I sometimes see rules suggesting that monks (at least Theravadan) should not eat various animals. The lists vary, but includes to varying degree: elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears, hyenas, slugs, cows, and humans.

When I try to find something authoritative about this, I've come up short. Can anyone shed light on: (1) is there a list of animals that monks are prohibited from eating, and if so, (2) where does this appear in the canon, and (3) how/why were the particular animals listed?

3 Answers 3


Page 308 of The Patimokkha Rules Translated & Explained by Thanissaro Bhikkhu:

The Mahavagga (Mv.VI.23.9-15) forbids ten kinds of flesh: that of human beings, elephants, horses, dogs, snakes, lions, tigers, leopards, bears, and hyenas.

To eat human flesh entails a thullaccaya; to eat any of the other unallowable types, a dukkata. Human beings, horses, and elephants were regarded as too noble to be used as food. The other types of meat were forbidden either on grounds that they were repulsive (“People criticized and complained and spread it about, ‘How can these Sakyan-son monks eat dog meat? Dogs are loathsome, disgusting’”) or dangerous (bhikkhus, smelling of lion’s flesh, went into the jungle; the lions there, instead of criticizing or complaining, attacked them).

The Commentary adds three comments here: (a) These prohibitions cover not only the meat of these animals but also their blood, bones, skin, and hide (the layer of tissue just under the skin—see AN 4.113). (b) The prohibition against dog flesh does not include wild dogs, such as wolves and foxes, (but many teachers—including the Thai translator of the Commentary—question this point). The flesh of a half-dog half-wolf mixture, however, would be forbidden. (c) The prohibition against snake flesh covers the flesh of all long, footless beings. Thus eels would not be allowed.

  • "the lions there, instead of criticizing or complaining, attacked them". Idk why I laughed out loud about this, but very true.
    – Sandun
    Jun 25, 2021 at 7:06

According to Vinaya Pitaka -> Mahavagga pali-> Bhesajjakkanda; following 10 meats are prohibited for ordained monks.

  1. Human
  2. Elephant
  3. Horse
  4. Dog
  5. Snake
  6. Lion
  7. Tiger
  8. Leopard
  9. Bear
  10. Hyena

The following are prohibited for ordained monastics in the Theravada tradition

Bear Dog Elephant Horse Human Hyena Lion Leopard Snake Tiger

It was considered that the odours emitted from a human being who has eaten the flesh of these animals would cause them to be seen as a threat by the same. This perhaps would particularly apply to forest dwelling monastics as they may be likely to come into contact with the listed animals.

You must log in to answer this question.

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