The Dhamma , Veganism and Vegetarianism

Veganism isn’t a high moral standard.
Veganism is a bare minimum, to don’t support enslavement, torture and murder of billions of innocent sentient beings.
What happens to animals is greatest hell happining on Earth right now.
And every at least slightly compassionate and moral person should advocate veganism as bare minimum, in my humble opinion.
It is not like vegans don’t have other moral issues. It should not be compared. It is not a high moral standard to be proud of, it is bare minimum.

If someone is interested in subject of veganism, I highly recommend lectures of Gary Yourofsky. I went vegan the day I heard his lecture and never looked back. It is really not hard when you go from the place of compassion when shopping and preparing meals.

Link: YouTube

I think monks should encourage people giving them only vegan food, out of compassion for animals, because I believe compassion should be more importaint than any rules, but that is just my opinion. I don’t think of any beings on the Earth who needs more help than those poor “animal industry” animals :frowning:

The times have changed completely between Buddha’s times and how “animal industry” looks today, so suttas are not great reference in this subject.

Also, like Ajahn Brahm with bhikkhuni ordination simply did what was “good thing to do”, I also think that veganism is “good thing to do”, no matter what people of the past, or some people of the present think of it. It just feels extremely wrong to support treating sentient beings like it is done in “animal industry”. Especially today, when we have so much food options that being on a healthy vegan diet is absolutely not a problem in most parts of the world.

Vegetarianism is not better than carnism. Milk industry is actually even more cruel than meat industry. Separating calfs from their cow mothers at birth (they are “produced” only so mother have more milk for humans) is crazy sick. Of course calf is later killed for food or made another factory of milk. The mother when her time for “giving milk” is over is of course killed for food. These animals often live in extremely cruel conditions, are treated with utter hatred and contempt, and most of them never see sunlight even once in their lives. Only veganism is full sulotion to the problem of this utter cruelty towards animals.

People who are not vegan choose either their palate pleasure or social convinience over reducing cruelty towards innocent sentient beings.

In this greedy world, where for “business people” only another “0” at the end of their money sum matters, only stopping putting money to their pocket can stop them from doing that.

Sorry for this “harsh” words. but it is just the truth. It is the world that is so harsh. Compassionate people should not agree to that. Animals can’t speak or fight for their freedom, only we humans can do this for them, and we should not indulge in conviniences but try to help at least not adding our brick to this wall of suffering.

I also love this vegan sentence: What is the best taste of food? Taste of pure conscience. Sounds very buddhist to me.

It is great to see monks like Ajahn Sujato or Thich Nhat Hanh, who openly speak about importance of veganism in buddhist culture.

Link: YouTube

With metta


Veganism works to help reduce no. Of beings killed. The article shows slaughterhouses are closing down due to falling demand. @stu


Yes indeed. The slaughterhouses are closing down, but does that actually reduce the number of beings killed? Or, as I suspect the number of beings killed are roughly the same. Why do I say this? Because I think that it takes more than losing your job for a killer to become a non killer. But there is no study that I can find for this so I don’t know for sure.

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Are you suggesting that all slaughterhouse workers who got laid off will kill street animals or jungle animals just for fun or to fulfill some dark twisted desires of them? At the same rate of commercial efficiency of slaughter houses?

If not, then it’s quite clear that the number of beings killed should be reduced.


I’m just speaking from experience. I think that I have been pretty consistent in this thread, so if you have read my previous posts my position should not have come as a surprise to you. Please see above for the various arguments that I have given in support of my position. I shall not restate them here.

I don’t think I’m saying anything controversial from a EBT point of view. Generally defilements in the mind are removed using the eightfold path on that same defiled and habitual mind rather than using capitalist mechanisms such as supply and demand which often have unforeseen (or foreseen and ignored) side effects.

We can both certainly make assertions about this based on our experience (and I have), but without the necessary studies (which haven’t been provided so far) we simply don’t know how it works and what the overall ramifications of reducing slaughterhouses might be.

My concern is really around the increase or decrease of compassion in the world. Does going vegetarian or vegan increase compassion in the world? I think it does not. In fact in my estimation compassion seems to decrease with increases in vegetarianism/veganism. But I am aware that many (probably most) people think it does increase compassion. I would like to see research into this interesting area.


