The Buddha’s Real Views on Meat-Eating

Dear Sir, Someone sent me the below article.
Can you comment on it? Thank you. With Metta, AIA

Hi AIA,  Please see the below, the article,
with bold comments juxtaposed within. Amituofo, Zyrius
(The below has been sent to the author too.)

The Buddha’s View on Meat Eating (Dhammavuddho Thero)


Meat eating is a very sensitive topic. There are many different views on this and each may be right to a certain extent, but they may not necessarily be wise. In this case, we should put aside our personal views and be open enough to look at the Buddha’s views. This is crucial as he is the Tathagata who knows and sees. The Suttas and Vinaya will be our source of reference because in AN 4.180, the Buddha said that if some monk claimed that such and such were the words of the Buddha, those words should be compared to the Suttas (discourses) and Vinaya (monastic discipline). Only if they conform to the Suttas and Vinaya can they be accepted to be the Buddha’s words. The next consideration is which Sutta and Vinaya should we refer to? Although various schools of Buddhism have different interpretations of the Buddha’s teachings, all generally agree that the four Nikayas (collections), namely, the Digha Nikaya, Majjhima Nikaya, Samyutta Nikaya, and Anguttara Nikaya, and a few books of the Khuddaka Nikaya, are the earliest authentic discourses of the Buddha. Furthermore, these earliest books are consistent throughout with the flavour of liberation, while later books sometimes give contradictory teachings. The Vinaya books of the different schools of Buddhism are all quite similar to the Theravada Vinaya. For this reason, the earliest Suttas and Theravada Vinaya will be our source of reference.

Comments: We must look at the real life situations instead of books (be they scriptural or not, authentic or not) to decide our choice of diet. There are six irrefutable reasons to be vegetarian: The Mahayana precepts for Bodhisattvas, who practise to minimise harming of any sentient beings directly and indirectly observe vegetarianism. This is perfect common sense as what we choose to eat is linked to the lives and deaths of many.

Sutta References

Majjhima Nikaya 55: This discourse is particularly important because it is here that the Buddha clearly stated his position on meat eating. The King’s physician, Jivaka Komarabhacca, came to see the Buddha. After paying homage, he said: “Venerable sir, I have heard this: ‘They slaughter living beings for the monk Gotama (i.e. the Buddha); the monk Gotama knowingly eats meat prepared for him from animals killed for his sake’….”; and asked if this was true. The Buddha denied this, adding “Jivaka, I say that there are three instances in which meat should not be eaten: when it is seen, heard, or suspected (that the living being has been specifically slaughtered for oneself) … I say that there are three instances in which meat may be eaten: when it is not seen, heard, or suspected (that the living being has been specifically slaughtered for oneself)….”

Comments: Every modern day meat-consumer knows that meat is slaughtered for them, meat-consumers collectively, through the cycle of supply and demand, since they are not killed for vegetarians or anyone else. This means modern meats cannot be free from suspicion of being killed for meat-consumers. This flouts the last condition.

Furthermore, the Buddha added: “If anyone slaughters a living being for the Tathagata (i.e. Buddha) or his disciple, he lays up much demerit in five instances … (1) When he says: ‘Go and fetch that living being’ … (2) When that living being experiences pain and grief on being led along with a neck-halter … (3) When he says: ‘Go and slaughter that living being’ … (4) When that living being experiences pain and grief on being slaughtered … (5) When he provides the Tathagata or his disciple with food that is not permissible ….” So we find that the Buddha distinguishes between meat that is allowable (With the exception of ten types of meat which are prohibited to monks: human, elephant, horse, dog, hyena, snake, bear, lion, tiger, and panther. Refer to Mahavagga, the Books of the Discipline: Book 4, pages 298-300. The Books of the Discipline is the English translation of the Vinaya books (in Pali) by the Pali Text Society, U.K..) with the three conditions versus that which is not. This is the most important criterion concerning meat eating.

Comments: There will be no slaughter of any animal for meat if no one demands for it, and if monastics encourage vegetarianism more readily among laity and monastics – whenever they can choose – instead of writing this article to present vegetarianism as being entirely arbitrary in importance.

Anguttara Nikaya 8.12: The General Siha, a Nigantha follower, was converted to the Buddhist religion after he learnt the Dhamma from the Buddha. He invited the Buddha and the order of monks to his house the next day for a meal, and served meat and other food. The Niganthas, out of jealousy that such a prominent and influential lay person had gone over to the Buddha’s camp, spread the rumour that the General Siha had killed a huge animal and cooked it for the monk Gotama, “… and the monk Gotama is going to eat the meat, knowing that it was meant for him, that the deed was done on his account.” When news of this came to the General’s ear, he denied their allegations, saying: “… For a long time these reverend sirs (Niganthas) have longed to disparage the Buddha … Dhamma … Sangha; but they do no harm to the Exalted One by their wicked, vain, lying, untruthful slanders. Not for the sake of sustaining life would we intentionally deprive any being of life.” This is one of the discourses which clearly shows that the Buddha and his monks ate meat. Also, we see that meat from an animal that is already dead when it is purchased is allowed to be used, but not if the animal is alive.

