The history of Buddhism tells us that for as long as the religion has existed, Buddhism has rejected the carnivorous diet and focused on the vegetarian diet.

Some Buddhists declare themselves vegetarian and others mixed. But are they allowed to eat beef or not according to Buddha's teachings?

What does Buddha think about eating meat?

According to the teachings of Siddharta Guatama, killing is the first thing to avoid. He ordered his followers not to kill or participate in the killing or endangering of any living being, including humans and animals. In Buddha's time, according to history, Buddhists never participated in the slaughter of animals. This profession or practice has been reserved for non-Buddhists. This was done by proxy.


However, the Buddhist master allowed the consumption of meat once the animals were slaughtered by another person. In this regard, the historical Buddha said: “I say that there are three situations where the flesh can be accepted: when it is not seen, heard or suspected (that an animal has been killed for a monk). » This quote appears in several passages of Buddhist writings, including that of the Sutta Jivaka.

Are monks and nuns carnivores?

Buddhist monks are called bhikkhu and nuns are called bhikkhunis. By definition, the word bhikkhu is a Pali word which means mendicant monk living in community. According to the Larousse dictionary, the Sanskrit term “bhikshu” designates the sannyasa, that is to say the mendicant monk in the fourth stage of his life. Monks and nuns have their own way of life based on several principles, including eating habits. The monastic code contains several prohibitions with which they must comply. They are not allowed to grow their own food, so they eat food offered by others.

Also read: Why Do Buddhists Meditate?

However, at the time of the historical Buddha, the same monastic rules allowed masters to eat meat. As the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis move from village to village to share the Dharma, they invite each other to the homes of the inhabitants. They did not have the right to choose or refuse the food served to them, even if it was meat. In addition, they have the right to ask for meat when they are sick.

Are monks and nuns vegetarians?

vegetarian Buddhists

According to Buddhist precepts, vegetarianism is seen as an ascetic practice like so many others, that is to say a voluntary discipline of the body and the mind that strives towards perfection. Wearing the salvaged rags and sleeping under a tree are other examples of these Buddhist austerities. Buddha allowed bhikkhus and bhikkhunis to be vegetarians without forcing them to take it as an obligatory practice. Being a vegetarian refers to people who choose to engage in this ascetic practice. In addition, the offerings offered by Buddhist masters are composed entirely of plant foods.

The rules of conduct of Buddhism admit that a good lay disciple is one who respects this quote: "Let him not destroy life, let him not cause life to be destroyed, let him not destroy life by others and that he does not approve of the killing of others. Let him refrain from oppressing any living being in the world, strong or weak. »

Representation of the ox in Buddhism

The Hindu religion and Buddhism have a similarity when it comes to beef consumption. The cow is seen as a sacred animal because it symbolizes motherhood, that is, it provides milk to nourish its offspring. In the social context, it is the representation of a mother breastfeeding her children. It is therefore the continuity of life and descent. As for the male, the ox is a castrated bull which helps the man to do his work and to feed himself. He pulls the plow for field work and for transporting goods. This is why the consumption of beef has become a major restriction in Buddhism. However, some Buddhists eat them without other lay people knowing.

Apart from beef, certain types of meat are also prohibited according to the teachings of the Buddha, namely the meat of dogs, horses, snakes, elephants, tigers, bears and leopards.

Food ban linked to caste in Buddhism

In India, everything happens according to the professional and social category of the person and the outgoing castes function in the same way. Above the castes there is the monk, the ascetic and the renunciating sannyasi, that is, a Hindu religious beggar. According to the ahimsa principle, it is imperative that these class categories be vegetarian because they must be perfectly pure.

