The Dhamma , Veganism and Vegetarianism


an answer can be in MN 35:

“Aggivessana, whatever has come from (giving to) a recipient such as you — not without passion, not without aversion, not without delusion — that will be for the donors. Whatever has come from (giving to) a recipient such as me — without passion, without aversion, without delusion — that will be for you.”

then maybe it can depend when our words are closer to the Buddha teaching instead our own or third views.

sure it should be difficult in these times. You do an admirable task. :pray:

Rescuing that same MN 35, there one can see about the conditions for the arising of Right Speech. Maybe this is useful today, because many people is in anguish for the state of the world. And the attachment to ideologies and fixed positions grows like quick recipes, the societies become polarized, etc… And this is visible also in Dhamma discussions.

Dhamma discussions with people associated or attached to ideologies is not an easy thing. Also, the attachment to any ideology impedes the arising of honesty, which is a previous condition for the arising of the Right Speech. Of course I don’t say that because this thread, in where the concerns and honesty of Benjamin has been open and clear.

I refer to a disguised approach characteristic in the attachment to ideologies. In Buddha times did not exist our modern label of “ideologies”. That same place was occupied by different philosophies. Some of the more contundent discussions inside the Suttas appears with such type of minds, attached or possesed by ideologies. And because the lack of honesty is unavoidable in the attachment to any ideology, there is a lack of true Right Speech and a paralization of progress in the Path.

This is what happens in the MN 35. The Buddha was in discussion with Saccaka, a type of sophist. He was an ideologist attached to a materialistic ideology. The attachment to that ideology caused a lack of honesty in the discussion with the Buddha, and finally a contingent reaction.

It’s quite easy to detect views attached to ideologies. Although due we live in so-called democracies, sometimes we can believe this attachment is not a serious obstacle for the progress in Dhamma. However, the attachment to ideologies can be a serious issue for the progress. From the Suttas it is not clear if Saccaka was finally alliberated, despite he became a follower of the Buddha.

That Sutta shows how anyone attached to any ideology of this world will remain paralized by the world. Without possibility to surpass the world. Then as soon one can be free from ideologies it will be the best for progress, for the arising of honesty in Dhamma, and then for the arising of a true Right Speech.



I actually have, as a vegetarian, run into people who have insisted I share dishes which had meat in them, as they thought one could pick out the meat parts without ill affects. (As someone who maintained a vegetarian diet due to inability to digest meat products, this was not true for me or some others; consequences were cramps, diarrhea, other immune system effects. Sometimes the choice was go hungry or suffer consequences; I tried both options, depending sometimes of what obligations I had.)

And as a vegetarian, I never insisted anyonr else eat or not eat anything; I rarely suggested or discussed this choice because I always saw it as quite personal, rather than an identity or necessity.

I am not clinging to these identities; as Buddhists, perhaps we can support each other in this…


MN35 does make the drawback of being attached to ideology extremely clear; thanks for drawing attention to the sutta.

“It’s when one of my disciples truly sees any kind of form at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all form—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’ And having seen this with right understanding they’re freed by not grasping. They truly see any kind of feeling … perception … choices … consciousness at all—past, future, or present; internal or external; coarse or fine; inferior or superior; far or near: all consciousness—with right understanding: ‘This is not mine, I am not this, this is not my self.’…" MN35

It’s hard, really hard to maintain Right View, Right Effort etc with no attachment to the results we might hope for. I’m very uncertain about judging levels of attachment in others, because it’s hard to judge without referring to one’s own attachments.

I guess that judging more successfully happens when attachment is replaced with compassion, compassion for all sentient beings: which include of course bugs, farm animals and one’s interlocutors.

Yes, indeed. :slight_smile:
I hope we Buddhists can support each other in this way.

With regard to diet, I feel I never had better advice than that received from a Hindu friend, who said that her guide was to eat as low down the food chain as possible at the time. I find this a worthy aspiration: one that acknowledges that life can’t be maintained without any sacrifice of other life, which also allows for appropriate readjustments according to changing circumstances.

Personal circumstances shift. Ecological circumstances shift. How compassionately can we react, bearing in mind that self-compassion and other-compassion are connected? It’s a good guide but the answer will come out differently for different people at different times.


