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Can Buddhists eat beef?

Hi all,

As the title says can Buddhists eat beef? Can't find anything about eating beef in the Sutta but why some Buddhists refrain from eating beef?

Comments

  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran

    @Steve_B said:
    Buddhism doesn't have rules. It illuminates a path. All choices are yours.

    This :+1:

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Perhaps they are Indian Buddhists who still have some holy cows hanging around? :awesome:

    Tigger
  • 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

    Buddhists can eat anything they want (depending on the Tradition/School).

    What you eat - is up to you.

    Just don't go up to Ol' Farmer Jim and ask him to slay that cow over there, for you.... That's a no-no.

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

    Usually the question is about all meat in general, any reason why you're just wondering about beef in particular?

  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran
    edited January 29

    NB1.1k, this is a regularly recurring topic at this site, and you should be able to find discussions in great depth and widely varying emotion in the old pages. But regardless of the excruciating conversational details, the overview point is that Buddhism provides a perspective, not an edict. Our actions, our thoughts, and our benefits/rewards are internal. There is no Buddha Central Command to issue rules and track who is and isn't following them. Buddha doesn't want to know what you had for lunch. But you might want to know, and to know why.

    leleo222Fosdick
  • NB1100NB1100 Explorer

    @person said:
    Usually the question is about all meat in general, any reason why you're just wondering about beef in particular?

    Maybe because some people/Buddhists refrain from eating beef but not other meat?

  • 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

    Have you come across this? I haven't.
    I think you'll find many Buddhists who fall into the 'Either/or/or' categories...

    Either meat-eaters or vegetarian/vegan.

    Vegetarianism takes different forms:

    Some eat dairy products, but no meat or other protein.
    These are Lacto-Vegetarians.

    Some include eggs in their diets - Ovo-Vegetarians.

    some will also include fish - Pisco-Vegetarians.

    But in my experience, most vegetarians who give up meat, do so across the board, and give up any meat that has legs.....

  • Steve_BSteve_B Far southwest corner of Indiana, USA Veteran

    @federica said:
    Have you come across this? I haven't.
    I think you'll find many Buddhists who fall into the 'Either/or/or' categories...

    Either meat-eaters or vegetarian/vegan.

    Vegetarianism takes different forms:

    Some eat dairy products, but no meat or other protein.
    These are Lacto-Vegetarians.

    Some include eggs in their diets - Ovo-Vegetarians.

    some will also include fish - Pisco-Vegetarians.

    But in my experience, most vegetarians who give up meat, do so across the board, and give up any meat that has legs.....

    Yes, I'd say exactly the same thing. Buddhists who do not eat meat usually don't talk about eating some kinds of meat but not others, in my experience. And the concept of avoiding hurting and killing sentient beings applies equally well to all animals with legs, though the typical expression is "Don't eat anything that has a face."

  • 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

    @Steve_B said: Yes, I'd say exactly the same thing. Buddhists who do not eat meat usually don't talk about eating some kinds of meat but not others, in my experience. And the concept of avoiding hurting and killing sentient beings applies equally well to all animals with legs, though the typical expression is "Don't eat anything that has a face."

    I have heard a vegetarian say that she won't eat "anything that has a mother..." :)

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I, too, have mostly only seen either people who have decided to eat meat, and those who have not (who run the gamut of various vegetarians and vegans). As far as Buddhism goes.

    Now, outside of Buddhism this is common and it is largely due to environmental concerns (other than in India of course where cows are sacred). Beef cattle are by far the largest problem when it comes to our food as far as how many resources are needed to produce just one pound of beef. It causes a huge consumption of water, along with the requirements for huge amounts of grains that they eat (which causes a whole host of other problems because grains are not good for cows and then they get ill and need antibiotics which gets into the meat). The large amount of grain required to farm cattle also means that a significant amount of farm land is used solely for producing food for beef, and growing the same crops all the time depletes the soil and then a lot of chemicals are needed to get plants to grow. Overall, there are MANY problems associated with beef production in particular. Which is why a lot of people will give up beef but still eat some fish and/or chicken.

    I also believe both the WHO and the UN have suggested that eliminating or greatly cutting our beef consumption is something that has to happen. There is a ton of information online about it. But, it has nothing really to do with Buddhism. Some people also give up beef for health because it tends to be such a fatty meat compared to other choices.

    These arguments also often include the dairy industry as well.

    But, as a Buddhist, you get to make the choice for yourself. It's just a good idea to make informed choices and be honest with yourself (which is the hardest part, of course). There is nothing I have seen that suggested Buddhists should avoid beef but nothing else. Buddhists who take a "no meat" diet usually do so according to the first precept but as others have mentioned it is not a requirement or anything.