Comments: The above offers no quotations from the suttas that the Buddha ate meat himself – even if it was served. For example, a Theravada monk who is well known today does not eat meat when offered among other ample foods. There is no single sutta or sutra that states the Buddha ever eating meat. Monastics in the Buddha’s time eat what is offered to them; not by their choice and with no food ordered in advance – which means they are not part of the supply and demand for meat. ‘Not for the sake of sustaining life s/would we intentionally deprive any being of life.’ But every modern day meat-consumer votes for the intentional deprivation of life when it is unnecessary by buying. If the Buddha spoke of killing as an unwholesome livelihood, this also means it is unwholesome to support such livelihoods by sustaining them, by continual buying of meat for anyone’s consumption.

Anguttara Nikaya 5.44: This is about a layman, Ugga, who offered several good things to the Buddha; among them was pork cooked with jujube fruit which was accepted by the Buddha. Again, it is evident that the Buddha and his disciples took meat.

Comments: The above offers no quotations from the suttas that the Buddha ate meat himself – even if it was served.

Sutta Nipata 2.2: Here the Buddha recalled an incident in his previous life during the Buddha Kassapa’s time. Buddha Kassapa was his teacher then. It was an occasion when an external sect ascetic met the Buddha Kassapa and reviled him for eating meat, which he said is a stench compared to eating vegetarian food. Buddha Kassapa replied: “Killing … wounding … stealing, lying, deceiving … adultery; this is stench. Not the eating of meat… Those who are rude, arrogant, backbiting, treacherous, unkind … miserly … this is stench. Not the eating of meat… Anger, pride, obstinacy, antagonism, deceit, envy, boasting … this is stench. Not the eating of meat… Those who are of bad morals, … slanderous … pretentious … being the vilest of men, commit such wrong things; this is stench. Not the eating of meat ….”

Comments: The Buddha Kassapa was not mentioned to have eaten meat. What he said is true – that meat-eating per se is neutral, especially if the meat is from random alms food. But if it is linked to killing that can be avoided, it is evil to that extent of linkage.

Vinaya References

Patimokkha: Pacittiya 39: In the monastic discipline, a monk is not allowed to ask for preferential food. However, an exception is allowed in the Patimokkha (Monk’s Precepts) when the monk is unwell. Under such circumstances, the monk is allowed to ask for dairy products, oil, honey, sugar, fish, meat …. Clearly, fish and meat were allowed to the monks.

Comments: This special rule hints strongly that non-vegan products is allowable only as medicine; and not for everyday consumption by choice – which would be in/directly linked to the exploitation, lives and deaths of many sentient beings. Animal-free medicine is thus preferred if available.

Books of the Discipline: Book Four (Pages 298-300): In the Mahavagga, ten types of meat were prohibited to monks: human, elephant, horse, dog, hyena, snake, bear, lion, tiger, and panther. We can infer from this that the meat of other animals was allowed, provided the three conditions for ‘allowed meat’ are fulfilled, eg. pork, beef, chicken, etc.

Comments: This only refers to random alms food – which is not available to lay people who are active consumers by choice.

Books of the Discipline: Book Four (Page 281): Clear meat soup is allowed to a sick monk.

Comments: This special rule hints strongly that meat is allowable only as medicine for life and death situations. Note too, that only the soup is allowed – not the meat itself. Animal-free medicine is thus preferred if available.

Books of the Discipline: Book One (Page 98): Some monks were descending the slopes of Vulture’s Peak. They saw the remains of a lion’s kill, had it cooked, and ate it. At other times, other monks saw the remains of a tiger’s kill … remains of a panther’s kill … etc. … had it cooked, and ate it. Later the monks were unsure if it had amounted to stealing from the lion, tiger, panther, etc. The Buddha excused them by saying that there is no offence in taking what belongs to animals. Here again we see that monks ate meat and the Buddha did not criticize or disapprove of it.

Comments: Obviously, the food has been abandoned, or the monks would not be able to retrieve it from the predators. The monks are disconnected to the supply and demand for meat too. This in effect is similar to random alms food.

Books of the Discipline: Book Two (Pages 36-38): This was an incident when the Arahant nun Uppalavanna was offered some cooked meat. The next morning, having prepared the meat at the nunnery, she went to where the Buddha was living to offer it to him. A monk, on behalf of the Buddha, accepted the offering and said she had pleased the Buddha. It is clear that the Buddha ate meat; otherwise the Arahant nun would not have offered it.

Comments: The Buddha was not mentioned to have eaten meat, but just pleased with her effort. Note that the source is still random alms food – not meat bought from the market by the Buddha or nun.

Books of the Discipline: Book Five (Pages 276-277): The monk Devadatta schemed to divide the community of monks by asking the Buddha to implement five rules, one of which was that monks should not be allowed to eat fish and meat. The Buddha refused, saying: “Fish and meat are completely pure in respect of three points: if they are not seen, heard, or suspected (to have been killed specifically for oneself).” The Buddha taught that a monk should be easily supported. If a monk refuses to eat certain types of food (whether meat or vegetarian) then he is not easily supported.

