The Meaning of Compassion

Share this:

Unfortunately, compassion is terribly misrepresented, mischaracterized, and misunderstood in our society such that many people think that if someone behaves badly (unethically, immorally, unjustly, even violently) then they don’t deserve compassion, because that would imply that you condone that bad behavior. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The truth is compassion doesn’t condone bad behavior; it helps transcend it. This is so key, because too many of us walk around thinking that if we’re compassionate to people who do bad, violent, rude or inappropriate things we’re condoning that behavior — and since of course we DON’T  condone bad, rude, violent behavior — then we think it logically follows that we have to withhold compassion … to demonstrate that we oppose that bad, violent, rude, or inappropriate behavior? Right? 

Many of us consciously or unconsciously say:

“I’m not going to have compassion for…slaughterhouse workers, animal farmers, animal abusers, hunters, people who test on animals, people who eat animals, conservatives, liberals, [fill-in-the-blank]— because…they don’t deserve my compassion,” and so we make our compassion conditional or treat it like it’s a prize to be bestowed upon someone based on merit or worth.

Compassion is a gift to be bestowed. It’s not a prize to be awarded or withheld. Where there is the absence of compassion means there is a need for more compassion — not less. 

In today’s podcast episode, I talk about the meaning of compassion in a presentation I was invited to give for a special event by Rancho Compasion, a farmed animal sanctuary founded by Miyoko Schinner. 


  1. Click PLAY on the player above.
  2. Listen and subscribe through Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsStitcherSpotifyiHeart RadioSoundcloud, or wherever you listen to podcasts. 
  3. Subscribe to the RSS feed

Food for Thought Podcast is listener-supported. Please join other supporters by going to and becoming a patron.

Related Posts

Coronavirus and the Lethal Gifts of Livestock
With the Coronavirus (or Covid-19) wreaking havoc on our society, we thought it was timely to rebroadcast this episode. Coronavirus is one of many…
Vegan in Germany
Today’s episode is framed around a conversation I had with a non-vegan German (who lives in the U.S.), who was not only doubtful we’d be able to e…
Inauguration: On a Wing and a Prayer
On Inauguration Day, not everyone will be talking about the inauguration of the next U.S. president; some (like me) will be talking about the anim…

About Colleen

Hello, and welcome. I’m Colleen, aka The Joyful Vegan, and I’m here to give you the tools and resources you need to eat, cook, travel, and live compassionately and healthfully. 

Donating = Loving

For over twenty years, my work and podcast have remained free (and ad-free) and vibrant thanks to support from listeners, followers, and readers. I have no staff, no interns, and no assistant. What you see (and hear and watch) is a one-woman labor of love that is also my life and my livelihood. If this labor has impacted your life in the past year (or the past decades), please consider aiding its sustenance by becoming a patron or by making a one-time donation. Your support makes all the difference.

Favorite Things

Joyful Vegan Messageware

Wear your compassion on your sleeve (or chest or head!) by choosing any number of my message products.


Includes delicious plant-based recipes and a meal plan!

© 2022 All Rights Reserved.