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Why do Buddhists not eat meat?

When Buddha himself died at 80 from eating a bad piece of pork.
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Comments

  • I don't eat meat because I have compassion for the suffering of the animals involved. It has nothing do with the manner in which Buddha died.

    Metta to all sentient beings
  • I did not mean it to answer the question, I mean I read some where that it is against Buddhist practice to eat meat, but Buddha himself did. I do the same zidangus, although not inherently against eating meat, in the way that animals are raised to be killed, I do not eat their meat.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Some Buddhist sects do not eat meat, some do. It depends on the tradition. It's very complicated. If you look back to some of the forum posts on this subject, you can see the complications. Most of the threads usually get closed because people can not agree to disagree. :)
  • Beggers must eat what is given them. The Buddha was a begger. Lay people have more freedom in determining what they consume. In my opinion, it is virtuous to take a vegitarian diet as a lay practitioner in order cultivate compassion and loving-kindness.

    I'm carefully renunciating unwholsome behavior as my practice improves. Eventually I plan on upholding a completely vegitarian diet. I don't have the necessary knowledge yet for maintaining the proper nutrition in order to make this plan a reality. I'm actually starting this weekend when I buy new groceries. I've looked up a few lunch and dinner options and will be making 3 days of the week "veggy days." :p
  • ZaylZayl Veteran
    I eat meat.

    Hey, it's already dead. Though I admit on occasion in the past during winter I would have to go out and kill my own food when we got snowed in, as it is hard to feed a family of four when you are unable to leave your house for weeks on end.

    I did not enjoy it, it needed to be done. I always made sure it was a clean kill and that the creature did not suffer. When it was not a clean kill, I made sure to give it a proper coup de grace as soon as I could. However even though I eat meat, I consider it a rare treat, and I usually stick to grains, veggies, and fruits as well as dairy products. I may go months without eating any meat and not mind it in the slightest.
  • I will try to eat more veggies. If I am in a spot where I can't just eat veggies. I will eat meat.

    What if we meet an animals who WANTS to be eaten?


  • I eat meat.

    Hey, it's already dead. Though I admit on occasion in the past during winter I would have to go out and kill my own food when we got snowed in, as it is hard to feed a family of four when you are unable to leave your house for weeks on end.

    I did not enjoy it, it needed to be done. I always made sure it was a clean kill and that the creature did not suffer. When it was not a clean kill, I made sure to give it a proper coup de grace as soon as I could. However even though I eat meat, I consider it a rare treat, and I usually stick to grains, veggies, and fruits as well as dairy products. I may go months without eating any meat and not mind it in the slightest.
    You have to survive. In situations such as your own, it is necessary. I'm sure in the past this kind of situation was more commonplace, and as such killing for food is one of the many sufferings of life. If living in a more rural setting where food is in greater abundance, it should be taken as a blessed opportunity for improving one's practice. I would never judge someone for killing for food, if nothing else could be provided for himself or his family. I would say it is far more compassionate to hunt a creature in time of need than to murder an animal in captivity to satisfy attachment to meat.
  • Please do the search for the other threads on vegetarianism- please. As someone said, the threads often get closed because people cannot agree to disagree. But believe me, all the information you could ever want and a lot you might not want are on those other threads.

    The reason has to do with the suffering of the animal and the bad karma involved with the killing, but, as someone said, monks who are seeking food as alms must eat what they are given, so if they're given meat as alms, they must eat it.

    Simple.
  • Please do the search for the other threads on vegetarianism- please. As someone said, the threads often get closed because people cannot agree to disagree. But believe me, all the information you could ever want and a lot you might not want are on those other threads.

    The reason has to do with the suffering of the animal and the bad karma involved with the killing, but, as someone said, monks who are seeking food as alms must eat what they are given, so if they're given meat as alms, they must eat it.

    Simple.

