Buddhism vs. Eating Meat
(a) Plausable deniability: There is no way to say that I didn’t know that the animal was going to die for me. The “supply and demand” model dictates that if I don’t buy the meat then the animals will not be killed.
(b) Karma: Because the animal was essentially killed for me, the action is complete including:
- the intention to kill, I want chicken for dinner tonight.
- the action of killing, the chicken intentionally lives a terrible life and is killed.
- rejoice in the killing, I have chicken on my plate.
(c) Bodhisattva vow: There is no way to say in one breath “may I bring benefit to all living beings” and in the next breath say “I want chicken for dinner tonight”.
(d) It’s not a vow: There is no vow that specifically states “do not eat meat”. However, the 10 Non-Virtues includes “killing” sentient beings such as chickens as a non-virtuous action.
(e) Tibetans eat meat: It was necessary to eat meat in Tibet because not much grows at higher altitudes. So out of necessity it was customary to eat meat. Some of that custom continues today. For example, His Holiness the Dalai Lama continues to eat meat. But maybe now in different altitudes and different climates it might be necessary to change this custom.
Now it makes feel uncomfortable that there are so many Buddhists that eat meat. This uncomfortable feeling arises because of the contradiction that my non-Buddhist friend called me out on. On the one hand the Buddha’s teachings on karma and the 10 Non-Virtues clearly mandate the need for Buddhists to avoid meat at all costs. For those who have take the Bodhisattva vow, this mandate could not be stated any clearer.
The following book describes these points far more clearly and with far more urgency. I urge fellow Buddhists and particularly those on the Mahayana path, to consider points made in this concise book: