Vegetarian Food

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Vegetarian Food

Postby martinfrank » Sun Feb 14, 2010 5:38 pm

Hi!

I apologize to write about this unwelcome topic.

Yesterday, I went along to the Royal Thai temple in Switzerland. The Thai staff of Palais Kraft brought food for the monks. We stayed for lunch.

I am a vegetarian. I wasn't surprised that the Thai monks and the Thai lay Buddhists are eating meat; but I was surprised that there wasn't ONE SINGLE vegetarian dish among the 30-40 dishes offered to the monks. The Lord Abbot offered me some sweets and fruits, the only things I could eat. Luckily, I had eaten breakfast and hadn't come for the food.

I don't want to start a discussion of "what Lord Buddha said" regarding eating meat. Lord Buddha said that you shouldn't kill living beings and he also said that many people go to hell. I wish you and me to go the good way when we die.

Yesterday, all the food was cooked specially (by many different families and groups) for the monks; it wasn't that the monks went begging through a street and were eating what was left over from householders' non-vegetarian meals.

I also know from the few vegetarian monasteries in Thailand, that if the Lord Abbot would tell the lay Buddhists that the monastery recommends the laypeople donate vegetarian food, within a few weeks this inflow of pork, chicken, fish would stop and the laypeople would bring only vegetarian food.

All this I ask you not to discuss; it has been discussed and re-discussed. Many vegetarians are attached to their tasty food. It is not possible to discuss meat-eating with them.

Instead of this unwelcome general topic, I would like to suggest two smaller items for discussion:

1. Is this exclusively non-vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner every day diet good nutrition for monks?

2. I believe that for laypeople it is difficult to go a good way when they die. Shouldn't the monks as spiritual leaders out of pity guide the laypeople to avoid harmful actions?

What do you think?

Enjoy your (vegetarian) food!

Martin
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby baratgab » Sun Feb 14, 2010 6:15 pm

Well, if my understanding is correct, one of your questions is about nutrition, and the other is about the ethical importance of vegetarianism. I'm not sure why do you think that Buddhists are well-versed or qualified in these topics enough to give you meaningful answers. These topics are subject to much prejudice and delusion in the current, speciesist societies.

Though, as a vegan I certainly resonate with your concerns.

Be well :smile:
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby martinfrank » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:53 pm

Hi Baratgab

Thank you for your quick reply. I try to make myself more clear:

1. I was a little shocked when I saw the food, not so much because the food was not vegetarian, but because among so many dishes, there wasn't one single dish which wasn't mixed up with meat or fish. The food didn't looke like a healthy diet and there wasn't a plate without parts of a recently killed being in it. The temple I visited is a community temple. The monks take care very well of the Thai community in Switzerland.

Maybe there is no answer; but definitely, it is a Buddhist problem.

2. My point about lay people is that for lay people the precepts are the main toolset to avoid going to hell. I believe that we humans are almost always following habits, largely conditioned by circumstances, and occasionally guided by our minds. Precepts are good habits. Not eating meat and not drinking alcohol are more a matter of habit than an effort, while not killing, not stealing, not lying, no illicit sex are all tough stuff even for monks.

I am not a "healthy diet" vegetarian. When I look at an animal, I think, "What did you do that this happened to you?" and feel pity for the poor animal, and fear for what will happen when I die.

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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby appicchato » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:07 pm

martinfrank wrote:...among so many dishes, there wasn't one single dish which wasn't mixed up with meat or fish. The food didn't looke like a healthy diet and there wasn't a plate without parts of a recently killed being in it.

Same here in Thailand...but so what?...it is what it is...we do the best we can with what we've got...I'm a vegie, and most of my diet is rice, with just the 'juice' from those meat dishes...I'm still kicking...

...it is a Buddhist problem.

Huh?...

When I look at an animal, I think, "What did you do that this happened to you?" and feel pity for the poor animal...

The same could be said about ourselves...
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby retrofuturist » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:13 pm

Greetings Martin,

martinfrank wrote:My point about lay people is that for lay people the precepts are the main toolset to avoid going to hell. I believe that we humans are almost always following habits, largely conditioned by circumstances, and occasionally guided by our minds.


You do realise that meat-eating and serving are not precept violations, and that the Buddha prescribed the circumstances under which meat-eating by bhikkhus was acceptable, don't you?

Metta,
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If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Feb 15, 2010 12:43 am

martinfrank wrote:All this I ask you not to discuss; it has been discussed and re-discussed. Many vegetarians are attached to their tasty food. It is not possible to discuss meat-eating with them.
Instead of this unwelcome general topic, I would like to suggest two smaller items for discussion:

1. Is this exclusively non-vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner every day diet good nutrition for monks?


Probably not good nutrition (in my opinion), but the monks must accept what is offered, living by the Threefold rule.

2. I believe that for laypeople it is difficult to go a good way when they die. Shouldn't the monks as spiritual leaders out of pity guide the laypeople to avoid harmful actions?


