December 1 : How and What to Eat

We should always eat with presence and be aware of our food. The key is to feel satisfaction and contentment while eating instead of craving, restlessness, or dissatisfaction. We are vegetarian at the Abbey, and more people in the United States, Europe and Australia are also becoming vegetarian. A Buddhist reason for being vegetarian is to avoid killing animals, but others do it for health reasons, out of compassion for farm animals which are raised and slaughtered in inhumane conditions or to be kinder to the environment since cattle manure produces a lot of methane and a lot of lands are taken up to raise livestock. His Holiness recommends that people who do eat meat to eat larger animals because many meals can be served for one life lost. His Holiness is a part-time vegetarian for health reasons, but when he eats meat, he says a mantra to bless the animal for giving up its life and makes dedication prayers for the animal to have a good rebirth and to be able to practise the Dharma well and lead that particular being to awakening.

Sometimes people think being a vegetarian is not healthy, but it is quite possible to learn to eat wisely and be healthy on a vegetarian diet. You take vitamins and learn how to get your protein. One person who came to the Abbey was quite upset that we are not vegan and do not eat only organic produce. I explained that we eat eggs that are not fertilised because eating fertilised eggs involves killing. But organic food is more expensive, as are eggs from free-range chickens and milk from naturally grazing cows. If you are a private party and can afford these foods, it is better. But renunciants only eat the food that is offered to us and we do not like telling people we want all this expensive food that they would even not buy for themselves.

If we are eating to practise the Dharma, we should take care of our health by eating a balanced diet with not too much sugar, salt, oil, or carbs and keeping a healthy weight as best as we can. Being healthy and energetic brings a much greater sense of contentment than stuffing yourself full of cookies.

“365 Gems of Wisdom” e-book is out now!