1

Since ever i have the half vegetarian diet practices, i have problem below with the society especially with the close friends.

Ques: How to handle the scenario below or how to answer them to make them comfort/understand base on Buddhism or logic. Well, Buddhism is base on logic right?

  1. Plants also has consciousness, and then why do you eat it? -> Hope someone has strong biological knowledge background also able to answer this? Does plant has consciousness? If really yes, how do we handle it?

  2. Some other religions follower may disagree/dis-comfort/against when i avoid meat and we cant enjoy the common meal or so call "good food". Feedback from them is diet should be balance or simply the Bible or Quran written so they allow to eat it? I felt i am against their God's will. The tough part is when my partner is inviting me to Christ, they will pray for thankfulness for the food. I just can't do it to pray together especially when eating those meat like Sushi with a lot of eggs on top, it has a lot lives inside.

  3. Sometime when i try to explain those animal or fish killed alive is very crude too. i.e. Lobster and it will scream when we boiled it alive. Lobster is best to be boiled alive to serve as food. And then, i will like start losing a friend because when they know the truth and most of the time truth doesn't bring happiness. I know my mistake is the choice of words when explaining about diet. Any guide for this specific topic?

1

To answer your first question:

Plants have form, feeling and perception but not mental formations or consciousness. As such, they are not sentient beings. From a scientific perspective, please see Taiz, L., Alkon, D. et al (2019). Plants neither possess nor require consciousness. Trends in Plant Science, 24(8), 677-687.

The first precept of not taking a life, therefore does not apply to plants.

To answer your second question:

According to most schools of Buddhism, it is against the first precept to kill an animal yourself, but it is ok to buy frozen meat from the supermarket for consumption.

Let's say you go to a restaurant as a customer. If the restaurant prepares your meal order using frozen meat, then that's ok.

To answer your third question:

If you have to select the animal for slaughter (which happens in some Asian countries, for seafood dishes for e.g. you need to pick your lobster from an aquarium), then that breaks the first precept.

As long as you did not do the killing yourself or select the animal and ordered the butcher or chef to slaughter for you, it is not a violation of the first precept.

To summarize:

  • It's ok to grow, harvest and consume vegetables and fruits, because they are not sentient
  • It is wrong to kill or directly cause the killing of animals
  • It is wrong to have a livelihood on the business of meat
  • It is wrong to consume meat that is from an animal that is seen, heard or suspected to have been slaughtered specifically for you
  • It is ok to purchase and consume meat from the market (that was already dead long before you arrived at the market)
  • It is ok to order a meal from a restaurant, which is based on frozen meat

Why? This is because you did not have the intention to kill that animal. You are simply buying meat that was no longer alive when you first encountered it.

Note: Some Mahayana texts like the Lankavatara Sutra discourage eating meat.

2
  • According to most schools of Buddhism Mahayana too? I thought that was one of the differences. – ChrisW Jul 7 '20 at 14:07
  • 1
    @ChrisW You can read this interview with the Dalai Lama. He says the Mahayana Vinaya does not prohibit meat eating, but has the same restrictions as the Theravada Vinaya. On the other hand, some Mahayana texts like Lankavatara Sutra discourage meat eating. He himself was originally a meat eater due to the food availability in Tibet. Then he attempted vegetarianism in India, but health issues caused him to return to eating meat. – ruben2020 Jul 7 '20 at 14:20
1

The Buddha did not forbid eating meat. However, what the Buddha DID say is this:

MN8:12.3: ‘Others will kill living creatures, but here we will not kill living creatures.’

And if one is pressed for more detail, we can quote the Buddha about the why of not killing:

MN8:13.1: Cunda, I say that even giving rise to the thought of skillful qualities is very helpful, let alone following that path in body and speech. That’s why you should give rise to the following thoughts. ‘Others will be cruel, but here we will not be cruel.’ ‘Others will kill living creatures, but here we will not kill living creatures.’ …

And if one is pressed for more detail, we can quote the Buddha about the skillful:

AN3.69:9.1: There are these three skillful roots. What three?

AN3.69:9.3: Contentment, love, and understanding.

Contentment is a root of the skillful. When a contented person chooses to act by way of body, speech, or mind, that too is skillful. When a contented person, not overcome by greed, doesn’t cause another to suffer under a false pretext—by execution or imprisonment or confiscation or condemnation or banishment—thinking ‘I’m powerful, I want power’, that too is skillful. And so these many skillful things are produced in them, born, sourced, originated, and conditioned by contentment. Love is a root of the skillful. When a loving person chooses to act by way of body, speech, or mind, that too is skillful. When a loving person, not overcome by hate, doesn’t cause another to suffer under a false pretext—by execution or imprisonment or confiscation or condemnation or banishment—thinking ‘I’m powerful, I want power’, that too is skillful.

Because of this, many Buddhists simply find it more skillful to be vegetarian, but will consent to eat meat prepared and offered kindly. Lastly, although road-kill pot roast would be fine doctrinally, most vegetarians would find such a dish unappetizing simply because a body used to eating vegetables is unaccustomed to the heaviness of meat.

1

Whether plants have consciouness or to what extent doesn't obviate the fact that persons need sustenance to grow etc. There can be moderation in consumption however, & nonwaste of foodstuffs, lumber etc, which too is efficient from resource utilisation standpoints. Plants do react to light & water & wind etc, yet typically plants are described as nonconscious by current western science, & don't have neural systems, so, sort of depends on how consciousness & volition are being defined.

