If killing is so bad, why do carnivores exist at all?

Acharya Prashant
7 min readAug 7, 2021

Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): Why in nature all living beings are not vegetarians? Why does life eat life? If killing is evil, then why do carnivores, lions, and wolves exist at all?

Acharya Prashant (AP): Please understand, it is not killing that is bad. Killing does not operate in a vacuum. The killer is the one in question.

Who is killing?

If the lion is killing then it is one thing, but if Man is killing then it is a totally different thing. Do not say that the moot question is ‘killing’. No. The moot question relates to — the killer, not killing per se. Is that clear? If you can understand this, then the rest of things will be very clear automatically.

The thing is not so much about killing. It is much more about — actually only about — the killer. So, there is a difference between when the lion kills the deer versus when the Man kills the deer. The lion kills the deer, the lion has no option. The lion is programmed to kill the deer; the lion kills the deer. The lion has no higher consciousness to attain by not killing the deer. The lion is not supposed to practice compassion. And if the lion will not kill the deer, the lion will die. The lion is almost like a machine.

Will you say that your car is killing the fuel? But that’s how it happens, no? You put fuel in the car and what happens to the fuel? It is burnt, turned into smoke, gone, finished, killed. But do you call it violence? No. The relationship between the lion and the deer is a bit similar. None of them, rather neither of them are creatures of consciousness. In that sense, they are more similar to machines. They do have consciousness, but their consciousness is lower with respect to Man.

When you take Man as the benchmark, then both the lion and the deer are quite lowly in terms of consciousness. So, in that sense, I am comparing them to machines. They are like machines because they operate in very-very pre-scripted ways. They are pre-programmed to do what they do.

You don’t have to teach the deer to eat grass. You don’t have to teach the lion to not eat grass and herbs.