Home Discussion Forum Why isn't the Dalai Lama a Vegetarian?

Why isn't the Dalai Lama a Vegetarian?

If, as it states in Buddhism, every living, sentiant creature is sacred why does the Dalai Lama eat meat and wear leather shoes?


  1. Doctors have told him his health would be compromised by keeping a vegetarian diet. Don’t believe everything you see in the movies about Tibet.

  2. Well there isn’t a lot of arable land in Tibet, it’s pretty much eat meat or die, and so the meat is only consumed and slaughtered for the purpose of sustaining life, which is acceptable to nature. That is the main difference between Tibetan Buddhism and other Buddhists.

    • why does he continue to eat meat even while on tour AND in places where its very easy to eat a nutritious veg meal.
      He just is habituated and addicted to it.
      He is also a spiritual polititian and doesnt want to allienate the emat eating buddhist of which there are many!
      Its one thing if you are standied with nothing else to eat,
      but to eat animals when there is no need is sheer hypocrasy
      if preaching “ahimsa”

  3. Those shoes aren’t leather.
    My best friend grew up on a farm. She too knows the sacredness of animals and loves them but she eats some meat because she realizes that there is a difference between exploiting animals and needing to survive. The Dalai Lama has very small amounts of meat because he became severely ill living on a purely vegetarian diet. When asked “Aren’t Buddhists supposed to be vegetarians”, he responded “The good ones are!”
    Buddhism does not adhere to any single law. Thank goodness the Dalai Lama understands that there is a difference between survival and championing a cause. The Buddhists I know give their children the things they need to survive regardless of whether or not “God” said not to. If it wasn’t for the Dalai Lama being both spiritual and realistic, Buddhism would be an Abrahamic religion.

  4. It does not state in the Dharma that every living sentient creature is sacred at all…it states that we are to refrain from taking Life.
    The Dalai Lama is not taking Life when he eats meat nor is he taking Life when he wears leather, if he does so at all. He is taking meat after following doctor’s advice for his health..a wise strategy ..forgive me for these small criticisms…Do you enjoy throwing stones whilst living in a glass house…? Not a wise strategy….
    The Lord Buddha was very practical about living with the Dharma in everyday life…killing living creatures is forbidden but eating dead flesh is not….a perfect Buddhist would prefer not to even do this…we do not claim to be perfect rather we choose the Middle Path and strive for this ideal…sometimes it is not possible…are you perfect…? Is it not also “written” in your Bible that your Jesus said at a stoning..”Let he who is without sin cast the first stone..?” Do you follow your Jesus example..? Apparently not….perhaps you should…./shrugs/
    Peace from a Buddhist

  5. ONLY Chinese Buddhism emphasises a vegetarian diet. Thus, some people thought that one who practises Buddhism must be a vegetarian. People who cannot stop eating meat misunderstood that they are not ready to start to learn about Buddhism. If we look around at the Buddhists in Japan, Sri Lanka, Thailand or Tibet and Mongolia, not to mention the lay followers, we find even the monks and nuns have meat in their diet. Can you say that they are not practicing the Buddha’s teaching? They are not Buddhists?
    Do not think that one must be a vegetarian in order to learn about the teaching of the Buddha and that one cannot practise Buddhism if one cannot be a vegetarian. To practice Buddhism and be a vegetarian are not the same thing. Some people who become a Buddhist, do not learn much about the teachings but only know how to be a vegetarian.
    If there was a man who was a very strict vegetarian but who was selfish, dishonest and mean, and another man who was not a vegetarian but who was thoughtful of others, honest, generous and kind, which of these two people would be the better Buddhist?

  6. In Tibet the environment is not conducive for sustaining crops as the earth is of a poor quality, therefore the Tibetans have to survive on a diet consisting of meat.
    As the Buddha taught, vegetarianism is an ideal which is commendable, yet one must follow the dharma practically, so if one has to supplement their diet with meat on health grounds, then eating meat is unfortunately a necessity for healthy living and mental well being.
    I doubt any Buddhist who eat meat are comfortable about the death of the animal they have partially consumed, yet if we can become compassionate and active for the welfare of animals rights especially wild endangered animals, then we can a least balance out our Karma.
    I became a vegetarian for six months but had to start eating meat again when I suffered weight loss and dizzy spells.
    I could not concentrate clearly which effected my meditation sessions, so I decided to eat meat due to health reasons, although I am uncomfortable about the idea of eating an animal.

