Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Why are some Buddhists vegetarians?

What is the reason and where can I read more about this?

Comments

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    the reason is interpretation of the first precept, which is basically to cause no harm/no destruction of life. The exact wording varies a little by tradition. Many Buddhists are not vegetarians, and many are. The "Buddhist" reason for doing so is to reduce harm, and in being vegetarian they are reducing harm to the animals that are slaughtered,and harm to the environment and sometimes in their view harm to their body and mind as well. To harm or to take a life is to cause suffering on another being is something most Buddhists have decided not to do. But how they interpret what that means varies a lot from student to student and teacher to teacher. Some interpret it to mean that even eating meat purchased from a store, is, by extension, causing harm. Others disagree. It's a hot topic around here, heh.

    msac123Jeffrey
  • msac123msac123 Explorer

    It's a good way to look at things, extending from humans to other creatures.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    http://www.shabkar.org/

    Has an extensive collection of most everything regarding Buddhist vegetarianism. :)

    msac123
  • Aspiring_BuddhistAspiring_Buddhist Seeker of the Buddha Within WA Veteran

    @msac123 I've got a book for you:

    http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/gqga-5ed.pdf

    Here is a link to their other e-books - they're free and you don't have to join to download them: http://www.buddhanet.net/ebooks_g.htm

    The main site itself has lots of information too: http://www.buddhanet.net/

    Hope this helps!

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    There are many threads on this divisive subject on here already.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator

    There are a lot of reasons depending on the person and the tradition. Some do it for ethical reasons, some for health, etc. Some Buddhist traditions also stress vegetarianism (e.g., those in the Mahayana tradition who follow the Brahma-Net Sutra often take vows to avoid eating meat).

    As for myself, I personally abstain from meat for a variety of reasons, i.e., health, ethical, and a vow I made to myself after my mom became ill. I don't think my vegetarianism makes me a better Buddhist than others, but I do find that it lightens my mind whenever I reflect on the fact that I strive to practice ahimsa (harmelessness) as broadly as possible.

    Jeffreylobsterdantepw
  • yagryagr Veteran

    There is an essay easily found online called, "One Less Act of Violence" by Cheri Huber. That essay is the reason that I became vegetarian and it might be an answer to your question.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    @how said:
    other Buddhists just prefer their meat leaning taste buds over whatever suffering those leanings may cause.

    Though they dress it up by saying that it's not what you eat but the way you eat it...:p

    howInvincible_summer
  • Aspiring_BuddhistAspiring_Buddhist Seeker of the Buddha Within WA Veteran

    Hmm...

    Here's a quick little video:

    http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/sc/web/video/titles/12151/do-plants-respond-to-pain

    I think its safe to say that most life on this planet responds to damage done to it, if they've the time to react and have evolved to do so. But is it pain? By some definitions yes, others no.

    Whether uprooting plants, or killing animals, life is being disturbed. Until we get Star Trek Replicators, We can't not harm something to feed ourselves.

    I really don't mean for this to sound glib, but If it is really a matter of suffering, then perhaps we should numb the animals before they are killed so they won't feel anything?

    Most of the fruits/vegetables we eat today are either genetically modified to release their own insecticides, or the food is treated with insecticides by humans - thereby resulting in the death of lots and lots of little bugs.

    If this is really a "reduce suffering" argument, why hasn't anyone thought of these little bugs? They're being sprayed with poison - how would you feel if it happened to you?

    I ask that legitimately - I'm not trying to bait anyone. I'm not out to say that eating meat is the best option, or eating vegan is, nor am I slamming anyone for their diet.

    My only point is because there is no perfect option without Star Trek technology, something has suffered before it reached your plate - either it was killed in a slaughter house, or violently ripped from Mother Earth.

    (Though there may be a loophole regarding fruits that have fallen from trees - not sure if fruit feels pain or not.)

    From my reading about Karma - it seems that intent is the deciding factor. If you sit on a bug accidentally and killed it, it wasn't your intention to do - so there would be less Negative Karma than if you chose to sit on the bug with the intention of killing it.

    Suppose then, when we eat any kind of food, we focus more on the fact that we're providing our bodies with sustenance as opposed to the possibility that we really love the taste of this meat, or that plant.

    In general, if humans love the taste of a particular food, we usually don't mind, or think about, what has to happen for it to reach our lips. So - instead of eating for the taste or perhaps we should focus on eating for the nourishment?

    Thanks for reading.

    msac123
  • the buddha himself ate meat. he forbade his followers from killing animals,
    some buddhists became vegetarian bcos they follow the mahayana tradition.
    there are 3 major buddhist schools ie theravada, mahayana and vajrayana.
    only mahayana practise vegetarianism.

