the great vegetarian debate

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
Santi253
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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Santi253 » Tue Aug 08, 2017 9:34 am

Caodemarte wrote: Citation please?
At his final days in the parinibbana sutta, the food that led to his death was at one time translated as pork. The terms have been translated as “pig’s truffles” which was originally mistranslated as pork. Modern scholars including, Arthur Waley, K. E. Neumann, and Mrs. Rhys Davids have corrected this to “the food of pigs” which are mushrooms. Today, the majority of Buddhist scholars agree that the Buddha ate mushrooms, which may have been poisonous and led to his death at the age of 80...

A scientific sample is one that is done without any bias toward selecting the things to be studied or evaluated. The passages mentioning what the Buddha ate appear to fall into that category as they are spread out through the Pali Canon and refer to other teachings, not about diet and thus, appear to be random mentions of his diet. As such we can use the above as a representative sample. If we count all of the above plus the last meal, the meal Sujata gave to the Buddha and the mention of meat above, we come to: 35 vegetarian meals and 1 meat meal. This results in a diet by the Buddha that is 97% vegetarian. This is the equivalent of eating vegetarian all year except for 10 days per year which is less than one meat meal per month. Such a person even in modern times would most likely be defined as a vegetarian who makes some rare exceptions as may be necessary for social reasons. Of the 35 vegetarian meals 74 percent (26) were vegan (no meat and also no animal products). Even if we include the possibility of there being a second meat meal in the passage about General Siha (see above), then it still calculates out to 95% vegetarian (35 out of 37) diet of the Buddha.
https://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Diet_of_Buddha
In the modern era, the passage cited below has been interpreted as allowing the consumption of meat if it is not specifically slaughtered for the recipient:

… meat should not be eaten under three circumstances: when it is seen or heard or suspected (that a living being has been purposely slaughtered for the eater); these, Jivaka, are the three circumstances in which meat should not be eaten, Jivaka! I declare there are three circumstances in which meat can be eaten: when it is not seen or heard or suspected (that a living being has been purposely slaughtered for the eater); Jivaka, I say these are the three circumstances in which meat can be eaten. —Jivaka Sutta, MN 55 , unpublished translation by Sister Uppalavanna [3]

Also in the Jivaka Sutta, Buddha instructs a monk or nun to accept, without any discrimination, whatever food is offered in receiving alms offered with good will, including meat, whereas the Buddha declares the meat trade to be wrong livelihood in the Vanijja Sutta, AN 5:177

Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison. These are the five types of business that a lay follower should not engage in.[4]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_ ... avada_View
The first precept of Buddhism focuses mainly on direct participation in the destruction of life. This is one reason that the Buddha made a distinction between killing animals and eating meat, and refused to introduce vegetarianism into monastic practice. While early Buddhist texts like the Pali Canon frown upon hunting, butchering, fishing and 'trading in flesh' (meat or livestock) as professions, they do not ban the act of eating meat. Direct participation also includes ordering or encouraging someone to kill an animal for you.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_ethics
The Buddha was very clear in His teachings against any form of cruelty to any living being. One day the Buddha saw a man preparing to make a animal sacrifice. On being asked why he was going to kill innocent animals, the man replied that it was because it would please the gods. The Buddha then offered Himself as the sacrifice, saying that if the life of an animal would please the gods then the life of a human being, more valuable, would please the gods even more.
http://www.budsas.org/ebud/whatbudbeliev/170.htm
For the Buddha gentleness and kindness to all is a fundamental moral principle as well as being an essential step in an individual's spiritual growth. The first requirement in the Buddhist code of moral discipline, the Five Precepts, is to `abstain from killing, to lay aside the stick and the sword and to live with care, kindness and compassion for all living creatures' (D.I,4). Anyone who wants to be a wayfarer on the Noble Eightfold Path is asked `not to kill, encourage others to kill or approve of killing' (A.V,306). The Buddhacarita says: `Empathy with all creatures is the true religion' (sarveùu bhåteùu dayà hi dharmaþ). For the Buddha love and compassion are incomplete if they do not extended to all sentient beings. Once he even suggested that in certain circumstances kindness to animals might take precedence over human laws. A certain a monk found an animal caught in a trap and feeling pity for it released it. Customary law at that time considered a trapped animal to be the property of the hunter who had set the trap, and the monk was criticized by his fellows for theft. However, the Buddha exonerated him saying that as he had acted out of compassion he had not committed an offence (Vin.III,62).
http://www.buddhisma2z.com/content.php?id=22
There has been some contention about interpretations of the sūtras. One interpretation is that eating of meat is not explicitly prohibited in the suttas and Vinaya of the Pāli canon which encourage monks to accept whatever food they are given. However, monks are forbidden from accepting animal flesh if they know, believe or suspect that the animal in question was killed especially for them, i.e., if the visits of begging monks have become an occasion for the slaughter of animals.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animals_i ... etarianism
Going back to the early history of Buddhism, Emperor Asoka, who, after a bloody but successful military campaign, ruled over more than two thirds of the Indian subcontinent, suffered great remorse for the suffering that he had caused, banned the killing of animals and exhorted his subjects to lead kind and tolerant lives. He also promoted tolerance towards all religions which he supported financially. The prevalent religions of that time were the sramanas or wandering ascetics, Brahmins, Ajivakas and Jains. He recommended that all religions desist from self praise and condemnation of others. His pronouncements were written on rocks at the periphery of his kingdom and on pillars along the main roads and where pilgrims gathered. He also established many hospitals for both humans and animals. Some of his important rock edicts stated:

