the great vegetarian debate

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths. What can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
morning mist
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby morning mist » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:08 am

alan wrote:Hi morning mist
You don't need to worry about saturated fats. They are good for you.
As for Coconut milk, most of what you buy will be primarily water. Stay away from "lite" products and you'll be Ok. Better yet, get real coconut oil and cook with it, add it to your diet. I guarantee you will feel better.


Hi Allan,

We always use coconut from the can and cook with it. And I always drink coconut juice. I just haven't been using coconut oil in cooking because I prefer virgin olive oil. I feel perfectly healthy, it can't get any better than that. Personally, I am not a fan of animal fat. It is okay at minimal amount but I don't think it is healthy if you indulge in it.

As I see it, you can be healthy as a vegetarian or non-vegetarian. Health is not an issue . Of course, there is always an exception in certain cases.
with metta,

morning mist
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby morning mist » Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:19 am

Khitij wrote:The Vinaya is also a view. Saying that meat eating is okay is also a view. Ultimately, they are rules, some of which are clearly outdated. Ancient India is not the Modern West. Look how Buddhism has been reinterpreted in China. They grow their own food. The West can clearly do the same. The Buddha said it is okay to change minor rules at his parinibbana.


I don't think the Vinaya is outdated at all. The rules are for bhikkhus who don't choose their food or possess money to buy food. Besides, there is no rules saying a bhikkhu has to eat meat or not eat meat. If a certain bhikkhu wants to become a vegetarian he can. It looks like some of the bhikkhus ( Mahayana) choose to be vegetarian. Is this against the Vinaya ? No, because there is no rule in the Vinaya preventing a bhikkhu from being a vegetarian. Since there is no rule preventing a bhikkhu from being a vegetarian then what rule is outdated ? Are we talking about allowing monastics to accept whatever being offered without like or dislike as being outdated or wrong ? If they know that the animals are killed for them then they can't accept it. If everyone offer them vegetarian food, that is just fine according to the Vinaya. They are neither directly or indirectly involved in the death of the animal. Their eating doesn't cause bad kamma . Also , what you put in your mouth doesn't effect the practice when it comes to enlightenment. The Buddha experimented with all these rules about eating and eating practices before but it leads to unnecessary pain , torture, and even death . His practice improved after he ignored these unnecessary / time wasting practices .

In the Buddha's teaching he placed more emphasis on what comes out of people's mouth rather than what goes in. That is why we see Right Speech as one of the Noble Eightfold Path. It is also part of the 5 precepts. If everyone become vegetarian fewer animals might die , but the problems of war, violence, crime, animal sacrifices, abuses, scandals, and the like will continue . But if everyone keep the five precepts, the issues we have in this world would greatly diminish. Also, sila ( 5 precepts, etc..) is an important aspect that can impact people's progress when it comes to the practice of enlightenment.

Some have more concern for animals, others are more concern about the poor, someone else might be concern about the environment. Are the ones that are concern about the animals more compassionate that the ones that are more concern about the poor and hungry ? Whatever area people are concern about depends on each person. Is it right for the ones that give money to the poor weekly look down on the ones who don't as being cold or undeveloped ? It just depends on which field people choose to focus their time and energy on. Each can motivate others to join in their chosen/favorite cause , but let's not put down others who don't share the same passion for your chosen cause.

The Buddha discouraged people of his time from animal sacrifices, discouraged the killing of animal in general, and discouraged the selling of meat or living beings. So people that discouraged others from killing and selling meat of other beings are not doing anything contrary to the dhamma. I see it as encouraging others to practice " Right Livelihood" and keeping the precept ( 1). However, these people shouldn't attack the people who eat meat because they are not the ones breaking the precept or getting involve in wrong livelihood. If you want them to join in and boycott the ones that are not practicing Right Livelihood and breaking the first precept then maybe you can try to convince people to join rather than attacking them for not participating .

There are some who think that monastics who accept meat are doing something wrong or are not as developed as they are, and criticized them . However, spirituality is not measured by what you eat because the ingredients you put in your mouth has little effect on spiritual progress.
with metta,

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Dan74
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Dan74 » Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:42 pm

In Mahayana the situation is different since many monasteries grow their own food (for various historical reasons they had to be self-siufficent), so they don't depend on dana for food.
_/|\_

morning mist
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby morning mist » Wed Aug 10, 2011 5:08 pm

Some say that 'simply eating' meat is really the same as killing it, because it would not be killed if nobody eat it. And that this is a hypocrisy of some Buddhist teachers. They believe the Buddha should have forbid his monastic and lay disciples from accepting meat.

