Trouble with Vegetarianism

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
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Karma_Cat
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Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Karma_Cat » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:10 am

Hello All, :hi:

I have been interested in Buddhism for years but really only started meditation daily (or near-daily) about a year and a half ago. I have studied the 4 Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path but I am still a beginner.

I was a vegetarian and vegan as a young person but now I am diabetic and I have some gastrointestinal problems that limit the nutrients I absorb from food. All my providers do NOT recommend a vegetarian diet, and in the past when I have attempted it I struggle with high blood sugar seriously.

Is there any provision in Buddhism for those who need animal protein for health reasons? We go out of our way to buy ethically raised meat (from a farmer we know) and to eat it moderately, but I feel like a bad Buddhist and my heart is called to explore this issue in more detail.

I thank you for any insight you have on this issue.

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:18 am

Karma_Cat wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:10 am
Hello All, :hi:

I have been interested in Buddhism for years but really only started meditation daily (or near-daily) about a year and a half ago. I have studied the 4 Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path but I am still a beginner.

I was a vegetarian and vegan as a young person but now I am diabetic and I have some gastrointestinal problems that limit the nutrients I absorb from food. All my providers do NOT recommend a vegetarian diet, and in the past when I have attempted it I struggle with high blood sugar seriously.

Is there any provision in Buddhism for those who need animal protein for health reasons? We go out of our way to buy ethically raised meat (from a farmer we know) and to eat it moderately, but I feel like a bad Buddhist and my heart is called to explore this issue in more detail.

I thank you for any insight you have on this issue.
There is no consensus on being a vegetarian in Buddhism period. Many East Asian sects see it as quite important, and there are some Mahayana Sutra that strongly advocate it, however it is by no means a universal expectation that Buddhists not eat meat. So basically, you are fine.

The historical Buddha ate meat. We can quibble about the differences between now and then, and you can take a look at the vegetarian thread if you want to know more about the discussion, it's a complex one. Your reason is about as good a reason as one can have for not being entirely vegetarian though, and feeling guilty about in such a situation is counter-productive.

Personally, i think the most "ethical" meat you can buy is to buy the stuff that will soon be thrown away.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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明安 Myoan
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Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by 明安 Myoan » Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:19 am

Are you familiar with mantras?
For example, you can recite Chenrezig's mantra "om mani peme hung" with the wish that this animal being will be forever freed from lower birth, through the blessings of Chenrezig.
Such a benevolent wish also benefits your mind.
This can be done for animals and insects, alive or dead.
Chenrezig's mantra in particular is widely practiced, widely taught, with vast benefits and minimal requirements.

There are other mantras like this as well.

For the record, I'm a vegetarian.
I think you can draw a positive from this situation with the Dharma. :thumbsup:
With a heart wandering in ignorance down this path and that, to guide me I simply say Namu-Amida-Butsu. -- Ippen

The Fundamental Vow [of Amitabha Buddha] is just for such people as woodcutters and grassgatherers, vegetable pickers, drawers of water and the like, illiterate folk who merely recite the Buddha's name wholeheartedly, confident that as a result of saying "Namu Amida Butsu" they will be born into the western land. -- Master Hōnen

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Karma_Cat
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Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Karma_Cat » Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:12 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:18 am
Karma_Cat wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:10 am
Hello All, :hi:

I have been interested in Buddhism for years but really only started meditation daily (or near-daily) about a year and a half ago. I have studied the 4 Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path but I am still a beginner.

I was a vegetarian and vegan as a young person but now I am diabetic and I have some gastrointestinal problems that limit the nutrients I absorb from food. All my providers do NOT recommend a vegetarian diet, and in the past when I have attempted it I struggle with high blood sugar seriously.

Is there any provision in Buddhism for those who need animal protein for health reasons? We go out of our way to buy ethically raised meat (from a farmer we know) and to eat it moderately, but I feel like a bad Buddhist and my heart is called to explore this issue in more detail.

I thank you for any insight you have on this issue.
There is no consensus on being a vegetarian in Buddhism period. Many East Asian sects see it as quite important, and there are some Mahayana Sutra that strongly advocate it, however it is by no means a universal expectation that Buddhists not eat meat. So basically, you are fine.

The historical Buddha ate meat. We can quibble about the differences between now and then, and you can take a look at the vegetarian thread if you want to know more about the discussion, it's a complex one. Your reason is about as good a reason as one can have for not being entirely vegetarian though, and feeling guilty about in such a situation is counter-productive.

