Eating meat given to you or at a potluck

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Training of Sila, the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).

Eating meat given to you or at a potluck

Postby il ragazzo » Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:34 pm

Hi everyone! This is my first post, and I was hoping to get some feedback. I've been a vegetarian for many years now, but I currently am not as rigid about it as I once was. I recently was at a holiday potluck, and some people brought meat to it. The Buddha (in an array of sources) says to practice metta, not kill, and not eat meat that was killed for the purpose of the consumer alone. So, I guess my question is: is it okay to eat meat at a potluck? Or is this something subjective to meditate on? Thank you very much. I look forward to participating in this community!

Mark
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Re: Eating meat given to you or at a potluck

Postby greenjuice » Thu Dec 12, 2013 7:37 pm

“Monks, one possessed of three qualities is put in hell according to his actions. What three? One is himself a taker of life, encourages another to do the same and approves thereof. Monks, one possessed of three qualities is put into heaven according to his actions. What three? He himself abstains from taking life, encourages another to so abstain, and approves of such abstention.” (AN, 3.16)

My personal opinion is that vegetarianism escapes being an approver of killing (by buying products made by killing) and sends a message to other people in the manner of trying to encourage them to abstain from killing or encouraging others to kill (by buying the products they made by killing). Although, on the other hand, to achieve this, one doesn't need to be a vegetarian, but could limit one's meat to roadkill and similar sources.
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Re: Eating meat given to you or at a potluck

Postby il ragazzo » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:01 pm

That makes sense -- I feel the same way about roadkill. But did not the Buddha and his followers eat meat that was given to them? I also came across this interesting point in regards to which metta is more important:

"Buddhism discourages fanatical perfectionism. The Buddha taught his followers to find a middle way between extreme practices and opinions. For this reason, Buddhists who do practice vegetarianism are discouraged from becoming fanatically attached to it.

A Buddhist practices metta, which is loving kindness to all beings without selfish attachment. Buddhist refrain from eating meat out of loving kindness for living animals, not because there is something unwholesome or corrupt about an animal's body. In other words, the meat itself is not the point, and under some circumstances compassion might cause a Buddhist to break the rules.

For example, let's say you visit your elderly grandmother, whom you have not seen for a long time. You arrive at her home and find that she has cooked what had been your favorite dish when you were a child -- stuffed pork chops. She doesn't do much cooking any more, because her elderly body doesn't move around the kitchen so well. But it is the dearest wish of her heart to give you something special and watch you dig into those stuffed pork chops the way you used to. She has been looking forward to this for weeks.

I say that if you hesitate to eat those pork chops for even a second, you are no Buddhist."
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Re: Eating meat given to you or at a potluck

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:33 pm

il ragazzo wrote:That makes sense -- I feel the same way about roadkill. But did not the Buddha and his followers eat meat that was given to them?
If you have no objection to eating meat for health reasons, this is a gift of friendship offered to you. I'd would, then, suggest that you feel free to eat it. The Buddha did not prohibit eating meat to his monastics that was given to them as long as the meat was not killed specifically for them.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Eating meat given to you or at a potluck

Postby cooran » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:42 pm

This article may be of interest:

Buddhism and Vegetarianism
http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma3/vegi.html

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Eating meat given to you or at a potluck

Postby cooran » Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:49 pm

Hello il ragazzo,

Any wider discussion than "potluck" ought to continue in this thread:
The Great Vegetarian Debate
viewtopic.php?f=16&t=9229&start=2280

With metta,
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---
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Re: Eating meat given to you or at a potluck

Postby David N. Snyder » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:03 pm

Typically at a potluck there are a variety of dishes, vege and non-vege; so there it is easy to just choose the vege ones if you want to stay vegetarian.

For visiting relatives and friends, it is always good to notify them in advance of you being vegetarian (if you are) and to not put any unnecessary extra work on them, it can be good to offer to go out to a restaurant where everyone can choose their own dish.
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Re: Eating meat given to you or at a potluck

Postby Kim OHara » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:50 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:Typically at a potluck there are a variety of dishes, vege and non-vege; so there it is easy to just choose the vege ones if you want to stay vegetarian.

That's what I would do, and there is no need to feel too awkward about it. Every time I go to a large gathering where a meal is offered, there a re half a dozen people avoiding one food or another - diabetics avoiding sugar and starchy foods, nut-allergy folk asking "are there nuts in this?", lactose intolerance ...
And there is no need to make a big fuss over it and no need to be too strict with yourself. As others have said, meat not killed on your behalf and offered in friendship is okay anyway.

:namaste:
Kim
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Re: Eating meat given to you or at a potluck

Postby Ben » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:23 pm

I agree with what others have said.
I usually eat vegan whole foods and stay away from added sugar. Its not something I am rigid about. Its great to be mindful of one's health but if attachment to diet becomes an obsession then it can be extremely isolating and unhealthy.

Last night I was at a barbeque and i was content to eat salad and had a little dessert which contained dairy and sugar.
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Ben
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Re: Eating meat given to you or at a potluck

Postby lyndon taylor » Thu Dec 12, 2013 10:53 pm

I guess it comes down to whether you're being a vegetarian to make other Buddhists happy, in which case the above advice applies, or if you are being a vegetarian for your own beliefs and health, in which case you make the decisions, not some meat happy monks who don't seem to understand the similarities between killing yourself and contract killing, ie buying from the supermarket.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John
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