    Or told by their doctors. His Holiness the Dalai Lama developed jaundice and was ordered to eat meat. Heck the Dalai Lama admits eating meat when on the road.
  • Buddhists do eat meat. The Buddhist peoples of Inner Asia are traditionally herders, meat is an important part of their diet. Tibetans are the only ones who don't slaughter their own meat, they leave that task to others, but they love beef. And many Western Buddhists eat meat as well. Some need to for health reasons. Others make the choice not to.
    Why shouldn't the DL "admit" to eating meat? It's a perfectly normal thing to do, especially for Tibetans.
  • Or told by their doctors. His Holiness the Dalai Lama developed jaundice and was ordered to eat meat. Heck the Dalai Lama admits eating meat when on the road.
    How did he develop jaundice from not eating meat?
  • I once heard HHDL give a lecture which in part dealt with eating meat. He said that more people benefit from eating a cow, so it's less objectionable than eating, say, a pig, because less people benefit from the killing the animal. He appeared to be particularly disgusted by the idea of eating popcorn shrimp, because many lives were taken for just one meal- and he referred to them as "insects" with kind of a disgusted tone of voice.

    So we know for sure that HHDL doesn't like popcorn shrimp. And I knew about his medical condition, and that makes perfect sense to me for any monk.

    Talisman- maybe the lack of iron or some other nutrient from meat caused the production of red blood cells which were destroyed more readily by his body (this is just a guess), and the remaining iron from the destroyed red blood cells caused the jaundice? Anyway, an excess of a chemical called bilirubin, which is partially composed of iron, is what causes jaundice. Destruction of unhealthy red blood cells would conceivably release enough bilirubin into the system to cause jaundice.

  • So we know for sure that HHDL doesn't like popcorn shrimp. And I knew about his medical condition, and that makes perfect sense to me for any monk.

    Talisman- maybe the lack of iron or some other nutrient from meat caused the production of red blood cells which were destroyed more readily by his body (this is just a guess), and the remaining iron from the destroyed red blood cells caused the jaundice? Anyway, an excess of a chemical called bilirubin, which is partially composed of iron, is what causes jaundice. Destruction of unhealthy red blood cells would conceivably release enough bilirubin into the system to cause jaundice.
    haha! Well, I'm not surprised that someone from a landlocked country didn't take a liking to shrimp. ^_^

    I hadn't heard that the problem that developed was jaundice, only that his attempt at a vegetarian diet made him ill, and his doctor insisted he go back on a meat diet. He said once that now he compromises, and eats vegetarian one day/wk. But it's interesting that he'd never heard of the idea of eating vegetarian to avoid unnecessary suffering to animals until a Westerner explained it to him. Most Tibetans just don't think about it.

  • But it's interesting that he'd never heard of the idea of eating vegetarian to avoid unnecessary suffering to animals until a Westerner explained it to him. Most Tibetans just don't think about it.
    I got the impression from the lecture that he was indeed familiar with that concept- it just seemed to me that he had said it before. And I think they would have covered that in Geshe Lharampa school. I mean, avoiding causing unnecessary suffering to sentient beings is a cornerstone of Buddhism. There's the whole story, true or not, about the monks moving the earthworms as the Dalai Lama's movie theater in Lhasa was being built. :)

  • i think buddha eat meat because he want to comeback to earth one day i guess, if that make any sense or not
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    SD, I've read that the idea of not eating meat, and the reasoning behind it, was new to HHDL when he first heard it as an adult, but I can't give you a source. But I read an article about a Buddhism conference several lamas attended, and the hosts chose a catering service that served exclusively vegetarian food. The lamas were perplexed as to why that choice had been made, and didn't like the food. They said, in a situation like that, "you use your mind to enjoy the food", i.e. you psych yourself and do your best to enjoy the food, to be polite. It was pretty funny reading about the lengths they went to, to try to deal with the food. It didn't sound like they were taught vegetarianism in their training, but it's an interesting question.

    That "earthworm scene" in the film made a big impression on viewers. I read about a Western tour group that went to Bhutan, and on a trek, they came across an ant's nest or hornet's nest, some obstacle of that sort on the trail. They asked the Bhutanese guide how to remove the obstacle without hurting any of the insects, and they said the guide looked at them as if they were crazy, and proceeded to exterminate the bugs. Maybe times have changed between the 1940's and today...? Or maybe the guide wasn't as devoted a practitioner as some.
  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    edited April 2011
    This is a good book if anyone is interested

    http://www.amazon.com/Cherish-All-Life-Buddhist-Vegetarian/dp/094030600X

    Metta to all sentient beings
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    There is some debate as to whether the Buddha actually ate pork. There are some mushrooms which grow in that area which actually are called 'pork meat' and it is unclear whether it is these he ate, or actual pork. However, detailed research would seem to point to actual meat, rather than mushroom. In any case, you may be very interested to read this: (it's long, but extremely interesting.)

