Ever since I stepped foot on this path, one of the biggest issues I’ve had is, do I eat meat or do I not eat meat?
At first I thought “Buddhists must not eat meat, I mean their trying to save all sentient beings right?” Well I started doing some research. Did you know that Siddhartha Guatama, the man that is referred to as The Buddha, ate meat? Yes, actually he did. He would of course not eat meat that was specifically killed for him, or if he heard the animal being butchered. But, being a monk and needing to beg for his food, he had very little options when it came down to eating meat or not. He specifically said “Monks, I allow you fish and meat that are quite pure in three respects: if they are not seen, heard or suspected to have been killed on purpose for a monk. But, you should not knowingly make use of meat killed on purpose for you.” I borrowed that quote from Buddhism and Eating Meat. He could of course refuse the kind generosity and starve, or he could eat it and be nourished.
So the argument on whether or not Buddhists should eat meat is pretty simple. We should not eat any sort of meat that was specifically killed directly for us. Of course there is a grey area there of sorts. You bought the meat so you must have paid for it to be killed? Well no, that’s not entirely true. Did you contract to have that animal killed? No. Did you call up the butcher and ask him to kill it for you? No. That’s what business they are in. They kill it and than sell it to the general public, or other companies who than package it and ship it to stores. I’m not saying it necessarily absolves us, but what if you do not have the choice?
To be honest, I’ve tried going completely “veggie”. It did work out for a while and yes, I did feel a bit better, but in the end it was either eat or not eat? Why? Well because most meat products are alot cheaper. Eating a vegetarian diet can get quite expensive after a while. For just a small package of four “veggie burgers” it’s nearly $5. Someone like myself, who’s concerned with feeding their families (myself, my wife and 2 children), has to look at things like cost. I can get a package of turkey burger, equaling 1lb, and get more than four burgers patties out of it, for half the cost. But when I do have the money, I will spend it on animal free products.
I try to be as conscious as I can of the choices I make and the repercussions. I search alot online for companies that do animal testing and refuse to purchase their products. I receive e-mail alerts from many animal activist groups, that way I can be more aware of things that are going on with animals and big business. I don’t purchase leather or clothing made from animals. Of course in the past I had, before I was as concerned as I am now with the welfare of all sentient beings. But we learn from the things we’ve done and try to make the best of it. I’m getting off point here though.
I would love to be completely vegetarian, but until I can afford it without causing my family to suffer this is the way it’s got to be. I know my kids would take to it. There was a span of a few months that we ate strictly vegetarian and they loved all the food they were given. Maybe now that I’m working a second job and 14 hours a day I can afford to be completely veggie again. We’ll see though, the rest of the bills are stacking up and having a roof over my children’s heads is the number one issue right now for me!
EDITORS NOTE: I have been made aware of a few things I wrongly said. Rather than edit this article, I posted my reply below, in the comments area. I left the article as is, as I originally wrote it. Please read below and follow the link I give.