Prince Edward Island, the Canadian province in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is known to be home to some prime lobster eating, but that's not why a group of Buddhist monks purchased roughly 600 pounds worth of the crustacean on Saturday. Instead of holding a massive feast over the weekend, the monks released the lobsters back into the sea.
"Venerable Dan," a monk with the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society in Little Sands, told the CBC that he and his group purchased the lobsters from all over the small maritime island in the hopes of setting them free. The monastery chartered a boat to return the lobsters to the ocean, but first held a 20 minute ceremony that included a prayer and a "chant to the Buddha of compassion."
"Hopefully, we can find a spot where there are no cages waiting for them," Dan said. "If your loved ones were in this situation, what would they like you to do?"
But despite their lofty intentions, the monks claim they weren't condemning lobster-eaters with their actions, but rather practicing simple compassion.
"We respect everyone's dietary choice, so we're not doing this to convert everybody to be vegetarians or vegans," Dan said, stressing that compassion should extend to all living creates. "It doesn't have to be lobsters, it can be worms, flies, any animals, drive slower so we don't run over little critters on the street."
Still, there might be those on the island who don't agree with the monks' decision. On Sunday, Splendid Essence, a Buddhist-affiliated restaurant in Charlottetown, was vandalized. Someone smashed the restaurant's mailbox, dented its railing, and uprooted flowers, CTV News reported. Police have not yet linked the two incidents, but the timing seemed a bit suspicious to the monks.
"Buddhist monks are motivated to practice compassion. All along they aspire to keep it low-profiled," Dan said in a statement after the incident. "They do not care for judging others, nor do they hope that any potential quarrel be triggered because of this."