    An educated analysis of how the Buddha probably died.

    http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha192.htm
  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    edited April 2011
    In the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, the Buddha is said to eat some bad pork which result in his death. However the meaning of the term translated as ‘pork’ that the Buddha actually ate cannot be established. For instance in the equivalent Chinese sutra, the same term is translated as a type of fungus. So who knows if Buddha did die becasue of eating bad pork.

    Metta to all sentient beings
  • @Dakini and all: aren't the monk's vows pretty much universal, and therefore all against killing? I thought even Vajrayana monk's vows are based on the Tripitaka. Can anybody clarify this for me/us?
  • zidanguszidangus Veteran
    edited April 2011
    According to Pali texts, Buddhists monks are allowed to eat meat on condition that they should not have seen, heard, nor have any reason to suspect, that the meat was from an animal killed specifically for the monk. If these conditions are met then the meat was said to be ‘blameless’. However in equivalent Chinese Majjhima and Anguttara Nikayas, the sutras dealing with the ‘blamelessness’ of eating meat are not there.
    However these are mentioned in sparsley in the teachings,whereas there is a huge amount of exhortations to be "ashamed of roughness, full of mercy, and dwell compassionate and kind to all creatures that have life".

    Metta to all sentient beings
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    Or told by their doctors. His Holiness the Dalai Lama developed jaundice and was ordered to eat meat. Heck the Dalai Lama admits eating meat when on the road.


    How did he develop jaundice from not eating meat?
    He tried being vegetarian for about 2 years I think but he had absolutely no clue how to eat as a vegetarian. I think all he ate was nuts and milk products. Not many vegetarians in Tibet so that is not a surprise and not really his fault that he did not really know what to eat. But from what I have read, he basically tried to subsist on 2 particular foods and nothing else. I read that he got jaundice because he contracted hepatitis, which was unrelated to his diet,(or could have been since he was probably malnourished), while he was in India, with jaundice being a common symptom of hepatitis and was told to start eating meat again. Which was good for his health because a vegetarian diet that consists of only 2 foods is not very healthy. At least that is what I have read.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    @Dakini and all: aren't the monk's vows pretty much universal, and therefore all against killing? I thought even Vajrayana monk's vows are based on the Tripitaka. Can anybody clarify this for me/us?
    This point has come up before. I think it depends on how you interpret the vow. (I haven't looked at the monks' vows, just the 1st precept.) Zidangus has an interesting answer. I know a Vajrayana ex-monk, and he ate meat. I've seen Tibetan monks eating meat. That's all I know. I'm going to add this to my list of questions to ask the next lamas I run into.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 2011
    He tried being vegetarian for about 2 years I think but he had absolutely no clue how to eat as a vegetarian. I think all he ate was nuts and milk products. Not many vegetarians in Tibet so that is not a surprise and not really his fault that he did not really know what to eat.
    He was living in India at the time. Would've been simple to research vegetarianism, or delegate that to his doctor. Someone else mentioned the unbalanced diet choice on the last Vegetarianism thread. Seems odd that HHDL would do that. I wonder why, when surrounded by such a rich vegetarian culture?
  • "Palyul Ling International: Monastic Vows

    http://www.palyul.org/eng_about_monasticvows.htm

    Vows
    The monastic path is not an easy path. The vows which monks and nuns take are called the "Personal Liberation" vows which are a commitment taken by the purely-renounced mind to abstain from harming others. Taking these vows involves promising to abandon certain activities and to uphold pure moral discipline."

    @dakini: I do know what you mean and all I can say is it beats the heck out of me.
  • edited April 2011
    The Tibetan Kagyu monasteries and centres of 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje are all vegetarian. I can verify this from my own offline experience.

    http://www.shabkar.org/teachers/tibetanbuddhism/orgyen_trinle_dorje.htm


    .
  • I once hosted lunch for nine Gelug monks at a Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque and as far as I know they all ordered the bean burritos...
  • edited April 2011
    I will try to eat more veggies. If I am in a spot where I can't just eat veggies. I will eat meat.

    What if we meet an animals who WANTS to be eaten?