    A few links:
    http://www.explorebeef.org/cmdocs/explorebeef/fact_sheet_beef and water use.pdf

    http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?newsID=20772#.WI4j6fkrJEY

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

    Hindus avoid beef because they hold cows to be sacred. Some research suggests that for health reasons red meat can be considered worse for heart health than others, I think. For environmental effects beef is around 10 times as harmful than other forms of animal protein. But when it comes to harm, the death of one cow provides much more meat than other forms of protein and beef cows, especially if raised free range and grass fed have fairly good lives especially in comparison to other farm animals.

    So make of that what you will and try to decide whether you want to eat beef or not.

    karastiFosdick
  • DakiniDakini Veteran

    @Steve_B said:
    Buddhism doesn't have rules. It illuminates a path. All choices are yours.

    This is pretty much it. Tibetans and Mongols do, indeed, eat beef and lamb. They view the taking of vows to be the purview of monks, not ordinary people. But even Tibetan and Mongol monks eat meat. Those regions don't have environments conducive to growing a lot of vegetables, and the people traditionally are meat-eaters and herders. The Dalai Lama's family raised and slaughtered sheep for their own use, before they moved to Lhasa.

    In the West, some Buddhists choose not to eat meat in order to not support the butcher trade. There's really no hard and fast rule, though some may feel passionately about the issue.

  • Will_BakerWill_Baker Vermont Veteran

    @SpinyNorman said:
    Mu. :p

    -This is Post of the Year material... :-)

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    Violates the first precept.

  • personperson Where is my mind? 'Merica! Veteran

    @JaySon said:
    Violates the first precept.

    What if you had a dairy cow and it died somehow, would eating it still violate the first precept?

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @person said:

    @JaySon said:
    Violates the first precept.

    What if you had a dairy cow and it died somehow, would eating it still violate the first precept?

    I don't think so because the first precept is to abstain from taking life. You didn't take that dairy cow's life, so you could totally eat it.

    (Note: I'm not saying I have the greatest moral discipline. I ate chicken and bacon last night.)

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

    @JaySon said:

    @person said:

    @JaySon said:
    Violates the first precept.

    What if you had a dairy cow and it died somehow, would eating it still violate the first precept?

    I don't think so because the first precept is to abstain from taking life. You didn't take that dairy cow's life, so you could totally eat it.

    (Note: I'm not saying I have the greatest moral discipline. I ate chicken and bacon last night.)

    I agree. So then eating beef isn't automatically unethical, only if killing is involved.

    How about if you didn't kill it yourself? You wouldn't have violated the first precept or does following the precepts involve other people's actions too? Like if we benefit from someone else's lie.

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @person said:

    @JaySon said:

    @person said:

    @JaySon said:
    Violates the first precept.

    What if you had a dairy cow and it died somehow, would eating it still violate the first precept?

    I don't think so because the first precept is to abstain from taking life. You didn't take that dairy cow's life, so you could totally eat it.

    (Note: I'm not saying I have the greatest moral discipline. I ate chicken and bacon last night.)

    I agree. So then eating beef isn't automatically unethical, only if killing is involved.

    How about if you didn't kill it yourself? You wouldn't have violated the first precept or does following the precepts involve other people's actions too? Like if we benefit from someone else's lie.

    It would still be a violation, I think, because you are taking part in the killing by paying the slaughterer.

  • I would like to only eat vegetables that died of natural causes, or moonbeams. Preferably when I am dead. o:)

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inedia

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    If ones intention is to buy.cook and eat animal flesh, then one is in effect hiring a hitman to do the dirty work ....

    Tis a no brainer, no matter which way one tries to candy-coat it,,,One's desire is to have another sentient being killed in order to eat their flesh....

    However it's Different strokes for different folks/Buddhists and it is up to the individual as to whether they choose to eat animal flesh or not....Personally it's really none of my business......I am comfortable with my choice....and in this present moment in time this is all that 'matters' .....to this bundle of vibrating karmic energy flux

    Ones desire/craving/conditioning does play a big part when it comes to the consumption of animal flesh ...any animal flesh...

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

    @JaySon said:

    @person said:

    @JaySon said:

    @person said:

    @JaySon said:
    Violates the first precept.

    What if you had a dairy cow and it died somehow, would eating it still violate the first precept?

    I don't think so because the first precept is to abstain from taking life. You didn't take that dairy cow's life, so you could totally eat it.

    (Note: I'm not saying I have the greatest moral discipline. I ate chicken and bacon last night.)

