Quantcast Vegetarian StarDalai Lama Says Eating Meat Not Always Against Monk’s Principles

Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama frequently receives criticism from some in the vegetarian community for continuing to eat meat while promoting non-violence. A former vegetarian, he started eating small amounts of animal flesh on the advice on a doctor after developing gall bladder issues and hepatitis.

When he spoke with NDTV, he insisted that from a religious standpoint, eating meat is not necessarily against a monk’s principles.

“In vinaya no prohibition in eating meat, so monks in Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, they take both veg and non veg food. One time I asked, discussed this subject with a monk from Sri Lanka about 40 years ago, he said Buddhist monks are neither veg nor non veg… he should accept whatever he gets, so that’s the principle. But vinaya clearly mentions that meat which was purposely killed for you was not to be eaten but in general was not prohibited, some books like langaavatarasutra prohibited any kind of meat, including fish etc but some other texts not prohibiting, so different case, I think practically in northern part of Tibet, no vegetables. Very difficult. So that’s practical reason.”

Now, he describes his meat eating habits as consuming it “once or twice a week.”

Photo: PR Photos


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31 Responses to “Dalai Lama Says Eating Meat Not Always Against Monk’s Principles”

  1. Brien Comerford Says:

    Gandhi would never eat meat under any circumstances. I do concede that the Dalai Lama is still one of the greatest world leaders.

  2. sophia Says:

    an incarnation of compassion , an incarnation of a Boddhisattva, woul d not cause suffering to any sentient being. THere is a very serious spiritual disconnect here. A great leader does not a BOddhisattba make and if you teach compassion you must live compassion.THis man has many people in the world following him .IT would certainly be in the interest of th e greater good for all sentient beings, the environment and the planet if he was pure in ahimsa and not try to make excuses for his desire to eat corpses

  3. Vicente Says:

    Why does anyone listen to him or the pope? Just ignore them both. Maybe then they’ll have to get real jobs.

  4. Why Do You Call Yourself A Vegetarian? – Proximal Kitchen - The Press Democrat - Santa Rosa, CA - Archive Says:

    […] Dalai Lama eats meat because his doctors tell him to. My wife was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for many years, until she got […]

  5. Pablo Says:

    Dali Lama says alot of good things but as a human he also says ignorant stuff like “monks shouldn’t get married” “dating is evil” the guy is not God.

  6. James Says:

    Well… Pablo, if you knew anything about the Dahli Llama, you’d realize he never claims to be ‘God’, in fact he never has claimed to be anything but human.

  7. Barbara Says:

    Wish I hadn’t read this…now I have rethink my feelings toward the Dali Lama. It does change everything for me.

  8. Satish K Singh Says:

    Dalai, a fugitive God is a disguised person. His preaching never matches with practice. He is the most crooked politician than a spiritual lead

  9. Chris Says:

    He is simply a businessman and the biggest hypocrite on the planet. He only has time for world leaders and famous people. He raises money the same way a politician does it. People have to wake up, this is lie and ideology.

  10. Joe Says:

    The Dalai Lama does not judge people. I strive to have his compassion and understanding of the world.

  11. Abz Says:

    I love the Dalai Lama. He’s way better than any politician. He gets criticized and rather than blame, guilt trip any of us or point a finger what does he do? He gives practical reasoning.

    Compassion is about flexibility too. Isn’t judging him opposite of being compassionate?

    We all want to live better lives. It takes time and patience for change to happen.

    And someone mentioned Ghandi. Ghandi said, “Be the Change” That means being an example in actions and your words.

    Do the words you speak reflect a sense of compassion? And will your words create change?

    The Dalai Lama has my respect and admiration. To dedicate his whole life to promoting ideals like peace and happiness, I doubt most people are willing to go to such great lengths. He is a gift to this planet.

    And I am a vegetarian when possible. I have to be practical when I’m traveling or when I’m out of town. When I see my relatives during holidays I don’t waste my energy criticizing them for eating meat. I celebrate that they are in my life and I develop loving relationships because this is more important me.

    Where’s your focus? Either you are whining about the problem or you are practicing (taking action) the solution. Meditate on that.

    Be well.