  • CittaCitta Veteran
    edited March 2014

    And not all the Mahayana. Some Vajrayana schools have adopted a veg. diet..but that is a recent innovation.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I read this a couple weeks ago and thought it made the most sense of what I've read, as far as how/whether you truly broke a precept or not. Intent is most certainly part of it.

    For a precept to be broken completely, four conditions must be present:

    The motivation is a negative attitude such as attachment, anger, etc.
    There is an object of the action, e.g. a being that is killed or an object that is stolen.
    One does the action. If one tells someone else to kill, steal or lie, it is also a transgression.
    The action is completed, e.g. the being dies before oneself or one thinks, "This is mine."
    

    That is from Thubten Chodron's webpage.

    @Aspiring_Buddhist‌ I agree with the point of view you hold. It is, of course, ust my view and others disagree, but I personally don't see the life of a cow as being superior to the life of a bug that is killed to bring beans or veggies to the plate. It doesn't mean I use that view to disregard the suffering of the cow and say "to hell with it, I kill things no matter what so I'll eat whatever I want." But it does mean that whatever I eat, I do my best to ensure that he least amount of harm comes from it and I do not use pesticides and such in my home garden. But I get to be the judge of what "least amount of harm" means to me, and it might not be the same as what someone else personally believes. That is ok as long as I am being honest in my contemplation and intent. That said, I do discuss these matters with our senior students and my teacher. He is a vegetarian and he does ask his students to practice vegetarianism on particular days. But, say I eat venison that was killed by my uncle. Is that more or less harm than eating mass produced vegetables that resulted in the killing of millions of bugs and destruction of habitat for numerous other animals? We all have to decide that for ourselves, and everyone will have a different answer. That, too, is ok.

  • @Aspiring_Buddhist said:

    I really don't mean for this to sound glib, but If it is really a matter of suffering, then perhaps we should numb the animals before they are killed so they won't feel anything?

    In the US animals are rendered unconscious in one of four ways before being slaughtered. The stunning is as quick and painless as possible. Ironically, it's more how animals are raised, rather than how they're killed, that is objectionable, imo.

    persondantepwmmo
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I would tend to agree. At least sometimes death is a release from a torturous life, and that is what most of them experience.

  • I asked this at another site, but I'm interested in different perspectives, so I ask here also:

    Does using animal products such as leather, while eschewing consuming animals make one a hypocrite? I've fidoodled over attempting a proper vegetarian diet (preferably lower carb due to insulin resistance) several times. I am not concerned about getting enough vitamins, minerals or protein, and I think I could make it work with planning. But I have too much invested in leather... jackets, boots, gloves. I won't make any excuses for it, leather is far more utilitarian for outerwear than anything made of cloth or wool, and will most likely always use leather.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I don't think so. First off, you never know how your practice will change your views, even the ones you are the most sure of and feel the strongest about (it happens to me all the time, lol) Second, you are still reducing harm in several ways by decreasing meat consumption (or eliminating it all together).

    I think the problem really comes in when you start wondering if you are a hypocrite. What do you think? if you are worrying about this, it clearly is bothering you on some level. I say this only because I see it in myself quite often. The more I feel a need to explain away and defend my point of view, the more I realize I have some regret and guilt and that I already feel somewhere inside me that perhaps this is not the right route for me. Then I have to investigate that, and figure out whether I can make changes at this time, or not. Sometimes I can, sometimes I cannot. Most often it is a compromise.

    One of my vegan friends insists (she is not a Buddhist) that my eating eggs is a bad thing. Ok, I get she doesn't eat eggs and I understand why. But our eggs come from a close friend, so we know how he raises his chickens, and he doesn't keep roosters so they are never fertilized eggs. So, I'm not sure why it matters if the egg is not fertilized and the chickens are very well cared for. In any case, it's an area we disagree on, lol.

    JainarayanJason
  • Thanks @karasti. It's not so much a guilt or being bothered by it as it is that I tend to be an all-or-nothing kind of guy. I have to modify that and start thinking in shades of gray. I'm with you on the eggs thing. I don't have a problem with unfertilized eggs. I buy eggs that are from cage free chickens, though it doesn't mean they are free range. And in a restaurant or diner the chances are the eggs come from battery farmed chickens.

  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited March 2014

    That's a good question. I'd say yes and no.