    I agree. So then eating beef isn't automatically unethical, only if killing is involved.

    How about if you didn't kill it yourself? You wouldn't have violated the first precept or does following the precepts involve other people's actions too? Like if we benefit from someone else's lie.

    It would still be a violation, I think, because you are taking part in the killing by paying the slaughterer.

    For a monk it is against one of their vows to eat meat that was killed specifically for them. So like in your example of requesting meat be killed by a butcher. Also in the case of being invited for a dinner where an animal will be killed to feed you.

    It gets pretty vague in the modern meat industry, there isn't a direct exchange for death but by purchasing meat you are slightly encouraging more slaughter. If you didn't buy any meat would fewer animals actually die or is your contribution to small to change the number of animals being killed?

  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @person said:

    @JaySon said:

    @person said:

    @JaySon said:

    @person said:

    @JaySon said:
    Violates the first precept.

    What if you had a dairy cow and it died somehow, would eating it still violate the first precept?

    I don't think so because the first precept is to abstain from taking life. You didn't take that dairy cow's life, so you could totally eat it.

    (Note: I'm not saying I have the greatest moral discipline. I ate chicken and bacon last night.)

    I agree. So then eating beef isn't automatically unethical, only if killing is involved.

    How about if you didn't kill it yourself? You wouldn't have violated the first precept or does following the precepts involve other people's actions too? Like if we benefit from someone else's lie.

    It would still be a violation, I think, because you are taking part in the killing by paying the slaughterer.

    For a monk it is against one of their vows to eat meat that was killed specifically for them. So like in your example of requesting meat be killed by a butcher. Also in the case of being invited for a dinner where an animal will be killed to feed you.

    It gets pretty vague in the modern meat industry, there isn't a direct exchange for death but by purchasing meat you are slightly encouraging more slaughter. If you didn't buy any meat would fewer animals actually die or is your contribution to small to change the number of animals being killed?

    I've never read the vinaya, but I hear it's full of complexities like that.

    Also you have to consider the Tibetans. They ate meat because you couldn't grow produce up in those mountains.

  • kimberannakimberanna nanaimo New

    Hi,I read the other day that the Dalai Lama encourages vegetarianism whenever possible, and when it is not possible there is a purification prayer that is often said by Tibetans before they consume another's life.So ,of course many people do not get to pick and choose what they eat.But in the spirit of compassion and nonviolence, mindlessly eating other living beings is certainly a hindrance to ones practice., not killing is a clear precept.For me vegetarianism became a natural consequence of my practice,my attachment to special food in general has naturally abated,so meat is not necessary for my health or happiness, and life is necessary for the happiness of the animals-but again,I have been lucky to have the luxury to easily obtain a wide selection of vegetarian foods.

    personSteve_BJaySonkarasti
  • dhammachickdhammachick crazy Aussie BUJU Sydney, Australia Veteran
    edited January 30

    @JaySon said:
    Violates the first precept.

    People (including myself) violate precepts everyday here....

    Tigger
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    My post relates to those of us who live in the West (I'm under the impression that the vast majority of members live in Westernised countries) where it is easy to obtain alternatives to animal flesh, but in saying this, nowadays even in places such as Tibet,(well not so much the remote parts) there is no need for Tibetan Buddhists to consume animal flesh...

    Regardless of how one looks at the political situation, the Chinese have made it possible for Tibetans to have a meat-free sustainable diet...They have provided the infrastructure to set things in motion...

    .

    And if one looks closely at the karmic impact of the Chinese occupation, there are many swings and roundabouts of beneficial & unbeneficial, wholesome & unwholesome sequences of events taking place... One that also stand out, is the benefits of Tibetan Buddhism which is now accessible to Western people and where many great Tibetan Dharma teachers have brought us Buddha Dharma...

    Excuse the slight diversion ... :)

    Now back to the topic of Beefeater Buddhists :)

  • TiggerTigger Toronto, Canada Veteran

    @federica said:
    Just don't go up to Ol' Farmer Jim and ask him to slay that cow over there, for you.... That's a no-no.

    Exactly!

    I eat meat but animals are not killed for me.

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    When it comes to "To eat or not to eat" animal flesh...it's a simple choice to make....

    If one feels any form of guilt or remorse every time they buy ,cook and eat animal flesh, (and they have no health issues that may require them to consume it, and they have access to a non animal nutritional food source) then refrain from doing so...and if one requires it for health reasons, then carry on doing what one is doing...Tis also a no-brainer :)

    I think it's a dangerous path to tread, to give up eating animal flesh solely because one is under the impression the religion (they choose to follow) requires this of their followers... Buddhism does not require this....It's more of a see for yourself approach...By developing a deeper insight into the first noble truth of Dukkha... :)

  • IronRabbitIronRabbit Veteran
    edited January 30

    Can Buddhists eat beef?

    with a good set of teeth....actually a consomme would not require choppers......

