the great vegetarian debate

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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mikenz66
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by mikenz66 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:51 pm

clw_uk wrote: In the sense of it involves killing a human, then yes. However this is no different to the killing of cows for meat. Therefore if a monk visited Hannibal lectres house, and he provides a meal of liver and beans, with some wine ;) the monk would have to eat it, as long as he hadn't seen it or suspected the guy was killed for him to eat, yet not drink the wine ;)
This would be an un-allowable food so would be refused.
The following types of meat are unallowable: that of human beings, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears, and hyenas. Human beings, horses, and elephants were regarded as too noble to be used as food. The other types of meat were forbidden either on grounds that they were repulsive ("People criticized and complained and spread it about, 'How can these Sakyan-son monks eat dog meat? Dogs are loathsome, disgusting'") or dangerous (bhikkhus, smelling of lion's flesh, went into the jungle; the lions there, instead of criticizing or complaining, attacked them).
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... h08-4.html
Perhaps someone with a good knowledge of the vinaya could confirm, but my impression is that bhikkus are not required to eat everything that is offered (which would clearly be impossible in most cases). They are free to choose from what is offered. That's what I've always observed of a variety of Bhikkhus.

Of courses, in some circumstances (such as those described by Ajahn Brahm in Isaan in the early 1970's) there is little choice, so eating frogs or whatever might be the only way to get enough food. However, that sort of situation is probably uncommon today.

:anjali:
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Alex123
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Alex123 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:56 pm

mikenz66 wrote: Perhaps someone with a good knowledge of the vinaya could confirm, but my impression is that bhikkus are not required to eat everything that is offered (which would clearly be impossible in most cases). They are free to choose from what is offered. That's what I've always observed of a variety of Bhikkhus.
There are some forms of meat that Bhikkhus are not allowed to eat.
The following types of meat are unallowable: that of human beings, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears, and hyenas. Human beings, horses, and elephants were regarded as too noble to be used as food. The other types of meat were forbidden either on grounds that they were repulsive ("People criticized and complained and spread it about, 'How can these Sakyan-son monks eat dog meat? Dogs are loathsome, disgusting'") or dangerous (bhikkhus, smelling of lion's flesh, went into the jungle; the lions there, instead of criticizing or complaining, attacked them)...
To eat human flesh :o entails a thullaccaya;...
Furthermore, even cooked fish or meat of an allowable kind is unallowable if the bhikkhu sees, hears, or suspects that the animal was killed specifically for the purpose of feeding bhikkhus (Mv.VI.31.14).
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... h08-4.html


In times of famine, I don't think that monks would be picky about allowable food which includes meat.
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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daverupa
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by daverupa » Sat Sep 07, 2013 12:20 am

clw_uk wrote:
Speaking for myself, for the same reason why other ordinary everyday, even non buddhist, people would decline human meat, if it was offered to them.

You raise an important point. Why would the Buddha allow for the eating of animal meat and not human meat, if offered at a meal.

The only conclusion I can come to is to keep up the image of the sangha
There was a Jain argument, if I recall correctly, to the effect that Buddhists were amoral since they claimed that there was no fault for a monk when eating a baby, if that monk neither saw nor heard nor otherwise suspected such foul play. Since the utter repulsiveness of the idea was so obviously abhorrent, therefore the Buddhists must be horribly mistaken in their teachings about morality.

(But surely this is a misguided and indirect attack on the kamma = cetana equation. While the above event can be judged horrific, it is nevertheless possible for there to be context within which there is no moral misstep on the part of that monk.)

As to types of meat generally, the Buddha seems to have accepted social taboos on certain meats, and since the Vinaya is to a great extent a matter of finding an agreeable interface with contemporary social pro-&-pre-scriptions I think it's perfectly serviceable to accept current taboos, which should address the point. The Vinaya is for the taming of humans who choose to be guided by the Dhamma, not for the changing of society.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Sat Sep 07, 2013 3:48 am

A bhikkhu can refuse certain foods, for example those from the kinds of meat not allowable or for example, a bottle of liquor. The threefold rule does not require the monk to accept everything. Also, if food is offered at the wrong time, i.e., in the afternoon, it must also be refused.
mikenz66 wrote: Of courses, in some circumstances (such as those described by Ajahn Brahm in Isaan in the early 1970's) there is little choice, so eating frogs or whatever might be the only way to get enough food. However, that sort of situation is probably uncommon today.
I have often wondered about this one. AB mentions this event when the subject of eating or vegetarianism comes up. He reports that the whole frog was there in his bowl. Another monk stuck his fork into the frog and hit the bladder and urine spilled out. The other monk got disgusted and didn't eat. AB knew where the bladder was and was able to eat the frog in his bowl.