    I think it's hypocritical in the sense that one is still 'consuming' animals and contributing to the meat industry, just not for nutritional reasons. I'm a hypocrite in that I don't eat meat partially due to my concern for animals, but my wallet and my belt are made of leather.

    That said, it's often a gradual lifestyle change for most people, and not eating meat may eventually expand into not buying leather goods, etc. (something I've been contemplating on doing recently after thinking about it). One reason people don't do this right away (besides convenience and utility, of course) is that, the way we purchase goods, the two appear completely separate, and we just don't think about it. We're often completely ignorant of where are food comes from, let alone where are clothing comes from and what it's made of.

    So in that sense, I think it's really only hypocritical if one realizes the two are intimately connected but then does nothing to adjust their lifestyle accordingly.

    Jainarayanmmo
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    It brings up another way of looking at it too, though, similar in idea to what we were talking about with vegetarian diets. Myself, I'm not a leather person. I'm not sure I own anything that is leather. My shoes are synthetic, I don't wear belts or carry a purse or leather wallet. But, synthetics cause their own harm, too. So it still comes down to, which do you think causes the less harm? Leather can be good because it lasts so long when it's cared for and it doesn't take many years to degrade like synthetics can. Leather items have their cost, but so do synthetic things. And so do cotton and wool things.

    Jainarayanrohit
  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @Aspiring_Buddhist

    From a Buddhist point of view plants don't have consciousness so even though they may react to harmful stimuli they have no experience to speak of and so no suffering.

    It is true that bugs, and other animals, are harmed in the production of vegetables, so vegetarianism is completely harm free. Animals have to eat crops to grow and it takes something like 17 calories of vegetation to produce one calorie of meat so in the end meat causes more harm

    A couple others have also pointed out that its not the death of farm raised animals that is necessarily so painful but it is their life and the conditions they are raised in that are terrible.

  • robotrobot Veteran

    Here is an article I was looking at this morning. Not really off topic.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-05-21/an-thai-illegal-dog-meat-trade-feature/4702788

    I struggled with the idea that selling dogs for their products is illegal in Thailand. Outlawing the sale of canines for human consumption creates a black market for the meat and causes the animals to be abused horribly.

    Also protecting them in that way does nothing to solve the problem of uncontrolled breeding. Spaying and fixing dogs is unheard of in most of Thailand, so there are populations that simply breed and run wild all over the country. Many of the dogs are suffering terribly.

    It's normal to see trucks packed with live pigs, or an individual pig trussed up in the sidecar of a motorbike and heading for slaughter. Same for chickens with live and dead ones caged together in the blazing heat on a truck or motorbike. Nobody gives a second thought to it.
    Or to the mangy half starved dogs and cats everywhere.
    So legalizing the sale of dogs for consumption would likely only make the torment worse.

    In Vietnam I saw few feral dogs. Often I would see a female that had obviously recently had a litter, running about with no puppies in sight. I concluded that the puppies were going somewhere, probably into the pot. This might be the best way to control dog populations and in the end, be more humane.

  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    @Jainarayan said:
    I asked this at another site, but I'm interested in different perspectives, so I ask here also:

    Does using animal products such as leather, while eschewing consuming animals make one a hypocrite?

    The Surangama Sutra talks about this a bit. Commentary by
    Master Hsuan Hua

    Sutra:

    “Bhikshus who do not wear silk, leather boots, furs, or down
    from this country or consume milk, cream, or butter can truly
    transcend this world. When they have paid back their past
    debts, they will not have to re-enter the Triple Realm.

    Commentary:

    “Bhikshus who do not wear silk, leather boots, furs, or down
    from this country, or consume milk, cream, or butter can truly
    transcend the world
    .”

    "Silk, leather, furs, and down come from
    living creatures. The life of the creature must be taken in order to
    make these things. Ordinary cotton is not included here. Therefore,
    they don’t wear leather shoes or carry leather bags. Nor do they use
    milk products. "

    "“When they have paid back their past debts, they
    will not have to re-enter the Triple Realm.”

    "It says here that milk
    and milk products should not be ingested, but in the precepts of the
    greater and lesser vehicles it does not state that one must certainly
    refrain from these things.

    "This passage of Sutra text is describing those who hold precepts with a maximum of purity. They thoroughly uphold the precept against killing. They do not use
    anything that has any connection with living creatures. They don’t
    wear silk because a lot of silkworms’ lives must be spent in the
    process of obtaining the silk. They don’t eat honey, because it is
    made from bees. But in the Vinaya proper this is an open question.
    There is room for flexibility. The precepts do not specifically forbid
    these things. For you to avoid using them is to be extremely pure. It
    is very good."