Personally, i think the most "ethical" meat you can buy is to buy the stuff that will soon be thrown away.
It makes a lot of sense to buy meat that will soon be thrown away, but I am always kind of afraid it will make me sick. I do get sick easily, I have kind of a sketchy immune system and can't eat at potlucks or buffets per my doc. But if it looks/smells fresh, I will buy it generally and cook the heck out of it!
We get our meat from a small farm where we can see the animals and their well being, but sometimes if we can't afford that we do buy regular meat from the grocery store. Eggs, similarly, I try to always get locally from a place where I can see the birds running around. It's the best I can do right now, although I totally acknowledge that it would probably be best practice to abstain. I do feel some guilt, but I am no good to anyone or anything if I am sick, ya know?

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Karma_Cat
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Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Karma_Cat » Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:16 am

明安 Myoan wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:19 am
Are you familiar with mantras?
For example, you can recite Chenrezig's mantra "om mani peme hung" with the wish that this animal being will be forever freed from lower birth, through the blessings of Chenrezig.
Such a benevolent wish also benefits your mind.
This can be done for animals and insects, alive or dead.
Chenrezig's mantra in particular is widely practiced, widely taught, with vast benefits and minimal requirements.

There are other mantras like this as well.

For the record, I'm a vegetarian.
I think you can draw a positive from this situation with the Dharma. :thumbsup:
I am familiar with mantras although I do not often practice them, and I would like to explore that more as part of my practice. I do a lot of guided meditation, so I want to grow beyond that. I will look into this mantra and practice it with all my heart. I do care deeply about animal welfare, we support political candidates who want better conditions for animals and all that. I wish I could just give it up, but I also feel that in my life, I should take care of myself. Thank you so much for your feedback.

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Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Aug 19, 2019 5:10 am

Karma_Cat wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:12 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:18 am
Karma_Cat wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:10 am
Hello All, :hi:

I have been interested in Buddhism for years but really only started meditation daily (or near-daily) about a year and a half ago. I have studied the 4 Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path but I am still a beginner.

I was a vegetarian and vegan as a young person but now I am diabetic and I have some gastrointestinal problems that limit the nutrients I absorb from food. All my providers do NOT recommend a vegetarian diet, and in the past when I have attempted it I struggle with high blood sugar seriously.

Is there any provision in Buddhism for those who need animal protein for health reasons? We go out of our way to buy ethically raised meat (from a farmer we know) and to eat it moderately, but I feel like a bad Buddhist and my heart is called to explore this issue in more detail.

I thank you for any insight you have on this issue.
There is no consensus on being a vegetarian in Buddhism period. Many East Asian sects see it as quite important, and there are some Mahayana Sutra that strongly advocate it, however it is by no means a universal expectation that Buddhists not eat meat. So basically, you are fine.

The historical Buddha ate meat. We can quibble about the differences between now and then, and you can take a look at the vegetarian thread if you want to know more about the discussion, it's a complex one. Your reason is about as good a reason as one can have for not being entirely vegetarian though, and feeling guilty about in such a situation is counter-productive.

Personally, i think the most "ethical" meat you can buy is to buy the stuff that will soon be thrown away.
It makes a lot of sense to buy meat that will soon be thrown away, but I am always kind of afraid it will make me sick. I do get sick easily, I have kind of a sketchy immune system and can't eat at potlucks or buffets per my doc. But if it looks/smells fresh, I will buy it generally and cook the heck out of it!
We get our meat from a small farm where we can see the animals and their well being, but sometimes if we can't afford that we do buy regular meat from the grocery store. Eggs, similarly, I try to always get locally from a place where I can see the birds running around. It's the best I can do right now, although I totally acknowledge that it would probably be best practice to abstain. I do feel some guilt, but I am no good to anyone or anything if I am sick, ya know?
You just shop at places that get their produce from higher end stores that would otherwise throw the stuff away. Places like Grocery Outlet, Big Lots etc. are places where if it don't get sold, lots of it will be trashed - especially unsold meat which would spoil. It's perfectly healthy, just not as profitable because it's less "sexy" somehow (i.e. marketable). We throw a away tons of food every year to keep it profitable, under those circumstances my personal point of view is that "ethical consumption" (would one even choose to focus on it, which is optional, there are lots of more pressing ethical things to think about in life than diet, frankly) is simply consuming less, and when one does, trying to use stuff that everyone else in this over-abundant society thinks is below their standards. YMMV, just presenting you with a different point of view.

