the great vegetarian debate

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Jhana4
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the great vegetarian debate

Post by Jhana4 »

BlackBird wrote:I'm almost a Carnivore, I have apples in my diet though and tomatoes along with an array of vitamins and supplements. Meat or derivatives thereof make up the majority of my diet and since the meat wasn't produced for me personally I am happy to partake in it's consumption.
If you are a consumer (as we all are) in the western world, it was produced for you. Forget about that point. There are a lot of nutrients that are not found in meat, apples and tomatoes. Even Dr. Atkins ( after much peer criticism ) told people following his diet to eat 2 cups of broccoli a day. You might benefit from working more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes and nuts into your diet.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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AvaLily
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the great vegetarian debate

Post by AvaLily »

I have been vegetarian for 5 months
Jhana4
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the great vegetarian debate

Post by Jhana4 »

Ella wrote:I have been vegetarian for 5 months
I went vegetarian over 30 years ago and vegan about 15 years ago. One of the best decisions I've ever made in my life, in a number ways.


Congratulations on the immensely positive move. :)
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
PeterB
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Post by PeterB »

I have been eating an exclusively vegetarian diet for the best part of 20 years.
This does not make me "a vegetarian ".
It has made not the slightest difference to my practice of Buddhadhamma.
I would have commenced eating a vegetarian diet sooner had I not been part of a Vajrayana Sangha in which ( as is commonly the case ) the ritual eating of meat was enjoined upon one.
David2
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the great vegetarian debate

Post by David2 »

I changed my diet to 95-% vegan just about 10 days ago. I also already think it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. :smile:

However, if I eat at a restaurant which does not offer vegan meals I still eat non-vegan food. I do not like to eat nothing while everybody else eats something. :tongue:

So I do not call myself a veganist.
Jhana4
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the great vegetarian debate

Post by Jhana4 »

David2 wrote:I changed my diet to 95-% vegan just about 10 days ago. I also already think it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. :smile:
I think you are probably right. I've read a lot about nutrition over the last 30 years. Over the last 7 years I have read a lot about how animals suffer and how animals die in modern food production. In terms of health concerns and ethical concerns it is pretty much true that "milk is liquid meat".

Many congratulations on the positive move both for yourself and others.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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Sam Vara
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the great vegetarian debate

Post by Sam Vara »

I follow a Theravadin practice, and I am vegan. I have been vegan for nearly thirty years, which is longer than I have been practicing. I have thought about going back to eating a little meat or fish, but it wouldn't feel right and I don't think I could do it.
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SeekingDharma
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Post by SeekingDharma »

I have been completely vegetarian for shortly over a year now, initially inspired by information received about American factory farming--as well as my understanding of practicing Buddhist compassion. I do eat a lot of eggs, milk, and cheese--something I would like to reduce in my diet (but don't see happening any time soon). I've always loved fruits, but prior to going vegetarian the only vegetable I enjoyed was lettuce on my burger--now I am a big fan of vegetables! It's amazing how quickly the palette can change when making the (in my mind) correct food choices! :)
Jhana4
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the great vegetarian debate

Post by Jhana4 »

Sam Vega wrote:I follow a Theravadin practice, and I am vegan. I have been vegan for nearly thirty years, which is longer than I have been practicing. I have thought about going back to eating a little meat or fish, but it wouldn't feel right and I don't think I could do it.
+1

I've been a vegetarian for over 30 years and a vegan for over 15. I feel much as you do. Veganism is so meaningful to so many modern issues. I believe it also has strong support in the Pali Canon, though many Buddhists are slow to accept that:

In his description of Right Livliehood the Buddha describes 5 types of businesses that will retard a person’s spiritual progress and that should be avoided:
  1. business in weapons
  2. business in human beings
  3. business in meat
  4. business in intoxicants
  5. business in poison
The Buddha put the meat business on the same level as arms dealers, drug dealers and slave traders. That says a lot. Also, it doesn't take much deep thinking to know that there is no business with buyers and users.
Sam Vega wrote:actice, and I am vegan. I have been vegan for nearly thirty years, which is longer than I have been practicing. I have thought about going back to eating a little meat or fish, but it wouldn't feel right and I don't think I could do it.
In reading the scriptures, there are two kinds of mistakes:
One mistake is to cling to the literal text and miss the inner principles.
The second mistake is to recognize the principles but not apply them to your own mind, so that you waste time and just make them into causes of entanglement.
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cooran
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the great vegetarian debate

Post by cooran »

Hello all,


From Access to Insight:

Are Buddhists vegetarian?
Some are, some aren't. From the Theravada perspective, the choice of whether or not to eat meat is purely a matter of personal preference. Many Buddhists (and, of course, non-Buddhists) do eventually lose their appetite for meat out of compassion for the welfare of other living creatures. But vegetarianism is not required in order to follow the Buddha's path.

Although the first of the five precepts, the basic code of ethical conduct for all practicing Buddhists, calls upon followers to refrain from intentional acts of killing, it does not address the consumption of flesh from animals that are already dead. Theravada monks, however, are clearly forbidden to eat meat from a few specific kinds of animals, but for reasons not directly related to the ethics of killing.[1] Monks are free to pursue vegetarianism by leaving uneaten any meat that may have been placed in the alms bowl, but because they depend on the open-handed generosity of lay supporters[2] (who may or may not themselves be vegetarian) it is considered unseemly for them to make special food requests. In those parts of the world (including wide areas of south Asia) where vegetarianism is uncommon and many dishes are prepared in a meat or fish broth, vegetarian monks would soon face a simple choice: eat meat or starve.[3]

Taking part in killing for food is definitely incompatible with the first precept, and should be avoided. This includes hunting, fishing, trapping, butchering, steaming live clams, eating live raw oysters, etc.