Since the whole frog was there in the bowl (not parts), couldn't or shouldn't he have "suspected" that the animal was killed specifically for him and the other monks? After all, it is the whole animal there in the bowl. I suppose it is possible the frog died of natural causes, but knowing that meat-eating and production is common in that area, it would seem that it is likely the frogs were killed specifically for lunch dana for the bhikkhus.
"I say that there are three instances in which meat should not be eaten: when it is seen, heard, or suspected that the living being has been slaughtered for the bhikkhu. I say that meat should not be eaten in these three instances. I say that there are three instances in which meat may be eaten: when it is not seen, not heard, and not suspected, that the living being has been slaughtered for the bhikkhu."
Majjhima Nikaya 55.5

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appicchato
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by appicchato » Sat Sep 07, 2013 4:07 am

...couldn't or shouldn't he have "suspected" that the animal was killed specifically for him and the other monks?
Rightly, or otherwise, this is the way this wanderer looks upon every dish offered...it ain't easy being a vegi monastic in Thailand, where virtually 99.9% of food offered is carne (meat) based...fortunately there's a never ending supply of rice, and the odd veg (and sauce) to be had... :pig:

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by chownah » Sat Sep 07, 2013 5:57 am

David N. Snyder wrote:A bhikkhu can refuse certain foods, for example those from the kinds of meat not allowable or for example, a bottle of liquor. The threefold rule does not require the monk to accept everything. Also, if food is offered at the wrong time, i.e., in the afternoon, it must also be refused.
mikenz66 wrote: Of courses, in some circumstances (such as those described by Ajahn Brahm in Isaan in the early 1970's) there is little choice, so eating frogs or whatever might be the only way to get enough food. However, that sort of situation is probably uncommon today.
I have often wondered about this one. AB mentions this event when the subject of eating or vegetarianism comes up. He reports that the whole frog was there in his bowl. Another monk stuck his fork into the frog and hit the bladder and urine spilled out. The other monk got disgusted and didn't eat. AB knew where the bladder was and was able to eat the frog in his bowl.

Since the whole frog was there in the bowl (not parts), couldn't or shouldn't he have "suspected" that the animal was killed specifically for him and the other monks? After all, it is the whole animal there in the bowl. I suppose it is possible the frog died of natural causes, but knowing that meat-eating and production is common in that area, it would seem that it is likely the frogs were killed specifically for lunch dana for the bhikkhus.
In Isaan and in Thailand in general, eating frogs is not unusual. I have eaten it many many times prepared in different manners.......my wife cooks it herself sometimes.......there are at least two different kinds eaten where I live which can be differentiated by seeing that one kind is big and one kind is small. The small ones are typically fried whole after a rudimentary cleaning of only a small amount of internal organs most of which are left intact. They are crispy and each one is a single bite or maybe two. The big frogs are about the size of what most people consider to be a regular or large sized frog....a medium to small sized one would cover a child's palm and a big one would cover an adult's hand. They are prepared on different ways one of which is to roast it whole after a rudimentary cleaning which seems to be more thorough than what is give to the previously mentioned small frogs. So, these large frogs that are roasted are usually served whole. I have eaten them this way along with my wife and the issue of the bladder being present or not has never come up. If the bladder is intact after cleaning (maybe it is removed, I don't know) then it is likely that it's contents have been realeased although I don't know.....and then it would be washed away in the final rinse before cooking. If the urine is cooked then it probably just adds to the flavor.......you can be sure that if urine left in could squirt out and give a bad flavor then the Thai people would remove it.....Thai cooks know a lot about which internal organs are edible or not since internal organs are usually eaten if they are good......organs you have probably not thought of.......a chickens internal organs are pretty much all edible......and taste good.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that unless someone is an expert in frog anatomy it is unlikely that they would know if they had punctured a bladder or not and if they did it probably would not give a bad flavor to the food as if it would do this it would likely have been removed when the frog was cleaned because Thai cooks are knowledgeable in these matters and they pride themselves on their food.

