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: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Santi253 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:42 pm

chownah wrote: I'd really like to know what the buddha ate.
Santi253 wrote: This has already been shared on this forum:
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
By today's standards, the Buddha was mostly vegetarian.
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chownah
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by chownah » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:44 pm

chownah wrote:
lyndon taylor wrote: This has been discussed at length on this forum, which you have chosen to ignore, out of something like 98 meals recorded of the Buddha in the suttas only 2 or 3 contained meat.
Oh please do bring us a few sutta references which documents this. I'd really like to know what the buddha ate.
chownah
Never mind. I just saw the link from santi253 and it contains alot of references. Thanks anyway.
chownah
Edit: On second thought, I picked one of the items in the link and can't find the reference. The reference is "Choice rice with curry (Majjhima Nikaya II. 7)". I have not been able to find it.....can you help with that?
chownah
Last edited by chownah on Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Caodemarte
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Caodemarte » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:48 pm

First time in a long time that I have heard that Rhys David is modern scholar. Makes me feel young. In any case, there is an ongoing dispute over whether not the phrase used meant pork, pig food, or something else with the word "pig" in the title. There are also varying accounts. Please note that under the rules established by the Buddha it would have been proper to eat pork.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Santi253 » Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:48 pm

Please keep in mind that I don't judge others for eating meat. If people want to put saturated fat and cholesterol into their arteries, that's their own personal health decision.

What I am concerned about is taking the Buddha's prohibition of killing animals for meat and applying that, in the best way I can, to my own life.
Caodemarte wrote:Please note that under the rules established by the Buddha it would have been proper to eat pork.
Santi253 wrote: While the Buddha did not require vegetarianism, vegetarianism nonetheless happens to be consistent with his teaching that it's misconduct to kill animals for meat. The Buddha's monk disciples, who relied on alms for food, didn't have a choice in what they ate.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Mon Aug 14, 2017 4:08 pm

chownah wrote: Edit: On second thought, I picked one of the items in the link and can't find the reference. The reference is "Choice rice with curry (Majjhima Nikaya II. 7)". I have not been able to find it.....can you help with that?
chownah
When roman numerals are used it is the PTS system of referencing (volume number, page number). Eventually I need to update those to the modern way of Sutta > passage number.

Actually, I've found a few more vegetarian meal references. I need to update the page to include those too.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:28 am

I've updated that page to include some more references I found from the Vimanavatthu.
https://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Diet_of_Buddha

Here is an example of one of the references, showing that the Buddha ate milk-rice porridge and fresh ghee with a link to the reference, available online:
Udana 4.3 wrote:Then the cowherd, understanding the Blessed One's acquiescence, got up from his seat, bowed down to the Blessed One and left, circling him to the right.

Then, after the night had passed, the cowherd — having prepared in his own home a great deal of thick milk-rice porridge & fresh ghee — announced the time of the meal to the Blessed One: "It's time, lord. The meal is ready."

So the Blessed One early in the morning adjusted his under robe and — carrying his bowl & robes — went together with the community of monks to the cowherd's home. On arrival, he sat down on a seat laid out. The cowherd, with his own hand, served & satisfied the community of monks headed by the Blessed One with thick milk-rice porridge & fresh ghee.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Although the references show around 96% vegetarian meals, it should be noted that this finding can give support to both sides on the veggie-omnivore debate:

Veggie: The Buddha ate mostly vegetarian, the First Precept is not to kill or cause to kill and based on the high number of vegetarian meals might show that he preferred and approved of such meals.

Omnivore: The fact that the Buddha even ate one meal (or more) that contained meat, even if it were only one, shows that vegetarianism is not required. Vegetarians consider a person who eats meat even occasionally to be omnivores, not vegetarian.

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Will
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Will » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:44 am

Surely this has been cited in this long thread...
The Buddha Kassapa: Taking life, beating, wounding, binding, stealing, lying, deceiving, worthless knowledge, adultery; this is stench. Not the eating of meat.
Excerpt From: Saddhatissa, H. The Sutta-Nipata: A New Translation from the Pali Canon.

Since He was an ancient Buddha (not ours) one might quibble about His advice. But since it just prioritizing ethics and inner qualities over diet, that still holds true today.

Yet veggie fanatics have a good point, but it is only a single point, not the heart of the Dhamma.
Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by chownah » Tue Aug 15, 2017 5:01 am

David N. Snyder wrote:I've updated that page to include some more references I found from the Vimanavatthu.
https://dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Diet_of_Buddha

Here is an example of one of the references, showing that the Buddha ate milk-rice porridge and fresh ghee with a link to the reference, available online:
Udana 4.3 wrote:Then the cowherd, understanding the Blessed One's acquiescence, got up from his seat, bowed down to the Blessed One and left, circling him to the right.

Then, after the night had passed, the cowherd — having prepared in his own home a great deal of thick milk-rice porridge & fresh ghee — announced the time of the meal to the Blessed One: "It's time, lord. The meal is ready."