I believe that not establishing a rule forbidding monastics from accepting meat is a good choice for various reasons. In meat eating larger animals get killed, in eating vegetarian food many smaller living creatures get killed. If the Buddha had made it a rule for people to only eat vegetarian food and not meat, he would be favoring larger animals while having no compassion for smaller living creatures. Maybe this is one of the reason why the Buddha did not forbid people from eating meat. Also, if he had forbid monastics from accepting meat, many of the monks living in snowy regions would run into difficulties obtaining vegetarian food to sustain their bodies or their practice because it is difficult to grow crops and many householders there depend on meat. He had to consider the about monks in all climates and not just a certain region.

Presently animals are being forced to live in torturous conditions without having a pleasant day because the demand for meat is too high . Maybe we should reduce meat consumption and balance it with more vegetarian food. This way the demand is not so high that factories feel the need to keep animals locked up small spaces all their lives . This is not killing them for a minute but subjecting them to life long torture then kill them. Maybe this situation would change if we don't eat so much meat.

I am not advocating strict vegetarianism because then many smaller living creatures would have to suffer. Either way, certain living creatures will be killed. Reducing meat consumption can contribute to improving the lives of farm animals.
with metta,

Nicro
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Nicro » Thu Aug 11, 2011 3:22 am

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:05 am

morning mist wrote:I am not advocating strict vegetarianism because then many smaller living creatures would have to suffer.


As I've previously explained this is a false argument because the many smaller living creatures are killed anyway if we feed the grain to cows and then eat the cows.
Are we just concerned with "protecting" our own kamma and our own development, or do we also wish to value the lives of other creatures? Do we take the Metta Sutta seriously?

Spiny

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Ben
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Ben » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:37 am

Spiny O'Norman wrote:Do we take the Metta Sutta seriously?
Spiny


The metta sutta does not proscribe the eating of meat.
Just as narcissism is not defined by the eating of meat.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Dan74
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Dan74 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:00 am

Ben wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:Do we take the Metta Sutta seriously?
Spiny


The metta sutta does not proscribe the eating of meat.
Just as narcissism is not defined by the eating of meat.


I am confused but to me this sounds like somewhat narrow and legalistic reading of

As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings.


The attitude we are urged to have towards all beings is that of a mother towards her only child. And not eating them is already beyond this? :shrug:
_/|\_

Sanghamitta
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Sanghamitta » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:06 am

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
morning mist wrote:I am not advocating strict vegetarianism because then many smaller living creatures would have to suffer.


As I've previously explained this is a false argument because the many smaller living creatures are killed anyway if we feed the grain to cows and then eat the cows.
Are we just concerned with "protecting" our own kamma and our own development, or do we also wish to value the lives of other creatures? Do we take the Metta Sutta seriously?

Spiny

Do we extend the Metta it extols to those human beings who eat a different diet to ourselves ?
The going for refuge is the door of entrance to the teachings of the Buddha.

Bhikku Bodhi.

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Dan74
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Dan74 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:12 am

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:D
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morning mist
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby morning mist » Thu Aug 11, 2011 6:07 pm

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
morning mist wrote:I am not advocating strict vegetarianism because then many smaller living creatures would have to suffer.


As I've previously explained this is a false argument because the many smaller living creatures are killed anyway if we feed the grain to cows and then eat the cows.
Are we just concerned with "protecting" our own kamma and our own development, or do we also wish to value the lives of other creatures? Do we take the Metta Sutta seriously?



I am not saying that smaller creatures don't die when we eat cows. It is obvious that when we buy and eat cows , living creatures die. But when we eat vegetarian food smaller creatures also have to die. Someone else has to kill the small creatures so we don't have holes on our salad, etc.. It is not the case that we are not indirectly supporting the killing of smaller creatures when we are strict vegetarians. Is it possible to not be indirectly supporting the death of other creatures big or small when we are living in samsara. The best we could do is to minimize our negative impact on other creatures and the environment.

It is already sad that other creatures ( big & small) have to die in the process of feeding humans ( vegetarians or non-vegetarians) . One thing we can avoid though, is to increase their suffering by making them stand in one spot all their lives. There is no joy at all. This is lifetime torture for the animals that can be avoided . There is nothing wrong with a vegetarian like diet.
with metta,

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:28 am

morning mist wrote: The best we could do is to minimize our negative impact on other creatures and the environment.



That's what I'm suggesting.

Spiny

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:31 am

Dan74 wrote:
Ben wrote:The metta sutta does not proscribe the eating of meat.


I am confused but to me this sounds like somewhat narrow and legalistic reading of

As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings.