1. Asoka ordered that banyan trees and mango groves be planted, rest houses built and wells dug every half mile along the main roads.

2. He ordered the end to killing of any animal for use in the royal kitchens.
3. He ordered the provision of medical facilities for humans and beasts.
4. He commanded obedience to parents, generosity to priests and ascetics and frugality in spending.
5. All officers must work for the welfare of the poor and the aged.
6. He recorded his intention to promote the welfare of all beings in order to repay his debt to all beings.
7. He honours men of all faiths.
http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/budethics.htm
Thank you for your questions. I hope the above passages are helpful.

The Buddha taught that monks should only accept meat as food if not specifically slaughtered for their consumption, and that it's misconduct to profit from the killing of animals. We, as lay people, have a choice as to whether or not we want to increase the demand for more killing of animals by purchasing meat.
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Santi253
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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Santi253 » Tue Aug 08, 2017 11:05 am

Another thing is, if you want B12 in your diet without meat, cow's milk is a good source:
The daily consumption of milk products can therefore contribute to the recommended intake of vitamin B12. In fact, milk is an excellent source of this vitamin, as a single 250 mL serving provides 1 µg of vitamin B12, or a little less than half of the Recommended Dietary Allowance.6,7 It has been estimated that the contribution of milk products to total vitamin B12 intake is about 30%...

Furthermore, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada recognizes that vitamin B12 is better absorbed from cow’s milk than when taken in vitamin supplements. The organization also states that one glass of milk can provide 50% of an adult’s daily vitamin B12 requirement.20 In a Quebec study conducted on pigs, research scientists from the organization showed that the absorption of vitamin B12 naturally present in cow’s milk was twice higher than that of synthetic vitamin B12. In this study, pigs were used as a model since their digestive system shares many similarities with that of humans in terms of anatomy, physiology, absorption and metabolism.21
https://www.dairynutrition.ca/nutrients ... itamin-b12
Why isn't B12 listed on the nutrition facts label on a carton of milk?
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Caodemarte
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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Aug 08, 2017 1:47 pm

Thanks for the references, I take it then that is no textual basis for the statement that the Buddha prescribed vegetarianism (not eating meat, fish or fowl), at least for the lay, and that the speculations about his diet are indeed speculations, if perhaps well informed speculation).

I am familiar with the historical argument that vegetarianism crept in from non-Buddhist ritual purity theories and later competition with Jainism (as it appearenltly did with Hinduism). I also understand that some Theravada monasteries or meditation centers n SE Asia ban vegetarian diets on the grounds that they are non-sutta based and a "foreign" addition.

By the way, I have no textual references for the Buddha insisting that you cross the street only after looking both ways either. Doesn't mean one should run into traffic; just that one should not cite the Buddha as explicitly forbidding it.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:09 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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padmini
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Re: Vegetarian

Post by padmini » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:02 pm

I would also recommend tofu (豆腐 doufu). It s easier to digest than beans, it's usually cheaper than veggie burgers and the like, and it can be prepared in a thousand different ways.
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The Buddha's path is simple and meant for ordinary people; anyone with goodwill and determination can follow its steps toward freedom of heart and mind
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Santi253
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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Santi253 » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:16 pm

Caodemarte wrote:Thanks for the references, I take it then that is no textual basis for the statement that the Buddha prescribed vegetarianism
I never claimed that the Buddha required vegetarianism. I'm sorry if I gave a wrong impression.