So the Blessed One early in the morning adjusted his under robe and — carrying his bowl & robes — went together with the community of monks to the cowherd's home. On arrival, he sat down on a seat laid out. The cowherd, with his own hand, served & satisfied the community of monks headed by the Blessed One with thick milk-rice porridge & fresh ghee.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Thanks for bringing this account of the buddha's meal. I think it is worth noting that this particular meal was had at the home of a cowherd....and that the cowherd's meal satisfied the community of monks. I doubt that a cowherd would have the resources to be able to satisfy a community of monks with a meal containing meat....but maybe I am wrong.

Also, note that the meal contained milk which some vegetarians would not allow as being truly vegetarian.....of course not all vegetarians make that distinction.
chownah

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by chownah » Tue Aug 15, 2017 5:07 am

David N. Snyder wrote:
chownah wrote: Edit: On second thought, I picked one of the items in the link and can't find the reference. The reference is "Choice rice with curry (Majjhima Nikaya II. 7)". I have not been able to find it.....can you help with that?
chownah
When roman numerals are used it is the PTS system of referencing (volume number, page number). Eventually I need to update those to the modern way of Sutta > passage number.

Actually, I've found a few more vegetarian meal references. I need to update the page to include those too.
Can you show me how to find that reference and others in that system?
chownah

Santi253
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Santi253 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 7:19 pm

David N. Snyder wrote: Omnivore: The fact that the Buddha even ate one meal (or more) that contained meat, even if it were only one, shows that vegetarianism is not required. Vegetarians consider a person who eats meat even occasionally to be omnivores, not vegetarian.
Is it worth mentioning that the Buddha didn't require vegetarianism because his monk disciples relied on alms for food? In Mahayana Buddhism, monks are usually vegetarian because they don't rely on alms for food.
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Caodemarte
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Caodemarte » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:30 pm

Santi253 wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote: Omnivore: The fact that the Buddha even ate one meal (or more) that contained meat, even if it were only one, shows that vegetarianism is not required. Vegetarians consider a person who eats meat even occasionally to be omnivores, not vegetarian.
Is it worth mentioning that the Buddha didn't require vegetarianism because his monk disciples relied on alms for food? In Mahayana Buddhism, monks are usually vegetarian because they don't rely on alms for food.
in Mahayana Buddhism Tibetan monks eat meat and East Asia monks others eat a primarily vegetarian diet for other reasons, including reasons based on the Vinaya and for humanitarian /moral reasons.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Santi253 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:36 pm

Caodemarte wrote: in Mahayana Buddhism Tibetan monks eat meat...
In a climate where vegetables weren't readily available, vegetarianism would have been an unfair expectation:
In Tibet, where vegetables have been historically very scarce, and the adopted vinaya was the Nikaya Sarvāstivāda, vegetarianism is very rare, although the Dalai Lama, the Karmapa, and other esteemed lamas invite their audiences to adopt vegetarianism whenever they can. Chatral Rinpoche in particular stated that anyone who wished to be his student must be vegetarian. Contradictory to the compassionate Tibetan Buddhist traditions in which a sanctity of life, both human and animal, is cherished, meat is often consumed as a form of sustenance due to lack of vegetation readily available.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_vegetarianism
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:46 pm

chownah wrote: Can you show me how to find that reference and others in that system?
chownah
The PTS (Pali Text Society) way of numbering is volume number (Roman numerals) > page number. I prefer the modern way of Nikaya > Sutta name, number > passage number within that sutta. I have the complete PTS hard copy books of the Pali Canon as well as the modern translators, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Walshe, et al. Many of the references are in Sutta passages not found online yet. You can see the PTS and modern equivalents numbering system over at Sutta Central and AccessToInsight.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Tue Aug 15, 2017 9:56 pm

Santi253 wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote: Omnivore: The fact that the Buddha even ate one meal (or more) that contained meat, even if it were only one, shows that vegetarianism is not required. Vegetarians consider a person who eats meat even occasionally to be omnivores, not vegetarian.
Is it worth mentioning that the Buddha didn't require vegetarianism because his monk disciples relied on alms for food? In Mahayana Buddhism, monks are usually vegetarian because they don't rely on alms for food.
Yes, that is a good counter-point in favor of the vegetarian position. Buddhists eat meat, but don't do the killing, so then the next question arises from that is what would happen if the whole world were Buddhist? No one would be doing the animal slaughtering, so everyone would at least be de facto vegetarians; lay people and then monks too as they receive alms from the lay people.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Santi253 » Tue Aug 15, 2017 10:01 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:
Santi253 wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote: Omnivore: The fact that the Buddha even ate one meal (or more) that contained meat, even if it were only one, shows that vegetarianism is not required. Vegetarians consider a person who eats meat even occasionally to be omnivores, not vegetarian.
Is it worth mentioning that the Buddha didn't require vegetarianism because his monk disciples relied on alms for food? In Mahayana Buddhism, monks are usually vegetarian because they don't rely on alms for food.
Yes, that is a good counter-point in favor of the vegetarian position. Buddhists eat meat, but don't do the killing, so then the next question arises from that is what would happen if the whole world were Buddhist? No one would be doing the animal slaughtering, so everyone would at least be de facto vegetarians; lay people and then monks too as they receive alms from the lay people.
At least in the United States, people often get really defensive when meat-eating is questioned. I think it's partly because of how judgmental vegans and vegetarians can seem sometimes. I used to be very defensive about my meat-eating habits.
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