The precepts are really important to me, because not only am I not accumulating bad karma, but I feel good about myself, being able to say I keep the precepts gives me a certain sense of worth or value, however vain, and ultimately unimportant that may be,
Honesty means very much to me, but right speech is a little harder. Sobriety is the secret to controlling my mental illness and keeping me employed. The buddhist precept on intoxicants can be interpreted two ways, the lazy way, don't do enough to get f'd up and lose you control; intoxicated, the strict way don't do any drink or drug that has the potential to get you f'd up, Many northern school apply this to cigarettes, many therevada, even monks allow smoking, because you can't loose control of your judgement by smoking or coffee, for instance. Me I still smoke cigs but One beer would affect me negatively, because I don't drink. At least for now I don't think you have anything to worry about anything. But if you're only drinking one beer a week, how hard would it be to give that up?? If not so hard, I say do it.
As to meat eating its too controversial, the Buddha allowed some meat eating, but didn't seem to want to make it easy, in fact his rules If strictly interpreted might apply against supermarket meat, because you're paying someone to kill the animal for you, I wouldn't let Buddhism tell you to or not to eat meat, I would use your own mind, The buddha loved animals, he didn't want us to kill them, you have to use you're own judgement how you interpret that.
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, sincerely former monk Johnhttp://trickleupeconomictheory.blogspot.com/