The "party line" in Theravada is that monks are to be content with whatever almsfood they are given. I take this to mean that they shouldn't complain about what they get, because they are, after all beggars (who can't really be "choosers").
There is however an often overlooked Sutta, MN 114, the "Sevitabbāsevitabba Sutta: To Be Cultivated and Not to Be Cultivated". Here
is Sister Uppalavanna's translation.
Here's a brief snippet from the Wisdom Publications MN (starting on page 922):
39. [Buddha:] Sāriputta, ... Almsfood is of two kinds, I say: to be cultivated, and not to be cultivated.
40. ...the venerable Sāriputta said...: "I understand the detailed meaning, to be thus:
42. ...such almsfood as causes unwholesome states to increase and wholesome states to diminish in one who cultivates them should not be cultivated. But such almsfood as causes unwholesome states to diminish and wholesome states to increase in one who cultivates them should be cultivated..."
50. [Buddha:] "Good, good, Sāriputta! It is good that you understand the detailed meaning of my utterance...to be thus.
So although the Buddha never specifically prohibited the eating of onions (due to the possibility that they might
evoke lust in certain
monks and nuns, who have a sensitivity to these), this blanket statement allows monks and nuns to "cultivate" the almsfood that conduces to wholesome states of mind, and avoid the almsfood that conduces to unwholesome states of mind, whatever type of food that may be.BTW:
I seem to be one of the unlucky ones who has a sensitivity to onions, garlic, etc. If I can manage to avoid those, my meditation is seriously about 10 times easier. It makes a huge
, noticeable difference for me. Most people I talk to about this, however, think I must be a bit off my rocker, as they either have no such sensitivity themselves, or have never taken a break from onions, etc. for long enough to determine if there is a cause-and-effect link there (after observing how it affects their meditation).I post this Sutta reference for those fellow yogis out there who would like a little Canonical defense for their abstinence from these nasty aphrodisiacs (to them, anyway). For those of you who don't have this problem, please show some compassion for those of us who do!Another BTW:
I recommend never mentioning such a sensitivity to Sri Lankans, as their diet seems to have onions and garlic as its very foundation. I've found that their profound and intense attachment to onions and garlic is literally unquestionable. I've been told (and it seems to be true) that each and every curry starts with frying generous quantities of onions and or garlic.
Even though Ayurvedic medicine is the "official" system of medicine used in Sri Lanka, it seems virtually all Sri Lankans have lost the knowledge of the difference between "sattvic", "rajasic", and "tamasic" foods. Onions and garlic are definitely not sattvic.
Here's an interesting article explaining these three Ayurvedic terms: "Why No Onions and Garlic
Rajasic and tamasic foods are also not used because they are detrimental to meditation and devotion. “Garlic and onions are both rajasic and tamasic, and are forbidden to yogis because they root the consciousness more firmly in the body”, says well-known authority on Ayurveda, Dr.Robert E.Svoboda.
I would suggest to meditators who are having difficulties with lust to try abstaining from onions/garlic/leeks/shallots/etc for a week or two, and see if that doesn't make a noticeable difference. Then once you go back on the onions again, see if lust increases noticeably. Is there a cause-and-effect link? I would encourage you to experiment with it.