the great vegetarian debate

Nonviolent expressions of the Dharma, vegetarian debate
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Herb Caplan
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the great vegetarian debate

Post by Herb Caplan » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:01 pm

Can we agree that vegetarianism is a prerequisite to Buddhism?

Or a prerequisite to being a sane, moral human being?

Discuss.
If you meet the Buddha (blessed be the arahant) on the road, kill him.

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DNS
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:23 pm

Okay, I knew it was a matter of time before a vegetarian debate emerged and sure enough it has and within about 24 hours of the inception of this forum. :tongue:

I moved this to the Ahimsa sub-forum since many Dharma practitioners choose a vegetarian or vegan diet to better practice nonviolence; while others believe there is not a direct link or causation to the killing of animals.

Herb Caplan
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Herb Caplan » Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:28 pm

David N. Snyder wrote:while others believe there is not a direct link or causation to the killing of animals.
??? :jumping:

So they think the butcher performed amputation to remove the pig's leg without killing the pig? Or the meat descended to their plate from the heavens?
If you meet the Buddha (blessed be the arahant) on the road, kill him.

johnny dangerous
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by johnny dangerous » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:32 am

Herb Caplan wrote:Can we agree that vegetarianism is a prerequisite to Buddhism?

Or a prerequisite to being a sane, moral human being?

Discuss.
No, I don't agree.

I think it's important as a Buddhist to think about one's participation in the suffering of other beings, but I find that being vegetarian is often a convenient excuse to hold oneself above others, and to completely ignore all the other myriad ways in which modern first-worlders contribute to death, destruction, modern slavery etc.

Going vegetarian is a wholesome act IMO, but does not deserve the hyper focus that many western practitioners give it, especially if they neglect so many other similar issues.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by johnny dangerous » Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:35 am

Herb Caplan wrote:
David N. Snyder wrote:while others believe there is not a direct link or causation to the killing of animals.
??? :jumping:

So they think the butcher performed amputation to remove the pig's leg without killing the pig? Or the meat descended to their plate from the heavens?

If you want to discuss this, knock off the attitude IMO.

We waste so much food that a large amount of meat gets thrown away every year, period.

That being the case, it is hard to argue that there is some one-to-one relationship between simply eating industrially produced meat and being wholly responsible for it's production and planning. it would be similar to arguing that paying one's taxes makes one responsible for the actions of the government of one's country.

Assuming that one is changing the world, or is absolved of some kind of moral responsibility by the alteration of one's diet also rests on the idea that people's consumption choices are made with complete free-will, and that individuals can have a big effect on the world by being vegetarian. IMO neither of those is very true of the world we live in today.

So, I think the best reason to do away with eating meat is to generate the positive karma that comes from losing one's taste for meat, and to have eating be an act where one knows no sentient beings were killed in the process - definitely a chance to rejoice. I think though that the subject is given hugely undue significance by Western Buddhists, at the expense of other ethical considerations.

There is also the fact that some products of vegetarian diets - soy for instance, have led to environmental degradation etc. - read up on soy and Argentina:

http://wwf.panda.org/who_we_are/wwf_off ... argentina/
http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footpri ... consumers/

So soy seems doubly bad, it's both used to feed livestock (linked to meat production, and used to feed people, and seems to be destroying habitats all over the place.

This leads to an important question for me:

Just what is a "vegetarian" in a moral sense anyway? A poor Jamaican or Indian who eats mostly vegetables exists on a completely different diet than a (comparatively) wealthy American eating meat replacements regularly, and a diet which amounts to very different things in terms of..collective Karma, comparing to two as if they involve the same level of indirect moral culpability (since that is what we are talking about) is pretty questionable.

On a personal level, in my 20's I was able to maintain a vegetarian diet without much difficulty, as a man nearing 40, I have found it impossible to remain as physically active as I want to without consuming some meat. The level of fatigue I experience now when I don't get s small amount of animal fats and protein is huge. I have yet to find a solution to that that makes much sense, especially when so many meat substitutes seem both unappetizing, and not particularly healthy either.

