Lion's Roar

Friends, Not Food

IF YOU STOPPED PEOPLE on the streets of Chicago or London and ask them if Buddhists are vegetarian, the most likely response you’d get is “yes.” The public perception, at least in the West, is that since Buddhism is based on reverence for life, followers of the path don’t eat animals. And while it is true that Mahayana schools often recommend a vegetarian diet, the fact is that the majority of Buddhists do eat meat.

The Buddha, however, did not turn a blind eye to the suffering of animals, as many would have us believe. The first precept he taught was “Abstain from taking life.” Within this, the Buddha didn’t limit his teachings on compassion to only

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