    Haha, thanks for that video. I'm a Vegetarian myself for 2 years, before I knew anything about Buddhism. And I've often joked that I'd happily eat meat If I could breed a herd of suicidal sheep or something of that ilk.

    I don't think I'll ever understand the "meat is icky" position some Vegetarians seem to have. For me I don't eat meat because I see no justification for it. When you look at the reality of it you're killing another sentient being for PLEASURE. But does animal flesh taste nice? You bet!

    There's an elementary moral question that goes around the animal rights circle, would you eat a chicken burger if someone next to you would kill another chicken if you didn't? Pretty stupid question as the obvious anwser is yes(for an ethical vegetarian anyway), and perplexes me to this day that so called "animal lovers" are conflicted with the idea and many say they wouldn't.

    I'm not Holy, if I needed meat to survive I'd be back on bacon sandwiches quicker than you can blink, but I don't need meat to survive. I'm not living the life of Eskimos who live in the deep North and have little in the way of access to vegetation. As a need I can absolutely understand it, as a want(which is what it is for most) it perplexes me. We'd be in shock if a so-called intelligent alien race came to Earth and treated us in the way we treat animals!

    While we're on the subject of animal rights,



    If there's any fans of satire Chris Morris is one of the finest practitioners around. This episode on animal rights is probably my all time favourite comedy episode I've ever seen, ever.









  • I must say I've learned something new today and I'm honestly surprised. I'd just assumed it was an absolute given that most Buddhists didn't eat meat.

    That's really shocked me.
  • MountainsMountains Moderator
    When Buddha himself died at 80 from eating a bad piece of pork.
    Who says Buddhists don't eat meat? I'm a Buddhist and I eat meat. Not a lot, but I eat meat. I have some nice nigri sushi for dinner as a matter of fact.

  • I eat meat as well I just had a sandwich with ham,chicken, and pepperoni.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited April 2011
    I once hosted lunch for nine Gelug monks at a Mexican restaurant in Albuquerque and as far as I know they all ordered the bean burritos...
    The bean burritos--that's hilarious! Maybe times are changing. My observations are far from recent. And I bet most Tibetan monks would far prefer bean burritos to something made with tofu. I think that conference I mentioned before contracted with the wrong catering svce. :p
    The Tibetan Kagyu monasteries and centres of 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje are all vegetarian. http://www.shabkar.org/teachers/tibetanbuddhism/orgyen_trinle_dorje.htm
    .
    This is fascinating. Leave it to the younger generation to introduce change. I wonder who HHDL's succesor will be, and what he'll do.
  • edited April 2011
    "This is fascinating. Leave it to the younger generation to introduce change. I wonder who HHDL's succesor will be, and what he'll do."

    I read in TIME Magazine a couple of years ago that HHDL is kind of counting on the Karmapa to manage the transition between HHDL's passing and return.

    But this is off topic, no? Look for a PM from me.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    I guess it's getting off-topic. I think it's obvious that the Karmapa is the "transition team", unless HHDL decided to appoint a successor.
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran
    His Holiness the Dalai Lama developed jaundice and was ordered to eat meat.
    He should use another doctor, as this is ridiculous advice. Google "jaundice remedies" and you'll see plenty of options without meat. In fact, most nutritionist would advise against meat in such cases.

  • DaozenDaozen Veteran
    - In Chinese Buddhism, it is traditional to be vegetarian, even if you are not a monk.
    - In other traditions, it is more 'optional'.
    - Monks who use a begging bowl to survive are allowed to eat meat if it is given to them - this is why Buddha ate meat.
    - In my opinion, compassion for other living beings and the suffering caused by the meat industry *should* lead most Buddhists to favour a diet with minimal meat intake. In practice, it doesn't, and people use all kinds of bad excuses to justify their meat habit, including various medical reasons (in fact there are NO medical conditions that require a meat diet) and others i won't go into here. In my opinion, the only justifiable excuse is survival, which for 99.9% of us simply isn't the case.
    - Understanding that people don't neccessarily change overnight, it's also important to realise that eating *less* meat is a great thing too, especially if you currently eat meat frequently. For example, eliminating one type of meat from your diet, or deciding that on certain days of the weeks you won't eat meat. This practice can then be expanded over time as you feel comfortable.
    - A vegetarian-based diet is now recognised as the healthiest diet one can eat. So even for purely selfish reasons, it is better!