Out of curiosity, do you have a Buddhist teacher? On such matters I've found it is really best to consider the opinions and views of your teacher before anyone else's - that is primarily how I arrived at my decisions after years of going back and forth. If you want reasoning based on Dharmic principles, you should get it from someone you trust. We have endless debates on this forum about vegetarianism and veganism, there is no consensus on these questions across traditions, but when you have a teacher with whom you resonate, their words tend to carry more weight and make more sense.

I say this only because if your guilt about eating meat is enough to affect your practice, it might be worth finding a resolution, the first step being a teacher with whom you connect enough to trust their opinion implicitly, unlike on here where a bunch of strangers are just giving you our hot take;)

Minus a couple people, no one on this forum really has the authority to tell other practitioners what they should do with their diet in anything other than a "well, here's what I think" type way. Your teacher and/or your doctor are the ones who will give you definitive answers.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by seeker242 » Mon Aug 19, 2019 12:34 pm

Type 2 diabetes I'm assuming? You should look into Dr Neal Barnard's program for reversing type 2 diabetes with a plant based diet. https://www.amazon.com/Neal-Barnards-Pr ... 1594868107

A plant based diet, done correctly, can be quite effective in managing type 2 diabetes.

https://www.pcrm.org/health-topics/diabetes

https://www.bmj.com/company/newsroom/pl ... -in-check/
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:23 pm

Buddhanet used to have a nice compilation of Buddhist debates on vegetarianism, when I looked this time I didn't see much.

Since the OP asked specifically about how this issue is viewed in Buddhism (not for dietary advice etc.) it might be nice if we had a list of links detailing arguments on both sides. I can rummage around later and see what I find.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

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Karma_Cat
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Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:25 am

Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Karma_Cat » Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:44 am

Ah yes. Sort of like getting day old bread or whatever, but much more significant ethically.
This may seem like a really dumb question, but how does one get a Buddhist teacher? I live in the USA- although there is a Buddhist temple in my town, so maybe that’s the place to check?
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 5:10 am
Karma_Cat wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 4:12 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:18 am


There is no consensus on being a vegetarian in Buddhism period. Many East Asian sects see it as quite important, and there are some Mahayana Sutra that strongly advocate it, however it is by no means a universal expectation that Buddhists not eat meat. So basically, you are fine.

The historical Buddha ate meat. We can quibble about the differences between now and then, and you can take a look at the vegetarian thread if you want to know more about the discussion, it's a complex one. Your reason is about as good a reason as one can have for not being entirely vegetarian though, and feeling guilty about in such a situation is counter-productive.

Personally, i think the most "ethical" meat you can buy is to buy the stuff that will soon be thrown away.
It makes a lot of sense to buy meat that will soon be thrown away, but I am always kind of afraid it will make me sick. I do get sick easily, I have kind of a sketchy immune system and can't eat at potlucks or buffets per my doc. But if it looks/smells fresh, I will buy it generally and cook the heck out of it!
We get our meat from a small farm where we can see the animals and their well being, but sometimes if we can't afford that we do buy regular meat from the grocery store. Eggs, similarly, I try to always get locally from a place where I can see the birds running around. It's the best I can do right now, although I totally acknowledge that it would probably be best practice to abstain. I do feel some guilt, but I am no good to anyone or anything if I am sick, ya know?
You just shop at places that get their produce from higher end stores that would otherwise throw the stuff away. Places like Grocery Outlet, Big Lots etc. are places where if it don't get sold, lots of it will be trashed - especially unsold meat which would spoil. It's perfectly healthy, just not as profitable because it's less "sexy" somehow (i.e. marketable). We throw a away tons of food every year to keep it profitable, under those circumstances my personal point of view is that "ethical consumption" (would one even choose to focus on it, which is optional, there are lots of more pressing ethical things to think about in life than diet, frankly) is simply consuming less, and when one does, trying to use stuff that everyone else in this over-abundant society thinks is below their standards. YMMV, just presenting you with a different point of view.

Out of curiosity, do you have a Buddhist teacher? On such matters I've found it is really best to consider the opinions and views of your teacher before anyone else's - that is primarily how I arrived at my decisions after years of going back and forth. If you want reasoning based on Dharmic principles, you should get it from someone you trust. We have endless debates on this forum about vegetarianism and veganism, there is no consensus on these questions across traditions, but when you have a teacher with whom you resonate, their words tend to carry more weight and make more sense.