There is death associated too with growing crops: the land needs to be prepared and ploughed (killing insects and worms), defended from pests like insects, snails, rodents, small animals, birds (even with organic methods, e.g. introducing biological predators or cats for rodents, that involves some killing), and then harvesting with a certain kill count also (insects, small nesting birds, small animals etc.). Obviously raising animals feed on such crops makes the kill count even worse (as well as being calorifically inefficient).

However, what about if the land is used to raise cattle eating grass? Pesticides do not need to be used and there doesn’t have to be ploughing and harvesting. Is the “kill count” associated with that particular land less than would be if we grew crops instead? Possibly.

The question crossed my mind and I raised this point in an earlier post. However, a google search showed that I’m not the first to think this point.
There have been a handful of academic papers considering this question. For
The Least Harm Principle May Require That Humans Consume a Diet Containing Large Herbivores by Steven Davis where he reckons there’s twice as much death in growing a field of cereals than a field of grazing cattle.
Least Harm: A Defense of Vegetarianism from Steven Davis’s Omnivorous Proposal by Gaverick Matheny
attempts to counter some of these points. For example, he argues that even if the death count in a field of cereal is double, cereals far more efficiently produce calories. About 2.6 times more efficiently than grass-fed dairy and 10 times more efficiently than meat so that per calorie crops would still be less cruel.

I could only find a few papers and I’m not sure how trustworthy the numbers are. Another matter to consider in Ireland where I live where 80% of agriculture involves cows grazing on grass in fields for almost all the year for dairy or beef, is what would happen if everyone stopped eating beef or drinking milk. Would the fields just be left grow wild? I doubt it. Most likely cereal crops would be planted (or biofuels grown instead etc.). So the calories efficiency argument doesn’t really apply. An equal area of land for cows would be converted into an equal amount of land for crops. And, if growing cereals per hectare is inherently more cruel than the raising of cattle per hectare on grass, then the overall level of cruelty might actually possibly increase. I’m not sure I trust the numbers in those papers though.

I would say however, that I don’t think that commercial slaughterhouses (in the UK) are particularly efficient at killing. Much of the time is consumed by cleaning surfaces, tools and machinery because of the regulations and inspections. It becomes more efficient if the meat is being prepared for animal consumption rather than human consumption as many of the regulations don’t apply or are downgraded. But still, there are much more efficient ways of killing. During the foot and mouth crisis in the UK a lot of slaughterhouses were closed down, but the slaughtermen got jobs culling cows on farmers land. The killing was a lot more efficient on the farms - much greater than an order of magnitude higher. It was also more brutal. For example the old style bolt guns were used because the number of animals that had to be dispatched quickly made the more humane electric stunning used in modern slaughterhouses impracticable.


Shouldn’t we just ask, ‘what would the buddha do’?


yes, that’s interesting. Maybe it can be related with dfferences between metta and karuna, and near- far enemies in the 4 Brahma-viharas classification:

(factor - near e. - far e.)

  • metta - attachment - hatred
  • karuna - pity - cruelty
  • mudita - comparison - envy
  • upekkha - indifference - greed

There is an interesting study here:

Some conclussions from this study can be related with that disonance of a “lack of compassion” perceived by some vegan people in non-vegan Buddhist people:

“People may not be excusing themselves or reducing their dissonance, but truly acting in accordance with their beliefs, beliefs aligned with both caring for the effects of meat-eating and continuing to eat meat. If people believe that changing their behavior will not make much of a difference, because the solution is primarily technological or political, or a complex combination of all, then there is no paradox or dissonance to begin with. People justify coherently their choice (Discourses 1–3), or simply live with their contradictions, aware and easy with the fact that they are contradictions, unlike cases of dissonance (Discourse 4).”

I suppose in the Buddhist case one can add the complexity of Dhamma for every different person


So I’ll be waiting now for the updated classier WWBD Buddhist version of this: :smile:


would someone make one, already?!