Consuming animal flesh is perceived as ok by them, so if sharing dinner etc with them such menu items would be reasonably expected. They are being friendly & generous in their way, & it's nice of them to share their time & their resources. If persons select to notconsume animal flesh for whatever reason, good friends might make allowance for that and have some nice things to eat other than animal flesh: bread, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, lettuce, etc. So maybe good to appreciatively consume those items & forego discussions re what the hosts are consuming. They will observe the example of someone notconsuming the animal flesh. And consuming some lobster from a can & which would otherwise be discarded is different from participation of obtaining/ demise of live lobsters. And they may offer thanks for having food & ok health etc, which seems reasonable to observe, and less so thanking for factory farms etc. And to some extent nutritional considerations may be valid. Moderation & nonwaste, & noncontribution(even indirectly) to demise of living things is generally good. To gently show is different from causing sadness or distress to them by comments that they don't understand, and activies which on their part were kindly intentioned. Maybe sidestep such situations is generally good, and each situation may vary.

Nonparticpation in the demise of things, and of such venues, shows by example: and if specifically asked, perhaps could offer a brief explanation, & if presented nicely, might have more good result than more emphatic responses. Good friends would generally be respectful of views differing from their own, so maybe try and use gentle words if commenting on such things, or if replying to a sincere request for information. And perhaps even gentler & briefer if such topic might arise during lunch or at dinner etc.

0

What other people eat doesn't bother me much if at all any more, perhaps it used to -- it's not my business. And I know that some animals are carnivores, etc. Even being vegetarian isn't harmless, people point out that worms and mice and so on are killed when a field is used for agriculture.

Some people try to be fruitarian because of concerns like that -- I think of that (semi-extreme food discipline) as being more like what Jains do than Buddhists.

Since you're interested, the Christians have doctrine on the subject -- Matthew 15 which Christians read as exempting them from Judaic dietary laws:

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

Do not ye yet understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; These are the things which defile a man; but to eat with unwashed hands defileth not a man.

I don't know an equivalent doctrine in Buddhism but so far as I know it's similar or identical.

How to handle the scenario below or how to answer them to make them comfort/understand base on Buddhism or logic.

If someone asks me "why?", I just say, "Oh, lots of reasons."

If someone asks again I might, "Well I reckon it can be good for your health, good for the planet, I find the treatment of farm animals horrific, and so on."

But I'm not trying to push my view.

It can be inconvenient for the cook though.

Note that I think Buddhist monks aren't always able to be vegetarian I think the vinaya requires them to be "easy to support" (not to be picky/demanding eaters).

The tough part is when my partner is inviting me to Christ, they will pray for thankfulness for the food.

Maybe they can be thankful for their food, whether or not it's also your food.

Don't forget, they are all civilised, very civilised.

Any guide for this specific topic?

Two bits.

  • I've heard or had the lobster argument. I imagine other people have too, though if they're young perhaps there's always a first time. I don't know that this kind of argument is ever effective/beneficial/persuasive though I guess it is sometimes.

    After the lobster is chosen and cooked might not be the most effective time to discuss it, a better time might be when you're shopping or planning a meal.

    To some extent this is samsara (birth and death), to which apparently the proper attitude is nibbida.

    See also SN 7.2 which is ostensibly about food but more particularly about not participating in someone else's argument.

  • My parents had a not very-well-trained dog when I was small, I learned not to get between him and his food especially -- at meal-time I'd fill and drop his food bowl for him and get my hand out of the way, to avoid being growled and snapped at.

    Likewise what I remember of people's reactions or facial expression, if I tried to disparage, argue against or take away their food at the table, was that it wasn't really very welcome!

5
  • The tough part is when my partner is inviting me to Christ, they will pray for thankfulness for the food. --> just put it this way, the fish is killed alive and served as steam fish? I just explained it's common sense and nothing to do with religion to kill it alive and eat it – little star Jul 7 '20 at 11:46
  • 1
    I don't understand your comment, anything killed is "killed alive", that's the definition of "killing". In nature animals might be eaten alive! Part of my reason for being vegetarian is so that I don't feel personally involved in or responsible for this kind of violence. I'm not sure I can prevent other people though, i.e. successfully tell the tiger to do this or that, or if so possibly only by proving by an example that shows that another way of life is feasible. See also verses 5 and 6 of the Dhammapada. – ChrisW Jul 7 '20 at 13:22
  • "killed alive" ==> if the fish is swimming in the aquarium at the restaurant, then we choose it, killed and eat it. or this one youtube.com/watch?v=tn2qDphoGrk.. My teacher always taught me not to do it, try choose food those already long dead or more vege as a practice to be Vegan. – little star Jul 7 '20 at 15:24
  • I used to be a regular crab eater as it's really tasty because it best to be cooked alive.. i think it's been 4 years i didnt eat any crab. – little star Jul 7 '20 at 15:50
  • I can remember the tastes of meat, it was so long ago now that I have no craving or aversion, it hardly disturbs me to smell or to see it on someone else's plate -- not my business. – ChrisW Jul 7 '20 at 17:08
0

I advise my students to avoid eating mammals unless they have health issues. This means they should avoid pork, beef, lamb, etc., that is, anything belonging to the mammal class. These mammals are closest to us in awareness than other animals. Although they can’t achieve enlightenment, these mammals have a minimal capacity to reason. That is the reason we should not kill them. Buying frozen meat is condoning the killing of mammals. It’s supply and demand. Stop buying it and it will not be supplied. It doesn’t matter that someone else killed it. If you eat it, then you agree with them and condone the action (karma).

2
  • Not that I disagree but I don't see that this answers any of the OP's questions. – ChrisW Jul 10 '20 at 5:05
  • I was directing this answer to question 3. Sorry for not pointing that out. – Dr. Robert Jul 12 '20 at 1:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.