Selling animal for its meat is considered a wrong livelihood. Made intoxicants and sell them is also a wrong livelihood. If people are working on a non-vegetarian food counter, I believe that is not a wrong livelihood. With the same understanding, if someone is working on the wine counter, the duties are serving customers who ask for wine, beer, filling shelves, that is also considered not a wrong livelihood.

But is being a bartender considered a wrong livelihood or not?

2 Answers 2


Vaṇijjā sutta discusses Right Livelihood in for levity which include: business in weapons, business in human beings, business in meat, business in intoxicants, and business in poison.

If you sell meat or drinks for a living this is not right livelihood. I think is suffices if you are part of the establishment and need not be the proprietor / owner / shareholder. So if you work in a meat shop or bar or liquor store then this is not right livelihood.

If you are working is a big supermarket which sells among anything meat and drinks and you work in a generic counter not dedicated for the sale of meats or drinks then this might be OK. I.e., if you are part of a large store out of which a small part of business is meats, drinks and poisons unless you are involved is specifically to procure and sell these items it might be OK. As management or owner or shareholder of such business might be OK if this is a minor line of business and you are not involved in the planning and management of such activities.

Kandaraka Sutta, Apannaka Sutta mentions that those who torment themselves, those who torment others, those who torment both, and those who torment neither themselves nor others, out of which the last is the most conducive. Similarly one's job or business should be ideally organised around the same principles.

Also Ama,gandha Sutta discusses that it is not meat you should abstain from but from evil action.

So in conclusion bartending, being in the wine counter, being part of a butcher or meat shop, or being in the meat counter, is not right livelihood, but eating meat is not an issue.

  • I thought a bartender is slightly different to a filling shelves worker since a bartender mix alcohol drinks which is similar to producing alcohol drinks? "Obviously a Buddhist cannot be a bartender or a cocktail waitress,...." Right livelihood
    – B1100
    Apr 29, 2016 at 11:02
  • Yes. This is right. Apr 29, 2016 at 12:10
  • Sorry, I don't really get what you meant. Previously you said "...in conclusion bartending, being in the wine counter, being part of a butcher or meat shop, or being in the meat counter, is not right livelihood...." But later you said that is wrong?
    – B1100
    May 1, 2016 at 11:25
  • Is not right livelihood = wrong livelihood May 2, 2016 at 13:37
  • But working in the wine counter is similar to working in a non-vegetarian restaurant: cooking food, serve the customer, etc.. The same person maybe dealing with cash register or working on the checkout of a supermarket that sells meat. It's the owner who earns profit from selling and buying meat and alcohol. At least that is the intention of the owner, right?
    – B1100
    May 4, 2016 at 9:36

I do not think there is anything which Buddha called right livelihood. These are interpretation of people. If you are a Bar tender clearly you do not have much choice in your life. There is nothing wrong if you are not acting out of desire. Desire is the key thing which differentiates right from wrong. If that job gives you hell lot of money and power, which helps in fulfilling your desire for a sports car, big mansion etc etc then clearly something is not right. A job ideally should be an expression of your talent/self. If you unfortunately not in a position then there is nothing wrong in it. 95% of humans are working for sake of money to survive. It is just a role you are performing to make a living. You are like an actor who is performing a role. There is no bad kamma associated with a role. An actor performing a role of Hitler will not become as bad as Hitler. Hungry and wretched people can not afford religion.

  • The sutta mentioned above is about dealing with arms, intoxicants etc voluntarily. If you are a bar tender by choice things are different. Please do not leave your job if it is not a choice and become poor. That is the reason most buddhist countries are poor and full of hypocrites. Thailand has become a sex and drugs hub because of poverty. Poverty is a direct result of religion which is not followed in essence. Apr 24, 2016 at 15:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .