65 Unique Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Love, Life, Humanity, Vegetarianism & Veganism:
Russian writer Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy better known as “Leo Tolstoy” has his name written with golden ink in the annals of English Literature.
Tolstoy best known for producing realist fiction is revered by readers for his novels War and Peace (1869) and Anna Karenina (1878), which to this day is hailed as a pinnacles of realist fiction.
About Leo Tolstoy:
Born to an aristocratic Russian family, Leo Tolstoy tasted his first success in his twenties. When he was critically acclaimed for his semi-autobiographical trilogy— Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth (1852-1856), and Sevastopol Sketches (1855), which was based upon his experiences in the Crimean War.
Over his lifetime, Tolstoy write a dozen of short stories, and several novellas including the famous The Death of Ivan Ilyich (1886), Family Happiness (1859), and Hadji Murad (1912). Apart from this, he also wrote several plays, and philosophical essays.
Achievement of Leo Tolstoy:
While compiling his non-fiction work A Confession in 1882, Leo Tolstoy underwent a profound spiritual awakening. His interpretation of the ethical teachings of Jesus centering on the Sermon on the Mount which caused him to become a fervent Christian anarchist and pacifist.
His views on nonviolent resistance in The Kingdom of God is Within You (1894) had a lasting impact on one the greatest 20-century figures such as Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.
From the year 1902 to 1906, Tolstoy received nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature, and was even nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1901, 1902, and 1909. Though he never won it but his thoughts and views about life are with us in the form of his work.
So let’s quickly go through some of quotes on love, life, humanity, vegetarianism, and veganism.
1. It is possible to love someone dear to you with human love, but an enemy can only be loved by divine love. – War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy Quotes
2. Love hinders death. Love is life. All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love. Everything is, everything exists, only because I love. Everything is united by it alone. Love is God, and to die means that I, a particle of love, shall return to the general and eternal source. – War and Peace
3. I think … if so many men, so many minds, certainly so many hearts, so many kinds of love. – Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy Quotes
4. I have now understood that though it seems to men that they live by care for themselves, in truth it is love alone by which they live. – What Men Live By, Leo Tolstoy Quotes
5. To love life is to love God. Harder and more blessed than all else is to love this life in one’s sufferings, in undeserved sufferings. – War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy Quotes
6. Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here. – War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy Quotes
7. He had heard that women often love plain ordinary men but he did not believe it, because he judged by himself and he could only love beautiful mysterious exceptional women. – Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy Quotes
8. And all men live not by the thought they spend on their own welfare, but because love exists in man. What Men Live By, Leo Tolstoy Quotes
9. If you make it a habit not to blame others, you will feel the growth of the ability to love in your soul, and you will see the growth of goodness in your life. A Calendar of Wisdom
11. Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.
12. Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
13. Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold.
14. It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.
15. Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Life
16. If you want to be happy, be.
17. Only people who are capable of loving strongly can also suffer great sorrow, but this same necessity of loving serves to counteract their grief and heals them.
18. If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.
19. Rummaging in our souls, we often dig up something that ought to have lain there unnoticed.
20. You can love a person dear to you with a human love, but an enemy can only be loved with divine love.
21. Let us forgive each other – only then will we live in peace.
22. The changes in our life must come from the impossibility to live otherwise to the demands of our conscience not from our mental resolution to try a new form of life. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Life
23. If one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not as one would like them to be….
24. I often think that men don’t understand what is noble and what is ignorant, though they always talk about it.
25. Each person’s task in life is to become an increasingly better person.
26. There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness, and truth are absent.
27. It’s not given to people to judge what’s right or wrong. People have eternally been mistaken and will be mistaken, and in nothing more than in what they consider right and wrong. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Life
28. In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you!
29. There is no greatness where simplicity, goodness, and truth are absent.
31. Our body is a machine for living. It is organized for that, it is its nature. Let life go on in it unhindered and let it defend itself. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Nature
32. There is something in the human spirit that will survive and prevail, there is a tiny and brilliant light burning in the heart of man that will not go out no matter how dark the world becomes.
33. People of limited intelligence are fond of talking about “these days,” imagining that they have discovered and appraised the peculiarities of “these days” and that human nature changes with the times.
34. Happiness does not depend on outward things, but on the way we see them.
35. Humanity unceasingly strives forward from a lower, more partial and obscure understanding of life to one more general and more lucid. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Humanity and Human Nature
36. We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.
37. Man lives consciously for himself, but is an unconscious instrument in the attainment of the historic, universal, aims of humanity.
38. There can be only one permanent revolution – a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.
39. The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.
40. Just imagine that the purpose of life is happiness only- then life becomes a cruel and senseless thing. You have to embrace what the wisdom of humanity, your intellect and your heart tell you: that the meaning of life is to serve the force that sent you into the world. Then life becomes a joy. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Humanity and Human Nature
41. I looked more widely around me, I studied the lives of the masses of humanity, and I saw that, not two or three, or ten, but hundreds, thousands, millions, had so understood the meaning of life that they were able both to live and to die. All these people were well acquainted with the meaning of life and death, quietly labored, endured privation and suffering, lived and died, and saw in all this, not a vain, but a good thing.
42. If a man, before he passed from one stage to another, could know his future life in full detail, he would have nothing to live for. It is the same with the life of humanity. If it had a programme of the life which awaited it before entering a new stage, it would be the surest sign that it was not living, nor advancing, but simply rotating in the same place. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Humanity and Human Nature
43. The earth is the general and equal possession of all humanity and therefore cannot be the property of individuals.
44. When an individual passes from one period of life to another a time comes when he cannot go on in senseless activity and excitement as before, but has to understand that although he has out-grown what before used to direct him, this does not mean that he must live without any reasonable guidance, but rather that he must formulate for himself an understanding of life corresponding to his age, and having elucidated it must be guided by it. And in the same way a similar time must come in the growth and development of humanity. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Humanity
45. In the evolution of knowledge-mistaken and unnecessary beliefs are forced out and supplanted by truer and more necessary knowledge. So too in the evolution of feelings, which takes place by means of art. Lower feelings-less kind and less needed for the good of humanity-are forced out and replaced by kinder feelings which better serve us individually and collectively. This is the purpose of art. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Humanity and Human Nature
46. The wrongfulness, the immorality of eating animal food has been recognized by all mankind during all the conscious life of humanity. Why, then have people generally not come to acknowledge this law? The answer is that the moral progress of humanity is always slow; but that the sign of true, not casual Progress, is in uninterruptedness and its continual acceleration. And one cannot doubt that vegetarianism has been progressing in this manner. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Vegetarianism and Veganism
47. A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite.
48. Compassion towards animals is so natural to us, that only through conditioning could we become callous towards their suffering and death.
49. Vegetarianism serves as the criterion by which we know that the pursuit of moral perfection on the part of humanity is genuine and sincere. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Vegetarianism and Veganism
50. The irrationality, illegality and harmfulness, both moral and physical, of consuming meat, has lately been revealed to such a degree, that meat-eating is no longer based on reasoning, but only on inferences, myths, traditions. In this day and age, we no longer need to prove the very obvious irrationality of meat-eating. It stops by itself. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Vegetarianism and Veganism
51. “Thou shalt not kill” does not apply to the murder of humans only, but to the murder of any living being; and this Commandment was inscribed in the heart of man long before it was proclaimed from Sinai.
52. How can we hope that peace and prosperity will reign on Earth, if our bodies are living tombs, in which murdered animals are buried?
53. The first thing that humans will abstain from will always be the use of animals for food, because, not to mention the excitement of the passions produced by this food, its use is absolutely immoral, as it requires an action contrary to the sense of morality – murder, driven purely by gluttony and greed. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Vegetarianism and Veganism
54. From the murder of animals to the murder of humans, there is but one step.
55. If you saw children torturing a kitten or a bird for fun, you would stop them and teach them compassion towards living creatures, while you yourself would go hunting, shooting pigeons, horse-riding, and you would sit to a lunch, for which several living creatures were killed. Is this blatant contradiction not obvious and not enough to stop people?
56. The killing and eating of animals occurs mainly because people are convinced, that animals were created by God to be used by man, and that there is nothing wrong with killing animals. But this is false. In whatever books it is written that it is not a sin to kill animals, it is written in the hearts of all of us, more clearly than in books, that an animal deserves compassion in the same way a human does, and we all know this, but we silence our conscience. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Vegetarianism and Veganism
57. If one is serious and sincere in their quest for morality, then the first thing they need to give up is the consumption of meat. Vegetarianism is considered a benchmark, through which we can recognize how serious and genuine the endeavor of a person is towards moral perfection.
58. The hypocrisy of people who cannot kill animals, but who do not give up their consumption of them, is great and inexcusable.
59. The joy which a person will derive from kindness and compassion towards animals, will compensate a hundredfold for the pleasures one would be deprived of, were they to give up hunting and meat consumption. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Vegetarianism and Veganism
60. In this day and age, when the crime of killing animals for pleasure and taste is clear, hunting and consuming animal flesh are no longer neutral, but are decidedly evil deeds, leading, as any intentional wrongdoing does, to much worse acts.
61. What I think about vivisection is that if people admit that they have the right to take or endanger the life of living beings for the benefit of many, there will be no limit for their cruelty. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Vegetarianism and Veganism
62. Vegetarianism, proclaimed in ancient times, was dormant for a long time, but nowadays it wins more and more supporters every year and every hour, and soon there will come a time when they will all end simultaneously: hunting, vivisection and, most importantly, killing for the sake of taste.
63. Compassion for living engenders in us a feeling akin to bodily pain. And just as you can get overwhelmed by bodily pain, you can be overwhelmed by the pain of compassion.
64. We are shocked by the fact, that there used to be people who would consume the flesh of murdered humans, and that there are still such people in Africa. But a time will come when people will be just as shocked that humans could kill and eat animals.
65. Don’t be disturbed, when upon refusing to eat meat, all of your loved ones begin to attack, judge, mock you. If eating meat was an indifferent act, meat-eaters would not be attacking vegetarianism; they are annoyed because in our time they are already aware of their sin, but still cannot free themselves of it. – Leo Tolstoy Quotes on Vegetarianism and Veganism