Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has told the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food chain to stay out of Tibet over alleged cruelty to animals, an animal rights group said on Thursday.
The Dalai Lama has written a letter to KFC parent company Yum! Brands chief executive David Novak imploring him to abandon plans to expand KFC restaurants into Tibet, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said.
"It is quite natural for me to support those who are currently protesting the introduction of industrial food practices into Tibet that will perpetuate the suffering of huge numbers of chickens," the Dalai Lama is quoted as saying in the letter to KFC.
The Dalai Lama, exiled in the Indian hilltown of Dharamsala, said that the cruel treatment endured by chickens who were raised and killed for KFC "violates Tibetan values."
PETA said that the practice of eating chicken in Tibet was "popularised" by Chinese Hans who have been migrating there in increasing numbers.
There are more than 1,000 KFC locations in China, the most in any country outside the United States.
"The Dalai Lama, who has spent his entire adult life advocating compassion, agrees with PETA that KFC stands for cruelty," said PETAs China representative Jason Baker.
"Our motto A KFC-Free Tibet now joins Free Tibet as the Dalai Lama voices his objections to cruelty to animals."
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's most revered spiritual figure, fled Chinese-occupied Tibet in 1959 after a failed coup attempt, but in recent years has been trying to engage Beijing in negotiations over a potential return.
He has agreed to end activities aimed at establishing Tibet's independence, but has requested Beijing to allow greater autonomy to the Himalayan region especially in efforts to preserve Tibet's unique culture and religion.