you do know the first precept of the five; eight; & ten precepts does not include harmlessness, only the deliberate
removal of the life faculty from a living being is included?
harmlessness is not a precept for lay people, nor is it 100% binding and all encompassing, such as the example of the allowance for even mendicants, who do have precepts related to harmlessness, to defend themselves in order to escape violence.
The simile of the saw is not referring to physical forms of violence which may be necessary to defend oneself, rather to the mind state one has, which is clearly being described.
'Our minds will be unaffected and we will say no evil words. We will remain sympathetic, with a mind of good will, and with no inner hate.
the problem is the actual taking of life as a physical expression, not the use of violence when it is necessary, as in self defence, or demolishing a dwelling (found in another rule)! as the Buddha didn't say anywhere that eating was wrong, only the actual act of deliberately killing was.
here is part of the background story from the Mahavaga with the relevant lines highlighted
VinMv.6.31.12/13 Translated from the pali by T.W. Rhys Davids & Hermann Oldenberg wrote:12. And the Blessed One preached to Sîha, the general, in due course; that is to say, he talked about the merits obtained by almsgiving, about the duties of morality (&c., in the usual way; see, for instance, I, 8, 2, 3, down to:) dependent on nobody else for knowledge of the doctrine of the Teacher, he said to the Blessed One; 'Lord, may the Blessed One consent to take his meal with me to-morrow, together with the fraternity of Bhikkhus.'
The Blessed One expressed his consent by remaining silent. Then Sîha, the general, when he understood that the Blessed One had accepted his invitation, rose from his seat, respectfully saluted the Blessed One, and, passing round him with his right side towards him, went away.
And Sîha, the general, gave order to a certain man (among his subalterns, saying), 'Go, my friend, and see if there is any meat to be had 1: And when that night had elapsed, Sîha, the general, ordered excellent food (&c., as in chap. 23. 5, down to the end).
13. At that time a great number of Niganthas (running) through Vesâlî, from road to road and from cross-way to cross-way, with outstretched arms, cried: 'To-day Sîha, the general, has killed a great ox and has made a meal for the Samana Gotama; the Samana Gotama knowingly eats this meat of an animal killed for this very purpose, and has thus become virtually the author of that deed (of killing the animal)!' [my note here - this is a false accusation]
Then a certain man went to the place where Sîha, the general, was. Having approached him he said to Sîha, the general, into his ear: 'Please, Lord, have you noticed that a great number of Niganthas (running) through Vesâlî, &c.?'
'Do not mind it, my good Sir. Long since those venerable brethren are trying to discredit the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Samgha; and those venerable brethren do not become tired of telling false, idle, vain lies of the Blessed One. Not for our life would we ever intentionally kill a living being.'
1 - Pavattamamsa, which Buddhaghosa explains, 'matassa mamsam.' Pavatta means 'already existing,' opposed to what is brought into existence for a special purpose, and pavattamamsa is said here, therefore, in order to exclude uddissa-kata-mamsa (meat of animals killed especially for them), which Bhikkhus were not allowed to partake of (see chap. 3,1. 14). Compare also pavattaphala-bhogana at Gâtaka I, p. 6.
You and anyone else can make out that eating & buying meat is wrong due to the supply & demand argument, or because of your own interpretation but it is pretty clear that the Buddha differentiated between harmlessness & violence; murder etc. just by looking at the effacements alone in MN8
MN8 wrote:(1) Others will be harmful; we shall not be harmful here — thus effacement can be done.
(2) Others will kill living beings; we shall abstain from killing living beings here — thus effacement can be done.
and these still place emphasis on what one intentionally does!
buying meat that has not been specifically killed for oneself is the same as getting road kill from the textual point of view, non-violence is ones own actions not those of another's, hence, the rule being laid down the way it was.
the jataka tales are not necessarily early or comparative, the ones in KN are considered early and do in some cases give an example using extremes, like the recluse who practised patience to the extent that he had his body cut up by a prince who thought he was a fake recluse trying to have his way with the princesses (who was born and became anna Kondanya in his last life), which goes against the Buddhas advice to look after ones body, remember these stories are not about an enlightened Buddha but previous unenlightened births, and sometimes are pointing something out which is not the only thing one can get from the story, and stories of this type can also be seen in the vinaya!
The one you mention comes in many forms and is sometimes attributed to a famous Tibetan monk, and is obviously of a later date, not being part of the KN stories. you can not view the vinaya in comparison to every piece of Buddhist Literature, particularly when its origin is doubtful.
Once, the Bodhisatta was born in a respectable family of the scholars; and mastered several Shastras. Soon he was disillusioned with the worldly life and renounced the same for the spiritual uplift. In course of time, he proved his excellence in his pursuit and became the guru of several ascetics.
One day, when wandering in a forest along with his disciple Ajita, he saw from the top of a hill that a tigress was lurking to kill and eat her own cubs out of hunger. Moved by compassion he thought of sacrificing his own body to feed the tigress and save the cubs. So, he sent away his disciple in search of some food for the tigress lest he might prevent him from his sacrifice. No sooner than Ajita left the site, the Bodhisatta jumped from the precipice in front of the tigress and offered his body. The noise of the fall caught the attention of the hungry tigress, who in no time scooped over him and tore him off in pieces and feasted upon them with her cubs.
When Ajita returned and did not find his guru in the same place, he looked around and was surprised to see that the tigress was no longer looked hungry. Her cubs were also frolicking. But soon, he was shocked to detect the blood stained rags of his guru’s dress scattered there. So, he knew that his guru had offered his body to feed a hungry tigress and protected her young ones as an act of great charity. Now, he also knew why was he sent away by his guru.
do note in this rendering and the Tibetan one I am familiar with (where it is a famous (?) Tibetan monk not a previous birth) the tigress does not kill yet eats the meat.
The Buddha advocated a Middle Path, and using what is available and within ones means, not the nigantha attitude to Kamma, however The Buddha did see a fault in accepting what was deliberately
sacrificed for them and thus prohibited the acceptance of such meat, not the acceptance of meat entirely, as it could be the only source of food someone has available to them, or someone who simply wants to give a gift who is not a follower of the Buddhas teachings.