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Can a Buddhist eat beef?

footiamfootiam Veteran Veteran
edited March 2011 in Buddhism Basics
Is there any food that a Buddhist can't eat? Is there a law prescribed by Buddha that forbids certain food?
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Comments

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    As far as I know its important what your intentions are. Not to kill animals, but also not to condemn those who do. I don't know of a practice ascribed by buddha for laypeople, but that may because those he put out his begging bowl to did not record his words.
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2011
    Eat what you like, but be mindful of how it got on your plate.

    For me that means no livestock produce. It's just so cruel.

    Edit: Buddha advised against eating sentient animals (see the 1st precept), although it is recorded that he ate meat himself.
  • ShiftPlusOneShiftPlusOne Veteran Veteran
    No, if you follow the precepts, that will pretty much imply what you can and can't eat.
  • IronRabbitIronRabbit Veteran Veteran
    The second precept, if taken, would preclude one from eating any type of food - if it was stolen.......image
  • footiamfootiam Veteran Veteran
    Dear Jeffrey
    I don’t understand what do you mean by intention. Intention to eat beef makes it okay?

    Dear Daozen,
    I thought the first precept is about killing, not eating.

    Dear ShiftPlusOne,
    You mean we can’t eat beef, pork and muttong too?

    Dear Iron Rabbit,
    If it is not stolen beef, it is okay then?
  • KartariKartari Explorer Explorer
    To my understanding, the Buddha instructed bhikkhus and bhikkhunis (monks and nuns) to abstain from killing any sentient beings (which includes animals). He did allow them to eat meat, however, if it was not specially prepared for them.

    Imo, it was a pragmatic decision to allow this. It allowed bhikkhus and bhikkhunis to beg for their daily meals without imposing hardships on lay people. I imagine finding ample food was more difficult in those days, nevermind being picky about what kind of food you as a beggar will accept from lay people. It also does not put bhikkhus and bhikkhunis in the position of contributing to the suffering of animals directly, since they can only accept meat if the animal is not killed on their behalf.

    So I'd say that as long as you do not specially seek out meat you are adhering to the precept to not kill. I suppose eating what's offered to you (e.g. when you visit family for the holidays, or if you're a beggar) would be acceptable to the Buddha. But hunting and purposely purchasing meat would probably not be cool with his instructions.

    To my understanding, at least.
  • MindGateMindGate Veteran United States Veteran
    edited March 2011
    What do you think, footiam. If you are trying to make all sentient beings happy, is eating a cow, which was put through hell its entire life just for you to eat, okay? This cow was killed and tortured for your consumption. By buying its flesh and eating this cow, you are supporting its killing. Is this personally okay? You decide. Inquire within.

    And listen to Kartari, considering they're correct with their info. :)

    description of the photo
  • CloudCloud Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2011
    Some monks (some traditions) don't eat meat, others only eat meat if that's all they get (they survive on offerings, little choice) and the animal isn't specifically killed and prepared for them.

    Lay Buddhists have a choice in what they eat, but most eventually (it may be years) stop eating meat after developing a high level of compassion for the animals that the meat comes from, and not wishing to support the breeding and slaughter industry. Animals may perceive life on a simpler level, but their minds still only want to be happy like ours, can still suffer in many ways.

    For a lay Buddhist, there's no hard and fast rule when it comes to this. You have to make the choice yourself.
  • reasons we shouldnt eat meat-we are from monkey, so our body is for fruit, which make we ill(many reasons for sickness not this one),second avoid killing animals
    we are human being not Buddha. Why he can eat them, but we shoulnt.benefits of vegetarians
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran Veteran
    Dear Daozen,
    I thought the first precept is about killing, not eating.
    Have you tried to eat a live cow? It's really hard and they don't seem to like it at all :)

    OK but seriously what i was implying is that, if you choose to eat meat, you are indirectly "killing" animals by creating a market for the consumption of meat.

  • ShiftPlusOneShiftPlusOne Veteran Veteran
    footiam,
    I don't think eating meat is wrong, I am not a vegetarian. I am saying that if you didn't kill it, have someone kill it for you or steal it, it's fine. With the way supermarkets work, if a large number of people stopped eating meat, the same amount of cows would still be killed. The price would drop to match the loss of demand. So, you're not contributing to the death of those animals. That's just my reasoning, as others have said, it's your own decision.
  • footiamfootiam Veteran Veteran
    Dear Kartari,
    I would like to think that buying prepared food which has beef in it would be okay then.

    Dear MindGate,
    Eating a cow would not make everyone sad do, would it?

    Dear Cloud,
    Buddhism is all about making choices then.

    Dear hvbson,
    Not everyone believes that we evolve from monkeys. Only Charles Darwin and his kind do.