  12. Geoff Says:

    @Brein Gandhi also hated Black people. He likened them to animals. I wouldnt take refusal of meat as an indication of sainthood.

    @Sophia, The Buddha ate meat. There goes your theory and usage of Buddhist terminology.


  13. Nick Says:

    Think the lack of protein is effecting your senses on this site…seems you’re all looking to judge you’re fellow human. Are you all sure your own lives could withstand the candle of scrutiny you are holding up to the Dalai Lama?

  14. robyn.concannon Says:

    I am totally disgusted with the dalai lama or whatever he calls himself. He is worse than a hypocrite. He is supposed to be an example of compassion and he eats meat. Totally disgusting. I hate him.

  15. Adam Says:

    I’ve always thought that JAINISM was the BEST religion regarding MORALS and ETHICS!

  16. Eater of Bodies Says:

    Lol vegetarians and vegans….
    Survive the next Ice Age. I know the Dalai Lama will.

  17. Ken Says:

    So disappointed with him. One of the core teachings of Buddhism is ‘not to cause suffering to any sentient being’. . . you do this every time you eat a piece of meat. Not good karma your holiness. My respect for him has gone.

  18. Travis Says:

    In reading some of these comments I am disappointed in humanity. To say ” I hate this man because he eat’s meat ” is absolutely ludicrous. The world is better off without those who hate and especially those who hate based on such a small matter. This man has done more good in this World than any single person posting on this site, including myself. His choice of diet was based on his health and his Doctor’s advice. I will add that those Doctor’s are among the best in the World at what they do and know much more about the human body than anybody on this site. People need to worry about their own lives and stay out of other’s. If you don’t like the Dalai Lama based on his diet or anything else, great, go follow who you choose to follow and post about them.

  19. Travis Says:

    I have no hate for anyone and especially the Dalai Lama. I would like to add that for anyone who is surprised by the fact the Dalai Lama does eat meat, they must not be Buddhist’s, and if they are, they do not truly understand it’s principles and teachings. For those of you who are ” Holier Than Thou ” or see yourselves that way because you choose a strict Vegan diet, I can tell you that plants are living things as well. Your argument of “one should not eat flesh” goes right out the window every time you eat the Fleshy part of a plant. You are not “Holier Than Thou”, you are hypocrites yourself. I believe everyone has a choice in what they eat and should not be judged by other’s. I am a Buddhist and am not a vegetarian, however, I have no problem with other’s choosing to be Vegetarian’s. Peace, love, compassion, sound mind are all core part’s of Buddhist teachings and while I have studied Buddhism thoroughly, I don’t recall ever hearing that one should hate or dislike a person based on his diet.

  20. Bonnie Says:

    Oh please people live and let live ,realizing we are all good period.Too much time in contemplating over others actions is just plain boring.Get on with life ,its supposed to be fun!

  21. Pi Says:

    Patanjali, who wrote the yoga sutras explains that the FIRST rule of yoga is ahimsa and yet so many so-called yogis eat violent foods. The main teaching of Buddha is ahimsa and the main purpose of Buddha’s advent was to stop the animal sacrifices that were taking place in the name of some Vedic religions. For a buddhist to eat violent (himsa) food, therefore, is totally hypocritical. Your lame argument, Travis, that eating plants is just as violent as eating meat, is like saying pulling a carrot out of the ground and cutting a cow’s throat is the same thing. You have to be kidding me? Have you visited a slaughter house? Have you cut a cows throat?

    It is impossible to avoid all violence in this world, but we must do our best to minimize it.

  22. jude Says:

    In the Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra, which presents itself as the final elucidatory and definitive Mahayana teachings of the Buddha on the very eve of his death, the Buddha states that “the eating of meat extinguishes the seed of Great Kindness”, adding that all and every kind of meat and fish consumption (even of animals found already dead) is prohibited by him. He specifically rejects the idea that monks who go out begging and receive meat from a donor should eat it: “. . . it should be rejected . . . I say that even meat, fish, game, dried hooves and scraps of meat left over by others constitutes an infraction . . . I teach the harm arising from meat-eating.” The Buddha also predicts in this sutra that later monks will “hold spurious writings to be the authentic Dharma” and will concoct their own sutras and lyingly claim that the Buddha allows the eating of meat, whereas in fact he says he does not. A long passage in the Lankavatara Sutra shows the Buddha speaking out very forcefully against meat consumption and unequivocally in favor of vegetarianism, since the eating of the flesh of fellow sentient beings is said by him to be incompatible with the compassion that a Bodhisattva should strive to cultivate. In several other Mahayana scriptures, too (e.g., the Mahayana jatakas), the Buddha is seen clearly to indicate that meat-eating is undesirable and karmically unwholesome.