Well, to answer that we would need to discuss what the Buddha said, which you said you didn't want to get into since it has been discussed and re-discussed.
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Mon Feb 15, 2010 1:12 pm

Obviously, vegetarianism isn't as essential to Buddhist practice as we vegetarians sometimes like to think it is.

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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby Cittasanto » Mon Feb 15, 2010 7:44 pm

martinfrank wrote:I don't want to start a discussion of "what Lord Buddha said" regarding eating meat. Lord Buddha said that you shouldn't kill living beings and he also said that many people go to hell. I wish you and me to go the good way when we die.

if you don't want to discuss what the Buddha said regarding eating meat, how do you know the context to decide which way anyone would go for eating?
not to mention that either way is still not the way out, or a guarantee of staying there.

Instead of this unwelcome general topic, I would like to suggest two smaller items for discussion:

why bring up a topic you don't want to discus?

1. Is this exclusively non-vegetarian Thanksgiving dinner every day diet good nutrition for monks?

depends, if they are getting the needed nutrition or not.

2. I believe that for laypeople it is difficult to go a good way when they die. Shouldn't the monks as spiritual leaders out of pity guide the laypeople to avoid harmful actions?

Belief isn't necessarily reality, we are to make ourselves like an island.

What do you think?

Enjoy your (vegetarian) food!

moralising

baratgab wrote:These topics are subject to much prejudice and delusion in the current, speciesist societies.

so what is the difference between a carrot and a chicken to a non-speciesist? who decided one species had more worth than the other species here?
a living being is a living being! no-one is no more or less nutrition for another being, than they are for others.

Bubbabuddhist wrote:Obviously, vegetarianism isn't as essential to Buddhist practice as we vegetarians sometimes like to think it is.

:anjali:
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby baratgab » Tue Feb 16, 2010 12:30 pm

Manapa wrote:
baratgab wrote:These topics are subject to much prejudice and delusion in the current, speciesist societies.

so what is the difference between a carrot and a chicken to a non-speciesist? who decided one species had more worth than the other species here? a living being is a living being! no-one is no more or less nutrition for another being, than they are for others.


The difference is that what we call "chicken" is a sentient being, quite similar to us, while the carrot is not a sentient being; according to our scientific knowledge, and even according to the Buddhist doctrine. :smile: To summarize, there can be no justification for any discrimination that is based solely on the fact that a sentient being belongs to a different species. Morally speaking, if one is prepared to take the life and/or eat the flesh of a chicken, one should also be prepared to take the life and/or eat the flesh of a ("deficient") human being (of similar mental capabilities). Elaboration:

The generally accepted moral principle of equality among humans doesn't rely on any factual actuality. Humans have wildly different mental and physical capabilities, different levels of moral integrity, different habit patterns – no matter what test we choose, it is simply not true that humans are equal. The actual base of the moral principle of equality among humans is the equal consideration of interests. That is, equality is a prescription for equally respectful treatment, which is based on the individual beings' individual needs and interests. This makes races, genders, sexual orientations, religions, IQ scores and other actual differences morally irrelevant, and since they are morally irrelevant, basing different degrees of moral consideration solely on them constitutes unjustifiable discrimination.

But since equality is based on the interests of the individual beings, without any regard to the actual equality of any capabilities or characteristics, this also makes the species barrier morally irrelevant. This is a direct, irresistible implication. There can be no more justification for discriminating solely on the basis of species than discriminating solely on the basis of skin-color, gender, ethnic group, intelligence or even hair-color – every one of these characteristics is arbitrarily picked and morally irrelevant. This means, among other things, that no matter how commonplace the practice of confining and slaughtering non-human sentient beings to satisfy our morbid food-preference, this simply cannot be justified morally, and can only be seen as a severe breach on our moral integrity; as a form of unjustifiable discrimination, called speciesism.

A more detailed essay on this issue:
All Animals Are Equal, from Peter Singer

If you feel any urge to debate, feel free to write to Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, at singerp@gmail.com. I'm not interested in debates; I'm more interested in leaving behind the whole "human" "civilization". :smile:
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:25 pm

Hi Baratgab,
You may wish to check your science and Buddhist doctrine. just because something is more similar, doesn't give it more worth.

it is the why, not the what that makes something moral.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby RayfieldNeel » Tue Feb 16, 2010 8:20 pm

I believe that I can relate to the OP's surprise. I'm a long-time vegetarian, but not so-much a long-time Buddhist, and had operated under the delusion that there was a great deal of overlap between the two groups. It's been a bit of a wake-up call for me to discover that I'm still in the diet minority, even in this group. :tongue:
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:23 pm

RayfieldNeel wrote:I believe that I can relate to the OP's surprise. I'm a long-time vegetarian, but not so-much a long-time Buddhist, and had operated under the delusion that there was a great deal of overlap between the two groups. It's been a bit of a wake-up call for me to discover that I'm still in the diet minority, even in this group. :tongue:


how do you know you are in the minority?
over a 1000 members only around 10% have taken the poll. and depending on how strict a vegetarian depends on who are considered a vegetarian. I know some who would consider Bhantes diet (above) a non-vegetarian diet, and others who would. personally I find that diet an inspiration.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby Dan74 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 9:39 pm

My understanding is that the level of "vegeterianism" varies depending on the country and the Buddhism tradition.