Comments: Modern consumer meat is surely beyond suspicion to be killed for their consumers. Monastics should encourage less meat-eating among laypeople, which would encourage less meat-offering, which would lead to less killing.

Reasons the Buddha Allowed Meat-Eating

No Direct Kamma of Killing: The Buddha said: “Fish and meat are completely pure (parisuddha)    ….” (The Book of the Discipline: Book 5, pages 276-277) means that there is    no direct kamma (See ‘Only We Can Help Ourselves’ by the author on the explanation of Kamma) (intentional deed) of killing if the animal was not seen, heard, or suspected to have been killed specifically for oneself. Without these three conditions, unwholesome kamma is involved and, therefore, that type of meat is not allowable.

Comments: The usual suspects for which all animals are killed for in modern day are meat-buyers and eaters. The three conditions apply only to random alms food.

Although the Buddha allowed meat eating, he said in AN 4.261 that we do create unwholesome kamma if we directly encourage killing, approve or speak in praise of it. Hence in AN 5.177 the Buddha said that a lay person should not trade in flesh, which the Commentary explains as breeding and selling pigs, deer, (cattle, chickens,) etc (for slaughter). Also, it is not allowed to place an order for say ten chickens the next day if it means that those amount of animals will be slaughtered for one.

Comments: It is conversely encourageable to discourage trapping, breeding, exploiting and killing – by not supporting it in any way, especially by consumption, which feeds demand for supply. The Buddha never taught that meat bought in the market is not part of feeding the demand for supply. We don’t even need the Buddha to tell us that this is so as this is common sense. If market meat is totally blameless, it would be perfectly blameless to buy all the meat in the market every day, to encourage the unwholesome livelihoods of killing and selling to thrive and multiply. Obviously, this is wrong.

Vegetarianism Not Compatible with the Buddhist Monk’s Lifestyle

A monk is supposed to go on almsround (begging) for his meal unless he is (1) invited to a meal, (2) the meal is brought to the monastery, or (3) the meal is cooked in the monastery. He is not allowed to cook food, store food overnight, or engage in agriculture to support himself. Thus mendicancy is one of the cornerstones of a Buddhist monk’s lifestyle. This can be seen in a Buddhist country (e.g. Thailand) where a monk has the freedom and support to practise totally in conformity with the Buddha’s teachings. There we see not only forest monks going on almsround but also town and city monks begging for food everyday. Since a beggar must not be a chooser, as the saying goes, vegetarianism is incompatible with the Buddhist monk’s lifestyle –which was probably another reason why the Buddha rejected Devadatta’s request as mentioned previously. However the Buddha also said that if a monk does not get sufficient or nutritious food, he should depart from that place.

Comments: There are millions of vegetarian monastics in history and now, who find no incompatibility of their diet with their lifestyle. Even alms-seeking monastics can get vegetarian food if they habitually preach of the virtues of eating a kinder diet. Only those who lack knowledge and/or compassion to promote the vegetarian diet don’t even think of doing so. Today, much alms food is vegetarian – including in countries like Thailand – because even Theravada devotees know what it kinder for the animals. The Buddha rejected Devadatta’s request as not all alms-seeking monastics can always find vegetarian food. However, all laypeople can easily find vegetarian food, and offer it to them. It is a fallacy that lack of meat will lead to insufficient nutrition. The founder of Vegan Society lived almost to a hundred.

Argument of Demand and Supply

Some argue that even with the three conditions mentioned one is blameworthy because eating meat creates the demand which has to be supplied by the killing of animals. In other words, eating meat under any circumstances encourages the killing of animals. We must be clear here that there are two types of cause and effect: (1) worldly cause and effect, where intention is not involved, and (2) Buddhist kamma-vipaka, or intentional actions and their results. Eating allowable meat with the three conditions involves only worldly cause and effect, and there is no kamma of killing. Eating unallowable meat involves
unwholesome kamma and, hence, its vipaka. Hence meat eating must be clearly divided into two classes.

Comments: It is true that choosing to stay in the cycle of supply and demand creates negative karma to some extent – because one chooses to intentionally stay within, to always demand for killing, albeit to a lesser degree than flouting the three conditions directly. There is indirect negative karma created. If there is none, this is as good as saying one who buys ten chicken drumsticks to eat a day is equally virtuous to one who deliberately refrains from being involved in the supply and demand of killing. This is clearly preposterous. There might be no karma of killing created, but there is karma of endorsing killing created… continuously – till one awakens to the truth that less animals need to die in/directly for one.

The argument of demand and supply is not a valid one. On this planet, a great number of human beings (Two thousand per day according to a newspaper report) and countless animals are killed by motor vehicles everyday. Just by driving vehicles or even sitting in them, we are encouraging the motor industry to make more motor vehicles. If we use the demand and supply argument, then just by using motor vehicles we are encouraging the killing of countless animals and a great number of human beings on the roads everyday — which is worse than eating meat! It is true that we are indirectly involved in the killing of animals but, as explained, there is no kamma-vipaka of killing. This indirect involvement in killing is true whether we eat meat or not, and is something which is unavoidable. We shall discuss this below.

