Eating meat in a restaurant


If you want to go about saving ‘the planet’ that’s great.


:pray: Please keep it non-personal.

:pray: Please keep it non-argumentative and look for more skillful means


I meant minimising harm to other living beings, that is an aspect of right intention.


There is a common straw-man argument against veganism; it starts by implying that the goal of veganism to live perfectly without causing any harm to any beings, and then showing how it is impossible to live without causing any harm, thus demonstrating how unrealistic veganism is.

I would guess this is what @Martin is reacting to.


you are being a bit inflammatory here, essentially implying that people who buy meat in the store are not really practicing rightly.

I think there is a good discussion to be had about the role of animals and agriculture in ethical living. Industrial agriculture, factory farming, supermarkets etc. didn’t exist at the time of the Buddha, so how should we deal with that?

We all want to live as ethically as realistically possible, no need for angry words here :slight_smile:


Buddhas seem to always teach against killing living beings but also against vegetarianism.

“Jīvaka, he who kills a living creature on purpose for a Tathāgata or a Tathāgata’s disciple stores up much demerit in five ways:

  1. In that, when he speaks thus: ‘Go and fetch such and such a living creature,’ in this first way he stores up much demerit.
  2. In that, while this living creature is being fetched it experiences pain and distress because of the affliction to its throat, in this second way he stores up much demerit.
  3. In that, when he speaks thus: ‘Go and kill that living creature’, in this third way he stores up much demerit.
  4. In that, while this living creature is being killed it experiences pain and distress, in this fourth way he stores up much demerit.
  5. In that, if he proffers to a Tathāgata or a Tathāgata’s disciple what is not allowable, in this fifth way he stores up much demerit.

He who, Jīvaka, kills a living creature on purpose for a Tathāgata or a Tathāgata’s disciple stores up much demerit in these five ways.” (MN 55)

So based on what The Buddha says I would expect that if someone offers you food from a restaurant or invites you as a guest that it would be ok to eat meat but if you intentionally ask for it that it wouldn’t be ok.

I’m guessing that the reason why Buddhas teach this way is probably because the negative kamma gained from eating meat would be very small or insignificant unless you had some type of direct involvement in killing the animal. Other teachers can’t see this so they think out of compassion that it really matters a lot and waste time on veganism or vegetarianism instead of things that lead towards arahantship.

But an ethical rule for monks is also avoiding damaging plant and seed life so vegetarianism or veganism doesn’t make sense either:

“There are some ascetics and brahmins who, while enjoying food given in faith, still engage in injuring plants and seeds. These include plants propagated from roots, stems, cuttings, or joints; and those from regular seeds as the fifth. They refrain from such injury to plants and seeds. This pertains to their ethics.” (DN 2)

There is also the issue of many animals killed by agricultural practices there are so many countless things you can do that can indirectly kill animals besides eating meat.

Many species are going extinct at a faster rate than predicted not because of meat-eating but because of other things people do.

For me personally I focus more on how much I eat (calories) and how often per day that really matters a lot.

Another thing worth mentioning in MN 12:

"Sariputta, there are certain recluses and brahmans whose doctrine and view is this: ‘Purification comes about through food.’ They say: ‘Let us live on beans’… ‘Let us live on sesamum’… ‘Let us live on rice,’ and they eat rice, they eat rice powder, they drink rice water, and they make various kinds of rice concoctions. Now I recall having eaten a single rice grain a day. Sariputta, you may think that the rice grain was bigger at that time, yet you should not regard it so: the rice grain was then at most the same size as now. Through feeding on a single rice grain a day, my body reached a state of extreme emaciation. Because of eating so little… the hair, rotted at its roots, fell from my body as I rubbed.

“Yet, Sariputta, by such conduct, by such practice, by such performance of austerities, I did not attain any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. Why was that? Because I did not attain that noble wisdom which when attained is noble and emancipating and leads the one who practices in accordance with it to the complete destruction of suffering.” (MN 12)


I think there’s a sutta about a previous Buddha which puts the removal of anger (as well as craving and delusion…) over eating meat. :cut_of_meat:


The Sangha’s survives on donations from lay-followers, so there is clearly a pragmatic reason to not restrict diet too much. It follows that meat eating (as long as it follows the rules about the animal not having been intentionally killed for the monks) in itself is not a block towards enlightenment, because the Buddha would not have set up his Sangha to fail.

It seems to me reasonably clear that (given the aforementioned rules) monks can accept meat in their alms-bowls and still get enlightened.

The question is really about how we as lay-followers, desiring to train in virtue, ought to act regarding modern problems like modern animal agriculture.

For example, 56 billion lands animals are killed each years, slaughterhouse workers kill hundreds of animals each day. You might want to read some testimonials of slaughterhouse workers, who are often psychologically and physically damaged by their work (see paper):

Here is a testimonial from the paper:

“The worst thing, worse than the physical danger, is the emotional toll. If you work in the stick pit [where the hogs are killed] for any period of time, you develop an attitude that lets you kill things but doesn’t let you care. You may look a hog in the eye that’s walking around down in the blood pit with you and think, God, that really isn’t a bad looking animal. You may want to pet it. Pigs down on the kill floor have come up and nuzzled me like a puppy. Two minutes later I had to kill them—beat them to death with a pipe. I can’t care.36”

I personally don’t think buying meat at the store will stop someone from getting enlightened, but I still think it’s something that should be earnestly contemplated by anyone who wants to be virtuous and compassionate towards other beings.

I agree, but equally the meat-eater must introspect whether they are putting their craving for a particular taste over basic compassion for other beings.


Four-hundred-million-times yes to the above quote.


Nevertheless, some monastics do choose vegetarianism, eg

Food: The monks are vegetarian. They do not have any special dietary requirements.
(Making Offerings · The Monastery at the End of the World)


Here is another article, linked in the one quoted above, describing the dairy industry by the daughter of a dairy farm owner.


How many people with a Western outlook would be turned off from Buddhism if veganism was made mandatory, as a core feature.

It’s something to think about.


Most people I talk to assume that Buddhists are vegetarian.


True but no precept is compulsory and we mustn’t discuss these issues in black and white, or I’m right logically, and you are wrong, as it’s up to each person to figure out what’s ‘right’ for them. However there’s a bottom line in precepts which is not killing as people are unlikely to progress without what’s core to the ‘holy-life’.


Sure, though I see this as more to do with developing harmlessness, which is an aspect of Right Intention. Choosing not to buy meat is certainly one way to practice harmlessness - there are many other ways, of course.


One vegetarian wont make a difference but many vegetarians will make a difference. Every drop counts in filling a water tank. The same goes for ethics and precepts, one good person observing the precepts will not change community attitudes, but many good people will change the culture.


I think they would just ignore it or call it an Asian superstitious innovation because “obviously” that’s the case.

Meat eating is banned in Mahāyāna Buddhism. You need to practise tantra if u want to eat meat. Despite this, lots of Western Mahāyānists just ignore scripture upon scripture, teacher upon teacher.