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Thread: Your thoughts on Vegetarianism ?

  1. #1

    Your thoughts on Vegetarianism ?

    We haven't had a topic about vegetarianism for quite some time, so I thought I'd start a new one.

    This is an extract from "Why Buddhists should be vegetarian" in Ajahn Sujato's blog written a couple of years ago:

    Quote Originally Posted by Ajahn Sujato

    eating meat requires the killing of animals, and this directly violates the first precept. Eating meat is the direct cause of an immense quantity of suffering for sentient beings. Many people, myself included, struggle with the notion that a religion as categorically opposed to violence as Buddhism can so blithely wave away the suffering inherent in eating meat.

    Let’s have a closer look and see if we can discern the roots of this problem. There are a few considerations that I would like to begin with. We live in a very different world today than the Buddha lived in, and Buddhist ethics, whatever else they may be, must always be a pragmatic response to real world conditions.

    Animals suffer much more today than they did 2500 years ago. In the Buddha’s time, and indeed everywhere up until the invention of modern farming, animals had a much better life. Chickens would wander round the village, or were kept in a coop. Cows roamed the fields. The invention of the factory farm changed all this. Today, the life of most meat animals is unimaginable suffering. I won’t go into this in detail, but if you are not aware of the conditions in factory farms, you should be. Factory farms get away with it, not because they are actually humane, but because they are so mind-bendingly horrific that most people just don’t want to know. We turn away, and our inattention allows the horror to continue.

    The other huge change since the Buddha’s time is the destruction of the environment. We are all aware of the damage caused by energy production and wasteful consumerism. But one of the largest, yet least known, contributors to global warming and environmental destruction generally is eating meat. The basic problem is that meat is higher on the food chain as compared with plants, so more resources are required to produce nutrition in the form of meat. In the past this was not an issue, as food animals typically ate things that were not food for humans, like grass. Today, however, most food animals live on grains and other resource-intensive products. This means that meat requires more energy, water, space, and all other resources. In addition to the general burden on the environment, this creates a range of localised problems, due to the use of fertilisers, the disposal of vast amounts of animal waste, and so on.

    One entirely predictable outcome of factory farming is the emergence of virulent new diseases. We have all heard of ‘swine flu’ and ‘bird flu’; but the media rarely raises the question: why are these two new threats derived from the two types of animals that are most used in factory farming? The answer is obvious, and has been predicted by opponents of factory farming for decades. In order to force animals to live together in such overcrowded, unnatural conditions, they must be fed a regular diet of antibiotics, as any disease is immediately spread through the whole facility. The outcome of this, as inevitable as the immutable principles of natural selection, is the emergence of virulent new strains of antibiotic resistant diseases. In coming years, as the limited varieties of antibiotics gradually lose their efficacy, this threat will recur in more and more devastating forms.

    So, as compared with the Buddha’s day, eating meat involves far more cruelty, it damages the environment, and it creates diseases. If we approach this question as one of weights and balance, then the scales have tipped drastically to the side of not eating meat.


    http://sujato.wordpress.com/2012/01/...th-extra-cute/

  2. #2
    Any thoughts about Ajahn Sujato's comments ?

  3. #3
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    I used to wonder why I would felt somewhat depressed if I went to McDonalds or KFC. Then I wondered if it was related to what Thich Nhat Hanh said; "Don't eat angry chickens." His point I think was that if you eat part of an animal who has suffered, you also have consumed the suffering.

  4. #4
    Forums Member Jacaranda's Avatar
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    My husband used to manage a poultry "farm"many years ago.The chicks are brought in at 6 weeks of age and I think from memory they would be kept on the farm for 3 mths?Fed a diet of pellets which make them grossly overweight (nobody wants to buy a skinny chicken),so fat that many could'nt stand on their own legs for long or sometimes not at all.

    I'm not advocating poultry farms,never liked my husband doing that job actually but in all fairness my husband managed his farm properly.He had no control over the weights,his company managed that!If your chickens were'nt up to the expected weight,they'd want to know why.So yes animals do suffer.

    We are meat eaters,but are more choosy now where our meat comes from.I could quite easily be a vegetarian myself,but my husband enjoys meat alot,and as I work fulltime I dont have the time to cook two different meals each evening.We do however eat a veggie meal probably once a week.

    I think we should all try to eat less meat.We have so many different fruits and vegetables these days that are easily available to the western world anyway,personally I would not miss meat.


    What are your thoughts Aloka?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jacaranda
    What are your thoughts Aloka?
    Hi Jacaranda,

    I've been a vegetarian for most of my life. Here are some references connected to Buddhism and vegetarianism......veggiedharma on YouTube:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/veggiedharma


    I agree with Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo when she says: "Animals are my friends and I don't eat my friends"




  6. #6
    The Buddha and his monks lived on alms food and so they had to accept whatever was given to them to eat by lay people, unless it had been killed specifically for their benefit -and then they had to refuse it.

    In western countries vegetarianism has recently increased in popularity and this has led to some questioning about bhikkhus and meat-eating. (In less materially developed countries the question is more about 'what, if anything, is there to eat?')

