SuttaCentral

Eating meat in a restaurant


#1

Hi guys,

It’s clear the Buddha says:

Monks, I allow you fish and meat that are quite pure in three respects: if they are not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. But, you should not knowingly make use of meat killed on purpose for you.

The question is, if we eat meat in a restaurant, can we say they’re suspected to have been killed on purpose for restaurant’s guests? Hence, we shouldn’t eat meat in a restaurant?

How about relative’s marriage party, they’re not Buddhists and would like to order cow or goat meat . This animal surely is killed on purpose for the guests. As one of their guest, is this meat considered impure since they’re suspected to have been killed on purpose for guests/me?

Is eating meat in a restaurant as described above purer than eating meat in relative’s marriage party or they’re the same thing?


#2

That passage is directed to ordained monastics, not lay people. The Buddha has to draw a line to make a clear rule to consider other factors in the whole picture besides not killing.

For lay people, who have money, and free choice of what to eat, there’s a simple economic law of supply and demand. If everyone stopped buying meat, the supply would dry up. Only people who really wanted to eat meat would have to kill and eat their own killing. So unless you’re a monastic, or in a dependent situation, such as a child who doesn’t cook and is financially dependent on others, if you eat meat you’re consciously making a decision to ask an anonymous agent to kill an animal for you, to eat at a later time. It’s that simple.


#3

The whole issue about not_killing_animals is not about question over venue for a dinner, but about not hurting other living beings.


#4

As others have pointed out, this is a monastic rule, and is not intended to be an allowance for laity. Don’t mistake the word “pure” here: it is a legal term, and simply means that it is not a legal offence for a monastic. It is not about the moral “purity” of the meat.

Nevertheless, it is generally the case that lay people in the texts—mostly Jatakas and the like—when they purchase meat, buy “available meat” (pavattamamsa), i.e. meat that has been killed and is available in the market.

I specify “in the texts” because I am not sure how this really worked in terms of the Buddhist communities.

In any case, meat in restaurants is generally considered to be “available meat”, except for things like seafood displays, where the animal is killed fresh.

As for weddings, if the animal is indeed killed especially for the event, that would not be “available meat”.

All meat, however, is harmful and unsustainable. The eating of meat directly causes vast, grotesque, and completely unnecessary suffering to animals and is a major contributor to environmental degradation and global heating. :bread: :broccoli: :pear:


#5

Thanks Bhante for your reply.
But they buy meat or kill animal for restaurant’s guests and we are the restaurant’s guests, aren’t we?


#6

If the meat is killed specially for the restaurant’s guests, then yes this would count, but not if it is bought at the market.

The thing is, in Asia it’s still quite common to kill animals specially for that purpose. People buy live chooks or fish at the market and butcher them themselves. The problem is that when people want to observe this rule, they switch to buying pre-killed meat, which is invariably factory farmed, and causes far greater suffering to the poor animals. The rule came from a time when there was no such thing as factory farming. That’s why I always encourage people to just stay away from animal products.


#7

This is definitely a difficult issue. I’m constantly torn. I was vegetarian for 13 years, but because of medical problems, I am on a diet that is meat/protein focused. I try hard to avoid factory farmed meat, but then also avoid situations where I am buying too directly from a rancher or farmer (probably the healthiest biologically but not kamma-wise).

A few years ago, this was brought home to me because a relative shipped me a bunch of leftover venison she had in her freezer which I accepted (she was going to throw it out because she needed room in her freezer). The next year I was disturbed to hear a rumor she was going to kill an extra deer this year (they are hunters) for me. I ended up calling her in somewhat of a panic and making sure that didn’t happen but it was enough to cause me to be much more cautious.


#8

Hopefully if they succeed in creating artificial meat this will solve your problem.


#9

Although I am a pescatarian (the only meat I eat is seafood, twice a month), I don’t force it on my family, and don’t judge anyone who still eats red meat.

I’ve been giving it some thought, and I’ve come to realize that telling people what to eat or what not to eat is wrong speech. Every person’s body is a bit different, and it wouldn’t be wise or compassionate, (and can even be dangerous!), if I told everyone that they had to be a pescatarian, or vegetarian, or even vegan, in order to be a moral person. I don’t know everyone’s nutritional needs or medical conditions, and I would feel extremely guilty if someone became ill because they followed my advice to stopped eating meat. When it comes to diet and nutrition, most of us don’t know what’s best for everyone else.


#10

Well, I don’t know what they put in it, but we have something that really resembles meat here most days. We had vegan lamb today (or would they mean that the lamb was a vegan?). I’m just wondering why anybody bothers creating this. Why not just have the tofu or beans or so?


#11

South east Asia has the artificial meats for many years already . The concerned is they were made from beans in which when over intake might cause problems to the kidney . And some made from mushrooms where if too much of it is acidic . Over the years , many monks and laity especially of Taiwan and Singapore side already suffered kidneys failures and some even died due to late treatment .


