Vegan friendly monasteries in Europe?

Hi community!
I‘m thinking about ordaining in a Theravada monastery in Europe, preferably in or near Germany. Unfortunately, unlike many Mahayana monasteries, Theravada does not have much of a tradition of vegetarianism or veganism. Some of the monastics I‘ve talked to were actively hostile to the idea, trying to convert me to meat eating. I don‘t want to debate anyone on this as it‘s usually a lost cause anyway. However, I‘m not willing to compromise on my moral principles even for ordination.
If you know of a place that at least makes it possible to practice veganism along with the Dhamma that would be great!

Cheers,
Jonas

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+1 to that.

Shocking, isn’t it.

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Good luck! As a vegetarian (mostly vegan), I hope you find one. I heard from some vegetarian monks that at some monasteries, the monks all go on alms rounds and then share the food for lunch, so a vegetarian monk could choose the vegetarian food items and typically the other monks are more than happy to have more meat to eat. But as you say, some are hostile to the idea; as if it’s immoral to be vegetarian/vegan?!

Chan (Mahayana) monasteries are strict vegetarian, pretty much vegan, as they typically don’t eat dairy products. Their practice is mostly sitting meditation, work assignments, so not too far from Theravada in daily practice. The doctrine is different though. Ayya Khema ordained at HSI-LAI Chan monastery in Los Angeles and she was allowed to ordain as a Theravada bhikkhuni (this was prior to the current ongoing bhikkhuni ordinations in Theravada).

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Plum Village is fully vegan, as are some other places in their tradition.

In many bigger monasteries which are not fully vegan, you can probably do quite well as a vegan too, because there is often choice. I recommend you go check them out if you can.

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Yes, literally. I‘ve spent quite some time questioning the transformative potential of the Dhamma after those conversations.

Yes, maybe I‘ll have to look into it and see if it can be made to work if there are no vegan-friendly Theravada monasteries. Generally, I admire the hands-on approach of the EBTs. Mahayana to me seems unfocused in its „nothing to attain“ variety, even arbitrary in its more westernized, feeling-oriented variety. But that perception might not be entirely justified.

I‘ve been looking into that, but can‘t afford the lodging prices of their German monastery. Camping on the Plum Village grounds might be in my price range, depending on inflation and energy prices of the next months.

Have you been there? If so, could you say something about how they practice social justice and how heavily it factors into their day-to-day? Again, I don‘t wish to debate the specifics, but during my time in climate activism I‘ve seen people pick some nasty fights over identity issues.

Hi Jonas,
I spent some time in the Ajahn Chah monastery in Portugal called Sumedhārāma and the abbot Ajahn Vajiro is vegan and has been for quite some time if I recall correctly. Actually it is quite a nice place to ordain in Europe, a small quiet monastery. You can check it out here: https://sumedharama.pt/

Best wishes!

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If you are that committed to veganism then what will you do when ordained as a Theravadin monk or nun and a layperson gives you meat to eat? Refuse it? It’s expected that Theravadins will eat meat if it’s provided (within certain rules). Perhaps ordaining in a Mahayana tradition would be more apt for you.

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Definitely not looking to debate you, but if veganism and social justice are important to you, a Theravadin monastery may not be the best option. There is likely to be some inherent opposition to your principles, and you may not be headed to a situation of like-minded people.

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This is a common misconception. It’s not true.

I’m a Theravadin monk and have been vegan for many years. In my main monastery of Bodhinyana it is not easy but quite doable. I sometimes make concessions on dairy when traveling but can’t remember when I last ate meat.

No, unfortunately never had the time and/or money either. :slight_smile: But I practiced in their lay tradition for years.

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Thank you for the advice. Just to clarify, while veganism is important to me, I‘d rather be in a place that does not put huge emphasis on social justice.

So you are willing to make concessions. The OP seems unwilling to make any such concessions. If you were wandering in Thailand and a householder offered you meat, would you accept it? I realise many Theravadin monasteries do effectively eat a vegan or vegetarian diet, because that’s what the supporting lay community provide.

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Ah…apologies for the assumption!

No need to apologize.
I realize I‘m in a difficult position here. Veganism doesn‘t fit in with the usually conservative Theravadin culture. Places that are vegan are usually also connected with social justice. As a PoliSci major and activist, I‘ve engaged with social justice theory and practice, and while I don‘t reject them outright, I have substantial criticisms of both.

Well why do you want a Theravadin monastery? If you find you can’t accept at least some of what Mahayana teaches why not go for that? Then you won’t have any issues. If you completely reject Mahayana though then I can see your dilemma.

Another option, relent on the veganism. After all, purity doesn’t come via dietary beliefs and practices.

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I wouldn’t have to. Don’t know about OP. He mainly talked about not wanting to eat meat. Dairy can be present in very small quantities in many dishes, as you know. But it’s not like I go eat eggs and drink cartons of milk. Anyway, even this is rarely a problem in my experience. If I do eat such things it is out of politeness to the donor who is usually aware of me being vegan but unaware of what veganism means.

I’m not wandering in Thailand nor does the OP seem intent on doing so, so this is somewhat irrelevant. Regardless, monks having done so and have refused meat. Since there is no Vinaya rule against us doing so. For OP, I explained a bit further here.

Not in many places I’ve been. But it’s often possible to be vegan anyway, if you’re not too picky or need many different choices.

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On this forum, there is a learned Bhikkhuni who just posted the following Sutta from another topic, which I am reading for the 1st time. As a renowned Leader of sutta studies., do you have any view about its relevance to this topic? :pray:t2:

Mendicants, this relying on alms is an extreme lifestyle. The world curses you: ‘You beggar, walking bowl in hand!’ Yet earnest gentlemen take it up for a good reason. Not because they’ve been forced to by kings or bandits, or because they’re in debt or threatened, or to earn a living. But because they’re swamped by …birth, old age, and death; by sorrow, lamentation, pain, sadness, and distress. They’re swamped by suffering, mired in suffering. And they think, ‘Hopefully I can find an end to this entire mass of suffering.’ That’s how this gentleman has gone forth.

SN 22.80

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I‘ve been practicing Theravada Buddhism for quite some time now because, as far as I can judge, it‘s a path that potentially leads to a good goal. In a monastic setting, I‘d probably need a teacher who also practices this path.
However, my trust in the traditional interpretations of the Vinaya as applied to today‘s circumstances doesn‘t go so far that I would disregard my strong sense that consuming animal products is essentially inciting others to kill.

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Did the Buddha teach the above? Did the Buddha regard the generosity of others in this same way?