Comments: Transportation is a necessity while eating of animals is not. Even so, there is no need to buy more than enough vehicles. Public transport should be supported to minimise harm to the environment and animals. Many more animals are killed every day for food than by vehicles – millions of them all over the world. Singapore alone, as a small country, consumes two million chickens per day for instance.

Eating Vegetarian Food also Encourages Killing

We encourage killing even when we eat vegetarian food. Every day monkeys, squirrels, foxes, flying foxes, and other destructive pests are killed because they eat from fruit trees planted by farmers. Vegetable farmers also kill caterpillars, snails, worms, grasshoppers, ants, and other insects, etc.. Similarly, in Australia for example, kangaroos and rabbits are killed every day because they eat the crops. Many items commonly used by just about everybody cost the lives of living beings. For example, silk is made at the expense of the lives of countless silkworms, and white shellac (used to manufacture many products, including food), of countless lac insects. Cosmetics contain a huge range of animal derived substances. Many food additives, e.g. colourings, flavourings, sweeteners, also use animal derived substances. Commercially produced cheese uses rennet which is extracted from calves’ stomach to make the milk coagulate. Leather and fur are of course made from the hides of animals, often slaughtered for this purpose. Photographic film uses gelatin which is obtained by boiling the skins, tendons, and bones of animals.Even fertilizers for the vegetables and fruit trees often include dried, ground fish bones, and other fish scraps. Also, the use of cow’s milk and honey involve much cruelty to the animals or insects concerned. All these go to show that it is very difficult not to be involved one way or another in the cruelty inflicted on animals. So if one does become a vegetarian, one should reflect on the above and refrain from being over-critical of those who eat meat.

Comments: Vegetarian, or better still, vegan food, involves much less killing than meat-eating because the meat animals consume much crops in their lifetime, which involves killing of many more insects and animals. If these crops feed starving humans instead of rearing more animals, there would be no human starvation in the world too. In the Surangama Sutra (see, the Buddha finally advocated veganism, which is against the consumption or use of any animal products. It is possible to live a vegan life conscientiously – at least, one that is more vegan than not. Given that all other aspects of living are the same other than meat-eating, the meat-eater will always be in/directly linked to the deaths of countless more animals than a non meat-eater.

Animals Still Killed Even if All Humans Became Vegetarians

Even if all humans became vegetarians, animals will still be killed. This is because animals multiply so much faster than humans that they could easily become a threat to human survival. For example many years ago, in some parts of Africa, elephants were protected animals. But now they have multiplied sufficiently to become a menace, and the protection laws have to be relaxed to reduce their numbers. In some countries dogs without a tag/license are disposed of in case they become rabid and attack humans. Even the Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals kill millions of dogs and cats in shelters every year due to insufficient accommodation –in USA, 14 million annually are put to death within a week of being rescued by humane groups. Ultimately, the idea that vegetarianism prevents the killing of animals is not true. Nevertheless, it is praiseworthy to practise vegetarianism out of compassion, but not to the extent of being extreme about it.

Comments: Just because animals might be killed ‘anyway’ does not mean anyone should encourage it by meat-eating. The Buddha never taught that animals should be killed if they threaten human survival. Most humans don’t eat elephants and dogs – and their welfare is another issue. It is totally ridiculous to say that ‘vegetarianism prevents the killing of animals is not true’ for the simple fact that millions of vegetarians in the world prevent the otherwise millions more deaths of animals every single day – by choosing not to demand for their meat. To think vegetarianism is anything close to being extreme is the real extreme – of being apathetic towards the continual plight of animals.

Everyone is Indirectly Involved in the Killing of Animals

Whether we are vegetarians or otherwise, we are all indirectly involved in the killing of animals. Large areas of forest have to be cleared to make housing estates because we want to live in houses. This results in the death of a great number of animals. Because we want to use household goods and other modern conveniences, large forest areas again have to be cleared for factory and industrial sites. Because we want to have electricity, rivers are dammed to obtain hydro-electric power. This results in the flooding of large areas of forest land at the expense of animal lives. Because we use motor vehicles, countless animals and a great number of human beings are killed on the roads everyday. Again on account of our safety, stray dogs are disposed of in case they become rabid. In the manufacture of various things that we use everyday, e.g. food, medicines, silk, cosmetics, film, etc., animal-derived substances are used at the expense of their lives. If we use the demand and supply argument mentioned earlier then we should not live in a housing estate, or use household goods produced by factories, or use electricity, etc.

Comments: It is precisely because there is so much killing already, that it should be minimised. And an easy way of doing so is to give up meat and to encourage others to do the same.