    Dear Daozen,
    No, I haven’t eaten anything alive, not a cow or a fish. I don’t know if the first precept is about killing for food or about killing in wars, the latter being really unnecessary.
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2011
    @Shiftplusone, I'm sorry, but your reasoning is plain wrong. If everyone stopped eating beef, no cows would be killed. Simple. Sure, production would continue until it was clear sales had plummeted, but pretty soon, no more killing ... I'm not suggesting this will ever happen, but i'm using it as an illustration of the fact that the consumer demand for a product does ultimately determine its production. The beef on your plate was once a cow, but was killed for you to eat it. Please understand i'm not trying to really come down on your personal choices, but i think it's important to understand what those choices mean.
  • CloudCloud Veteran Veteran
    Dear Cloud,
    Buddhism is all about making choices then.
    You've hit the nail on the head. That is exactly what it's all about. Skillful and unskillful choices. Karma, in other words.

  • taiyakitaiyaki Veteran Veteran
    a buddhist may not be able to. but you're not truly/inherently a buddhist. it's just a label you identify with.

    so you can do whatever the hell you want. eat meat or not.

    but if you choose to identify as a buddhist there are rules you have play by. if don't follows those rules, you cannot call yourself a buddhist. terms of violations are breached.

    lol
  • ShiftPlusOneShiftPlusOne Veteran Veteran
    @Shiftplusone, I'm sorry, but your reasoning is plain wrong. If everyone stopped eating beef, no cows would be killed.
    That's a big if.
  • footiamfootiam Veteran Veteran
    Dear ShiftPlusOne.
    Money makes the world go round. People will kill the cows and wait for you to buy it.

    Dear Daozen,
    If one does not eat beef, one will eat pork or mutton. If the cow does not die, the pig or the goat will. Even when no one eats the cow, that does not guarantee its survival. As it is, there is not many pandas or tigers left in this world.

    Dear Cloud,
    That makes Buddhism a difficult religion. It would be easier to have everything planned by God.

    Dear taiyaki,
    Does this mean that a person who eats beef is not a Buddhist?
  • CloudCloud Veteran Veteran
    @footiam, I don't think so. I find it to be quite liberating. Sure you're responsible for yourself, but aren't you responsible for yourself no matter what?
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    The question is if a buddhist can eat beef. It depends on what the buddhist wants to live in the world. As a meat eater currently I must eat meat in order to fit in the world. But if I am very determined not to eat animals that were killed I am not forced to eat meat to survive. And I don't have to succumb to peer pressure and social mores.

    Some reasons not to eat meat: health, to be different, lower the price so more people can afford, to create some merit which you can then dedicate, to learn a new cuisine!

    So if you want to live in a world in which YOU don't have to eat meat, then you will notice the suffering you experienced in the past as you cut through dead animal muscles and your fork winced in pain as tongues quivered in excstacy.

    I've been a vegetarian and it was very difficult to create reliable good meals as I am often not able to cook, and the delicious taste helps for a good celebration with my fellows.
  • footiamfootiam Veteran Veteran
    Dear Cloud,
    It is liberating to people who are responsible. I am responsible.
  • CloudCloud Veteran Veteran
    @footiam, Then you're set. No worries.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    footiam,

    the intention is the volitional part of your view on the matter of eating beef.


    http://newbuddhist.com/discussion/9806/can-a-buddhist-eat-beefs#Item_5
    2. Right Intention

    While right view refers to the cognitive aspect of wisdom, right intention refers to the volitional aspect, i.e. the kind of mental energy that controls our actions. Right intention can be described best as commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement. Buddha distinguishes three types of right intentions: 1. the intention of renunciation, which means resistance to the pull of desire, 2. the intention of good will, meaning resistance to feelings of anger and aversion, and 3. the intention of harmlessness, meaning not to think or act cruelly, violently, or aggressively, and to develop compassion.
  • footiamfootiam Veteran Veteran
    Dear Cloud,
    No worries. Karma will take care of itself. Ha! Ha!

  • CloudCloud Veteran Veteran
    @footiam, If you're responsible and make the right choices of what to do (which is your karma), then yeah it should all work out. Karma is what we choose, it's our intention as Jeffrey says, it's our will.
  • footiamfootiam Veteran Veteran
    Dear Cloud,
    There is a Chinese monk here who says that there is fairness in this world. Karma, he said, makes the world fair. And by the way, do you think eating beef is a wrong or right choice?
  • taiyakitaiyaki Veteran Veteran
    depends on what you define a buddhist as.

    there is the color red. now within that color are a million different shades and tints of red.
  • footiamfootiam Veteran Veteran
    Dear taiyaki,
    Is there a specific definition for a Buddhist?
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2011
    @Shiftplusone, I'm sorry, but your reasoning is plain wrong. If everyone stopped eating beef, no cows would be killed.
    That's a big if.
    Sure, and my post actually mentions this "big if". But the "if" is not the point. The point is the connection between meat on your plate and killing of animals.
    If one does not eat beef, one will eat pork or mutton.
    I don't understand this at all. If one chooses not to eat beef, why does it mean one must inevitably eat pork or mutton instead?