    JaySondhammachick
  • JaySonJaySon Everywhere in the Cosmos Veteran

    @dhammachick said:

    @JaySon said:
    Violates the first precept.

    People (including myself) violate precepts everyday here....

    Ditto!

  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran
    edited January 30

    I think cows are lovely creatures, so I don't eat them. Years ago I got to know some cows quite well on a solitary retreat, I stayed in an old caravan in the corner of a cow field and they would stick their heads in the door for me to give them a scratch. Cows are good listeners by the way. :p

    TiggerShoshin
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Everyone makes different choices for a million different reasons. It's easy to assume everyone in the western world has the same access to things but they don't. There are vast areas in the US and Canada where access to a lot of stuff is just extremely difficult at certain times a year. Or cost prohibitive. Despite the portrayl that we all have a Whole Foods, Trader Joes, co-op, or Costco in our area is simply not true. We are 250 miles from any of those options, actually. I'm not saying this is the norm. But it does happen in our largely middle states where people have little access to stuff, especially in winter months.

    I am not vegetarian, for a lot of reasons I've gone into a million times before. But I have greatly enjoyed expanding my food options and I feel better for it. Meat is only a few days a week, and a very small amount. Eventually it may go completely. But ours is also largely game meat, so it is not part of the farming complex that is so harmful.

    Shoshin
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    I'm fortunate enough to live in a place where I have access to a variety of different vegetarian foods all year round...

    I don't have much freezer space but I do tend to freeze a lot of my homemade vege foods eg, stews, pie mixes, sausages (not homemade) ...so if for some reason I don't feel like cooking, I can just de-frost a no fuss meal without a squeal ...

    I also use a lot of "TVP" and "dried bean curd sticks" which don't need to be in the fridge or freezer, they can stay in the pantry and last quite a while :)

    I'm also fortunate in that I live alone, so I'm just catering for myself which makes the vegetarian life style option easier...

    However when living in a family situation (I'm divorced and all my children are grown and have flown the coop) we were all vegetarians, including our dog, (apart from when the neighbours gave her animal flesh bones every now and again) however the cat, being a cat... was a law unto her self ....

  • I am a pesce-vegetarian, but would never commit to charging a buddhist as having to abstain from eating cows! Or grass! Or salt! or pepper!

    This focus on what you are eating, becomes quite obsolete, when you come to realise that you are consuming your self!

    Cannibals - all of you!

    lobster
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited January 31

    @person said:

    I agree. So then eating beef isn't automatically unethical, only if killing is involved.

    How about if you didn't kill it yourself? You wouldn't have violated the first precept or does following the precepts involve other people's actions too? Like if we benefit from someone else's lie.

    Eating meat per se has never been unethical in Tibetan society. In the old days, monks were allowed to eat meat if it was the equivalent of road kill: had fallen prey to another animal, or fallen off a cliff. Later, markets appeared that sold meat, but the butchers were Muslims. Also, as previously mentioned, farmers and herders killed livestock for their own use, but I think this was allowed only around the fringes of Tibet, not in central Tibet, where the Lhasa government had stricter rules. Still, the Dalai Lamas and other high monks ate meat.

    I wonder how Japanese Buddhists and Buddhist monks handle this question. Does anyone here know?

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Taken from Wikipedia

    "Japan initially received Chinese Buddhism in 6th century. In the 9th century, Emperor Saga made a decree prohibiting meat consumption except fish and birds. This remained the dietary habit of Japanese until the introduction of European dietary customs in the 19th century. Again around the 9th century, two Japanese monks (Kūkai and Saichō) introduced Vajrayana Buddhism into Japan and this soon became the dominant Buddhism among the nobility. In particular, Saichō, who founded the Tendai sect of Japanese Buddhism, reduced the number of vinaya code to 66. (Enkai 円戒) During the 12th century, a number of monks from Tendai sects founded new schools (Zen, Pure Land) and de-emphasised vegetarianism, Nichiren Buddhism today likewise de-emphasises vegetarianism. However, Nichiren himself practiced vegetarianism.[citation needed] Zen does tend generally to look favourably upon vegetarianism. The Shingon sect founded by Kūkai recommends vegetarianism and requires it at certain times, but it is not always strictly required for monks and nuns."

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