The attitude we are urged to have towards all beings is that of a mother towards her only child. And not eating them is already beyond this? :shrug:


I agree. It's like arguing that it's OK to buy meat from a supermarket because technically it doesn't breach the 3-fold rule.

Spiny

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Ben
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Ben » Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:39 am

Dan74 wrote:
Ben wrote:
Spiny O'Norman wrote:Do we take the Metta Sutta seriously?
Spiny


The metta sutta does not proscribe the eating of meat.
Just as narcissism is not defined by the eating of meat.


I am confused but to me this sounds like somewhat narrow and legalistic reading of

As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings.


The attitude we are urged to have towards all beings is that of a mother towards her only child. And not eating them is already beyond this? :shrug:


Dan, one cannot bring a being back to life by not eating it.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Aug 12, 2011 8:43 am

Ben wrote:Dan, one cannot bring a being back to life by not eating it.


But you can cause a being to be killed by deciding you want to eat meat.

Spiny

PeterB
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby PeterB » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:06 am

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Dan74 wrote:
Ben wrote:The metta sutta does not proscribe the eating of meat.


I am confused but to me this sounds like somewhat narrow and legalistic reading of

As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings.


The attitude we are urged to have towards all beings is that of a mother towards her only child. And not eating them is already beyond this? :shrug:


I agree. It's like arguing that it's OK to buy meat from a supermarket because technically it doesn't breach the 3-fold rule.

Spiny

And it doesnt. Now what ? Change religion ? Picket you local Wat ?
The fact is that there are a few newcomers, and perhaps even a few older people who have not yet reflected on the issue .
Most established Dhamma followers will have thought he issue through and reached a conclusion.
That conclusion needs to be respected even if differs from our own.
There are no children (or very few ) among the membership.
Constantly hectoring and bullying about any single issue is not going to influence anyone ..it could even cause an entrenchment of views.
Such behaviour might address some personal psychological need, but is not an adult way to do business.
The late Bernard Levin once wrote a very perceptive piece about the self defeating behaviour of the S.I.F. ( single issue fanatic )...the person that one ducks into a metaphorical doorway to avoid.

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Ben
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Ben » Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:10 am

Spiny O'Norman wrote:
Ben wrote:Dan, one cannot bring a being back to life by not eating it.


But you can cause a being to be killed by deciding you want to eat meat.

Spiny


Please explain how I cause a being to be killed by masticating a piece of chicken.
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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andre9999
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby andre9999 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 3:06 pm

Ben wrote:Please explain how I cause a being to be killed by masticating a piece of chicken.


By economically reducing demand, you'll likely reduce supply over time. If your whole neighborhood immediately becomes vegan, there's probably a nearby animal farm or two that's going to shutdown because no one buys their product. That said, a single person not eating meat won't have much effect considering how much food is thrown away.

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Sun Aug 14, 2011 9:37 am

PeterB wrote:The late Bernard Levin once wrote a very perceptive piece about the self defeating behaviour of the S.I.F. ( single issue fanatic )...the person that one ducks into a metaphorical doorway to avoid.


So now those of us who are troubled by the ethics of meat-eating are "single issue fanatics"? A classic ad hom attack.

Spiny

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Ben
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Postby Ben » Sun Aug 14, 2011 12:02 pm

andre9999 wrote:
Ben wrote:Please explain how I cause a being to be killed by masticating a piece of chicken.


By economically reducing demand, you'll likely reduce supply over time. If your whole neighborhood immediately becomes vegan, there's probably a nearby animal farm or two that's going to shutdown because no one buys their product. That said, a single person not eating meat won't have much effect considering how much food is thrown away.


Thanks Andre,

I think its important to re-examine our own views and hence my questions here (and there).
Interestingly, there was an issue in this country not long ago with regards to live cattle exports to Indonesia. Footage surfaced of indonesian slaughterhouse pracitces, via Animals Australia, and was aired on national television. Virtually overnight public support for a ban of live cattle exports became so great that the Govt immediately suspended the live cattle trade to Indonesia. And according to some reports, the number of people who switched to vegetarianism spiked markedly. Which was great. However, what then happened was another animal welfare issue which was that the hundreds of thousands of cattle that were ready to be loaded onto ships to be taken to indonesia started to starve. Sometimes intentions have unforseen consequences. Which I am sure, you'll agree.

I don't have a problem with vegetarianism or veganism, but its not Dhamma. And given the acute situation in the Horn of Africa where tens of millions of people are facing starvation, the discussion on whether vegetarianism is more Dhammic than non-vegetarianism I think is a bit unseemly.
kind regards
Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..


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