The first precept tells us to refrain from killing living beings. If everyone in a city practices five precepts, everyone will become vegetarian. Is it true the spirit Buddha wants us to develop is vegetarianism?

3 Answers 3


If every single person in a city or country practised the first precept with heedfulness, and also practised Right Livelihood, which prohibits trade in meat, then nobody would work as a butcher.

Those practicing Right Livelihood would also not be meat importers, suppliers or retailers.

The first precept is not about vegetarianism, or any type of diet. It's about allowing sentient beings to live with ease.

However, if you observe the first precept, it is still ok to buy and consume meat that was frozen in the supermarket. The reason for this is that you did not have the intention to kill and in fact, you did not kill that animal.

You're simply buying frozen lifeless meat that was long dead before you arrived at the supermarket. Please also see this question for a detailed discussion on this topic .

  • 1
    Perhaps this logic is unsatisfying. It is a crime to buy goods which one knows or suspects were stolen. Most people are capable of following a chain of causes back to its beginning and forming a conclusion, so the obvious question is: why shouldn't we in this case?
    – user2341
    Dec 31, 2017 at 18:30
  • Perhaps because in this case, the stolen good cannot be returned to its owner? So rather than throwing it away ...
    – ruben2020
    Jan 3, 2018 at 5:06
  • @ruben2020 But according to most Sri Lankan Buddhists the spirit of vegetarianism is in the first precept (as described above: the more first precept is practiced, the less animals are killed hence vegetarianism), if not, in the Buddha's teaching. Thai Buddhists has totally opposite view. They are both practicing Dhamma from the same Buddha. What the Buddha really taught?
    – B1100
    Jan 4, 2018 at 9:11

According to my personal interpretation, the first precept reminds us how we hurt ourselves when we perform the action of killing. There is a famous concept from the Harry Potter movies (and maybe the books), "Killing rips the soul apart". They mean it literally in the movies. I find the concept very similar to the first precept.

So it does not really imply vegetarianism, but something deeper. Indeed, many Buddhist monks are not vegetarian. They can not be, because they have to eat whatever food they are given by the laypersons. To be particular about not eating any type of food is likely to become a problem while following a monastic life.


There is no such a concept as "Vegetarianism".It's originally comes from Hinduism. Buddhism emphasis on moral value of respect life. We can practice this moral value up to our capacity and practical conditions.E.g- The citizens of Ice land totally depend on fish for their survival and they got little chance to practice this morality in their life style.But when you have plentiful vegetables and fruits and access to it and still kill animal for food that is your desire for meat and you violate and break the morality. The reason why there is no Vegetarianism as forced concept still you eat only vege farmers kill thousand of insects using pesticides sake of your vege food and you know animals are being killing for your food. This is the nature of Human realm and confirm existence of suffering.

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