Below is the classification of castes in India, also valid in Buddhism:

  • Caste number 1. Brahman: it is a missionary who was both intellectual and spiritual. Its main role is to teach religion. She must embody purity, which is why it is imperative that she be vegan, that is, she does not eat eggs, fish or meat. No person belonging to the lower caste is allowed to approach him, prepare his meal or eat with him;
  • Caste number 2. Kshatria: he is also called the warrior because he does physical and muscular work. Its mission is to defend the country. It is the main caste who is authorized to eat meat given the physical effort they have to make;
  • Caste number 3. Vaishya: Coming from the rich and dominant classes, he is the rich industrial and commercial owner of the country. They financially support the Brahmins and Kshatria caste. He is moving towards progressive vegetarianism;
  • Caste number 4. Shudra, agricultural worker, artisan and untouchable: it is he who works hard with his hands, as in the fields. It is the farmer who supplies the country's agricultural market. Considered impure, it is permitted to eat certain foods such as fish, meat and many others.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published

Discover our Authentic Buddhist Shop

Discoverunique Buddhist articles for your inner journey. Quality and peace of mind guaranteed.

The unavoidable

Mala Tibétain en bois de santal - Noir ProfondMala Tibétain en bois de santal - Beige Royale

Tibetan sandalwood mala

Sale price€19,99 Regular price€29,90
Bague feng Shui Pixiu MantraBague feng Shui Pixiu Mantra

Feng Shui Pixiu Mantra Ring

Sale price€22,90
|200001034:361180#Beads 15mm|200001034:361181#Beads 18mm|200001034:361187#Beads 20mmBracelet Mala en ébène

Ebony Mala Bracelet

Sale priceFrom €22,90

Our favorites

See everything
Save €10,00
Tibetan Buddhist braided rope braceletTibetan Buddhist braided rope bracelet

Tibetan Buddhist braided rope bracelet

Sale price€9,99 Regular price€19,99
Save €9,91
Mala Tibétain en bois de santal - Noir ProfondMala Tibétain en bois de santal - Beige Royale

Tibetan sandalwood mala

Sale price€19,99 Regular price€29,90
Save €9,91
Buddhist Mantra Silver BraceletBuddhist Mantra Silver Bracelet

Buddhist Mantra Silver Bracelet

Sale price€29,99 Regular price€39,90
Save €16,91
Méditation bouddhismeMéditation bouddhisme

Meditation Book | The secrets of Buddhist masters

Sale price€7,99 Regular price€24,90
Save €12,01
Statue de Dieu éléphant Ganesh en pierre de grèsStatue de Dieu éléphant Ganesh en pierre de grès

Sandstone Elephant God Ganesh Statue

Sale priceFrom €42,99 Regular price€55,00
|200001034:361180#Beads 15mm|200001034:361181#Beads 18mm|200001034:361187#Beads 20mmBracelet Mala en ébène

Ebony Mala Bracelet

Sale priceFrom €22,90
Buddha statue from ThailandBuddha statue from Thailand

Buddha statue from Thailand

Sale priceFrom €24,90
Small Buddha StatueSmall Buddha Statue

Small Buddha Statue

Sale price€19,99
Bracelet tête de Bouddha & Perles de pierreBracelet tête de Bouddha & Perles de pierre

Buddha head bracelet & stone beads

Sale priceFrom €13,90
Buddha Hand StatueBuddha Hand Statue

Buddha Hand Statue

Sale price€32,90
Bague feng Shui Pixiu MantraBague feng Shui Pixiu Mantra

Feng Shui Pixiu Mantra Ring

Sale price€22,90
Birthstone Bracelet42818495545500

Birthstone Bracelet

Sale price€24,95
Bracelet Jonc BouddhisteBracelet Jonc Bouddhiste - Or profond

Buddhist Bangle Bracelet

Sale price€14,50
Save €9,91
Bague Bouddhiste AntistressBague Bouddhiste Antistress

Antistress Buddhist Ring

Sale price€14,99 Regular price€24,90

also read:

See everything
Qui est shiva dans le bouddhisme ?

Who is Shiva in Buddhism?

Que signifie bouddha en sanskrit ?

What does Buddha mean in Sanskrit?