What I did say is the Buddha taught that it's misconduct to kill animals for meat or to profit from the killing of animals for meat, which is why his monk disciples could only eat meat with the knowledge that it wasn't slaughtered on their behalf.

And as Bhikkhu Bodhi explains in this video, when we make the decision to buy meat, we are paying for the continued slaughter of more animals:
Last edited by Santi253 on Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Justsit
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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Justsit » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:21 pm

Santi253 wrote:
Justsit wrote: If OP is considering becoming a strict vegetarian (that is, not a lacto-ovo vegetarian)
That would be vegan, not vegetarian, right? I am a strict vegetarian, in terms of not eating meat or fish. I even stopped buying sour cream and yogurt with gelatin in it.
A vegetarian that eats no meat/meat products but does consume dairy products and eggs is a lacto-ovo vegetarian; one who does not include any of those products is a strict vegetarian. Technically, a vegan is a strict vegetarian who also refrains from the use of any animal products, such a leather, although the term is commonly used to refer to the dietary restrictions only. At least that's my understanding.

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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Aug 08, 2017 2:33 pm

Santi253 wrote:...What I did say is the Buddha taught that it's misconduct to kill animals for meat or to profit from the killing of animals for meat, which is why his monk disciples could only eat meat with the knowledge that it wasn't slaughtered on their behalf...
Not to drag this out, but the references you provide do not say this. They say that monks should not be in business, including butchery, and may meat if it was not slaughtered specifically for them. I don't see a sutta prohibition on lay butchers, etc. or even a prohibition on monks knowingly eating monks. If you or anyone had such references I would be grateful for them.

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Re: Vegetarian

Post by DNS » Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:02 pm

Caodemarte wrote:
Santi253 wrote:...What I did say is the Buddha taught that it's misconduct to kill animals for meat or to profit from the killing of animals for meat, which is why his monk disciples could only eat meat with the knowledge that it wasn't slaughtered on their behalf...
Not to drag this out, but the references you provide do not say this. They say that monks should not be in business, including butchery, and may meat if it was not slaughtered specifically for them. I don't see a sutta prohibition on lay butchers, etc. or even a prohibition on monks knowingly eating monks. If you or anyone had such references I would be grateful for them.
prohibition on monks knowingly eating monks
Human flesh is not allowed, even if offered (Mahavagga VI.23.10-15).
I don't see a sutta prohibition on lay butchers
It is implied, actually more than implied in passages where the Buddha or one of his chief disciples reports about seeing ghostly type beings who are suffering as a “skeleton” or a “piece of flesh” or another woeful existence and being tormented by crows and other animals. The Buddha reports that these beings are suffering in these states because of a past life as a butcher of cattle or pigs or sheep (Samyutta Nikaya 19.1, Vinaya, Suttavibhanga 3.105). And then in other passages about the prohibition of a trade in the business of meat.

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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:16 pm

[quote="David N. Snyder]

Human flesh is not allowed, even if offered (Mahavagga VI.23.10-15).
I don't see a sutta prohibition on lay butchers
It is implied, actually more than implied in passages where the Buddha or one of his chief disciples reports about seeing ghostly type beings.......[/quote]

Thanks, David. Being a potential source, I am especially happy that canabalism by monks is not allowed in the suttas.

I have no doubt that being a butcher was generally considered a lowly occupation (with kammic consequences as meat eating itself may have), like a public executioner, especially by non-Buddhists concerned with ritual purity. I am looking for a prohibition, not so much implications or interpretations. Heavy or light! :tongue:

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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Nicolas » Tue Aug 08, 2017 3:42 pm

Caodemarte wrote:I have no doubt that being a butcher was generally considered a lowly occupation (with kammic consequences as meat eating itself may have), like a public executioner, especially by non-Buddhists concerned with ritual purity. I am looking for a prohibition, not so much implications or interpretations. Heavy or light! :tongue:
My understanding is that the Buddha does not prohibit laypeople to do anything, just gives them recommendations, as he has no "dominion" over them. When it comes to the sangha of monks and nuns, there are prohibitions (with consequences, etc.), because the sangha is lead by the Buddha.

