Tex wrote:DISCLAIMER: Voting intended for Theravadins only please; discussion is of course welcomed from all traditions.
Abstaining from meat consumption is not required in Theravada, but I'm curious to see how many of our Theravada practitioners choose to abstain from eating animal products anyway.
I'm not, but I'd like to be and strongly recommend it. I don't think eating meat is intrinsically or absolutely wrong, but in a modern context, the Buddha's reasoning for allowing it in the past no longer applies here.
In the past, food may have been more scarce, where a nutritious vegetarian diet may have been impractical. It's been demonstrated, for instance, how a diet high in soy actually isn't very healthy, compared with the standard diet of balancing the five food groups. Vegetarianism only developed in places like India, after all, because they had a certain climate which was advantageous to farming, and a certain economy, which made cows more valuable alive for their milk, cheese, dung, and as pack animals, rather than as meat. Also, by opposing meat, you would be harming farmers' livelihood for the sake of the animals. While in abstract economic terms, supply is (probably) driven by demand, so "one unit of demand supports one further unit of supply", practically, one person's consumption or abstinence has a negligible impact on the overall market.
Now, in modern times, it is certainly possible to have a healthy vegetarian diet, and it is certainly noble to do so. Most farming nowadays is done by large companies, not individual farmers. Aside from the cruelty of things like factory farming... more importantly, meat drives up the cost of fuel (uses more gas to produce meat than veggies) and contributes to global warming. It's been estimated that eating meat contributes more to global warming than driving a car.
So, with all of this in mind, it seems very reasonable to me to promote vegetarianism -- not in a militant or evangelical way, though, like PETA.
I am not a vegetarian myself, however, because I am an America, where meat is a staple of my diet, I have a certain palette where I don't like vegetarian foods very much, I'm too lazy to go through the type of preparation required, and I just haven't really gotten into it. But I do think it's a good thing.