And what about asking someone else to catch and kill the animal for me? On this point the teachings are also unambiguous: we should never intentionally ask someone to kill on our behalf. We should not, for example, order a fresh steamed lobster from the restaurant menu. The Dhammapada expresses this sentiment succinctly:
All
tremble at the rod,
all
hold their life dear.
Drawing the parallel to
yourself,
neither kill nor get others to kill.
— Dhp 130

And what about purchasing meat of an animal that someone else killed? Is this consistent with the Buddhist principles of compassion and non-harming, a cornerstone of right resolve? This is where things get tricky, and where the suttas offer only spotty guidance. In the Buddha's definition of right livelihood for a lay person, one of the five prohibited occupations is "business in meat" [AN 5.177]. Although he does not explicitly state whether this prohibition also extends to us, the butcher's clients and customers, it does place us uncomfortably close to a field of unskillful action.

To summarize what the suttas tell us: it appears that one may, with a clear conscience, receive, cook, and eat meat that either was freely offered by someone else, or that came from an animal who died of natural causes. But as to purchasing meat, I am just not sure. There are no clear-cut answers here.
We are all guilty of complicity, in one way or another and to varying degrees, in the harming and death of other creatures. Whether we are carnivore, vegan, or something in between, no matter how carefully we choose our food, somewhere back along the long chain of food production and preparation, killing took place. No matter how carefully we trod, with every step countless insects, mites, and other creatures inadvertently perish under our feet. This is just the nature of our world. It is only when we escape altogether from the round of birth and death, when we enter into the final liberation of nibbana — the Deathless — can we wash our hearts clean, once and for all, of killing and death.
To steer us towards that lofty goal, the Buddha gave us very realistic advice: he didn't ask us to become vegetarian; he asked us to observe the precepts. For many of us, this is challenge enough. This is where we begin.
Notes
1.
Theravada monks are forbidden to eat raw meat or fish, as well as the flesh of humans, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears, hyenas, and panthers. See the description of "staple foods" in chapter 8 of The Buddhist Monastic Code. A monk who eats any of those kinds of meat commits an offense that he must confess to his fellow monks.
2.
See "The Economy of Gifts" by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.
3.
Monastics within some schools of Mahayana Buddhism do practice vegetarianism. See Buddhist Religions: A Historical Introduction (fifth edition) by R.H. Robinson, W.L. Johnson, & Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 2005), p. 213.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... /bfaq.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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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ground
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Post by ground »

I cannot refer to rules laid down anywhere and I cannot speak for Theravada either and actually it is not rules that may be laid down anywhere that are of utmost importance to me.
What I know is that when I buy meat products these will be resupplied to the shop where I bought them following market's "cause and effect". Further I know that meat does not grow on trees or in the ground but the only way to produce meat products is to kill animals. In the context of economy animals have to be raised and kept in an organised way in order to be able to kill them if the market has to be resupplied following market's cause-and-effect-law of consumption-and-production. If animals have to be killed then there has to be someone who does the killing. So my consumption of meat products necessarily entails the suffering of animals and the suffering of those who kill them. Also the only potential reason for my consumption of meat products I can find would by attachment to taste. Therefore for me it boils down to the question: Can the impermanent and fleeting taste of meat products be reason enough to support my contribution to the suffering of other beings.


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alan
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Post by alan »

The junk sold to vegetarians is usually soy protein isolate, which is unhealthy.
Think twice before you rationalize your ideals.
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ground
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Post by ground »

For me compassion for beings is no rationalized ideal. Also my experience with vegetarian/vegan food is very good which includes its concomitant effects. "usually soy protein isolate" obviously is a strange idea based on lack of experience.

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David2
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Post by David2 »

TMingyur wrote:Also my experience with vegetarian/vegan food is very good which includes its concomitant effects.
+1
I even claim that a vegan diet is the healthiest, healthier than omnivore and healthier than vegetarian.
This is also the result of the China study.
The authors conclude that people who eat a whole plant food/vegan diet, which avoids animal proteins such as beef, poultry, eggs, fish, and milk, will minimize or reverse the development of chronic diseases.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_China_Study_(book" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)
Can the impermanent and fleeting taste of meat products be reason enough to support my contribution to the suffering of other beings.
For me: No, of course not. It would be extremely selfish, ignorant and lacking of compassion, to eat meat just because of its taste.
pinatapai
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Post by pinatapai »

I have been Vegetarian for 3 and half years (It is really THAT long time already??). If asked reasons I say that I respect life and support non-violence. I don't usually mention Buddhism, but surely it is one reason. I wouldn't think animal rights, if I wasn't a Buddhist...

Now I have been thinking that when I am visiting someone, should I eat meat, if offered instead of asking Vegetarian food? They do offer (relatives etc.) Vegetarian food, but it causes more trouble to them... Isn't it more polite to eat meat? What do you think?
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