  • taiyakitaiyaki Veteran Veteran
    i believe there are formal precepts one takes to become a "buddhist".
    or more accurately a lay person. now monks themselves have even stricter formal precepts to follow than the lay person.

    i would assert that everyone is a buddha but not a buddhist.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    There was a large food fight erupted in Taco Bell, or so my brother claimed. No it was actually just a single taco launched.

    Taco Bell was a meeting place on campus. And it was open till late, don't remember the exact hour, but they did have probably 1 or 2 hours to clean for the morning crowd.

    Anyhow as my brother tells it everyone looked on the act in astonishment. One guy broke the tension "DAYUM you got taco on your nose!"

    My brother always had a good one that cut through my drunken fog.
  • ShiftPlusOneShiftPlusOne Veteran Veteran
    @Daozen

    Sorry, I read your post, but somehow completely missed the rest of it.
    There are different types of goods. For simple supply and demand, you're quite right. However, demand for Australian beef is very high, not only in Australia but overseas as well. If half of the population of Australia stopped eating beef, either the price would drop in the local market, or much more of it will be exported... probably a mixture of both. Now, I admit I haven't read the industry reports for beef in much detail, so I may be very wrong, However, these are really big if statements we are making here, so being realistic... if all Buddhists were 'forbidden' from eating beef, that would not even put a dent in the global beef supply.

    I am not as detached as I sound, I certainly look at the vegetarian menu first and chose things without meat when it's reasonable to do so. However, I am not going to deny the fact that things eat each other and that humans are omnivores. We certainly eat more meat than we need, so being mindful of the choices we make and what they mean is the way to go.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2011
    The demand for beef is elastic which means when the price goes down the consumption goes up. Elasticity is a measure of how the demand curves sloping. If price is the y axis (vertical) and amount consumed is the x (horizontal) then the demand curve is increasing with lower price.

    The market price is where sloping down d crosses with sloping up s.

    The supply curve is sloped with more production at a higher price so it is sloping up with x. Now beef consumption shifts the demand curve towards less consumption at a given price. So it is a shift of the whole downards curve to the left.

    If the slope of the demand curve is very sloped downwards the shift to the left reduces the price more than a gradually sloped curve. This corresponds to buyers are very sensitive to price of beef. For example they might buy other items and enternainments.

    That situation would lower the price the most. And importantly would lower x the most.

    But the demand curve would be inelastic if everyone just thinks ''mmmmm beef' 'beef is cool'... the multiplex of beef mandalas.

    So buddhism can shift the demand curve downwards just buy showing a positive spin and example on non-meat items.

    Shifting the supply curve is much harder to do unless a hostile takeover of the stock by someone who can make more money with cow petting zoo!
  • taiyakitaiyaki Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2011
    what you buy is important. each time you buy you're voting as a consumer for that product.

    good luck getting people to stop eating meat though. they will stop if they have to raise, kill and prepare it all themselves. the disconnect from all that as a consumer makes consumption of meat much easier.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    I think I 'butchere' that example if you forgive me, but if all the details aren't correct I think some of the points make sense, without the right assignment of variables. If you want to see some supply and demand curves try the wiki and you can see what I was trying to say.
  • Eat what you like, but be mindful of how it got on your plate.

    For me that means no livestock produce. It's just so cruel.

    Edit: Buddha advised against eating sentient animals (see the 1st precept), although it is recorded that he ate meat himself.
    It is recorded in the Shurangama sutra that the meat eaten was not the phycial meat of animals.
  • ShiftPlusOneShiftPlusOne Veteran Veteran
    Also, we're used to paying at least 6 times more than what things are worth. We pay not only CEO wages, supply chain logistic expenses and administrative expenses but we also pay to be convinced that we need things through marketing. On the whole, the choices we make is not a matter of taste or preference, it's a matter of how it relates to our ideas of who we are. If something contributed to how we want others to think of us, we like it. That's why marketing works so well.

    Brining that back to meat. We have an ongoing marketing campaign for lamb ("Australians - we love our lamb!" or something like that). Also, ads constantly play in the stores where a guy with a really thick Australian accent talks about how great meat is. Now, being 'Australian' is a huge thing in Australia, it's not just a matter of nationality, but it's closely tied into ego. I am sure it's the save with being American in America (at least in the past). If millions are spent making subconscious link that "bbq, lamb and meat in general=Australian", you can bet that people will buy meat not out of need for food, but to fill ego.

