It is famous solution to eat meat only if it is offered by somebody and when the animal was not killed specifically for the person receiving it.

Amongst the many videos of Ajahn Brahm on his youtube channel, he stated, in at least one, that during his training in thailand, he spend a few days or weeks, with other monks, in the forest and he boiled frogs and ate snakes. He added that this training was quite though, with the meals not pleasing.

Do we know more about the thai tradition when the monks go in the forest and eat there, in particular to know whether it is acceptable to kill animals, ourselves, directly for our personal consumption?

  • 4
    Any reference to your claim that he actually killed them? Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 16:43
  • I've also heard ajahm brahm, at the end of one of his talks during Q and A, advise lay people that it was alright to exterminate Termites that were making a nest near their house; ergo, I don't personally put much stock in what Ajahn Brahm says.
    – Ryan
    Commented Dec 18, 2015 at 17:25
  • @Ryan, Source? I watched a talk where this came up and I don't think he advised them to...if it's the same one I believe he said that if you are going to, then you should also do some good karma, e.g., giving.
    – Adamokkha
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 6:12
  • 1
    Perhaps I'm mistaken in my recollection then, but in either case he was asked if it was alright, and Im fairly sure he didn't give no as an answer. Which in my book is tantamount to yes.
    – Ryan
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 11:10
  • 1
    The impression I got was that he assumed they were going to do it anyways, and didn't want to offend the sensibilities of householders in general by giving a radical "monk answer" , as it were, in the eyes of most people, as that would be like saying "sure, be alright with losing your home". In my mind, this is incredibly inconsistent of him, waffling back and forth to not upset his supporters. As this is clearly not the advice a Buddhist monk should be giving
    – Ryan
    Commented Dec 19, 2015 at 11:18

6 Answers 6


Here's an extract from an article by Ajahn Brahm, What the Buddha Said About Eating Meat,

Towards the end of the Buddha's life, his cousin Devadatta attempted to usurp the leadership of the Order of monks. In order to win support from other monks, Devadatta tried to be more strict than the Buddha and show Him up as indulgent. Devadatta proposed to the Buddha that all the monks should henceforth be vegetarians.The Buddha refused and repeated once again the regulation that he had established years before, that monks and nuns may eat fish or meat as long as it is not from an animal whose meat is specifically forbidden, and as long as they had no reason to believe that the animal was slaughtered specifically for them.

The Vinaya, then, is quite clear on this matter. Monks and nuns may eat meat. Even the Buddha ate meat. Unfortunately, meat eating is often seen by westerners as an indulgence on the part of the monks. Nothing could be further from the truth - I was a strict vegetarian for three years before I became a monk. In my first years as a monk in North-East Thailand, when I bravely faced many a meal of sticky rice and boiled frog (the whole body bones and all), or rubbery snails, red-ant curry or fried grasshoppers - I would have given ANYTHING to be a vegetarian again! On my first Christmas in N.E. Thailand an American came to visit the monastery a week or so before the 25th. It seemed too good to be true, he had a turkey farm and yes, he quickly understood how we lived and promised us a turkey for Christmas. He said that he would choose a nice fat one especially for us... and my heart sank. We cannot accept meat knowing it was killed especially for monks. We refused his offer. So I had to settle for part of the villager's meal - frogs again.

Monks may not exercise choice when it comes to food and that is much harder than being a vegetarian. Nonetheless, we may encourage vegetarianism and if our lay supporters brought only vegetarian food and no meat, well... monks may not complain either!

May you take the hint and be kind to animals.

My understanding therefore is that "frogs" is what the villagers shared, as alms.

Wikipedia's Thai Forest Tradition article talks of a morning alms round (and not of monks catching animals and killing them and cooking their own food).

Other Google search results say things like, "Thai forest tradition monks cannot handle money or cultivate, cook or store ...", and "The monk does not store or cook food but daily enters the nearby village ...".

  • Its not a matter of "Thai forest tradition monk", its a matter of Bhikkhus keeping Vinaya. Certain food can be stored but difficult without having laypeople or novices to handle it actually, Upasaka Chris.
    – user11235
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 5:32
  • 1
    Yes it is a matter of Bhikkhus keeping Vinaya. I gave a Google search for quotes which specifically describe the forest tradition, because that was Ajahn Brahm's condition, in case the OP thought that "forest tradition" monks might have a different lifestyle (catching and killing frogs).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 12:17
  • Ajahn Brahm: "Even the Buddha ate meat" - this must be the Brahm-buddha, belongs only to Ven. Ajahn Brahm; definitely not our Buddha, if not, at least not the Mahayana (Chinese) Buddha Shakyamuni. Commented May 23, 2017 at 16:29
  • @Bhumishu米殊 See for example footnote 38 Sukara-maddava on this page.
    – ChrisW
    Commented May 23, 2017 at 17:28
  • Thx @ChrisW I know without reading what is Sukara-maddava I read this long time ago in Agama Sutra, the Sukara-maddava in Chinese translated as 樹耳, which means fugus of the tree, a type of mushroom, why it's related to pig is because like truffles its found by the pigs like truffles are sniffed to be discovered by using pig. It maybe the modern Thereavadist like to think instead it means pork. Commented May 23, 2017 at 17:39

Killing for any reason is a serious offence for both monks and lay people. Monks can't cure or cook food. They are allowed only to reheat already cooked food. They are not allowed to eat uncooked flesh or fish.