I say this only because if your guilt about eating meat is enough to affect your practice, it might be worth finding a resolution, the first step being a teacher with whom you connect enough to trust their opinion implicitly, unlike on here where a bunch of strangers are just giving you our hot take;)

Minus a couple people, no one on this forum really has the authority to tell other practitioners what they should do with their diet in anything other than a "well, here's what I think" type way. Your teacher and/or your doctor are the ones who will give you definitive answers.

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Karma_Cat
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Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Karma_Cat » Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:53 am

Yes, I would like to read some of the original texts - translated to English naturally, lol- and see what the word is on the meat eating. As I said above, I have some major issues with food and eating so if I decided to attempt a vegetarian diet it would take a lot of effort.

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:23 pm
Buddhanet used to have a nice compilation of Buddhist debates on vegetarianism, when I looked this time I didn't see much.

Since the OP asked specifically about how this issue is viewed in Buddhism (not for dietary advice etc.) it might be nice if we had a list of links detailing arguments on both sides. I can rummage around later and see what I find.

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:10 am

Karma_Cat wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:53 am
Yes, I would like to read some of the original texts - translated to English naturally, lol- and see what the word is on the meat eating. As I said above, I have some major issues with food and eating so if I decided to attempt a vegetarian diet it would take a lot of effort.

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:23 pm
Buddhanet used to have a nice compilation of Buddhist debates on vegetarianism, when I looked this time I didn't see much.

Since the OP asked specifically about how this issue is viewed in Buddhism (not for dietary advice etc.) it might be nice if we had a list of links detailing arguments on both sides. I can rummage around later and see what I find.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_vegetarianism

You can start with the wiki, it will give which Mahayana sutra advocate vegetarianism, and explain other viewpoints. There used to be a really nice back and forth dialogue between monastics on this subject on Buddhanet, but I can't find it now.

FYI as someone mentioned earlier the Dalai Lama himself (an advocate of vegetarianism) eats some meat at the recommendation of his healthcare providers. While it's great that you are looking into this, I think if your Doctor's are telling you to not abstain for health reasons, that is significant.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

Fortyeightvows
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Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Fortyeightvows » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:17 am

This book by Geluk Geshe Soepa contains a section with citations from the sutras.

http://teachingsfromtibet.com/wp-conten ... 016_v3.pdf

https://www.lamayeshe.com/teacher/geshe-thubten-soepa

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Johnny Dangerous » Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:20 am

Karma_Cat wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:44 am
Ah yes. Sort of like getting day old bread or whatever, but much more significant ethically.
This may seem like a really dumb question, but how does one get a Buddhist teacher? I live in the USA- although there is a Buddhist temple in my town, so maybe that’s the place to check?
Yes, there are also lots of teachers teaching online these days. You could literally watch some Youtube videos and start your journey there.
His welcoming
& rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
Knowing the dustless, sorrowless state,
he discerns rightly,
has gone, beyond becoming,
to the Further Shore.

-Lokavipatti Sutta

User avatar
Karma_Cat
Posts: 10
Joined: Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:25 am

Re: Trouble with Vegetarianism

Post by Karma_Cat » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:08 am

I agree that the doctors recommendations are very important. My body doesn’t really absorb iron from plants, sadly, although cooking in a cast iron pan has helped a lot.
I guess I want to see the scripture/reasoning behind it too, because I want to read and interpret if there are ways I can minimize the karmic damage, like ethically sourcing meat or using less.
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 1:10 am
Karma_Cat wrote:
Tue Aug 20, 2019 12:53 am
Yes, I would like to read some of the original texts - translated to English naturally, lol- and see what the word is on the meat eating. As I said above, I have some major issues with food and eating so if I decided to attempt a vegetarian diet it would take a lot of effort.

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
Mon Aug 19, 2019 6:23 pm
Buddhanet used to have a nice compilation of Buddhist debates on vegetarianism, when I looked this time I didn't see much.

Since the OP asked specifically about how this issue is viewed in Buddhism (not for dietary advice etc.) it might be nice if we had a list of links detailing arguments on both sides. I can rummage around later and see what I find.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_vegetarianism

You can start with the wiki, it will give which Mahayana sutra advocate vegetarianism, and explain other viewpoints. There used to be a really nice back and forth dialogue between monastics on this subject on Buddhanet, but I can't find it now.

FYI as someone mentioned earlier the Dalai Lama himself (an advocate of vegetarianism) eats some meat at the recommendation of his healthcare providers. While it's great that you are looking into this, I think if your Doctor's are telling you to not abstain for health reasons, that is significant.

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