Analogy of Serial Killer

Suppose we have a serial killer in a certain city who has raped and killed many women so that no woman dares to venture outdoor at night. The whole city is in uproar and the citizens demand that the authorities do their duty and catch the killer. So the police, after several months of pains taking effort, finally nabs the culprit. After this is a long trial and then the judge passes the death sentence on him. On the appointed day the killer is led to the execution platform where the executioner pulls the lever to end the killer’s life. All this now leads to the question: “Who is involved in the evil kamma of killing a human being (i.e. the serial killer)?” According to the law of kamma-vipaka, the executioner bears the heaviest offence because he intentionally carried out the killing. Next would be the judge for pronouncing the death sentence. These two persons are directly involved in the killing kamma of the execution of the serial killer. The police are only indirectly involved and not responsible for the execution. How about the citizens? Ultimately the serial killer was executed to protect the citizens, i.e. he was executed for the sake of the citizens, or the citizens were the main beneficiaries of the execution. So are the citizens responsible for the killing kamma involved? No, because they did not ask for the execution of the serial killer. But they could be if they demanded his execution. The scenario is similar to the slaughter of animals for food. The persons who slaughter the animals bear the heaviest killing kamma. The persons who breed animals for slaughter are also involved in the killing kamma. They are like the judge who condemned the man to be executed. But the people who buy the meat of animals already slaughtered are not involved in the kamma of killing even though, like the citizens of the city above, they are the main beneficiaries. But if someone orders a live animal to be slaughtered for its meat, then killing kamma is involved for him.

Comments: There will be no butcher who needs to bear negative karma if no one buys meat. To push the blame entirely to the butcher is unreasonable. All meat-eaters who buy meat pay the salaries of butchers indirectly – not unlike people paying for assassins to get the dirty work of killing done on their behalf. Surely, they bear some negative karma too. Every purchase of meat is continual demand for more killing to sustain one’s appetite – which pays for butchers to sustain their livelihoods as serial killers.

‘Chi Zhai’, not ‘Chi Su’

Many Chinese Buddhists mistakenly think that Mahayana Buddhism teaches the practice of vegetarianism, and confuse ‘Chi Su’ (vegetarianism) with ‘Chi Zhai’ (not eating after noon until the next dawn). In the early Suttas, ‘Chi Su’ is said to be the unbeneficial ascetic practice of external sects. ‘Chi Su’ is practiced by Han Chuan (Chinese Buddhism), not Bei Chuan (Mahayana Buddhism), since Tibetan and Japanese Buddhists are not vegetarians. Chinese emperor Liang Wu Di commanded Buddhist monks and nuns to eat vegetarian food. The word ‘Zhai’ means not eating at certain hours, i.e. fasting. Thus the Muslim fasting month of Puasa is called ‘Kai Zhai’. The Buddha taught his disciples to ‘Chi Zhai’, i.e. not to eat (with exception of medical allowances) from noon until the next dawn (1 p.m. till 7 a.m. in Malaysia). In Han Chuan this ‘Chi Zhai’ became synonymous with ‘Chi Su’.

Comments: Mahayana Buddhism does advocate vegetarianism, and even veganism, to constitute part of the ideal way to live harmlessly. Please see all the links in these comments for sutras’ quotations for why. The Buddha never taught that vegetarianism is a non-beneficial ascetic practice. Vegetarianism is increasingly popular in Tibet and Japan now due to greater knowledge of the advantages of vegetarianism and greater availability of plant-based foods. Many Mahayana Buddhists Chi Su and Chi Zhai at the same time.


The Buddha did not encourage us to eat meat or become vegetarians. The choice is entirely up to us. The important point is to take to heart the Buddha’s guidelines in MN 55 on the three conditions for unallowed and allowed meat. A monk is not allowed to cook and has to be totally dependent on the offerings of lay supporters. He is also taught that he should be easily supported and looked after. Since he is not allowed to ask for any preferential food (except during sickness), a monk cannot choose his food. He has to accept what is being offered. Lay people have more freedom to choose their food, and for lay people it is entirely up to individual preferences when it comes to eating meat or becoming a vegetarian. For the reasons already discussed, it is important not to be too critical of others no matter what our preferences are. The most effective way to reduce the killing and cruelty in the world is for people to understand the Buddha’s teaching. Ultimately, suffering (dukkha) is a characteristic of life, and the way to end suffering is to practise the Noble Eightfold Path of the Buddha to get out of the rounds of rebirths.

Comments: The Buddha gradually discouraged the eating of meat – till he advocated veganism when his disciples became ready. The choice of being vegetarian is always our choice. The Buddha never forced anyone to do anything. It is actually kinder (for animal and human health), easier and cheaper to support monastics with vegetarian food than meat. Monastics have the power to influence what laypeople eat and offer by highlighting the value of giving up meat. Please see (Let’s Improve Our Collective Karma) for reasons why becoming vegetarian or vegan plays a big part in making the world a better place. The most effective way to reduce killing and cruelty is to vote against that inflicted on millions of animals daily – by demanding less of their meat, if any at all.

‘If there is no meat-eater, there will be no animal killer.’
‘One of the greatest obstacles to the birth of Bodhicitta in our minds
is our craving for meat.’

– Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol
(Food of Bodhisattvas: Buddhist Teachings on Abstaining from Meat

Related Article:
More Erroneous Ideas on Vegetarianism by the Author

20 thoughts on “The Buddha’s Real Views on Meat-Eating

  1. The answer is at :

    What If Plants Feel Pain Too?

