Ven. S. Dhammika: To Eat Or Not To Eat Meat – The Book

Yesterday I posted an introduction to Ven. S. Dhammika’s new book To Eat Or Not To Eat Meat, and today he has given me permission to publish the book in its entirety on the blog here.

I am publishing it in three files, the first is a pdf which is printable (A5 size pages) and has the complete text; and the others are jpgs of the cover. Ven. Dhammika is also giving permission for anyone to reprint the book, as long as they notify him first.

He is also encouraging translations, so if you know of anyone who can get it into another language for the benefit of the wider Buddhist Community please let us know.


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2 comments to Ven. S. Dhammika: To Eat Or Not To Eat Meat – The Book

  • Dear Venerable Anandajoti,

    My name is Barry Ng. I am studying Theravada Buddhism in Hong Kong. I have recently read Ven. S. Dhammika’s book To Eat Or Not To Eat Meat. This book really helps me to learn more the Buddhist attitude towards vegetarianism. I would like to translate this book into Chinese so that more people can have a better understanding of Buddhism and its position on vegetarianism. I would appreciate if you can consider giving me the permission to translate the book.

    Barry Ng

  • Elycia

    Dear everyone reading this :

    My case for Vegetarianism is founded on the Buddhist notion of universal compassion. Like Peter Singer who was referred to in one of Ven. Dhammika’s chapters, I agree that animals can and do feel pain, and are like human beings, protective of their own lives. In Biology, we learn the concepts of “fight” and “flight”. When animals are placed in a situation of danger, they seek either to fight or escape (flight). Some might argue that this is a reflex response, but this argument can be refuted easily when one reads more in depth into Biology. One might, on the other hand, take the position that because the animals understand what it is that make them suffer, what it is that cause them pain, what is it that will end their lives, they therefore choose either “fight” or “flight”. We might think that, from our “human” perspective, the life of an animal is not important, is not precious. But from that animal’s perspective, its own life is very important! That’s why it tries to escape from what it perceives as forms of danger.

    Apart from the biological perspective, I seek to apply the legal concept of “least restrictive means” to my practice of vegetarianism. In Constitutional Law, there exists this concept of “least restrictive means” – what is the least restrictive means for someone to acheive something?Adopting this for our Buddhist practice, it involves us asking “What is the least restrictive means for me to continue this basic sustenance?” Animals or plants? And if my answer is plants, then i have to ask myself what parts of the plant should I eat such that I wont kill the whole plant? All these are questions whichI think, a Buddhist vegetarian, has to ask himself or herself.

    This, however, does not mean that a Buddhist practitioner MUST be vegetarian. If one studies hard enough, say, the climate and geography of the plains of Mongolia, one will realise that in Mongolia, plants and vegetables are scarce and animals like sheep are in greater abundance as compared to vegetables. Thus, Mongolian Buddhist practitioners don’t really have a real choice; in fact, it’s a Hobson’s choice. Unlike Southeast Asian Buddhist practitioners who are lucky enough to get different sorts of vegetables, our friends in Mongolia aren’t. Thus, because of the geography, eating meat is perhaps the least restrictive means. So in my humble opinion, it is almost very uncompassionate for a vegetarian like me to impose vegetarianism on my Mongolian Buddhist practitioners. Some might argue that well, they can choose not to eat anything and be ascetics. But remember, the Buddha taught us the Middle Way….

    For myself, I’ve been a vegetarian for 8 years and I always tell my non-vegetarian friends this: Not everyone is suited to be a vegetarian. It depends on a whole lot of factors. Some people, based on their physicians’ advice, have to take meat to increase their iron level in their bodies. Whilst some others, just have a strong craving for meat. I won’t force you to become a vegetarian. But by my deed, I show to you that a vegetarian can live as healthily as non-vegetarians do.


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