And the real bottom line is that there would be no reason to think that the frogs were killed specifically for the monks in that if the season is right you go collect frogs.......then you usually cook all of the ones you have caught after giving some to family and friends if there are a lot.........and then eat them whenever it is time to eat if you are so inclined. The frogs the monks ate might have been caught and roasted the night before and the next morning there were a bunch still left so someone decided to give it to the monks at bindabat...........but I don't know for sure how it transpired......but no reason to think the frogs were killed for the monks specifically.

chownah

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by clw_uk » Sat Sep 07, 2013 7:44 am

This would be an un-allowable food so would be refused.
I know it is :) I was saying it only appears to be because of the damage it would cause to the image of the sangha, and not because it's immoral in of it's self
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:47 am

daverupa wrote: But now it's a choice between someone who doesn't care, and someone who not only likes meat but doesn't want to give it up. Neither one was denoted at first, so how can either one be the specific group I meant?
So which specific group did you mean? I'm still not clear. On the face of it there seems to be 3 possibilities:
1. People who don't like eating meat;
2. People who don't care /mind what they eat;
3. People who like eating meat.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Sep 07, 2013 8:52 am

clw_uk wrote: However if someone goes for a meal at someone's house and is offered a slice of turkey as part of the meal, they should eat it. Otherwise they are clinging to the ideal of vegetarianism instead of practicing equanimity.
I see your point here, particularly if the turkey has already been cooked and would be eaten by somebody else or thrown away ( as per the 3-fold rule ). But from a practical point of view I'd find this difficult because I now find meat revolting, it really feels like eating flesh - so, yes there is some aversion but it's not causing harm to anyone - on the contrary, it means I'm not contributing to the suffering involved in breeding and killing animals for food.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Alex123 » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:43 am

Spiny Norman wrote: So which specific group did you mean? I'm still not clear. On the face of it there seems to be 3 possibilities:
1. People who don't like eating meat;
2. People who don't care /mind what they eat;
3. People who like eating meat.
What about 4th group which includes "eating for protein and, perhaps, saturated fat"?
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by seeker242 » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:47 am

Alex123 wrote:
seeker242 wrote: Yes! However, those differences become completely irrelevant when speaking in the context of a 2,500 calorie diet that is balanced from a variety of plant foods.
If a person needs at least 100g of protein, then what vegetarian foods do you suggest?

While I do soak and blend cashews or pumpkin seeds, because they are too high in calories (and only eating them is iffy), it is not the optimum for me, for now. Not considering the cost either.

Also, whey is optimum post workout shake, but it is not vegetarian food. :( There is no equivalent vegetarian substitute for it. I am not going to take soy.
For bodybuilders I would assume it would be more difficult if there is not soy, but not impossible I would think. Not really sure because I'm not a bodybuilder. Below is a normal person sample menu.

Image

Now if you were to add one clark builder bar (20g), or something like that, that would bring you to almost 100g. For people I have read about that don't use soy, they usually use some kind of non soy protein supplement shake like Pea, Brown Rice, Chlorella, Buckwheat, Spirulina, or Hemp Protein. If you really want to look into it though, the folks over at http://veganbodybuilding.com have it all figured out. But of course the supplement shakes are more expensive than just normal food and of course you need to have access to places to purchase them.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Alex123 » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:57 am

Hello seeker242,

Thank you for your post. The problem is that one of the highest protein food still has too much others (carbs/fats). For example, I've calculated that I can take about 1500calories from cashews per meal to eat ~48g of protein. I am drinking it right now. That is my breakfast.

