also mae kwan im (kwan yin) plays a part in why a lot of thai people dont eat beef.
I agree. I've met some Thais who don't eat beef (cow, buffalo meat), and I believe they're originally from the Chinese ethnic group, and are influenced by the Kwan-Yin sect.
Thanks for the info on Avalokitesvara in Thailand, many often overlook all these sorts of teachings and beliefs in SE asia, on a text book assumption that they are "Theravada countries". Things are seldom so simple.
You may like to read an interesting article on the Wikipedia "Taboo food and drink", http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taboo_food_and_drink
"... Some ethnic Chinese may also refrain from eating cow meat, because many of them feel that it is wrong to eat an animal that was so useful in agriculture. Some Chinese Buddhists discourage the consumption of beef, although it is not considered taboo. A similar taboo can be seen among Sinhalese Buddhists, who consider it to be ungrateful to kill the animal whose milk and labour provides livelihoods to many Sinhalese people."
The general point about Chinese is basically correct. In trad Chinese culture, the ox if for plowing the fields, you don't around killing and eating your only tractor! The consumption of dairy produce and red meats, which are becoming more and more popular in modern PRoC, are strongly influenced from the west. It is "food affluence". McD and KFC being classic examples - they are regarded as kind of high class eating! :blink:
However, in that Wiki quote, I quite disagree that "Some Chinese Buddhists discourage the consumption of beef, although it is not considered taboo." Chinese Buddhists place a very high value on vegetarianism. Although not all lay buddhists eat meat, all the monastics do, and thus almost all Chinese lay Buddhists consider that being vegetarian is definitely what should
be done. It has kind of become de facto as important as the five precepts for maybe half the Chinese buddhist population. So, yes, they basically "forbid the consumption of beef, and any other animal flesh, and also consider it a kind of taboo".
Regards the Thais and Sri Lankans, I wonder if also, despite the fact that they are Buddhist and not Hindu, the sheer force and influence of general Indian culture on the entirety of SE Asia (from Afghanistan all the way down to Indonesia) plays a major factor here? Not to mention the situation as per the Chinese - the ox is the traditional family farm tractor, not a produce animal.