    Namaste to all
  • I stopped eating meat a few years ago, now I don't miss it. I stopped more on a whim than any other reason, a) I could eat meat or b) I could not eat meat. The latter seemed kinder as a whole so I picked that choice. Yet this is only my reasoning and others can make whatever choice they want.
  • Mentions of the abuses of the meat industry, however apt, echo sentiments already expressed in other quite recent threads on vegetarianism.



    image
  • Tibetans are the only ones who don't slaughter their own meat, they leave that task to others, but they love beef.
    Who exactly were/are these "others"?

    :confused:
  • edited April 2011
    Tibetans are the only ones who don't slaughter their own meat, they leave that task to others, but they love beef.

    Who exactly were/are these "others"?

    :confused:
    I vaguely remember reading that in Tibet before the Chinese invasion, muslims killed the meat animals..which were mainly yaks.

    However it will be very different now in Tibet as there are many Chinese people living there too -Chinese restaurants in Lhasa etc

    Non-veggie Tibetans in the west just buy meat from a butcher or supermarket like everyone else.



  • Most Tibetans just don't think about it.

    Well actually they do. I used to know a Tibetan who went to a slaughterhouse to see what happened before becoming vegetarian for the rest of his life

    Please also read the link about Tibetan vegetarians

    http://vegpeace.org/buddhistvegetarian.html

  • edited April 2011

    I read in TIME Magazine a couple of years ago that HHDL is kind of counting on the Karmapa to manage the transition between HHDL's passing and return.

    Its probably best not to speculate too much about gossip we read in the public press. The Tibetan lineage heads(like anyone else in the public eye who's aware of the media) keep the most important matters to themselves.
    :)
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    There's an elementary moral question that goes around the animal rights circle, would you eat a chicken burger if someone next to you would kill another chicken if you didn't? Pretty stupid question as the obvious anwser is yes(for an ethical vegetarian anyway), and perplexes me to this day that so called "animal lovers" are conflicted with the idea and many say they wouldn't.

    I'm an ethical vegetarian and to me the obvious answer is no and I'm not conflicted about any ideas. Think of it like this: would you eat a human burger if someone next to you would kill another human and make a burger out of that person, if you didn't? Many people believe "meat is icky" because eating animal flesh is seen a being no different than eating human flesh. Most people would agree that eating human flesh is icky. For many ethical vegetarian people, there is no difference.

  • This looks like a very new development, and a welcome one. But personally, none of the Tibetans I've ever known, and I've participated in Tibetan communities in several cities, has given a thought to vegetarianism. They love their beef momos. That's just my experience. Same for the Mongols, including the lamas I've known. Lamb momos are the national dish in the Mongol regions, and meat is considered important to survival in a harsh environment. Vegetables are scarce, and no one is interested in growing them. They leave that to the Chinese and the Russians. But it looks like among Tibetans, at least, times are changing. Not a bad thing.

  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    If some people can eat vegetarian, great. The more the better. Not everyone can; some people need meat for health reasons. People should do what's best for themselves without worrying about "spiritual correctness" or ideology. The more people who eat vegetarian, the better off the planet will be, from what I understand; it leads to a more efficient use of land in most instances.
  • As a Buddhist I continue to eat meat and likely will for as far as I can see. With that said I eat a fair bit less now than I use to, but can't forsee myself dropping it altogether, for reasons of health, economics and personal taste (I'll admit it, many veggies make me gag for some reason).
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran
    some people need meat for health reasons.
    Absolutely no-one needs meat for medical reasons.

    Namaste

  • edited April 2011
    some people need meat for health reasons.
    Absolutely no-one needs meat for medical reasons.
    The Dalai Lama does. Indigenous people of the North American Plains do.

  • DaozenDaozen Veteran
    some people need meat for health reasons.
    Absolutely no-one needs meat for medical reasons.
    The Dalai Lama does. Indigenous people of the North American Plains do.
    Actually, they don't. Vegetarian diets can give you all the nutrients you need - and it's especially easy if you're a 'lacto-ovo' vege (ie you eat dairy products & eggs). If you have good medical proof otherwise, please show me, because i would be very interested - and so would millions of others :)
  • A website about Buddhism and vegetarianism which includes some veggie cookbooks

    http://www.shabkar.org/

    .

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