Dharma Voices for Animals presented to Spirit Rock our petition for an Animal Advocate along with the names of 280 people who signed our petition.  DVA requested that Spirit Rock create an Animal Advocate position on its soon to be formed Environmental Sustainability Committee (ESC), which will report to the Board.  Although Spirit Rock will not be creating that position, as a result of our efforts it did make a number of significant animal-friendly additions to the ESC Mission Statement, which are underlined below.  The changes broaden the scope of responsibility of the ESC in relation to animals and also add criteria for membership on the committee.  The kitchen is also working to incorporate some additional language into its Mission Statement which will help increase the awareness of animal suffering.



Using Buddhist values of living in harmony with the earth and all living beings, Spirit Rock will maintain a sustainability program for re-using, recycling, reducing and conserving in all aspects of our operations as well as educating our staff and yogis on our sustainable practices.  The ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY COMMITTEE will be responsible for creating and maintaining policies and procedures to ensure that SRMC reduces consumption, waste and pollution; reuses and recycles where feasible; conserves energy, water, and other natural resources; complies with local and national environmental regulations; strives to buy, sell, and use animal friendly and environmentally friendly products; considers the impact on animal welfare in all our actions and policies;  hires and works with environmentally aware vendors; Members of this committee will be selected for their experience and desire to improve and continue SRMC’s sustainable practices.


Criterion for membership still being defined, but will include:  “At all times we will seek to have members on this committee who are both knowledgeable and concerned about issues of animal welfare and who can advise the group of the impact of our choices and actions on the safety and welfare of animals.”


Our next step is to ensure that DVA officers and members are selected to sit on the ESC.  If you are interested, please let us know.  Although we are disappointed that there will be no formal Animal Advocate, we hope the language in the ESC Mission Statement and eventually the Kitchen Mission Statement will begin a process of significantly decreasing the suffering animals experience as a result of Spirit Rock policies and decisions.  We deeply appreciate each of the 280 people who signed our petition.  We will be carefully monitoring the situation, will keep our members informed, and will take action when necessary.


7 Responses to Update: Animal Advocate at Spirit Rock Meditation Center

  1. Eva Ruppel says:

    One Question: How is the situation in other meditation-centres of the US and in other countries? I hope all are vegetarians at least?

    • dvabob says:

      Eva, thanks for becoming a member of Dharma Voices for Animals and signing our online petition regard the proposed Animal Welfare/Rights law in Sri Lanka. You raise an important question. Some of the retreat centers and monasteries where lay people can practice serve vegetarian meals and some don’t. Some of those serving vegetarian meals offer vegan options while others don’t. The monasteries we are familiar with in South Korea serve only vegan food. One of our goals at DVA is to work with retreat centers and monasteries to offer meals that minimize the suffering of animals. In order to engage retreat centers and monasteries, we rely in large part on the information provided by our members and supporters. So, if one practices at a retreat center or monastery please send us an email or comment on our website about the food policy or other policies, such as using cruelty-free cleaning or personal hygiene products.

      • chuck mccann says:

        Bodhi Monastery in Lafayette NJ, hosts weekly services and several retreats throughout the year. All meals are vegan and no outside foods are allowed in without meeting cruelty free standards. retreats are posted on their website http://bodhimonastery.org/

  2. Carrie says:

    This is a little off topic, but not sure how best to communicate this. I am new to DVA and I am glad I found you. I am vegan and started going to a few Spirit Rock trained Buddhist Meditation groups here in Sacramento. What attracted me to them was the first precept they both allegedly espoused. I was a bit naive and finally realized I was one of maybe two or three folks that were vegan (or vegetarian.) I was confused and asked about this and was basically ignored or shunned. Even Spirit Rock will not return my messages about the first precept and their workshop. In fact, after signing up for the first precept workshop, Spirit Rock sent me recipes for (non-vegan) pizza. Yet, at the same time, urge me to carpool to the event. (As you all probably know, the meat and dairy industries cause 40% more green house gas emissions than vehicles, not to mention chronic disease, killing of wild animals and biodiversity, malnutrition and starvation, deforestation etc.) The bright spot from finding out about the existence of the first precept was that I realized how compassion for any being was THE central aspect of my spirituality. Since reading Will Tuttle’s book, The World Peace Diet, my spirituality has been further developed. Yet, I still yearn to find somewhere spiritual where I can get support for the grief caused by the horrors I know about. Sometimes the fact that we kill 75 million animals a day for food (many drained of their blood and skinned alive and babies) here in the US really gets me down. And watching people continue eating meat and dairy completely ignorant of the violence that caused that meal feels like a knife through my heart. But the spiritual groups I have turned to for help and support has been more humiliating than anything else. Honestly, I am hesitant to go to this First Precept Workshop at Spirit Rock. I am afraid my request for support will be ignored or criticized. But I am happy to hear DVA has made progress with increasing awareness at SRMC. I am happy that there are others that have struggled with this “elephant in the room” and see what is so glaringly clear; violence begets violence, even if you ignore it. Its a start.

  3. Sherry says:

    I practice in the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hahn (Vietnamese Zen) and all of his monasteries and retreats are completely vegan. A number of sanghas practice in this tradition throughout California (including Sacramento) so you might wish to explore this. The best to you and the animals.

    • dvabob says:

      Hi Sherry,

      That’s an excellent suggestion! We have been talking about how to approach Thich Nhat Hahn Sanghas about their members becoming members of Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA), signing our current on-line petition regarding Sri Lanka https://dharmavoicesforanimals.org/petitions/, posting comments on our website, as you have, and becoming a voice for animals in their Sangha.

      I hope you know that DVA member John Solerno-White is teaching an event on June 9 from 10:00 am to 2:30 p.m. at Animal Place Sanctuary in Grass Valley, California, called Nurturing Compassion. The event is co-sponsored By DVA. John has been designated a Dharmacharya (Dharma Teacher) in the Tiep Hien Order (Thich Nhat Hanh – Plum Village Tradition). The event is free with donations accepted. The planned activities include sitting and walking meditation, visiting with rescued animals, mindfully eating a brown-bag vegan lunch, and sharing intentions and aspirations. For details contact John Salerno-White at lotusforyou@comcast.net or visit the Facebook Event Page: http://tinyurl.com/Nurturing-Compassion. DVA Bob

  4. Mel says:

    Perhaps more direct action is needed at Spirit Rock. I am sure Peta could supply some horrific photos of factory farming and animal slaughter which could be blown up to poster size. Something along the lines of those used by anti-abortion protestors (please NOT “pro-life” demonstrators). Supporters could station themselves near the entrance to the facility on public land. Yes, the intent is to embarass those in authority at Spirit Rock since they seem so intransigent. Mel

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