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Re: Vegetarian

Post by DNS » Tue Aug 08, 2017 4:07 pm

Caodemarte wrote: I have no doubt that being a butcher was generally considered a lowly occupation (with kammic consequences as meat eating itself may have), like a public executioner, especially by non-Buddhists concerned with ritual purity. I am looking for a prohibition, not so much implications or interpretations. Heavy or light! :tongue:
Okay, here's a direct one, not light and not implied, just a direct prohibition:

“Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.” Anguttara Nikaya 5.177

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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Aug 08, 2017 5:03 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Caodemarte wrote: I have no doubt that being a butcher was generally considered a lowly occupation (with kammic consequences as meat eating itself may have), like a public executioner, especially by non-Buddhists concerned with ritual purity. I am looking for a prohibition, not so much implications or interpretations. Heavy or light! :tongue:
Okay, here's a direct one, not light and not implied, just a direct prohibition:

“Monks, a lay follower should not engage in five types of business. Which five? Business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.” Anguttara Nikaya 5.177

Yes, this is a prohibition of engaging in the business of meat selling (presumably including butchering as a business, not the peasant farmer) or weapons dealing, etc. for profit. There are also prohibitions against animal sacrifice and the whole ritual (as opposed to moral) purity gig as well as the shift to the importance of intention in kamma from which people draw conclusions and mplications. I am looking for a sutta reference quoting the Buddha as saying that it is forbidden for lay followers to eat meat (hopefully canibalism is forbidden for the lay as well as monks!) and secondarily one against lay people killing (butchering, fishing, hunting, etc.) animals to eat.

I am not arguing against vegetarianism or anything else. Just trying to find some references to Buddha's words as recorded in the Pali canon. I can't find them.
Last edited by Caodemarte on Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Santi253
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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Santi253 » Tue Aug 08, 2017 6:36 pm

David N. Snyder wrote: It is implied, actually more than implied in passages where the Buddha or one of his chief disciples reports about seeing ghostly type beings who are suffering as a “skeleton” or a “piece of flesh” or another woeful existence and being tormented by crows and other animals. The Buddha reports that these beings are suffering in these states because of a past life as a butcher of cattle or pigs or sheep (Samyutta Nikaya 19.1, Vinaya, Suttavibhanga 3.105). And then in other passages about the prohibition of a trade in the business of meat.
Thank you. I respect your knowledge when it comes to these topics.

While I don't judge others for eating meat, I would like to be as honest as possible about what the Buddha taught. I prepare and serve meat to my wife and children, because that's what they eat. I don't judge them for it.
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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Santi253 » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:38 pm

Justsit wrote:
Santi253 wrote:
Justsit wrote: If OP is considering becoming a strict vegetarian (that is, not a lacto-ovo vegetarian)
That would be vegan, not vegetarian, right? I am a strict vegetarian, in terms of not eating meat or fish. I even stopped buying sour cream and yogurt with gelatin in it.
A vegetarian that eats no meat/meat products but does consume dairy products and eggs is a lacto-ovo vegetarian; one who does not include any of those products is a strict vegetarian. Technically, a vegan is a strict vegetarian who also refrains from the use of any animal products, such a leather, although the term is commonly used to refer to the dietary restrictions only. At least that's my understanding.
I thought about going vegan, but it's harder to get enough protein and B12 that way.
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Re: Vegetarian

Post by Mkoll » Wed Aug 09, 2017 12:15 am

Santi253 wrote:
Justsit wrote:
Santi253 wrote:That would be vegan, not vegetarian, right? I am a strict vegetarian, in terms of not eating meat or fish. I even stopped buying sour cream and yogurt with gelatin in it.
A vegetarian that eats no meat/meat products but does consume dairy products and eggs is a lacto-ovo vegetarian; one who does not include any of those products is a strict vegetarian. Technically, a vegan is a strict vegetarian who also refrains from the use of any animal products, such a leather, although the term is commonly used to refer to the dietary restrictions only. At least that's my understanding.
I thought about going vegan, but it's harder to get enough protein and B12 that way.
B12 is easy, just take a supplement. It's stored long-term in the body and your reserves coming from an omnivorous diet would last for years even if you didn't consume any in that time: https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002403.htm. Protein is a little harder, but still easily doable.

Meeting nutritional requirements is not the hard part of eating vegan if you do some basic nutrition research. Following the restrictions you've set for yourself long-term is.

Justsit's understanding of the terms is mine as well.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa
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