    How then, can those who practise great compassion
    feed on the flesh and blood of living beings?

    – The Buddha (Surangama Sutra)

    A common yet inadequate argument against a meat-reduced or meat-free diet is the speculation that plants might experience pain too, like animals. As many plants are eaten by vegetarians and vegans, do they ‘create’ more suffering? Plants are indeed life forms, but not sentient beings, as they are not complex enough (e.g. have no nervous system) to feel pain. A chicken who is about to be slaughtered feels fear and suffers under the knife, while these reactions do not occur to a carrot being uprooted and chopped. Even if a carrot feels pain, it is obvious that it is much less than that of a chicken. But what if plants really do feel ‘pain’, that is hard to measure? If plants and animals both feel pain, here are three ways of looking at the dilemma, with conclusions that follow:

    (1) If animals feel more pain than plants, we should eat less animals. But if a number of plants are instead eaten for a meal, will the total ‘pain’ caused be equal or more than that caused through eating an animal? No – because this animal ate many more plants in his lifetime, which makes eating him linked to even more ‘pain’. We should thus eat plants more directly, to reduce harm to both plants and animals. (2) If plants feel more ‘pain’ than animals, should we eat less plants? But if less plants are eaten, while eating more animals, and since the animals ate many more plants in their lifetime, eating them is linked to even more ‘pain’. We should thus eat plants more directly, to reduce harm to both plants and animals.

    (3) If the ‘pain’ of a plant being killed is equal to the pain of an animal being killed, each animal still ate many plants in his lifetime, which makes eating him linked to even more ‘pain’. We should thus eat plants more directly, to reduce harm to both plants and animals. For example, fruits are best eaten when they are ripe and ready to fall naturally (i.e. ‘die’). Why not eat more fruits? In comparison, no animals die willingly to be eaten. The ‘plants feel pain too’ smokescreen suggests, ‘Since I can’t prevent pain totally, I’m totally absolved from doing anything to prevent (or reduce) pain!’ It’s like saying, ‘Even if I donate to help the needy, I won’t be able to help all of them. So… I need not donate at all!’

    What matters is doing your best now,
    even if it is not the absolute best yet.

    – Stonepeace

    More Good Points from a Vegan Friend

    [A] Of course plants have life. So do bacteria and cells. Even if we eat or drink nothing at all, the body kills millions of germs every second. Absolute non-killing is non-possible and non-existent. The ethical issue is about the unnecessary pain/suffering infliction and the intention.

    [B] Plants do not experience pain in ways animals do. They have neither nerve cells nor a nerve centre. Pain would not serve any purpose for plants because they aren’t able to remove themselves from the pain-inflicting elements, unlike animals [who are forced to be unable to move away by imprisoning them].

    [C] Animals need to eat many portions of plants to produce one portion of meat. When we eat meat, we would be killing a corresponding multifold amount of plants. By eating plants we would kill the least.

    [D] Eat fruits… it would be the most ethical diet. The fruit is the part of the plant which it ‘wants’ to give. When edible fruits ripen, they change their colours or scent which appeal to humans, to ‘invite’ us to take them. In taking the fruit, we help the plant sow its seeds. The nutrients in edible fruits are what we need. Mutualism. There is no taking of life of the plant… if that is the concern.

    [E] Fruit-eating is aligned with the ‘nature of joyful abundance’… i.e. the more fruits you eat, the more fruits you tend to have when we scatter the seeds of the fruits we like. Its structure of abundance is inherently there. Unfortunately, our social practices are not in line with that beauty when we incinerate our ‘trash’. In contrast, meat-eating is aligned with the ‘nature of abundance in suffering’. The more meats we eat, the more the suffering multiplies [for animals, human health and the planet].

    Related Articles:

    Other irrefutable good reasons to go vegetarian/vegan
    The Plants-Feel-Pain Argument is Faulty
    The Other Side of the Coin
    The Buddha’s View on Meat-Eating’s-real-views-on-meat-eating

  2. If the thought of “stop eating plants since they are also living things” arises because plants are living beings. Shouldn’t we stop feeding on animals all the more because they are full-blooded living sentient beings?

  3. Someone somewhere on web wrote in his article that Buddha had to resort to non-vegetarianism since the place (India) where he was, was overwhelmingly non-vegetarian and also animal sacrifice is common.

    What ignorance! Hindus (majority culture of India) is still known to have the biggest population of (lacto) vegetarians in the world. It is only NOW that non-vegetarianism is on rise in India – still it is estimated that about 30% of Indians (specifically Hindus and their tiny ‘minority’ Jains) are still vegetarians. How could he say then India was overwhelmingly meat eating and animal sacrifice is ‘common’. Ritualistic animal sacrifice is compulsory for Muslims in India; amongst Hindus, it does take place at some places but is relatively uncommon and looked down upon.

  4. 1] Humans cannot breed successful on a vegan diet.

    2] It is well proven that Humans need good saturated animal/plant fats to breed.

    3] The origianl people of India would of been the Hunter Gatherer Tribes, before the arrival of the latter agriculture hindu culture.