So, most of the week is standard vegetarian fare (lots of beans and rice and stir fry's), then maybe chicken, fish or occasionally beef on the weekends, we really stretch it out typically. I also have a family and young kids, which of course complicates a question like this.

Mason
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Mason » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:14 am

johnny dangerous wrote: I think it's important as a Buddhist to think about one's participation in the suffering of other beings, but I find that being vegetarian is often a convenient excuse to hold oneself above others, and to completely ignore all the other myriad ways in which modern first-worlders contribute to death, destruction, modern slavery etc.
I've encountered this frequently and believe it is true for any "issue" which we come to feel strongly about out of good intentions. Political issues, social issues, intellectual issues, environmental issues, etc..

These issues become objects of fixation and thereby the basis for tribalism, hatred, and finally violence. Originally what we became interested in out of good-will for other people transforms into a virus of hatred and grief which infects how we live in the world, ultimately causing far more harm for the people around us than our high-minded opinions could have ever caused merit.

Of course, becoming a vegetarian is a good thing and something to commit to if you can. Likewise environmental sustainability, political action, and so on. But as human beings we will always tend to use whatever we can against other people, or for our own self-aggrandizement. So the dharmic version of these activities should look very different from the run-of-the-mill examples.

My $0.02... :popcorn:

johnny dangerous
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by johnny dangerous » Wed Jun 15, 2016 5:19 am

Mason wrote:
johnny dangerous wrote: I think it's important as a Buddhist to think about one's participation in the suffering of other beings, but I find that being vegetarian is often a convenient excuse to hold oneself above others, and to completely ignore all the other myriad ways in which modern first-worlders contribute to death, destruction, modern slavery etc.
I've encountered this frequently and believe it is true for any "issue" which we come to feel strongly about out of good intentions. Political issues, social issues, intellectual issues, environmental issues, etc..

These issues become objects of fixation and thereby the basis for tribalism, hatred, and finally violence. Originally what we became interested in out of good-will for other people transforms into a virus of hatred and grief which infects how we live in the world, ultimately causing far more harm for the people around us than our high-minded opinions could have ever caused merit.

Of course, becoming a vegetarian is a good thing and something to commit to if you can. Likewise environmental sustainability, political action, and so on. But as human beings we will always tend to use whatever we can against other people, or for our own self-aggrandizement. So the dharmic version of these activities should look very different from the run-of-the-mill examples.

My $0.02... :popcorn:

The other day I was talking to one of my friends who recently decided to go full vegetarian, don't get me wrong, I like and respect this guy deeply.

The first thing he says though when the subject is broached is "I don't want to judge people who still eat meat but..." IMO if I make a lifestyle decision, then have a reaction to it like that as a Dharma practitioner (this guy isn't, so I don't know where that'd leave him), I should immediately check myself and see whether my motivations are as altruistic as I think they are. It is too easy to do things motivated by the eight world concerns, and when we do, it poisons the altruistic act, especially if it's a lifestyle change that is a somewhat passive decision and hard to measure...a thing like this is colored deeply by our intentions, I think.

how
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by how » Thu Jun 16, 2016 4:53 pm

On other Buddhist sites, one the surest subjects to brings out the loudest ego drums, next to Nirvana & enlightenment is vegetarianism.

I have been a vegetarian for 42 years because my first monastic retreat required it and because I found that it slightly better represented my attempts towards manifesting harmlessness than the alternatives.


I am wondering what suggestions folks here might have for how not to respond in an adversarial form or from a self verses other attitude or from ego identifying according to ones diet.....when discussing vegetarianism?

johnny dangerous
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by johnny dangerous » Thu Jun 16, 2016 7:14 pm

how wrote:On other Buddhist sites, one the surest subjects to brings out the loudest ego drums, next to Nirvana & enlightenment is vegetarianism.

I have been a vegetarian for 42 years because my first monastic retreat required it and because I found that it slightly better represented my attempts towards manifesting harmlessness than the alternatives.


I am wondering what suggestions folks here might have for how not to respond in an adversarial form or from a self verses other attitude or from ego identifying according to ones diet.....when discussing vegetarianism?

