle of life would just begin anew…


Written by Thorsten

October 6, 2008 at 5:49 am

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