Chapter 47: The Scenario of Vegetarianism

The Scenario of Vegetarianism:

Vegetarianism is a lifestyle that many people practise without a limit to specific religion or belief.  As for the non-spiritualists, practitioners may feel humanely responsible not to harm and consume other living beings.  In term of Buddhism, vegetarianism is based on the Lord Buddha’s regulated discipline or vinaya which prohibits monks and laities from killing.  Thus, meat eating or consuming is believed to be a forbidden as well.  Other than this, there is also the local creed, culture and tradition which are jointly adopted into Buddhist practice.  So, most Mahayana Buddhists practise vegetarianism as they believe that killing animals and eating meats are wrongdoings. 

With respect of Theravadian Buddhist monks, the come-about of vegetarianism is always referred to the Tipitaka or original Buddhist scripture memorised and written down from generation to generation of Buddhist era that Venerable Devadatta, a kin of Lord Gotama Buddha, is the first one who proposed to the Lord Buddha to prohibit members of Buddhist monastic communities from eating meat and become vegetarians with an aim to gain popularity out of his political scheme.  However, the Lord Buddha declined, but he allowed Buddhist monks to feel free to choose whether they wish to be a vegetarian or not whereas the given advice is that if Buddhist monks feel regretful or uneasy with the meat which lay people killed animals in order to offer to them, they should refuse to eat such meat.

In the modern days, as the world of Buddhism has sprung into three major sects namely Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana, the attempt to encourage people to become vegetarians is fostered not only by Mahayana Buddhists but also spiritualists, humanists, and health care practitioners worldwide, no matter what their reasons for being vegetarians are.  The vegetarianism has been widespread even out of the domain of Buddhism, but it still always raises the concern whether vegetarianism is the Lord Buddha’s teaching and regulation.

In term of Dhammonomics, the scenario of Buddhist vegetarianism can be explained with a graph showing the relationship among various factors ranging from the ‘y-axis’ which represents the number of people who consume meat, ‘x-axis’ which represents the number of livestock killed for food, curve (s1) which is the supply of meat, curve (d1) which is the regular demand for meat, and curve (d2) which is the new demand for meat where their intersections reflect the two equilibriums which show the number of gifts of lives occurring when more people become vegetarians.

To conclude, although many Buddhists still believe that they are not sinful for eating meat because they do not commit livestock killing by themselves, it is more likely that slaughtered animals suffer from the pain and have revenge upon killers and people who eat their meat.  Also, if people become vegetarians, the demand for meat will drop accordingly, causing the automatic day-by-day decrease in number of livestock being killed for foods. Therefore, vegetarianism is also a direct way to practise the virtue of mercy and compassion which people of the world should be aware of, for the sake of humanity which everyone can do irrespective of their beliefs.      


By Pirajak Tisuthiwongse (Pittaya Wong)

Dhammonomics Inventor & Dharma Wizard

27 September 2022