Can a vegetarian buy meat for the family?

Can a Vegetarian buy meat

If a vegetarian can avoid buying meat, then that is a good thing. As a housewife and a vegetarian, and with the rest of the family meat eating, then what should you do? You have no choice but to buy meat for them. Under such a condition which prevents one from being a total vegetarian, it is all right to eat the *‘five clean meats’. If, as a Buddhist, you observe a strict vegetarian diet, and this causes resentment in the family, then that is not good. It is important that the family is a happy one. It is much better to encourage them to embrace Buddhism than to force yourself to be a strict vegetarian.
* Five clean meats :
(1) I did not perform the killing
(2) I did not ask anybody to kill
(3) Others did not kill because of me
(4) I did not hear the killing
(5) I did not see the killing
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What merits are there in being a "half-day vegetarian"?

Half-day Vegetarian

Being a "half-day vegetarian" refers to having a vegetarian breakfast. A vegetarian breakfast is also called "brightness vegetarian breakfast". Why is this so? It is because to be carnivorous is an auxiliary cause of life taking, and whether one performs the killing himself or provides an auxiliary cause to the killing, such are acts of darkness. Abstention from killing itself or from providing the auxiliary cause to the killing are acts of brightness. A vegetarian breakfast is like the brightness of the sunlight at dawn. Thus it is called "brightness vegetarian breakfast". A vegetarian breakfast a day reaps the merits of a meal. 365 days a year reap the merits of 365 meals. Just imagine the merits that we accumulate if we live to a hundred. Thus, being a "half-day vegetarian" has immense merits.

There is an abundance of cattle and if they are not slaughtered then wouldn’t we face an over-population of cattle?

Over-population of cattle

It is not true that if the cattle are not slaughtered, there will be an over-population. Aren’t there many cattle in the wild? But, many countries do not have them, perhaps Africa has. They have become extinct through natural causes, not because human beings feed on them. There are innumerable chickens and ducks because
voice-on2.jpg (9468 bytes) they are farmed and naturally their numbers increase. It may also be that because of feeding on animals that human beings are reborn into animals in their later lives as retribution. Although tigers and lions are strong enough to eat human beings, why is it that they are decreasing in numbers, rather than increasing? When you understand the reasoning, you will not think that human beings should feed on cattle because they are large in numbers. If they are not farmed, they will decrease in numbers and perhaps become extinct someday.

Having undertaken the Bodhisattva Precepts, must one be a vegetarian? Can a non-vegetarian undertake the Bodhisattva Precepts?

Must one be a Vegetarian

Abstain from the flesh of sentient beings. This is a point that has been raised in the Bodhisattva sutras. During the time of the Buddha, a Bodhisattva* once asked the Buddha, "Buddha, I originally practised the Small Vehicle (Sravaka) Buddhism and attained Arahat-hood. I ate the ‘five clean meats’*. I accepted whatever well-wishers donated. But now I am practising the Greater Vehicle (Mahayana) Buddhism, extending from self to others, and I have to be a vegetarian. Why is this so?" The Buddha explained, "It is because Bodhisattvas are very compassionate. To feed on the flesh of sentient beings is to alienate from the seeds of compassion. Since you are learning and cultivating to be a Bodhisattva, you need to be compassionate. Thus, how can we eat meat?" Therefore, when we wish to follow the Bodhisattva Path, to cultivate to be a Bodhisattva, we need to be a vegetarian.

Bodhisattva: Pu-Sa; An awakened being, who has feelings, enlightens self and others, and benefits self and others. A Bodhisattva can become a Buddha through observing the six Paramitas, but vows to remain in the realm of incarnation to help others.

Copyright 2001. Jen Chen Buddhism Centre