Buddhist Diet

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Three types of restrictions
Rebirth is one basic tenet of Buddhism, and this includes rebirth of humans as other animals, and vice-versa. As a result, many Buddhists do not kill animals and many also do not eat meat. Other common reasons cited are that killing animals and/or eating their meat are a violation of the Five Precepts, bad for one’s own karma, and because of a compassion for other animals. Many vegetarian Buddhists are not vegan, but for those who are vegan, such beliefs are often due to objections about the circumstances in which the animals producing products such as milk and eggs are raised.
Some Mahayana Buddhists in China and Vietnam also avoid eating strong-smelling plants such as onion, garlic, chives, shallot, and leek, and refer to these as wu hun (??, ‘Five Spices’). One theory behind this Buddhist dietary restriction is that these vegetables have strong flavours which are supposed to excite the senses and, thus, represent a burden to Buddhists seeking to control their desires. Another theory is that these are all root crops, and harvesting them requires killing organisms in the soil. The latter explanation is accepted in the Jain religion that sprung up in India at the same time as Buddhism, and quite possibly influenced its practices. A third theory is that these strong spices could be used to cover up the taste of meat. Practitioners were told to avoid dishes with these spices to ensure they could discern if food prepared by others was tainted by meat. It is unclear, historically, what the original reason was for this restriction.
Alcohol and/or other drugs are also avoided by many Buddhists because of their effects on the mind and “mindfulness.”
Only for some Buddhists
There are no universally agreed-upon rules for of calling oneself a Buddhist is, if one is not trying to discern and follow the Buddha’s teachings on foods and all other issues. Conflicting aspects of Gautama Buddha’s teachings — compassion, The Five Precepts, and karma, versus the humility to accept meat and other things offered as charity — are not likely to be easily resolved, given the vagueness of written history. However, unlike other major world religions, Buddhism is least bothered about traditions and scriptures. The focus is on freedom of an individual to ‘choose his path’ using the precepts as mere ‘guidelines’.

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