#12

This is fake meat, made of soy and stuff. I’m talking about meat-meat, animal flesh artificially grown in a lab.

Wow, that’s bad. In Taiwan, a prominent Buddhist organization got caught sucking waste fat out of drains and using it for their “vegetarian” meat products.

I never understood the need to make fake meat, personally.


#13

I see , but hopefully no side effect .

It’s for those can’t let go of meat taste .


#14

I had similar problems. Ideally I’d like to be vegan, but despite experimenting with every possible combination I could think of that existed, I found that long term veganism (decades) caused health problems and nutritional deficiencies that were really hard to fix. My energy level is just much better when there’s some amount of animal protein from eggs and dairy products. Veganism always made me feel lethargic. I looked up the RDA daily quota of nutrients for different vegan staples, but experience for me was that just because you can check off and count all the esssential amino acids and proteins daily on a spreadsheet, the body types for many people just won’t absorb it well. When you take too much protein from derived products like soy based protein powder, it’s toxic for your kidneys and internal organs. You don’t have to wait for a lab test, you just feel kind of messed up.

So now I make sure I average about 1.5 eggs a day, some yogurt, and I can maintain steady, sustainable good health. I know some people who want to be lacto ovo vegetarian and find that’s still not enough to keep their body sustainably healthy, so they supplement with seafood and other meats for health maintenance. The best we can do is to make sure we’re eating to survive, not for entertainment.

I’m still continuing to experiment and adjust the ratio of various things I eat, trying to get as vegan as humanly possible, motivated by trying to minimize dukkha for the living beings and planet to the best of my ability.


#15

That’s really cool that it actually works, just not cost effective and ready for mass scale yet. If humans were really motivated to end the barbaric practice of raising and killing animal livestock, I believe they could unlock the key nutritional aspects of what makes animal protein much more effective to assimilate for humans, and produce a type of nutritional cultured protein plasma to drink as a supplement. Doesn’t have to be cloned flesh that tastes like steak.

edit:
Instead the best and brightest from our best universities want to work on wall street or become lawyers. What a phenomenal waste of talent.


#16

When the Buddha was talking about ending of suffering did he think yhe ending of my suffering.* or the ending of suffering in the world?

The answer to the above question would indicate how far down the path one has traveled.


#17

He said be a lamp unto yourself- there is the simile of the acrobats as well. When Devadatta wanted all monks to be vegetarian he refused it. If you want to end the suffering of all beings …you might want to look at the Mahayana suttas! I’m not saying not to be compassionate, but there is a limit beyond which your are shoring up obstacles to your own path and ultimately not really helping other animals or yourself. Would it be wrong to say samsara is suffering- eat meat like you are eating your own sons flesh, as the simile goes. :disappointed_relieved:

with metta


#18

I’ve noticed that quite a few people seem to use the Vinaya for their approach to ethics more than their preceptual & contemplative practices. This is probably a bit off-target.

Now, the issue of eating meat was based on the Jains causing an uproar about some meat specifically being prepared for the Buddha. The meat was accepted, but then the Jains got uppity and the rule was laid down. A similar issue surrounds the Rains period since it was set up because layfolk were getting agitated.

Non-Buddhists and layfolk were the primary movers in these Vinaya situations, not the precept against killing. Isn’t that interesting?


#19

Actually protein from soy bean have been found to have protective effects for your kidneys (e.g. [1][2][3]). Generally, the bad effects of animal protein tend not exist for plant protein, as far as I know.

We also have studies like the Adventist health studies which show that, statistically speaking, the less animal based and more plant based you eat, the better for your health; e.g. it’s less protective to include fish in your vegetarian diet than going full vegan.

So for anyone considering going vegan, the significant evidence based health benefits can be a good motivation. I recommend https://nutritionfacts.org for anyone looking for an evidence based approach to diet. Peace out! :slight_smile:


#20

Friend Mat, I will be honest with you - I didn’t understand your somewhat cryptic answer >>but there is a limit beyond which your are shoring up obstacles to your own path and ultimately not really helping other animals or yourself<< . Being island unto yourself includes doing away from authority, not blindly coping what authority, in any form, tells you it’s the right way to do things. Until you know for yourself what is the right thing to do. So, let me explain my reasons for not eating meat, and then, perhaps, you could tell me your reasoning behind your actions.

For when the meat is served on my plate, I see two sad eyes starring at me, who lost it’s life in tragic and violent struggle in order to satisfy my taste, my sensual pleasure. I simply remove myself from that position by not being part of tgat equation. What goes through your mind in such a situation?

BTW. This is not a romantic view of a teenager who’s following the latest fad. I’ve turned 50, and have been veg and then vegan more than half of my life.