The good news is, we actually know what the Buddha would do. He gave us the Dhamma. Do good, try not to do harm. Eightfold Path. We are the owners and heirs of our actions and intentions. Meditate, cultivate insight, and decide for ourselves what is good and beneficial. Easy peasy. Unlike the Abrahamic religions, we get to figure this stuff out for ourselves, and then own it. :slight_smile:


3 posts were split to a new topic: Vegetarian and vegan friendly monasteries

This confuses me. How would one measure an immeasurable?

They meditate spreading a heart full of compassion …

Compassion is an immeasurable to be practiced as such. By measuring something we concern ourselves with limitations and forms. With each decision faced we choose compassion according to the information we have at hand.

If I am hungry I do not kill the cat. If it dies first I might eat it with gratitude. If I die first it’s welcome to my body. If the cat is very large, the cat would probably help me die sooner.

Are mettā, karuṇā, muditā and upekkhā intrinsically immeasurable? Or are they mental qualities that in their normal occurrence are “measurable” (i.e., subject to limits and bounds) but which may become immeasurable when successfully developed?


We can measure Instagram likes, but by doing so, we are not really measuring mettā, which is a quality to be lived. And I can guarantee that if we were to continuously ask our spiritual companions for hourly metrics on our progress towards the immeasurables, we would surely tempt them into resentment. “Venerable, what’s my metta score now?”

Measurement is something we apply to the limited, the impermanent. Even success and attainments are measurements.

For the following to be true we have to let go of success and failure, focusing on mettā, karuṇā, muditā and upekkhā as immeasurables:

To never be content with skillful qualities, and to never stop trying. --DN33

One cannot attain, measure or capture the immeasurables. But we can live and abide in them by simply choosing them to be immeasurable.


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Sorry for the misunderstanding. I’m just speaking from a conventional point of view. I thought it was clear from the context…

Can one not tell when one is acting compassionately or when one is not acting compassionately? Can one not tell if another is either acting compassionately or not acting compassionately? Should one not be mindful of the difference between compassionate acts and uncompassionate acts?

Personally I love to see more, many more, loads more compassionate acts in my world, and at the same time I love to see less, much less, many times less uncompassionate acts in my world. But yes, you’re right - It’s just a preference.

If I am hungry I go to the shop and buy some food. I promise to bring back something for the cat too. No one needs to die this time… Except maybe the squeaky toy :wink:

Yes. That’s right. The ‘world’ (in my confusing quote) is limited and impermanent and it is the equivalent to suffering, e.g. AN4.45


For monastics, eat what is given with gratitude. For lay followers, consider all the teachings and make a choice as best we can in keeping with our understanding of love and compassion, and of what sustains our body in a healthy way. And whatever food does come our way, eat it with gratitude. We need not and will not in this lifetime be agreeing on what is the best choice (meat eating or vegetarian) in this regard. Let each person make their own decision based on their caring for all beings and contemplation of the guidelines of a virtuous life as given in the teachings of the Buddha. After study and contemplation, we follow our inner light. May all beings be well and happy.


One purpose of the scriptures is to help us see the reality as it is and respond in a compassionate way. This video is in harmony with that, since it helps us to make an informed compassionate decision regarding eating meat, a personal choice beyond rules:


Agriculture focused on yield tends to deplete topsoil, which is a practicing leading inevitably to starvation. The alternatives include:

  • Permaculture focuses on long-term sustainability, prioritizing regeneration over yield. Permaculture, by its very nature, requires broad community support. Simply put, permaculture is more expensive for consumers. Short-term, tactical farming practices are “cheaper” because they deplete non-renewable resources such as topsoil. Permaculture requires a partnership with animals. It requires a partnership because plants thrive on animal manure.
  • Hydroponics relies on inorganic nutrients such as water, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, etc. It’s even more expensive than permaculture, but can provide food locally throughout the entire year. Sourcing hydroponic ingredients is challenging. For example, potassium is obtained via mining and chemical extraction with substantial waste.

Although I’m a vegetarian, I think that focusing on veganism or vegetarianism alone tends to the dogmatic. Instead, I would hope that each of us can think about the best way to feed us all compassionately according to the Dhamma.

AN10.27:10.4: What one thing? ‘All sentient beings are sustained by food.’ Becoming completely disillusioned, dispassionate, and freed regarding this one thing, seeing its limits and fully comprehending its meaning, a mendicant makes an end of suffering in this very life.

Live sustainably or suffer.