- GOOD QUESTION GOOD ANSWER
- Ven. Shravasti Dhammika
Buddhists should be vegetarians, shouldnt they?
Not necessarily. The Buddha was not a vegetarian. He did not teach his
disciples to be vegetarians and even today, there are many good Buddhists who are not
If you eat meat you are indirectly responsible the death of a creature.
Isnt that breaking the first precept?
It is true that when you eat meat, you are indirectly and partially
responsible for killing a creature but the same is true when you eat vegetables. The
farmer has to spray his crop with insecticides and poisons so that the vegetables arrive
on your dinner plates without holes in them. And once again, animals have been used to
provide the leather for your belt or handbag, oil for the soap you use and a thousand
other products as well. It is impossible to live without, in some way, being indirectly
responsible for the death of some other beings. This is just another example of the First
Noble Truth, ordinary existence is suffering and unsatisfactory. When you take the First
Precept, you try to avoid being directly responsible for killing beings.
Mahayana Buddhists dont eat meat
That is not correct. Mahayana Buddhism in China laid great stress on
being vegetarian but both the monks, laymen and women of the Mahayana tradition in Japan
and Tibet usually eat meat.
But I still think that a Buddhist should be vegetarian.
If there was a man who was a very strict vegetarian but who was
selfish, dishonest and mean, and another man who was not a vegetarian but who was
thoughtful of others, honest, generous and kind, which of these two people would be the
The person who was honest and kind.
Because such a person obviously has a good heart.
Exactly. One who eats meat can have a pure heart just as one who does
not eat meat can have an impure heart. In the Buddhas teachings, the important thing
is the quality of your heart, not the contents of your diet. Many Buddhists take great
care never to eat meat buy they are not concerned about being selfish, dishonest, cruel or
jealous. They change their diet which is easy to do, while neglecting to change their
hearts, which is a difficult thing to do. So whether you are a vegetarian or not, remember
that the purification of the mind is the most important thing in Buddhism.
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