Buddha said to his disciples (monks), meat can be eaten if they are not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. Eating meat is different from killing animal, it's clear.

Lay people on the other side do not obtain meat like monks do, lay people buy meat. The money then goes to meat seller and abattoir. Is this the same as "Causing another to kill"?


5 Answers 5


Buddhist ethics is the basis to develop wisdom and mastery over the mind. If there are no unwholesome Karmic results you cannot collect your mind to develop concentration as wholesome results give present experiences than unpleasant which is more distracting in meditation.

In the above case through you can argue that you remote form of indirectly kill in buying meat you do not create the type unwholesome roots associated with killing in the mind which results in unpleasant experiences later. Making others kills which has Karmic repercussion would be instead of you killing you order someone else to kill or bring hims to such a state that he will kill intending that he would kill.

Leaving aside killing, if you take ethics too far then you cannot live. E.g. your food and drinks do have microbes. Antibiotics kill microbes. I have heard once a monk with supernormal powers, after filtering water, saw that there were beings too small to be seen by the naked eye still in the water hence if you are strictly not to harm the you cannot ever eat or drink. The advice received was do not use your Jhanic powers to see if there are microbes in the water.

If you are vegetarian well and good, but if you are not, this is not a hindrance to develop mastery over the mind or wisdom and such action does not have karmic repercussions.

  • But there is intention to purchase meat. In Dhammika Sutta Buddha said: "He should not kill a living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should he incite another to kill. Do not injure any being, either strong or weak, in the world (Dhammika Sutta). I don't want take ethics too far but what does "don't cause another to kill" mean to you? Why paying for meat is not just another way of seeing "cause another to kill"?
    – B1100
    Apr 17, 2016 at 0:16
  • "If there are not of unwholesome Karmic results you cannot collect your mind to develop concentration." Does it mean you need unwholesome kamma to develop concentration?
    – B1100
    Apr 17, 2016 at 0:30
  • Missed some of your points. If someone kills other being because he is ordered by someone. Does the intention of killing belong to the killer himself that will be experienced by him rather than the orderer?
    – B1100
    Apr 22, 2016 at 5:34
  • Both of them. The person ordering will have the karma and also person executing will need the volition to kill otherwise he cannot execute the order. Apr 22, 2016 at 6:19
  • but do you think the full blown karmic consequence will only be experienced by the murderer alone (although he does it with great reluctance) since the person who orders him does not do the actual killing?
    – B1100
    Apr 22, 2016 at 11:08

If the lay person orders an animal to be killed, he breaks the first precept. Simply buying meat that is available in the market does not break the precept no matter who profits from it.

Following conditions have to be met for it to be broken.

i) The being must be alive.

ii) There must be knowledge that it is a living being.

iii) There must be intention to cause its death.

iv) Action must be taken to cause its death

v) Death must result from such action.

  • It's not breaking the first precept but I guess precept doesn't cover everything. If abattoir doesn't receive any money from the buyer, they will have to close their business. Why paying them money is different from causing another to kill or contributing to the death of animals?
    – B1100
    Apr 16, 2016 at 12:25
  • 1
    The first precept covers actions which result in killing that are Karmicly potent. If you are paying for the meat and not paying to kill, you are not Karmicly responsible. Apr 16, 2016 at 12:35
  • Can you provide a reference for that? As posted below, is that just a matter of seeing things from different angle since meat comes from killing and we pay them. Aren't they closely connected? I understand the condition meat and fish can be eaten as condition given by Buddha for his monk disciples. It said little to none about purchasing meat.
    – B1100
    Apr 17, 2016 at 0:57
  • "cetanaham bhikkhave kammam vadami; cetayitva kammam karoti kayena vacaya manasa" - Kamma is volitional action, nothing more, nothing less. The one who purchases the meat has no intention of killing. Nor does he pay to kill. Apr 17, 2016 at 2:38
  • I guess the point that OP is talking about is whether or not going to the market to buy meat constitutes volition to cause killing or not (since the it's plain that killing has to happen for the product to be available). So that quote doesn't really resolve matters.
    – Gotamist
    Oct 7, 2017 at 7:33

The argument of demand and supply is not a valid one. On this planet, a great number of human beings (Two thousand per day according to a newspaper report) and countless animals are killed by motor vehicles everyday. Just by driving vehicles or even sitting in them, we are encouraging the motor industry to make more motor vehicles. If we use the demand and supply argument, then just by using motor vehicles we are encouraging the killing of countless animals and a great number of human beings on the roads everyday — which is worse than eating meat! It is true that we are indirectly involved in the killing of animals but, as explained, there is no kamma-vipaka of killing. This indirect involvement in killing is true whether we eat meat or not, and is something which is unavoidable.

We encourage killing even when we eat vegetarian food. Every day monkeys, squirrels, foxes, flying foxes, and other destructive pests are killed because they eat from fruit trees planted by farmers. Vegetable farmers also kill caterpillars, snails, worms, grasshoppers, ants, and other insects, etc.. Similarly, in Australia for example, kangaroos and rabbits are killed every day because they eat the crops. Many items commonly used by just about everybody cost the lives of living beings. For example, silk is made at the expense of the lives of countless silkworms, and white shellac (used to manufacture many products, including food), of countless lac insects. Cosmetics contain a huge range of animal derived substances. Many food additives, e.g. colourings, flavourings, sweeteners, also use animal derived substances. Commercially produced cheese uses rennet which is extracted from calves’ stomach to make the milk coagulate. Leather and fur are of course made from the hides of animals, often slaughtered for this purpose. Photographic film uses gelatin which is obtained by boiling the skins, tendons, and bones of animals. Even fertilizers for the vegetables and fruit trees often include dried, ground fish bones, and other fish scraps. Also, the use of cow’s milk and honey involve much cruelty to the animals or insects concerned. All these go to show that it is very difficult not to be involved one way or another in the cruelty inflicted on animals. So if one does become a vegetarian, one should reflect on the above and refrain from being over-critical of those who eat meat.


Killing an animal for consumption violates the first precept in Buddhism. Similarly, instructing someone to kill an animal on your behalf infringes upon the third precept. Buddha's teachings emphasize leading by example, advocating for non-harm. Just as you wish to avoid harm or death, others share the same sentiment. Hence, Buddhism calls for refraining from animal killing, both directly and indirectly, either by your own hand or through advising others to do so.


Eating meat is same as eating curd which has countless bacterias. All percepts are for laymen. Buddhas do not define do's and dont's. They simply state principles. The answer to your question is that if you indulge in meat eating or get habituated to it then desire take over. All fulfillment of desires have Karmic repercussions. If you eat meat to satisfy your hunger no problem. But if you eat meat because of its taste be ready for nasty consequences. When I went to Thailand I was bit surprised to find that Thais prefer meat over vegetarian stuff. Thailand has tropical weather and abundant fruits, vegetables, and cereals. They indulge in meat eating because of taste not because its better. In Ladakh where people pratice Buddhism people have little choice but to eat meat because nothing grows there. Infact for meditators light diet is a must which is vegetarian.

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