My body and mind seem to not be very concerned about what other people feed me (my current restrictions seem to be - it has to be recognised as food and it is not alive at the time of ingesting or choosing). Obviously left to my own devices I will eat what I wish within the restrictions of what is available. When catering for other people who have more restrictive dietary requirements, I try to treat them as if they are highly allergic to the foods that they say they do not eat. You wouldn’t intentionally feed peanuts to someone with peanut allergies, why feed meat to a vegetarian? And if someone needs meat for their well-being, then I’ll get some meat in. In the UK, the supply chain is not very reliable though, so you can’t trust the labels on food packaging.

It’s funny how these things change. When I was a growing up, a ‘vegetarian’ was someone who didn’t eat meat every day.


When I was growing up in the UK a vegetarian was an out-and-out crank.


In order to obtain meat, a lay person must engage in the trade of meat. No sutta to my knowledge says the meat trade is acceptable. By buying meat I support the cruel system that does exactly what this paragraph condemns to hundreds of millions of animals every year. It is not my business to tell other dhamma practitioners how they should live their lives, but this sutta in no way advocates rewarding people who treat animals with cruelty financally for their misdeeds, so that they may continue to inflict suffering on their fellow earthlings, leading to terrible suffering both for themselves and others.


:laughing: Yes. Sandal wearing, long haired, bearded, dirty, smelly, hippy, layabout … Have I forgot any? Luckily it’s not like that now. Thank goodness for annica.

You have reminded me of that wonderful Ajahn Chah quote which I will outrageously alter here to: “Don’t be a vegan, don’t be a vegetarian, don’t be anything at all. If you are anything at all you will suffer”

(The original was: “Don’t be an arahant, don’t be a bodhisattva, don’t be anything at all. If you are anything at all you will suffer”)


The cranks predated the hippies. I recall being stuck for a week’s accommodation in London in the mid 60s. The only cheap and respectable place I could find at short notice (via an information office at Paddington Station I think) was a Vegetarian Hostel in N Kensington. Dinner was basically the same every night: traditional boiled vegetables with nut loaf in place of meat. I was the youngest by far; everyone else was over 40. There were no overt signs of religiosity and I didn’t think to ask them about their beliefs or motivation. Opportunity missed. I’m sure Ajahn Chah would have considered them to be something.
Heh, if I carry on like this I’ll have to close the thread! :rofl: Or move it.


A lay person might not shop yet be expected to eat from common meals or food stores. A household may include Buddhists and non-Buddhists. Thus "In order to obtain meat, a lay person must engage in the trade of meat " does not seem to be an observation, but an extrapolation based on incomplete or tacit knowledge.

When I have considered such extrapolations which I have made (on slightly similar topics), I found the loose threads of a View over my perception. What I had been seeing was a mental construct; underlying it was attachment(s).

I think recognizing this sort of dynamic is very useful for this Path.


Ok. Point taken. Not everyone lives like I or the people I know do. However, the point remains that there is a distinction between the eating of meat, and trading with meat. If I in a weak moment were to buy a big mac at the local McDonalds, all the quoted sutta really says is that I might just as well eat it. It is not the eating of animal flesh per se that is the problem. Meat is not ritually unclean. I do not partake of a demonic sacrament or some such nonsense. The bad kamma was when I paid for the burger, and by doing that helped keep the people who profit from the mistreatment and murder of animals continue to make money, and possibly also by the example I was setting. EDIT: I say bad kamma in my case because I have thought about this a great deal and am aware of what I am doing.

Of course, there are caveats: I must actually have a real choice. In my city, tasty and healthy vegetarian options are plentiful, even at McDonalds. That is not always the case. I have in fact stayed out of this discussion precisely because things aren’t allways neat and tidy when it comes to issues like this. But in my opinion one is letting oneself off the hook too easily by merely quoting AN 10.176 and then having a nice steak. And since you mention attachments, it is very easy to become addicted to food, including meat, and so that argument cuts both ways.


Thank you all very much for your kind responses!

I don’t have a lot of time right now, I don’t have a smartphone and I don’t have an internet connection at home, so I cannot always respond in time.

I’d like to say this though:

Just a couple of months ago I learned that the algorithms that work beneath the surface of social media platforms tend to foster hostility, because they “figured out” that divisive subjects will keep people longer on the page. And therefore longer exposed to advertising.

That lead me to the idea that it’s probably becoming more important than ever to steer towards agreement and mutual understanding, if only to offset this unwholesome development of the very technology we use to communicate.

And there are probably a couple of other factors that make modern communication needlessly hostile.

I am glad that there are places like this one, where you can emphasize the value of agreement over being right.


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.


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’?