    The number of people immune to that sort of marketing is insignificant to the number of people who's ideas of value for meats are massively increased.

    Farmers don't engage in marketing, so a supermarket will pay them enough to cover expenses and to make a little profit. Then supermarkets have room to move when it comes to price, they can control the demand without altering the supply because our economy isn't based on worth, but perceived value.
    each time you buy you're voting as a consumer for that product.
    Not when you're in the minority. As with politics, money and marketing make the final decision.
  • I wonder what's the fuss over beef. Animals don't create a problem over what they eat. They just do it.
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    You crazy? Ever had dogs? They like the best kind and they hold out for it. And if you give them treat for coming in then they keep asking to go out! Cats are just as bad in their own way. Leaving dead animals on the ground outside.

    Maybe my vision is colored by having the animals in the company of humans they learn. Whereas birds go to feeders. And foraging rabbit have no idea what the hell they live on I guess dandelions?
  • 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
    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/bmc1/bmc1.ch08-4.html

    http://www.dhammasara.webs.com/JivakaSutta.html

    Oh and by the way, @footiam:

    Not everyone believes that we evolve from monkeys. Only Charles Darwin and his kind do.
    We are not evolved from monkeys.
    We share a common ancestor with certain apes.

    there's a difference.
    And the above comment is really rather ridiculous...

    "Charles Darwin and his kind"....?

    That would include about 60% of the planet's population then.

    Try to get facts straight instead of posting foolishness.... ;)
  • edited March 2011

    We are not evolved from monkeys.
    We share a common ancestor with certain apes.
    Do we, really?
    Try to get facts straight instead of posting foolishness.... ;)
    Facts are objective, verifiable observations. If you are not posting
    foolishness, then you have verifiable proof of what Darwin offered as a theory?


  • DaozenDaozen Veteran Veteran
    edited March 2011
    @shiftplusone Every consumer votes with their dollar, and believe me, every dollar counts in business and the economy. You can't just dismiss an individual or a minority percentage as irrelevant, it's simply not logical. If one person doesn't make a difference, then neither does 10, or 100 or a million, by your logic. But clearly this is not so. Of course the ad-men try - and succeed - in changing peoples preferences, but the whole point of being a conscious consumer is that we can empower ourselves and others to make informed choices.
  • andyrobynandyrobyn Veteran Veteran
    Agree Daozen - have a close friend who is a Buddhist economist and the outcome of his work has shown me many times how this works
  • DaozenDaozen Veteran Veteran
    @yiming at this point, the general facts of evolution are so well established and verified by evidence that it's up to you to present a convincing argument, with evidence, as to why we shouldn't believe it.
  • 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 March 2011

    We are not evolved from monkeys.
    We share a common ancestor with certain apes.
    Do we, really?
    Yes.
    Try to get facts straight instead of posting foolishness.... ;)
    Facts are objective, verifiable observations. If you are not posting
    foolishness, then you have verifiable proof of what Darwin offered as a theory?


    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1134/is_10_109/ai_68148549/

    Google it. It's everywhere.
    And I second Daozen's comment.

    And don't reply here, you're taking the subject off-topic.
    Start a new thread, if you want.

    Thanks.

  • DaozenDaozen Veteran Veteran
    Getting back on track, anyone know why chinese buddhism has a stronger emphasis on being vegetarian than other countries?
  • Dear friends. My perspective of Eating beef is wrong, prohibited. As once a Taoist, I've heard stories about the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva that the beef has something to do with avalokitesvara bodhisattva. May i know if anyone heard of this?

    Thanks :)
  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran Veteran
    I have heard that Avalokitesevra is represented by the peacock in that there are many hands all with eyes. If this is a nature that is awakened in us then we can try to use beef skillfuly to provide material needs, attention and support amidst the storm, and also try to make a difference with sharing our wisdom.

    So with beef the subject matter, beef, it could definitely be something to eat and discuss.
  • SeMichSeMich Explorer Explorer
    It is up to you to make the decision. I began to feel bad when I ate meat after I started practice, so I quit eating it. I also felt, personally, that it was inconsistent with my practice. I quit smoking for the same reason. It is an extreme form of attachment and craving that I cannot reconcile with practice at all. But this is just what I did not think was consistent with the practice; there are of course Buddhist smokers and meat eaters. It was a subtle shift in consciousness on my part, not any hard and fast rule.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    It depends on how far you take the precepts and how strict you are with them in the modern world. They did not have 50,000 sq ft supermarkets with thousands of choices back in the Buddhas day. If the monks went shopping for their food, instead of begging for it, would they have been instructed not to purchase the meat, if there were other choices available? I think so.
This discussion has been closed.