Thich Nhat Hanh is a spiritual teacher. Even if you raise your eyebrows at anything sounding like religion or spirituality, do continue reading.
In 1967 Martin Luther King strongly suggested Thich Nhat Hanh be given the nobel prize for peace, for his peace activism in Vietnam. He never received it because the situation was too policital. Had he received it, his name by now would be much more widely known still.
There is nothing particularly metaphysical, supernatural or religious about his teachings, which are about being present, meditation, or the value of compassion.
Thich Nhat Hanh is vegan. The food that is served in the communities that he founded is vegan. Thus he inspires thousands of longer time residents as well as day visitors to a vegan lifestyle. He also talks and writes about eating animals and animal products in his books, which are full of compassion. If anyone is the embodiment of compassion and what veganism – or a vegan – should ideally be, it may very well be Thich Nath Hahn (though I am sure that, like the rest of us, he’s a mere human being with his own challenges).
Gary Francione, who is known to critize about any leading figure or organisation in the animal rights movement, recently also criticized Thich Nhat Hanh, writing the following:
Thich Nhat Hanh’s crime was saying this:
Thich Nhat Hanh probably understands that he’ll have much more impact among the wide population with a message like this than with a go vegan message. He probably understands that all people eating fifty percent less meat is probably enough to tip the system, so it can move further towards world veganism. Thich Nhat Hanh is not concerned with the purity of his ideology, but with the actual impact of his words on the reduction of suffering in the world.
Francione states that Thich Nhat Hanh doesn’t understand the basics of non-violence. That is beyond ironic, coming from someone whose words about other activists and organisations can hardly be called non-violent. Someone like Thich Nhat Hanh can hardly be expected to take any lessons from someone like Gary Francione.
PS For those who think that whoever criticizes Francione is guilty of the same things the professor is, please read this.