Is greed over meat is more unwholesome compare to greed over non-meat dishes? Meat is non-living thing, greed is greed, they're the same. Many studies have shown that meat consumption involve in far greater number of killing compare to non-meat diet. More meat means more supply therefore more killing. So is it true greed over meat is more unwholesome?


4 Answers 4


It's a highly subjective question. Someone might desire the taste of a vegetable curry more than a meat curry. Someone might desire the taste of chocolate or ice-cream more than the taste of meat. Someone might desire liquor consumption more than meat. It has nothing to do with the number of animals killed.

On the other hand, eating meat does not require desire. Even enlightened beings consume meat. Unwholesomeness comes when you desire or dislike the taste or start worrying about whether you are responsible for the dead animal.

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    – user2424
    Dec 26, 2017 at 17:27

Non-Theravada answer -

Greed is unwholesome. Meat dish is more unwholesome than non-meat, simply, meat dish involved killing. Where can the meat be coming from without killing? "Meat is non-living thing...", a well-developed mind might be able to tell you this is not really true... at least meat is coming from once living being, right? [Hey, do you ever wonder why meat spelled as me + eat?? In Chinese it's written as 肉, a combination of two characters, 人(human/man) + 內(inside)?!].

You are right, meat consumption means more killing. A person who cultivates compassion will feel saddened when passing by the market at the butcher's stall, those meats hanging on hooks in blood red, the sharp knife cutting across the tissues... for this very realization the meat no long taste the same.

How do you feel when a Bhante after chewing the chicken breast tearing the flesh from the legs, with this very same hands and mouth, gives talk to the lay-people, flipping the Sutta, quoting,

One is not called noble who harms living beings. By not harming living beings one is called noble. -- Dhammapada, verse 270

All tremble at violence; all fear death. Putting oneself in the place of another, one should not kill nor cause another to kill. -- Dhammapada, verse 129

In non-Theravada tradition, non-meat dish is praised; all the Chinese Mahayana monasteries served only vegetarian dishes. Detailed explanation in this post. If lay-people taking a Bhiksu out for meal, automatically we will go to vegetarian restaurant, to show him respect.

There are sayings of the Buddha eating meat, or his last meal was pork therefore due to food poisoning he died. One should understand its only the Theravadin interpretation. In Mahayana Sutra, the Chinese translation of Sukara-maddava is 樹耳 (tree mushroom/ truffle) since antiquity, the food in the last meal of the Buddha.

  • from the great link below about "The Buddha's final meal" it seems without connection to sect there was no meat in that dish : dhammawiki.com/index.php?title=Diet_of_Buddha
    – breath
    Dec 21, 2017 at 23:10
  • @breath Good you know the fact, good dhammawiki posted the correct account. However, there's enough damage done by spreading the Buddha eating pork and died of food poison... you can google to read. Not to mention this Bhante writing "Even the Buddha ate meat". I don't know if there is inaccurate oral tradition transmitted the distorted stories in the Pali Vinaya, or incorrect translation of the text into Eng, or what. I read completely the Mahisasakas Pratimoksa in Chinese Canon, scanned two more Vinayas of the Early 18 Schools... Dec 23, 2017 at 16:54
  • ... checked the Mahasamghika Pratimoksa - the oldest of all Vinayas, the original Vinaya since the Buddha before the story about the 1st schism over the Vinaya - in the entire Buddhist canons across different sects; there are five versions of the Vinaya in the Chinese Canon each belonged to the different Early Buddhist Schools, none has record like the Pali Vinaya stories telling in the Pali Canon way as quoted by the Bhante. Dec 23, 2017 at 16:54
  • from the link i gave : "There appears to be one place, and apparently only this one place, where he is described as eating meat. At AN III. 49 it mentions that the Buddha was once served sukaramamsa (Pali) with jujube fruit. The term mamsa = meat or flesh. The sutta mentions that the Buddha ate "out of pity" apparently suggesting that he wanted to please the layman by accepting his food. "
    – breath
    Dec 23, 2017 at 18:06
  • before buddha became a monk he probably ate meat - after he became a monk its a different story - monks karma of eating meat is different than someone going to buy meat or bought for him
    – breath
    Dec 23, 2017 at 18:08

It all comes down to the intentions of the individual who is eating the meat. Many cittas happen in any one moment so there can be more than one intention while eating meat and they can be wholesome, neutral or unwholesome.

-There could be greed for craving the meat, any food or anything.

-There could be greed for supporting someone else's unwholesome actions.

-Whether or not there is greed could depend on what the individual believes deep in the subconscious.

-Whether or not there is greed could depend on the instincts about how the individual relates to others.


I would say that usually meat involves a bigger desire = less wholesome than eating non-meat food

I will not even address the moral aspect of killing as being much worse than other stuff cause i dont want to say something im not sure of

its more clear this day and age that consuming meat involves killing - that you dont need to eat it for health - that it causes bad effects to the environment

now in a decision to eat something you have a lot of elements into it wholesome and un-wholsome ... like maybe not to offend the host etc - in the past people might have thought they need it for their health which we know is not the case today etc

but really if you are in the supermarket and you can buy a chocolate to snack on - its pretty clear its not wholesome and its out of greed instead of choosing something to eat purely for nutrition ... if you buy an expensive chocalte that harms your health a litte and your money which you could have used for better purposes

to buy a more expensive food is less wholesome cause it will involve usually more greed - unless for example its a healthier food

To give up on tastier foods for other more wholesome purposes (saving money- being healthier - prevent the death of animals - not harm the environment etc) .... is good kamma

How bad kamma wise it is to fund the killing of animals (and more accurately making someone get the bad kamma of killing animals) in comparison to buying something overly expensive for taste is im not sure - but i do think you can say this day and age most people buying meat will be something with a good percentage of akosala intentions

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