    4] Not everyone send there animals to the slaughter house, my dad gets a guy to come out to his farm and shoot it whilr grazing in paddack it does not know what has hit it and not been stressed out, If anything our industrial/agriculture society are the true killers…with our huge MONOCROP GE CROPS and factory farming etc.

    5] Soy is not a meant for Human comsumption, it has been found to increase cancers because it prohibits nutrient absorbtion…do your research.

    6] I was vegetarian for 4 years and became very weak and sick, i have started eating meats again, (organic if i can) and my health has become better.

    7] Even Traditional chinese medicine and Ayurvedic to not recomend a vegan/vegetarian diet as it weakens the CHI/JIANG/SHEN energies.

    8] Hunter gatherer society and there wild diets have far healthier human systems than our current industrial/agriculture commerce processed TVP/SOYS/SUGARS/PROCESSED meats,white flours,to much grains these cause major problems. Many studies have shown that soy formulas etc should not be feed to babies.

    9] Even a Anthropologist can tell the difference between a hunter/gathers bones and teeth…compared to our industrial/agriculture bones and teeth. The bones and teeth of the Hunter Gatherers are far more healthier and strongers…basically dental cavities are a problem of agricutural society.

    Alot of our old traditional cultures took great respect when taking the life of an animal for one’s NEEDS, everything og the animal was used and not wasted, native americans and many others gave thanks to great spirit. In the end it’s how we do the killing is the point to make.

    It’s about self sufficient farming methods. One farmer was able to produce abundant meat,eggs,crops,milk, from just 1 hect. Just one beast of my dads highland cattle will feed the family for a whole year, and we are still able to give some away.

  5. 1] The word ‘breed’ is used for animals. Humans don’t breed humans, unless you see yourself to be not different from animals. If so, will you mind being “bred” to be slaughtered? To bring up healthy vegan kids, please see

    2] Saturated animal fats directly raise total and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. It’s best to avoid them as much as possible. Although saturated fats from plants do not have cholesterol, it’s still advisable to consume those with saturated fats in moderation. Our bodies can make all the saturated fat we need, so we don’t need to eat any of it. That’s why saturated fat can be in the bad category, as it has undesirable effects in cardiovascular disease. Unsaturated fats of Monounsaturated fats, which is derived from vegetables and plants, are preferable as some studies have shown that these kinds of fats can actually lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and maintain HDL (good) cholesterol.

    3] The progress is what we known as the evolution of civilization.

    4] We advocate non-violent diets. Killing in any form is not and never humane. If you put yourself in the animal’s position, certainly you won’t want to be shot and killed for food for a carnivore while you are enjoying your meal. Sounds like a drive-by shooting. If it’s not okay for humans, why is it okay for other sentient beings?

    5] Vegans or vegetarians do not live on soy solely. We advocate moderation consumption and well-balanced nutritional diets that include nuts, grains, fruits and all kind of vegetables. In Asia, soy has been our staple food for centuries yet we have more centurions than most countries. We have less breast cancer and osteogenesis imperfecta cases in countries that consume milk. Please do your research.

    6] I’m not sure how balance your diet was. I have been vegan for 8 years and i’m still kicking and alive. I have climbed mountains in China and India. I have friends who are vegetarians and vegan that took part and finished in marathons and triathlons. Carl Lewis, who won 10 Olympic medals including 9 gold, and 10 World Championships medals, of which 8 were gold is a vegan. This is the youtube link of him describing how his best athletic performances came after he become vegan : and another link on him explaining his vegan diet : Here is a link to a healthy nutritious vegetarian diet :

    7] If you have noticed, Traditional Chinese Medicine are mostly plant-based. I have being patron of TCM for years and none of my TCM doctors had ever dissuaded me of my vegan diet and in fact it is with these plant-based medication, that I become more energetic and healthy. As a matter of fact, whenever they mention the food I should avoid I when I’m sick, they are mostly if not all, meat. Like TCM, Ayurveda do not object to consummation of meat, but advocate healthy and awareness eating. Here’s the link to ‘Ayurveda – In Depth Vegetarianism’ :

    8] We do not advocate excess processed food. We go for natural, organic and non-GMO food as much as possible. Breast milk is the best option for most infants, for soya-based infant formula, please read p17 and p18 of The Soy Story :

    9] It’s about a non-violent diet. This is a Buddhist website. Please respect the fact that we do not see killing sentient beings for food as kind or wise to anyone. Many of the writers and readers here are living examples that veganism and vegetarianism do work. I don’t see why you should dissuade us of our peaceful living style. Your comments are off topic from the main post too.


  6. The Buddha said himself to his monks he didnt recommend a strictly vege diet…Mongolian,dai,tibetan nationalities cannot be strictly vegetarian…

    In Thereveda Buddhism this is the case…but Mahayana buddhism adheres to strictly vegetarian…which seems illogical because alot of climate are to cold to grow domesticated crops and are not hardly and bitter tasting like wild plant are.

    These Buddhists that live in these hospitable climates need animals to convert the wild pastures(which humans cannot digest) into eatable meat…these and other traditional cultures have great respect for animal as it provides food,cloth,shelter,fuel etc.