    The question of monks' eating meat is an old one that was originally raised by the 'renegade monk' Ven. Devadatta. He asked the Buddha to prohibit bhikkhus from eating fish and flesh in what seems was a ploy to take over the leadership of the Sangha. (The 'stricter ascetic' tactic.) The Buddha had already made a strict rule for both bhikkhus and lay people about not taking life (see Killing.) so He did not agree to Ven. Devadatta's new formulation.

    The Buddha did allow bhikkhus to eat meat and fish, except under the following circumstances:

    If a bhikkhu sees, hears or suspects that it has been killed for him, he may not eat it.

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/a...uide.html#meat

    There have been changes for some monastics in modern times however:


    H.H. Orgyen Trinle Dorje, Karmapa XVII, is vegetarian since a few years. At January 3, 2007, he made a strong statement against eating meat within his monasteries and centers. With immediate effect:

    No meat is to be prepared in the kitchen of any Kagyu Monastery or Centre.
    No one is to be involved in the business of buying and selling meat – for all of his students this practice must stop.
    There is to be no killing of animals on Kagyu premises.
    Karmapa is aware of monks in robes going to buy meat and does not want to see this ever again.

    His Holiness also quoted spiritual masters from the past who had condemned the practice of using Tsok (offerings during a gathering) as an excuse for eating meat and drinking alcohol. Leaving absolutely no room for interpretation, Karmapa said that anyone who uses meat and alcohol as Tsok is not part of Karmapa’s lineage.

    http://www.shabkar.org/teachers/tibe...inle_dorje.htm

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    Hi Guys

    I always worry that the issue of vegetarianism can become a distraction for Buddhists. Whatever ones personal thoughts are, the fact that the Buddha allowed the eating of dead flesh tells me as a committed Buddhist that whether I do or don't eat meat has little bearing on my goal and should not take a central role in my relationship with other Buddhists other people or the Eightfold Path.

    Best wishes

    Brizzy

    (Hi everybody)

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    Very interesting thread indeed. Blessings to you Aloka to have opened up this discussion (again). You did the right thing!

    Referring to Ven Ajahn Sujato's presentation, I'm unsure the level of suffering to farm animals then and now. Why? In the past, they (animals) have to work harder to find food whereas it is provided at their door-step now. Imagine, animals have to walk long distances to find drinking water in the past which is no more a problem for the modern animals. Modern days, animals are given medicines and other treatments (even surgery) whereas in the past this was hardly the case.

    For the argument sake, how many millions of people are making a living out of animal husbandry? This is the main livelihood not only for them but also tens and thousands of people who provide services, manufacture tools, sheds, labour to put up sheds and the list goes on. If one thinks about this aspect, animal industry supports a substantial number of families including children. I saw in many remote areas where crops farming is risky, sale of animals is the main source of cash to purchase stationery and medicine for children and food for the family. This suggests that akusal created by eating meat may be balanced off by the reduced suffering to families who depend on animal husbandry.

    That said, my personal experience is that meat (and fish) eating is not a good habit. I personally feel that meat eating promotes anger and promotes greediness. Also, there are more sicknesses in human beings that are attributable to meat eating. Again based on my own experience, meditation is more focused by a vegetarian diet. I also feel that more unfavorable thoughts in the mind are associated with meat eating. This could be due to absorbing part of the animal's suffering after eating meat. Thank you Iansdaddy99 for your inputs on this subject.
    With metta

  9. #9
    Forums Member RADZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brizzy View Post
    I always worry that the issue of vegetarianism can become a distraction for Buddhists. Whatever ones personal thoughts are, the fact that the Buddha allowed the eating of dead flesh tells me as a committed Buddhist that whether I do or don't eat meat has little bearing on my goal and should not take a central role in my relationship with other Buddhists other people or the Eightfold Path.
    (Hi everybody)
    I certainly agree with Brizzy's comment, I share similar opinions with him. The issue of vegetarianism does become a distraction for many buddhists who ponder around that idea. The meat that is produced today is inhumane and unnatural, but if you look at the vinaya, their is no specific rule against meat as a whole. Eating meat is certainly not against the first percept, because their is no 'intention to kill' that is involved. If one feels like eating meat from today is a bad thing, then he should place effort in that, their is no harm in that. But if one has no opinions towards meat and they are able to pactrice the path well, their is no reason for them to stop eating meat because they have no problem with it.

    I do support and appreciate all the people who are vegan, but one must always remeber to put more emphasis in the noble path and purifying oneself. As I said, if someone see eating modern meat as a obstacle to one's own path, then they themselves should place effort on not eating it.

    RADZ

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    Forums Member dhammachick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iansdaddy99 View Post
    I used to wonder why I would felt somewhat depressed if I went to McDonalds or KFC. Then I wondered if it was related to what Thich Nhat Hanh said; "Don't eat angry chickens." His point I think was that if you eat part of an animal who has suffered, you also have consumed the suffering.
    *thumbs up*

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