It can only be what it is...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Being Vegetarian- is it necessary for one's practice ?

Every now and again this question pops up. A while back I had posted it as a question on an online Zen Forum and was amazed at the ferocity of the replies and statements from people.
It left me with the concrete impression that you can't mess with what people eat.
Defensive doesn't begin to describe people's attitude to their food.

I admit I have a hard time understanding the concept of karma being removed if you are the consumer of meat but not the one who killed, butchered or cooked the meat.

All tremble at violence;
Life is dear for all,
Seeing others as being like yourself,
Do not kill or cause others to kill
Dhammapada Verse 130

Wouldn't one be guilty by association as it were ?
Recently I read that the Dalai Lama eats meat that his doctor had prescribed to him for health reasons.

I can understand I guess, that, in Tibet the climate is not particularly good for farming, and the lack of vegetation pretty much means the populace has to consume Yak or some other meat source for survival.

So I'll ask the question here, if you are Buddhist should you refrain from eating meat ? Does it break precepts ? What do people think about this ?


  1. Vegetarianism is another attachment and a weapon for the Buddhist nazi's...I am a vegetarian only when not eating meat :)

    It is a hot topic...I figure to define yourself by what or what you do not eat is to show your level of insight.

    The problem is not vegetarianism but the attachment to the "I".

  2. Only monks are bound to follow the precepts at all times, whereas householders can follow a more moderate path - this is even indicated in the pali canon. Also, different kinds of buddhism regard the precepts in different ways - and at that point you are getting into the hinayana vs mahayana vs vajrayana argument. Some schools of tantric buddhism and vajrayana specifically disregard precepts altogether.