    1)Of course we animals, we eat,sleep,mate,dream just like an animal does…we humans are part of bio-system..even consciousness is a part of this nothing is is all connected.

    2)There is no proof or evidence that this is correct. When Dr Weston Price examined cultures around the world that ate good high saturated animal intake fats they had NO diseases that our current civilization gets, cultures like Gaelics of Orknay island,Masai/african tribes,Polynesians,American indians,Eskimos etc. These people had very very low incidence of dental decay,and degenerative diseases such as Cancers,arthritis and had high strong immunity’s.

  7. The Buddha said vegetarianism was optional for random alms-seeking monks only who can’t choose. For goodness sake, many Buddhists are vegetarians because they are NOT alms-seeking monks. There is NO need to demand killig. Not supporting killing is a central tenet in Buddhism.

    As Mahayana Buddhists practise less alms-seeking, they can choose their own food, which is why it is logical to choose kinder foods. Even in Tibet, many are going vegetarian due to availability of imported veges.

    If we are are connected, let’s be kinder to one another, animals included. Spare them!

    About Weston Price – “John Robbins MD has written a critique in which he reviews the history of the Weston Price Foundation and provides evidence that Weston Price had recommended a vegetarian and dairy diet to his own family members as the healthiest diet. The anti-vegetarian and anti-soy views of the foundation have also been criticized in several publications. Joel Fuhrman MD wrote a series of articles entitled “The truth about the Weston Price Foundation” in which he argues the Foundation is a purveyor of “nutritional myths”, largely because they have failed to update their recommendations in light of contradictory evidence.

    The Quackwatch website published an essay by Stephen Barrett MD that says the Weston A. Price Foundation promotes “questionable dietary strategies” and on grounds that the core assumptions of Weston Price’s original work are incorrect and contrary to contemporary medical understanding.” Take Price’s bad ‘science’ stuff lightly.

    Go vegan! (The founder of Vegan Society lived till almost 100. That’s proof.)

  8. Vegan lifestyle is an experiment and has never been tried before, if nature intended human to be Vegans then it would of Evolved us this way over millions of years.

    Now John schmid and many others will disagree with this evidence you have put forward…why do you think the Australian Government has put warning signs on all soy products…watch this Soy & cancer

    Not so what i have read in his books, Dr weston price tried finding a people that lived only on plant foods,he was fond of finding this type of culture, he said himself…he expressed disappointment when he could not find a single group of racial primitive stock which was building and maintaining excellent bodies by living only on plant foods.

    From my own experience the Pharmaceutical industry health system is far more dangerous compared to Dr Weston price, Did you know GP/DOCTORS ETC are the 3rd biggest killers in USA…because of miss prescribed drugs and ops gone wrong etc.

    I think from what i have and many others experience this information that Weston Price got is very important…he found that cultures that had high agricultural diet would get there women to go on gestation diet for 6 months while pregnant…because these primitive people know all to well that we need good fats to build healthy brain cells,bodies etc.

    How can killing the odd animal for ones needs be that bad, the rice paddies that have destroyed huge areas of forest in asia, then they live in close quaters with the ducks/fowl that fertilize the rice paddies, bird flu occurred in these unbalance bio-systems where all the natural forest has been cut for the rice paddies fields.

    So in actuality it is our intense agricultural industrial society that are the real killers…because we destroy whole eco-bio-systems to grow some domesticated crops,depletes soils then it gets washed away destroying the huge bio system of good bacteria that lives in the soil…so is killing these small insignificant animals any different to someone killing the odd bigger organism/beast for ones needs?

    I think not, these small organisms are vital for the maintenance of the bigger organisms such as plant/animals etc.

  9. I have been vegetarian for 18 years and vegan for 8. This ‘experiment’ is very successful. It is tried and tested by millions already! The number of vegans is increasing. Yes, this is part of evolution in compassion and wisdom – due to these irrefutable reasons:

    Please don’t do cherry-picking. As mentioned by another readers, soy is to be taken in moderation. The video link you sent says that exactly, while all health experts urge cutting down meat, to eat more fruits and vegetables. Soy in the video is NOT mentioned to cause cancer. You need to watch it again.

    Excess of ANY food will lead to problems, while a balanced vegan diet is the best: Meat is not the best because we all know in excess it leads to all kinds of problems like heart disease and cancers. It’s very clear already:

    Weston Price is clearly a quack doctor, as you can see at and MANY other websites. Do a general search for his name and you will CLEARLY see this. The well-researched China Study: shows MANY vegan communities who have little or no cancer.

    What killing of the odd animal? Millions of animals are killed for meat – needlessly. Do you know that MORE than 1/3 of crops in the world are for feeding animals for your meat, for fattening them up? This is the real destruction and deforestation going on for the greed of meat. Going vegan thus harms the LEAST animals, by eating at the bottom of the food web. If the grain is used for feeding starving humans instead of breeding more animals for the rich, there would be NO starvation in the world. Please read the MANY articles at before you raise more issues along this line, that have been discussed many times before.

Comments are closed.