Must Buddhists be vegetarian ? This is a constant debate among the Buddhists schools. In fact, many modern Buddhists do not know the reason or rational behind this 'rule'. So, what did the Buddha say ?

The Buddha teaches that a person is considered pure & virtuous by his thoughts, speech & actions, and not whether he eats meat or not. A person may be a strict vegetarian (Hitler is a very good example) but still commit heinous crimes. A person may eat meat, but he can still practise the Dhamma diligently.

In the Jivaka Sutta, the Buddha taught that there are three cases in which meat may not be eaten by a monk : Having (1) seen (2) heard, or (3) suspected that the meat has been especially acquired for him by killing an animal (i.e. the animal has been killed specifically for the monk). This rule is called the Rule of Tikotiparisuddha (Pure in Three Ways).

However, the meat of the following ten beings is forbidden to be eaten by the monks : human, elephant, horse, dog, snake, lion, tiger, leopard, bear, and wolf. (Vinaya, Mahavagga, Book 4)

In one of the Sutta, Devadatta, one of the Buddha's disciples, tried to create a schism in the Sangha by suggesting that the Buddha make vegetarianism compulsory, but the Buddha rejected the idea. Why ? Because the Buddha understood that not all landscape can support the growth of vegetables to support the population. When living in places such as mountains and deserts, one has no choice but to eat meat due to the scarcity of vegetables.

According to the Pali Nikaya, the Buddha did not forbid the eating of meat for neither monks nor lay-followers. The Buddha and his Sangha ate meat when they went on alms, and monks are allowed to accept "what has been put in their alms bowl".

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The example of Hitler here is without careful thinking. Hitler was a Vegetarian not because of moral reasons but of health reasons so what he did has nothing to do with vegetarianism. Vegetarianism should be based on Moral thoughts but one can still be vegetarian for no moral reasons.

To answer the question, one must understand first that when it comes to pain and suffering, a dog is a pig is a cow is a human being so include humans too as a source of meat and you will find your answer.. I would phrase the question as "should buddhist eat the flesh of humans if they were living in a cannibal society??"

"the fact that man knows right from wrong proves his intellectual superiority to other creatures; but the fact that he can do wrong proves his moral inferiority to any creature that cannot." - Mark Twain
I am Buddhist from my past life as I was born in a Buddhist family. Well, until now I have been enjoying with eating meats but I don't feel like I am not a Buddhist. Real Buddhist are those who understand the real teachings of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni and practice it. I sometimes feel so funny and stupid to people who used to tell me you shouldn't be non-veg as you are Buddhist. That's really not a exact or correct answer for that.

Anyway what I want to say is, try to learn and practice the Teachings Budhha Shakyamuni as per your capability or energy. Buddha didn't forced us to do everything from his great teachings.

Thank you.
There are always reasons when you start or stop doing something suddenly. I have been a vegetarian for a while and so far i enjoyed it. But indeed i know i should take in more nutients from nuts or tofu...
@ Karma Tenzin one doesn't become a buddhist by being born in a buddhist family. The fundamental principle of Buddhism is AHIMSA (Non-violence). how can you enjoy the flesh and blood of a sentient being who was killed just so that u can enjoy a nice food?? how can you say u're practicing the teachings of buddha while ignoring the "unnecessary" suffering of billions of animals every year?? One doesn't become a buddhist by reciting a few scriptures..
"help others if you can else at least do not harm them"
Stop eating meat can make one person's heart go softer, kinder. If you dont want animals suffer and be killed, you certainly dont want any human beings suffer and get killed.

Monlam Ⓥ Makham said:
@ Karma Tenzin one doesn't become a buddhist by being born in a buddhist family. The fundamental principle of Buddhism is AHIMSA (Non-violence). how can you enjoy the flesh and blood of a sentient being who was killed just so that u can enjoy a nice food?? how can you say u're practicing the teachings of buddha while ignoring the "unnecessary" suffering of billions of animals every year?? One doesn't become a buddhist by reciting a few scriptures..
"help others if you can else at least do not harm them"
I dont think just eating meat represent the person as voilent or wrathsome in character or nature. Of course, its better if you dont eat meat by being a Buddhist but that is not the main point of practice or teaching. Its a good eating habit or principle. One could be a excellent budhist even not being a pure vegetarian. So, why stress over too much on eating meat, concentrate more on inner qualities and practice. Take your care as you can.

wang wenrui said:
Stop eating meat can make one person's heart go softer, kinder. If you dont want animals suffer and be killed, you certainly dont want any human beings suffer and get killed.

Monlam Ⓥ Makham said:
@ Karma Tenzin one doesn't become a buddhist by being born in a buddhist family. The fundamental principle of Buddhism is AHIMSA (Non-violence). how can you enjoy the flesh and blood of a sentient being who was killed just so that u can enjoy a nice food?? how can you say u're practicing the teachings of buddha while ignoring the "unnecessary" suffering of billions of animals every year?? One doesn't become a buddhist by reciting a few scriptures..
"help others if you can else at least do not harm them"
It is a right thing to concentrate on the training of innier qualities. To my undetstanding, that means the mind and heart. According to my own experiences, my heart goes softer and kinder by stopping consuming meats . Of course this might not be the only reason. And of course, there are a lot lot more people there whose hearts are more softer and kinder than me...:)

I believe that Buddhists do not need to be vegetarian but we should follow what our individual teachers advise. For example, my guru is His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche who strongly encourages vegetarianism because it is compassionate to animals. It wasn't easy for me to give up meat because of my strong habituation but because I believe what Tsem Rinpoche says is logical and correct, I have been vegetarian for a couple of years and my 13 year old son just turned vegetarian this January. 

 

In Tsem Rinpoche's blog, he has a special section on animals and vegetarianism where he puts videos and articles of animal cruelty so that we can think for ourselves whether we want to be vegetarians. I have also blogged on being vegetarian also.

 

Some of my friends didn't react well to a vegetarian diet initially because of an allergy to soy but once they realised this was the issue, they cut soy out and have been happily and healthily enjoying a vegetarian diet. I think being vegetarian is a personal choice and i hope that everyone will become vegetarian as it's good for animals and the environment - and for humans too! Apparently, scientifically speaking, humans are meant to be plant eaters anyway!

 

 

In response to "The Buddha teaches that a person is considered pure & virtuous by his thoughts, speech & actions, and not whether he eats meat or not":  Is not the 'eating of meat' an action?   Especially in terms of if one eats meat as a choice and not from necessity?  I choose not to eat meat because when I think of the torture the animal has to go through and the negative karma the butcher creates for himself I see myself as contributing to this through my action of buying it and consuming it. So, therefore, the choice to consume meat or not is indeed an action and in fact a very negative action.  Also, I do not see how one can knowing contribute to the killing of the animal and say they are living by the teachings of the Buddha.  It would be hypocritical in my humble opinion. His Holiness says that as Buddhist we should use our ability to use analytical reasoning in all situations and not blindly follow any teaching that does not make sense and at the very least 'do no harm'.   Thank you for allowing me to share my opinion.  May ALL beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. 

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