  23. Kias Henry Says:

    May all beings be free from suffering.

    We do not need to eat meat to be healthy. I would encourage everybody to move towards a more compassionate diet/world view.

  24. Ben Says:

    Plants eat bones and blood. When you eat plants, you’re eating something that ate meat.

    This attitude that vegetarianism is “compassionate” and does not “cause suffering” is simply a denial of death (which is opposed to the Buddhist principle of accepting the suffering of the world).

  25. Ben Says:

    For those of you who don’t understand almsfood, read this, and maybe you’ll understand why eating meat is NOT against Buddhism, at all. You have taken the satvas out of context, and you should be ashamed.


    Basically, if you read this and are still confused, it goes like this: You are forbidden from eating meat killed FOR YOU! If someone gives you their leftover meat, it is perfectly acceptable to take and eat it.

  26. sumi Says:

    wow the hatred and judgements of some of the comments are more toxic than meat.

  27. Julie Jones Says:

    I agree with what Travis has said. I too, am a Buddhist, and I am close to being a Vegetarian, and definitely not a Vegan. I love my milk and cheese and vegetables, but I also eat a little meat every now and then. I don’t like much meats, and I never eat Steak, just because I don’t like it. But, we are supposed to live in harmony while here. Be compassionate and have wisdom. It never ceases to amaze me the people who claim to be peaceful sentients but yet have such opinionated claims. Just Be Good and Do Good, is it really that hard? I am thankful I found Buddhism, it is the one true thing/path that totally makes sense and it works. I am living proof of this. I honor the Dalai Lama very much and Thich Nhat Hahn. And, for those of you here who are blaming others and pointing the finger, I honor you as well. Because you are on your own path in life, just because you are not on my path doesn’t mean you are wrong. We all play a role in life and this is your role, whether it right or wrong. Namaste’ my friends. 🙂

  28. To Eat Meat or Not to Eat Meat? | East West Insights Says:

    […] “Dalai Lama Says Eating Meat Not Always Against Monk’s Principles,” Vegetarian Star (July 29, 2010), retrieved February 22, […]

  29. Andrew Says:

    For one who preaches Ahimsa and then eats meat – this is hippocrisy personified 🙁 In this age of Kali Yuga – the age of quarrel and hipprocisy( according to the ancient Vedic texts), it is said that those who pose as spiritual leaders and preach but do not follow are demins in the guise of holy men. Actually Lord Buddha who the Dalai Lama is supposed to be following never ate meat and strictly adhered to eating a vegetarian diet and always preached that all living beings should be treated equally. Lord Buddha actually forbid all animal sacrifice and slaughter in this age. God does not even tolerate an ant being killed what to speak of animals especially the sacred cows. Anyone who is serious about making spiritual progress would not follow a so called spiritual teacher that does not practice what he preaches! One who does so is living a very risky life and will gradually glide down to the hellish planets. Better to take shelter of the holy name – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare and be eternally happy! Once one starts chanting this mantra, one will automatically lose all taste for eating meat and other vices! Hare Om Tat Sat 🙂

  30. Andrew Says:

    I am in no way judging the Dalai Lama but just stating what the Vedas say which are the authorised ancient holy scriptures coming down from time immemorial.

  31. Andrew Says:

    In order to purify our food, God asks that we offer it to Him. He states in the Vedas that He only accepts grains, fruits, vegetables, flowers and milkstuffs. He does not accept animal flesh – plain and simple. In this way by offering our vegetables, grains(non animal food) to Him the food becomes Karma free – ie no sin is incurred and there is no reaction to eating this purified food.