    Jainarayan
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    One of the factors of the Noble 8-fold path is developing Right Intention. If we're resolved on renunciation, freedom from ill-will, and on harmlessness then we might be concerned about how our food gets on our plate. We might wish to minimise the harm we cause to other living beings.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-sankappo/

    rohit
  • rohitrohit Maharrashtra Veteran

    Because i don't like the taste and smell of the non veg food. In addition i love animals and they have full right to live life.

    Pöljä
  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    I see five reasons one might be a vegetarian:
    1. Animal cruelty. You might believe there are cruel aspects to raising, killing, and eating animals.
    2. Cost. You might find a vegetarian diet much less expensive than a carnivorous one.
    3. Environmental. Passing solar biomass through a link of herbivores is very consumptive of resources. You might believe that low on the food chain is the best environmental practice.
    4. Religion. You might interpret the literature of your religion to proscribe meat.
    5. Taste you might not think dead animals taste good.

    I personally find the first four apply to me. I am most swayed by the overlap of environmentalism and morality. Some Buddhists see an overlap of religion and morality.

    I also no longer buy leather. I didn't get rid of my furniture or car interior -- the animals are already dead, so how would that help? But I avoid leather in new purchases.

  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    For those new to the New Buddhist website, this thread illustrates several of our community quirks.

    Vegetarianism/veganism is a favorite topic, so we have threads about it from time to time. Over the years there have been numerous threads. Sometimes they ramble; sometimes they are acrimonious.

    Sometimes members here will say "Oh no, not another new thread about vegetarianism being started! There are already many threads!" And of course, there are

    But if you continue and contribute to an old thread, the management for some reason dislikes that. These threads are often slammed shut as soon as they are noticed.

    This particular thread is relatively short and polite, and covers most of the usual points likely to be of interest to new Buddhists, so maybe it'll be left open.

  • PöljäPöljä Veteran
    edited September 2015

    Do they kill animals for the leather or is it always a byproduct? They do kill them for the fur. Wearing leather could be seen as a symbol of domination and violence, but I think it's rarely the fact why people do so. I don't like to wear something made by leather but I do it sometimes.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited September 2015

    @Steve_B said:
    For those new to the New Buddhist website, this thread illustrates several of our community quirks.

    Vegetarianism/veganism is a favorite topic, so we have threads about it from time to time. Over the years there have been numerous threads. Sometimes they ramble; sometimes they are acrimonious.

    Sometimes members here will say "Oh no, not another new thread about vegetarianism being started! There are already many threads!" And of course, there are

    But if you continue and contribute to an old thread, the management for some reason dislikes that. These threads are often slammed shut as soon as they are noticed.

    This particular thread is relatively short and polite, and covers most of the usual points likely to be of interest to new Buddhists, so maybe it'll be left open.

    This thread is JUST only over a year old.
    For some reason, best known to himself, @SpinyNorman has chosen to re-surface it.
    Usually, threads over a year old are closed down. Reasons were given in this thread.

    I'm sure @SpinyNorman will fill me in in due course.

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    I didn't realise the thread was so old. Why was it on the current topic list?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Ya got me....! No idea..... Maybe it just looks young. Like you.
    Looks can be deceptive....

    :lol:

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited September 2015

    Another curious thing, @Linc... when I try to use the 'Quote' facility - it speeds me up to the top of the page.... and nothing is quoted in the comment-box at all (I checked....)

    Only happens in this thread....

    Anyone else....?

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    @federica said:
    Another curious thing, Linc... when I try to use the 'Quote' facility - it speeds me up to the top of the page.... and nothing is quoted in the comment-box at all (I checked....)

    Only happens in this thread....

    Anyone else....?

    Seems ok here

  • LionduckLionduck Veteran
    edited September 2015

    @federica said:
    Another curious thing, Linc... when I try to use the 'Quote' facility - it speeds me up to the top of the page.... and nothing is quoted in the comment-box at all (I checked....)

    Only happens in this thread....

    Anyone else....?

    Usually all is OK. Every so often, the "Quote feature doesn't. Seems good now, though.

    By the way, as SpinyNorman mentioned, this thread is old. Must have slipped through the time warp.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @Lionduck said:
    By the way, as SpinyNorman mentioned, this thread is old. Must have slipped through the time warp.

    Now the quote facility is working again.... Honestly, talk about a 'ghost in the machine'...!

    Ok, that's a wrap.
    As @dhammachick correctly pointed out,

    There are many threads on this divisive subject on here already.

    Let sleeping veggies/carnivores lie.....

This discussion has been closed.