Are Buddhists Vegetarian or Vegan?

As a Buddhist, a question I often get asked is: Are Buddhists vegetarian? Given the Buddhist teachings focus on compassion and non-violence, it’s not a surprise that many people think all Buddhists must therefore be vegetarian or vegan.

In this video, I explore what the Buddha said about eating meat and how his teachings have affected the landscape of vegetarianism within different Buddhist traditions today. I also discuss healthy attitudes we can embody if we are vegetarian or vegan, and I look at ways we might incorporate the Buddhist teachings of compassion into our eating habits whether we are exclusively vegetarian or not.

Suggested Reading:
To Eat Or Not To Eat Meat is a comprehensive piece of writing by Venerable S.Dhammika that examines what the Buddha said about eating meat and how it relates to the wider framework of the Buddha’s teachings.

A nice blog post by Bhikkhu Sujato, Why Buddhists Should be Vegetarian, also examines the Buddha’s teachings and how they might be applied today.

I enjoyed reading Do We Have A Choice?, a little book put together by Chan Kah Yein. In her third chapter she presents some interesting comparisons between us and carnivores and considers whether humans have naturally evolved to become carnivores or omnivores.

In, Taking A Stand, Venerable Abhinaya tells us in less than six pages why we shouldn’t fall for the age-old excuses for eating meat which are often expounded by followers of the Theravada tradition in particular.

Another worthwhile read comes from Roshi Philip Kapleau, To Cherish All Life, where he talks about his own journey into vegetarianism after questioning the meat-eating habits of the Japanese Zen Buddhists. Of particular interest to some people may be page 92 onwards which explores the feared protein or other deficiencies we might experience on a vegetarian diet.

Also see Easy Vegetarian Meals for Aspiring Vegetarian Buddhists
More videos:

You can find a complete collection of my videos on Buddhism and meditation at The Enthusiastic Buddhist Society.
Sutta used in this video:

“Dandavagga: Violence” (Dhp X), translated from the Pali by Acharya Buddharakkhita. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013,


being vegan


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