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From a scriptural point of view, Buddha did not forbid the consumption of meat, let alone animal products etc., but what we do know is that 'Right Livelihood' tells us to not work as a butcher.

Put in modern context, do Buddhist practitioners have a moral responsibility to become vegan?

Can abuse, exploitation, commodification, torturing & unnecessary killing of sentient animals ever be morally justified in our modern day & age, where plenty of alternatives are readily available?

Once we know about the abattoir's conditions around the world, we are informed & we thereby have to take kammic responsibility, otherwise we will partake in the deaths of trillion animals, due to our demand for animal products.

marked as duplicate by ChrisW Jun 28 at 20:33

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There's no avoiding death; even the act of killing is unavoidable. Veganism is veil pulled over reality. It is a moral dressing that obscures the first noble truth. Veganism violates the fourth precept by misrepresenting the first. It deludes us into thinking that liberation from suffering can occur through action rather than insight.

Veganism denies that death is an inevitable part of living. It sells us the lie that we can eat a diet that somehow is free from it. This is only possible if one lives at one remove from our food system, at one remove from reality. When we are truly intimate with the world, we become keenly aware that no diet exists apart from destruction. Moreover, when the avoidance of death becomes our litmus for all moral action, it hampers our ability to express ourselves as fully moral beings. Just think of all the environmental devastation wrought by our agriculture system - even one that doesn't kill animals for food. Think of the desertification wrought by GMO soy, the ammonia emissions from Haber-Bosch nitrogen fertilizers, the aquatic life killed by farm runoff, the million of insects - even those we depend on for our food - that are wasted by chemical pesticides. Simply not eating meat won't solve any of those problems. If anything, it will exacerbate them. After all, even a small, organic farm ultimately requires animals inputs to grow fertility.

Being a Bodhisattva doesn't mean that you have to kill, but it does require you to acknowledge your unavoidable role in killing. To say that you can exist otherwise is deny your place in Indra's net and your connection to all sentient beings.

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    You are wrong an several ocassions. One, although death cannot be avoided, that doesn't mean that we must unnecessarily support the meat & dairy industries with our money. Second, Veganism is not about being pure, but to avoid intentional cruelty & exploitation to all sorts of animals, be it human or non-human. Vegans are aware that killing is inevitable, but there is a difference between killing with intentionally & unintentionally. If a person now know this fact & still supports these industries, it's up to their moral conscience. Your point about soy is wrong too, since animals need it too – Mr. Jabato Jun 29 at 14:01
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    Actually, meat eating is one of the biggest factors of global warming and to a lot of deforestation. Animals need much more plant foods to begin with. So if hypothetically the majority of world would turm vegan then we would still consume less plants than now. Not to mention all the water that is needed to feed livestock & all the emitted methane. – Mr. Jabato Jun 29 at 14:03
  • It's a mistake to say "liberation from suffering can occur through action rather than insight". Remember that "Right Action" is a factor of the path. Also saying "the act of killing is unavoidable" or "Veganism violates the fourth precept" (which is not true) doesn't make sense. What matters is the underlying intention of a deed. If one avoid to buy meat or animal products merely out of goodwill, then he/she is tuned with the Dhamma. – Danilo Jun 29 at 18:16
  • You’re conflating industrial agriculture with sustainable ag. There are ways of raising meat that are much more sustainable, even regenerative. Managed range land, for instance, actually sequesters more carbon than it emits. Pastured poultry increases biodiversity and soil fertility. Neither of those systems require soy or GMO crops. Hunting doesn’t even require land to be cleared. Being vegan unfortunately naturally puts one at one remove from these practices and aligns one with an extractive industrial system that is far more damaging to all sentient beings. – user16588 Jun 30 at 12:21
  • And right action is a means to insight; by itself, it’s incapable of ending suffering. You can’t action into being a liberated world or mind. Only true intimacy born of insight can do that. Ultimately, clinging to rites, rituals, and the rafts that bear one across the river have to be abandoned. – user16588 Jun 30 at 12:25
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From a scriptural point of view, Buddha did not forbid the consumption of meat, let alone animal products etc., but what we do know is that 'Right Livelihood' tells us to not work as a butcher.

You cannot kill or case others to kill. If another person kills independently without your mediation and you buy and consume this then it is fine.

Countries like Burma have been very much meat centric diets. Buddhism may not have survived it preached veganism.

If you sufficiently distance your self to the extent that your conscience is clear then this is sufficient.

Once we know about the abattoir's conditions around the world, we are informed & we thereby have to take kammic responsibility, otherwise we will partake in the deaths of trillion animals, due to our demand for animal products.

Karma is volition which is acted upon. So what ever happens in the world, to which on does not contribute in volition and action, does not result in any karmic retribution.

If you can take some action to reduce deaths of animals this will definitely be positive Karma. If you are not successful at it still there is no negative Karma. At least trying would be positive Karma.

  • If I know the horrific conditions in slaughterhouses and I buy it, I still support the system because all economic systems work on supply & demand. – Mr. Jabato Jun 28 at 15:20
  • In this case it is best not to buy as your it effects your mind. For someone else who is uneffected then it might be OK. The mind is the forerunner not the outcome in Buddhism. – Suminda Sirinath S. Dharmasena Jun 28 at 15:29
  • If you know there is a corrupt company selling you a product would you buy it? Similarly, if you know the conditions in factory farms & you still buy it you are morally accountable for these actions. Let me ask you this: Is it morally acceptable to kill animal in first world countries, where it's technically not necessary in order to live a happy life? – Mr. Jabato Jun 29 at 14:07
  • @Mr.Jabato It's a topic on which different Buddhists or different schools of Buddhism disagree -- it's a "controversy" which is the subject of lot of argument on other sites. Note please that this site is principally for asking and answering questions, and not for arguing. If you don't understand Suminda's answer you can use a comment to ask about it -- but in general please try to avoid using comments for "debating a controversial point". – ChrisW Jun 29 at 18:30

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