  • Interesting. Can you please share the source which says monks are prohibited from cooking food? Also, what is "cure food" means?
    – Sandun
    Commented Jun 25, 2021 at 7:12

i know a method monks in thai forest tradition would do. Monks would sun (or air) dry plain rice received from alms round and then soak it in water when ready to eat. Vinaya (monastic codes) allows monks to keep food for certain period. PS. Snake is one of 10 meats not allowed for monks. I think it might have a context to it when ajahn Brahm said he ate one.

  • There are less kinds of "food", which he could keep. As for meet or other main food, there are no ways. It would need to be offered again.
    – user11235
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 1:11

That is right, also for you, there is not fault is simply eating. There is no unwholsesome deed with eating meet. It would be of course unwholesome to kill, or to tell someone to kill or being happy or approve the killing. As for a monk, he would not be allowed to eat certain kind of meat, so for example snakes. A Bhikkhu would also not allowed to accept raw meet. So in relation of those questions, you would need to ask him further. Maybe they found corpse and used them for their nourishment.

Once more, for a Bhikkhu, if seen, heard or assumed, that a living being was killed for his nourishment, he is not allowed to eat it.

As for killing (by body, speech or though - in being happy about it), all of them are unwholseome deeds, what ever reason and for whom ever. As for breaking the precepts formal, only bodily actions or verbal actions who cause end effect the death of a living being, are a fault at least.

As for the frog story (just saw Upasaka Chris added the article). Its very usual under framers in SOAsia to eat frogs. They are prepared in various ways. Having lived in a small remote forests village in northern Cambodia as an Anagarika for a while, it happened often that villager came and gave frogs as a alms donation. Honestly Atma was not able to eat them having be boiled, although he has rarely a problem with any kind of food. They are like balloons (if you know the Shrek cartoon). How ever, with time, when people find out that you are not seeking pleasure in this or that kind of food they will naturally avoid to give such, not to speak of even kill that they are able to give. Alms are shares of what one has. Its seldom really Dana if it is taken for the purpose to give.


Ajahn Brahm is a British Theravada Buddhist monk, and a disciple of the Gautama Supreme Buddha. This this issue is of no concern to him. He knows very well that his master, The Supreme Buddha did not encourage us to eat meat or become vegetarians. The choice is entirely up to us. The important point is to take to heart the Buddha’s guidelines in MN 55 on the three conditions for unallowed and allowed meat.

A monk is not allowed to cook and has to be totally dependent on the offerings of lay supporters. He is also taught that he should be easily supported and looked after. Since he is not allowed to ask for any preferential food (except during sickness), a monk cannot choose his food. He has to accept what is being offered. Lay people have more freedom to choose their food, and for lay people it is entirely up to individual preferences when it comes to eating meat or becoming a vegetarian.

So it is very beneficial for those who want to walk this path to its conclusion, not to be too critical of others no matter what our preferences are. The most effective way to reduce the killing and cruelty in the world is for people to understand the Buddha’s teaching. Ultimately, suffering (dukkha) is a characteristic of life, and the way to end suffering is to practise the Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddha to get out of the rounds of rebirths.


Not to kill animals is the 61st pattimokkha infraction, in the section called paccittiya, rules entailing confession. Thus, until the monastic confesses his infraction the sangha is tainted. Confession alone is sufficient to expiate the infraction.

  • This comment speculates that there was killing involved, the question does not mention such, Mr. Alexander Duncan. Maybe you like to put your answer under an "If..."
    – user11235
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 1:08
  • I do not understand your comment.
    – user4970
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 3:59
  • Why did Mr. Duncan gave this answer in regard of the OP?
    – user11235
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 4:07
  • The comment is that the allegation (that the monks killed frogs) is unproven speculation (and is most likely incorrect), therefore your answer might be better phrased as a conditional (using "if") instead of continuing with the same mistaken assumption: so, for example, "If the monks killed animals then that would be an infraction of the etc."
    – ChrisW
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 12:21
  • I don't think this discussion is particularly useful or productive so I will not be responding again. However, to clarify, I am answering the QUESTION, and the QUESTION is "Ajahn Brahm stated that he ate snakes and frogs during his training, does this mean that it is acceptable to kill animals?" I don't know what COMMENT you are referring to - I rarely read the comments when I answer a question. I hope this clarifies the matter for you.
    – user4970
    Commented Dec 30, 2015 at 14:27

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