Chinese and Korean monastics are vegetarian, I believe. In Sri Lanka it is also on the rise I've heard. I am guessing that in other countries there are many monks and nuns who are vegetarian and many who aren't.

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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby RayfieldNeel » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:09 pm

Manapa wrote:how do you know you are in the minority?
over a 1000 members only around 10% have taken the poll. and depending on how strict a vegetarian depends on who are considered a vegetarian. I know some who would consider Bhantes diet (above) a non-vegetarian diet, and others who would. personally I find that diet an inspiration.


Fair enough, and I don't, really. On another Buddhist forum, there is an involved thread about diet, and the non-veggies seem to be there in greater numbers.

I define vegetarianism as, well, not eating meat. No beef, pork, fowl, fish, etc. I've been a lacto-vegetarian for 24 years, meaning I do partake of cow's milk, and am currently experimenting with making a move to being a vegan. (Eating nothing of animal origin)

With apologies, I'm not sure who Bhante is to make a comparison. :)
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:31 pm

Bhante means venerable sir (if I remember correctly) and I meant appicchato (3rd or 4th post I think).

I use to be a chef and generally in my experience chefs (and some vegetarians and meat eaters) consider a vegetarian as someone who will not eat anything which has involved the killing of an animal, that includes the juices from meat, and is reinforced by product description laws, i.e., if roast potatoes have been cooked in beef jus it can not be called vegetarian, and there was a big issue when mars or snickers changed an ingredient to an animal based one, it is seen as a cop-out and hypercritical by many I have had conversations with about it. I know a vegetarian who eats chicken, and others who eat fish, although the former, I think is trying to have their cake and eat it, the later is considered a type of vegetarian for some reason.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby RayfieldNeel » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:11 am

Yes, by my personal definition, and the one from which I was educated, a vegetarian does not partake of the juices of animals, and of course no fowl or fish. I think a veggie who eats fish is considered a "pescatarian"...and it all gets a bit murky to my limited mind after that point. Eh, one of the main insights of my Path has been that labels can quickly become meaningless, or even a burden. ;)

Thank you for the clarification of the titles. I still have a lot to learn about the Theravada world..
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:20 am

Greetings Manapa,

Slight off-topic detour...

Manapa wrote:Bhante means venerable sir (if I remember correctly) and I meant appicchato (3rd or 4th post I think).


I'm pretty sure that I've heard the word bhante is used only when speaking to the person. I could call him bhante, but if I were speaking to you I wouldn't call him bhante. Rather than speak of a bhante, or bhantes... we speak of a bhikkhu or bhikkhus (or bhikkuni or bhikkhunis).

There's probably some :quote: technical :quote: term for that kind of word, but I don't know it. I wouldn't make a very good grammarian.

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:23 pm

Probably true,
but because he is part of the thread, I suppose it isn't terably out of range of the use, sort of like siting round a warm camp fire having a discussion and refering to another their but not directly to them, that was how I was using it atleast.
and you would more than likely make a better grammarian than me!

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Manapa,

Slight off-topic detour...

Manapa wrote:Bhante means venerable sir (if I remember correctly) and I meant appicchato (3rd or 4th post I think).


I'm pretty sure that I've heard the word bhante is used only when speaking to the person. I could call him bhante, but if I were speaking to you I wouldn't call him bhante. Rather than speak of a bhante, or bhantes... we speak of a bhikkhu or bhikkhus (or bhikkuni or bhikkhunis).

There's probably some :quote: technical :quote: term for that kind of word, but I don't know it. I wouldn't make a very good grammarian.

Metta,
Retro. :)
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby Cittasanto » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:31 pm

RayfieldNeel wrote:Yes, by my personal definition, and the one from which I was educated, a vegetarian does not partake of the juices of animals, and of course no fowl or fish. I think a veggie who eats fish is considered a "pescatarian"...and it all gets a bit murky to my limited mind after that point. Eh, one of the main insights of my Path has been that labels can quickly become meaningless, or even a burden. ;)

Thank you for the clarification of the titles. I still have a lot to learn about the Theravada world..


I think the specific names is more of a US thing or originated there? Certainly never heard of the different sorts of veggie before I got a zen book for prisons a couple of years ago, no longer have it to give a precise title, but it was interesting for a couple of different reasons.

I have looked for it since to get a link and I have found it reasonable hard to find, but the Zen prison chaplaincy is quite "Famous" and may even be called Zen Prison chaplaincy?
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Vegetarian Food

Postby David N. Snyder » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:50 pm

I made a new thread to discuss the different diet classifications, from omnivore to fruitarian:

viewtopic.php?f=31&t=3645
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