As for shakes. Some cheap whey (2lb and 5lb) jars are cheaper for protein than most food, (except for red kidney beans). As much as I like red kidney beans, it would be tough to eat them every day. It is easy to find cheap whey, but I haven't seen vegetarian protein jars being sold in as many places.
Last edited by Alex123 on Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by seeker242 » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:07 am

mikenz66 wrote:
clw_uk wrote: In the sense of it involves killing a human, then yes. However this is no different to the killing of cows for meat. Therefore if a monk visited Hannibal lectres house, and he provides a meal of liver and beans, with some wine ;) the monk would have to eat it, as long as he hadn't seen it or suspected the guy was killed for him to eat, yet not drink the wine ;)
This would be an un-allowable food so would be refused.
The following types of meat are unallowable: that of human beings, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears, and hyenas. Human beings, horses, and elephants were regarded as too noble to be used as food. The other types of meat were forbidden either on grounds that they were repulsive ("People criticized and complained and spread it about, 'How can these Sakyan-son monks eat dog meat? Dogs are loathsome, disgusting'") or dangerous (bhikkhus, smelling of lion's flesh, went into the jungle; the lions there, instead of criticizing or complaining, attacked them).
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... h08-4.html
Perhaps someone with a good knowledge of the vinaya could confirm, but my impression is that bhikkus are not required to eat everything that is offered (which would clearly be impossible in most cases). They are free to choose from what is offered. That's what I've always observed of a variety of Bhikkhus.

Of courses, in some circumstances (such as those described by Ajahn Brahm in Isaan in the early 1970's) there is little choice, so eating frogs or whatever might be the only way to get enough food. However, that sort of situation is probably uncommon today.

:anjali:
Mike
I was reading something yesterday that gave me the impression that if a monk sees meat in his bowl and does not recognize what kind it is, he MUST ask what kind it is so he can discern if he can accept it or not. If he does not, he commits an offense.

"To eat human flesh entails a thullaccaya; to eat any of the other unallowable types, a dukkaṭa (Mv.VI.23.9-15). If a bhikkhu is uncertain as to the identity of any meat presented to him, he incurs a dukkaṭa if he doesn't ask the donor what it is before eating it (Mv.VI.23.9). The Commentary interprets this as meaning that if, on reflection, one recognizes what kind of meat it is, one needn't ask the donor about the identity of the meat. If one doesn't recognize it, one must ask. If one mistakenly identifies an unallowable sort of meat as allowable and then goes ahead and consumes it under that mistaken assumption, there is no offense." http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... h08-4.html

It seems obvious that a bhikkhu is certainly not required to eat anything offered. If that were the case, then there would be no dukkaṭa for not asking about meat of an uncertain origin. A bhikkhu would not be allowed to eat at Hannibal lectres house! Even if it was not "seen, heard or suspected" the guy was killed for him to eat. With regards to unallowable types of meat, it appears that "seen, heard or suspected" becomes irrelevant. That is how I read it anyway.

:namaste:
Alex123 wrote:Hello seeker242,

Thank you for your post. The problem is that one of the highest protein food still has too much others (carbs/fats). For example, I've calculated that I can take about 1500calories from cashews per meal to eat ~48g of protein. I am drinking it right now. That is my breakfast.

As for shakes. Some cheap whey (2lb and 5lb) jars are cheaper for protein than most food, (except for red kidney beans). As much as I like red kidney beans, it would be tough to eat them every day.
Thank you for saying thank you! :smile:

:namaste:

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Dinsdale » Sat Sep 07, 2013 1:03 pm

Alex123 wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: So which specific group did you mean? I'm still not clear. On the face of it there seems to be 3 possibilities:
1. People who don't like eating meat;
2. People who don't care /mind what they eat;
3. People who like eating meat.
What about 4th group which includes "eating for protein and, perhaps, saturated fat"?
I'd class that as a subset of group 3. Leaving aside the issue of which type of protein is better, I think it is clear that we can get protein from non-meat foodstuffs - lots of people do.
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Alex123
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Alex123 » Sat Sep 07, 2013 1:14 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
Alex123 wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote: So which specific group did you mean? I'm still not clear. On the face of it there seems to be 3 possibilities:
1. People who don't like eating meat;
2. People who don't care /mind what they eat;
3. People who like eating meat.
What about 4th group which includes "eating for protein and, perhaps, saturated fat"?
I'd class that as a subset of group 3. Leaving aside the issue of which type of protein is better, I think it is clear that we can get protein from non-meat foodstuffs - lots of people do.

Well the problem is that good vegetarian sources of protein have also a lot of calories coming from carbs/fat. If one needs higher protein intake without considerably higher calories, then it is tough without either meat or pure protein shakes (the best of which are whey).
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."

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