It really depends on one's motivation. What is the m.o. behind discussing vegetarianism in the first place? Why does it occupy such a central place in some people's vision of Buddhist ethics? In general, any argument that starts with the stipulation that *I* am doing something better, more spiritual, and more virtuous than someone else should scrutinized deeply I think, especially in the context of Dharma.

The other issue is that 99.9% of the arguments I see about it involve no scriptural support (though it sure exists, at least in the Mahayana), or even reference to Dharmic ideas, and tend to be restatements of the standard western worlds standard vegan/vegetarian ethos, and eventually lead into a question of whether or not one is "changing the world" in a secular sense, or whether one bears less responsibility for killing. Really, an argument like this comes more from the logic of our secular culture than it does Buddhdharma.

Not saying it has no relevancy to Buddhists by any means, but I will say that Buddhist leaders I've read who both advocate, or do not specially advocate vegetarianism come at it from a slightly different PoV, and seem to talk in a very different tone than Western practitioners do. For instance, many Buddhist leaders who advocate it seem to basically say "try as hard as you can", advocate limiting meat intake, etc. Westerners on the other hand tend to condemn people who do not practice vegetarianism as "participating in killing". I've even seen some get on the Facebook feed of a famous Lama, condemn him for eating meat, and then proceed to tell everyone else in the thread they were not Buddhist. So there is some baggage here, for sure.

I realize there are some traditional teachers who do this also, just my general observation that Western Dharma students tend to be more militant about it as a rule.

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lobster
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by lobster » Fri Jun 17, 2016 6:51 am

Can we agree that vegetarianism is a prerequisite to Buddhism?
No. :hug:

As others have suggested, self righteous ahimsa, tribal affiliation to our pet beef, is a form of carnivorous hate against sentient creatures that are not meeting the required and implied standards.

... others eating habits, sexual orientation, number or lack of limbs or support for many limbed gods does not require registration or exclusion from the morally superior club many of us have no membership fee for ... :broke:

:hello:

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Tex
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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by Tex » Fri Jun 17, 2016 9:44 pm

Herb Caplan wrote:Can we agree that vegetarianism is a prerequisite to Buddhism?

Or a prerequisite to being a sane, moral human being?

Discuss.
Nope. A disciple, Devadatta, tried to convince Buddha to make vegetarianism a rule. Buddha refused. So, no, there's no argument to be made that it's "a prerequisite to Buddhism".

We all understand that when we order a salad or a bowl of rice, a lot of living organisms died in the process of getting that food to our table, right?

There is no way to sustain ourselves in samsara without harm coming to living beings. That is just one of the many tragedies of this place.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by johnny dangerous » Fri Jun 17, 2016 10:38 pm

This changes from a Mahayana perspective, since there are some Mahayana scripture (Lankavatara for example) that expressly say one must be vegetarian. It's of course not settled opinion in any form of Buddhism really, just saying if you want to go there there are plenty of Mahayana scriptures that advocate it, as well as points of view that consider it secondary or unimportant.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Tue Aug 02, 2016 4:03 am

Just out today on CNN:

Meat eaters may have a higher risk of death

Appears to be fully legit study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine and the lead author was Dr. Mingyang Song, a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Sun Aug 25, 2019 5:07 pm

Another report from the UN on how a vegetarian/vegan diet would help with climate crisis / the environment.

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02409-7

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Sun Aug 25, 2019 9:07 pm



see around 23:00 mark

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Fri Jan 03, 2020 11:13 pm

https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/03/entertai ... index.html

Meat has been taken off the menu at this year's Golden Globe Awards dinner.

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Sat Apr 25, 2020 3:31 pm

Bill Maher had a good take on the virus and wet markets and vegetarianism last night on Real Time:


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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Tue Jul 07, 2020 4:31 am

Most vegan city in the world, Tel Aviv, Israel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dX2mCMz ... =emb_title

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Re: the great vegetarian debate

Post by DNS » Tue Jul 07, 2020 4:32 am

A vegan village, also in Israel

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9XjEB1ti4g

African Israelites religious group, living in Israel

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