Author Topic: Veganism for developing sila  (Read 2466 times)


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Veganism for developing sila
« on: September 24, 2016, 02:38:59 PM »
Hello again,

I do remember how S.N. Goenka stressed the need to develop sila -- such as the rule not to kill any being. To be honest, until now I haven't really made a steadfast commitment to change my eating habits drastically, (i.e. completely going vegan). It's much harder to abide by this rule when you're out of the dhamma centre.  ;) My question to those who have been able to successfully transitioned as vegans, how has it helped you in your long term practice? Does it make much difference?

Thanks!  ;D
« Last Edit: September 24, 2016, 03:37:48 PM by Teej »

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Veganism for developing sila
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2016, 06:49:42 PM »
This would be a case for vegetarianism rather than veganism. If you believe part of you is affected by the knowledge animals die to feed you then I suppose becoming vegetarian would alleviate this. Likewise if you believed animals could only suffer providing you with animal products, veganism might help.


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Re: Veganism for developing sila
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2016, 08:08:13 PM »
The teaching is that if the animal is not killed directly for you to eat then it is okay to eat meat.

If you go to a friend's house and he kills a chicken for your dinner, then that meat is not okay for you to eat.

If meat is for general market without being particularly intended for you, then it is okay to eat.


  • stillpointdancer
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Re: Veganism for developing sila
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2016, 10:46:54 AM »
So what happens when we realize that plants are living creatures too, with their own intelligence and responses to the world? If we learn to communicate with them, would it stop you eating them?
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka


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Re: Veganism for developing sila
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2016, 08:09:41 PM »
According to the Pali Buddhist scriptures, the Buddha appeared to be more concerned with how much one eats & one's attitude towards food rather than what one eats. A parable was given about eating as though eating one's only child to show the inevitably of having to eat other things for survival.

There are many rules for monks about what they are allowed to eat but this seems to be more about the 'social image' of monks rather than about sila (ethics). Many monks rules are not about sila but about how society perceives them (reputation; social image).

"And how is physical food to be regarded? Suppose a couple, husband & wife, taking meager provisions, were to travel through a desert. With them would be their only baby son, dear & appealing. Then the meager provisions of the couple going through the desert would be used up & depleted while there was still a stretch of the desert yet to be crossed. The thought would occur to them, 'Our meager provisions are used up & depleted while there is still a stretch of this desert yet to be crossed. What if we were to kill this only baby son of ours, dear & appealing, and make dried meat & jerky. That way — chewing on the flesh of our son — at least the two of us would make it through this desert. Otherwise, all three of us would perish.' So they would kill their only baby son, loved & endearing, and make dried meat & jerky. Chewing on the flesh of their son, they would make it through the desert. While eating the flesh of their only son, they would beat their breasts, [crying,] 'Where have you gone, our only baby son? Where have you gone, our only baby son?' Now what do you think, monks: Would that couple eat that food playfully or for intoxication, or for putting on bulk, or for beautification?"

"No, lord."

"Wouldn't they eat that food simply for the sake of making it through that desert?"

"Yes, lord."

Puttamansa Sutta: A Son's Flesh


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Re: Veganism for developing sila
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2016, 10:15:36 PM »
I stopped eating meat about nine years ago. To me, it was because I found myself very much in tune with the suffering of animals. I know animals are intelligent beings, that understand when they are in danger, that feel love, happiness and many other emotions. This awareness made it impossible for me to turn my back any longer so I made the choice that felt right for me. How does this apply to my practice? I guess that since I am deeply aware of this suffering, I have no choice. I do not feel I would be practicing proper sila if I were to go on pleasing my senses at the expense of other beings pain. This, of course, is not a universal rule, it is what is right for me.


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Re: Veganism for developing sila
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2016, 03:54:11 PM »
Thanks for your replies. Well, I also have other issues, not just being ethical about it. I noticed, even during my vipassana course, it's much easier to meditate. I feel much lighter and I noticed that when I eat vegetables I tend to become happier. I don't know why.


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Re: Veganism for developing sila
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2016, 10:09:21 PM »
I feel much lighter and I noticed that when I eat vegetables I tend to become happier. I don't know why.

Vegetables are delicious & more nutritious to eat. They have 'zing'. I eat lots of them & feel nutritionally deficient when I don't.  While I am not a full vegetarian, for me, vegetarian feels better, cleaner & tastier. :)


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Re: Veganism for developing sila
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2016, 02:11:20 PM »
Hi Teej,

Recently I decided on some fairly radical dietary changes:

1) moving towards a diet largely based plants.

2) some regular protein from organic eggs (chickens are rescued, living the good life, and on the land of a family I know well).

3) as local and organic as I can achieve within reason.

4) aiming for a variety of healthy foods containing the nutrients needed for healthy bodymind.

So my experience to date: some of this is easy and some not - and probably not the things I expected ...

One example is, being English, I do enjoy bacon and eggs for breakfast (often with any number of other proteins from animal sources plus vegetables, fungi etc). Five months or so ago I stopped eating bacon and I haven't, and don't, miss it AT ALL ... something quite unexpected by me, as many veggie friends over the years have said that bacon was "THE BIG ONE" :D

In terms of practicality still learning the basics. I bought a high powered smoothie blender to make raw blends of green leafy and other veg, fruits, nuts, seeds, etc with water, fruit juice and hemp/nut milks - THIS IS ZING! Nicky mentioned the word ... Oh my, you really can't get more zing than a good blend. Current favourite morning recipe is this:

2 x cup hemp milk as base
2 x cup kale, chard, cabbage ... or anything similar (often a mix of leaves)
1 x cup beetroot
1 x cup apple
1 x cup carrot
1 x cup tomatoes
1 cubed inch fresh ginger root
1/2 cup nuts & seeds
Leaves of fresh oregano, mint, rocket and dandelion picked from the garden ...

The body sings with zing when this is drunk as the first course of breakfast ... tingles in my tummy, my skin, my internal organs can all be clearly discerned .... the message body gives is "this food is good, this food is needed, this food sustains ... this food builds SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN MISSING ..."

When at friend's places I eat what is offered. It's not about being a health warrior for me, is about balance.

The motivation for the change was threefold:

A) Reduce suffering of animals directly

B) Reduce environmental footprint (ex: 70% of USA arable land is used for growing animal feedstock; food animals create more greenhouse gases than cars)

C) Personal health and moral decency in harmony

Right now I'm on vacation in Spain and in a hotel in a very Spanish little town. Outside the Dhamma centre it's certainly not so easy to be vegan-ish ... here it would be impossible. So, no giving myself a hard time over it. When I find good veggie food I eat that, when I don't - which is most of the time - what is offered (tapas) is what is eaten. Most of the food is seafood, locally caught and very fresh. It also has ZING! The very cells of my body tell me this food is good for you.

I'm kind of rambling a bit so I'll sum up with this: be honest with yourself, be kind to yourself, be kind to the world - and there is always some room to "bend" to the situation you are in: a stranger's kindness in offering food makes bad karma if refused on some high moral ground, which only comes from ego.

You'll find your way ... we all have to, for that is the nature of being.

Tat Tvam Asi,

With much metta,


« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 02:16:04 PM by Matthew »
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