→ Buddhist Vegetarianism: Tibetan Buddhism

Buddhist Vegetarianism: Tibetan Buddhism

Just as no pleasures can bring delight
To someone whose body is ablaze with fire,
Nor can the great compassionate ones be pleased
When harm is done to sentient beings.
- Shantideva

Buddhist Vegetarian Teachings of Chatral Rinpoche

Chatral Rinpoche is a renowned Nyingma teacher. In Asia, he is considered to be one of the most highly realized Dzogchen lamas. Chatral has been an outspoken advocate of vegetarianism for deacades.

Lama Zopa Says Avoid Eating Meat Out of Compassion

A nun asked Lama Zopa Rinpoche, head of the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT) if she should stop eating meat. He said

It’s best to avoid eating meat...out of compassion. Before eating the meat, think of where it came from, through cutting an animal’s neck, against its will, and how much suffering the animal experienced.

After thinking about that, you can’t eat the meat! Meat may be nice for the person eating it, but not for the animal who suffered so much and didn’t die naturally.

You can say prayers for the animal that was killed, but if you eat the meat you are still playing a small part in the death of the animal. If everyone stopped eating meat then no more animals would be killed for that purpose.
- Lama Yeshe Avoid Killing Animals & On Eating Meat

Lama Yeshe recommends Spare the Insects

Great Tibetan Buddhist Vegetarians of History

In the past, some of the most highly-respected Tibetan teachers were ethical vegetarians.

Patrul Rinpoche's Words of My Perfect Teacher is quoted and recommended by teachers of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Patrul promoted compassion for animals, and denounced animal slaughter and meat-eating. Although a frequent traveler, he refused to ride on horses or use animals to carry his belongings. Patrul said that meat from slaughtered animals is not to be used in ritual offerings, and quoted from Gampopa, who said that also.

The beings with unfortunate karma that we are supposed to be protecting are instead being killed without the slightest compassion, and their boiled flesh and blood are being presented to us and we - their protectors, the Bodhisattvas - then gobble it al1 up gleefully, smacking our lips. What could be worse than that?

It is said that offering to the wisdom deities the flesh and blood of a slaughtered animal is like offering to a mother her murdered child. If you invite a mother for a meal and then set before her the flesh of her own child, how would she feel? It is with the same love as a mother for her only child that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas look on all beings of the three worlds.

Pure meat does not mean the meat of an animal slaughtered for food, but the meat of an animal that died because of its own past actions, meaning meat from an animal that died of old age, sickness or other natural causes that were the effect if its own past actions alone.
- Words of my Perfect Teacher p208-9

To that end it is appropriate to use meat from an animal that has not been slaughtered for eating. However, if you introduce meat that does not conform to this requirement into the mandala of offerings, all the deities and wisdom beings will vanish.
- Gampopa (Dakpo Rinpoche) from Words of My Perfect Teacher p208-9

Jigme Lingpa said:

All beings have been our mothers, but ordinary people do not recognize them as such, and that is why they are able to kill them. Of course, we Dharma people cannot eat meat, and why? Because our mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters, our friends of the past who were so dear to us - here they are in front of us! Even those who know no other practice should at least abstain from meat as much as they can.

Nyala Pema Duddul another great 19th century Dzogchen teacher wrote Song of Advice for Giving Up Eating Meat

Shabkar was a prominent nineteenth century Dzogchen teacher who required all his students to renounce meat eating. Shabkar's writings strongly urge Buddhists to develop compassion for animals.

Tibetan Buddhist Vegetarians Increasing

EAST & WEST - Now things are changing. More Vajrayana teachers, monks, nuns and yogis are becoming vegetarian, and advocating a compassionate diet.

Young Tibetans in the refugee communities in India & Nepal have started organizations to promote animal rights and vegetarianism, and HH Dalai Lama is supporting them.

Tibetan Volunteers for Animals has converted thousands of Tibetans in India to vegetarianism. TVA is opening Tibetan vegetarian restaurants in Tibetan communities in India.

For hundreds of thousands of years the stew in the pot
Has brewed hatred and resentment that is difficult to stop.
If you wish to know why there are disasters of armies and weapons in the world,
Listen to the piteous cries from the slaughter house at midnight.
- Ancient Chinese verse

Vegetarianism in Early Buddhism

Vegetarianism and Diet in Pāli Buddhism

Books on Buddhism & Vegetarianism

See Also · SF Bay Area Tibetan Buddhism events list © Jordan Rothstein <jordan at>