  7. In one of HH the Dalai Lama’s books he states “there is no unequivocal prohibition against eating meat. What is specifically prohibited is eating meat that you have ordered with the knowledge or suspicion that it has been killed especially for you”. In deed in years gone by when Monks begged for food they ate what they were given meat and all

  8. He quit vegetarianism due to “health issues” because he was subsisting off of a weird diet consisting solely of milk and nuts…which is, well, nuts. Technically, vegetarian but certainly not a healthy or educated diet. Sort of like eating french fries for every meal. Sure it’s vegetarian but you wouldn’t think that was a healthy way to live would you? And guess what, by supporting the meat industry, YOU are directly ordering that animal’s life be taken. It’s simple supply and demand and it is naive to think that since you are served the meat killed by someone else, in a restaurant, cooked by someone else, that when you consume that meat that it wasn’t killed for YOUR purposes. It is a convenient and lazy way to circumvent the issue. The very fist tenet (and listed precept) of every branch of Buddhism is Ahimsa which is to practice non-violence and kindness to ALL sentient life, human and non-human alike. I do not understand how you can conveniently forget that to solely satiate your taste buds. When you are learned about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, you understand that a proper balanced vegan diet is the healthiest – and kindest – around.

  9. just saw the wonderful dalai Lama on CNN being interviewed with this guy Peice Morgan… it’s running now for most of the day… but I found him engaging and very silly…however he did say that he was not a Vegetarian because he said he got sick, his eyes were turning yellow he says and that he was becoming more like the Bhuda meaning that the aisan people are called Yellow as white people are white and black black..etc and I did spell bhuda wrong.. I just can’t seem to understand the spelliing of it… I thought you would find this interesting…

  10. I saw HH on CNN. My interpretation of his description of his jaundice was that he was becoming more like “butter” and was making a pun because with his accent Buddha and butter sound alike.
    He most certainly was not making a racist joke.

  11. There are plenty of protein alternatives to meat. You can get enough protein in a veggie burger/dog or two as you can in regular burger. On the BBQ, they are just as satisfying as the real thing, only better because they’re easier for your system to process than fatty flesh full of nitrates.
    If he really was only consuming a diet of milk and nuts, then that’s just absurd. Humans are the only creatures to consume milk past babyhood. We just don’t need it. A wholesome diet of veggies, fruit, whole grains and legumes is a certain path to a long life and inner peace.

  12. HH Dalai Lama has not stepped in Tibet since 1959 – he lives in exile in North India. Millions of Indian people live long healthy life – being vegetarians through out their life. Even if a Doctor were to advise a 75 year old vegetarian Jain lady in India to eat meat, she would rather die than eat meat. With no disrespect to HH, It seems quite obvious HH could not control his desire to eat meat and had a Doctor prescribe meat as “medicine” – as suitable excuse.

  13. Whether you eat animal or plant, is the same. Both are living, both have a consciousness, feelings, nervous system and so feel pain. The only diff. is that plants live in a different time frame, so we do not notice them move, or hear them.
    Please watch:
    Is another I would like to show but have not found it yet.
    It would seem that whilst we live on this planet, in this dimension, we have to kill to survive. I suppose the kindest is to eat fruit and nuts and maybe leaves without killing the plant, but this does not give our bodies all the nutrients it needs. The best we can do is what many native Indians do, before you pick, gather, kill (eat the flesh incl. plant flesh) – thank the plant, tree, animal for giving it’s life in order sustain yours.

  14. Re: Ruth
    “Whether you eat animal or plant, is the same. Both are living, both have a consciousness, feelings, nervous system and so feel pain. The only diff. is that plants live in a different time frame, so we do not notice them move, or hear them.”
    Plants are not sentient. They lack both a brain and central nervous system. Animals do experience the world through consciousness which is why it is wrong to harm and exploit them.

  15. i go with-better to be kind while consuming 10/20 % meat than be vegetarian n 100% cruel…..but why eat a gentle herbivore?….monarchy?

  16. The doctors who advised him to eat meat are ignorants, we can live a completely healthy life as vegans, now days we don’t need at all mean to survive with some supplements a vegan protein is more than enough. Doctors now days only know what they were told most of them have no idea of how the body world in terms of nutrition

  17. Traditionally Tibetans don’t eat a lot of veggies. Grains, dairy and meat account for most of their caloric intake. Tibet is not the best environment for growing vegetable. There is no prohibition against eating meat in Tibetan and many other forms of Buddhism. It’s primarily the Mahayana form of Buddhism that prohibits meat, and then only for priests, monks and nuns.

  18. Ahimsa …. one can define Ahimsa anyway one want, but an enlightened person would and should know what it stands for.
    If you cannot cut out meat, you’ll find all sort of reason for it and perhaps even define ahimsa the way you like to suit your need.
    There are buddhist who believe in ahimsa but due to karma are not able to cut out meat from their diet despite of their will and effort. However if they make excuses to support their leaning towards eating meat, this will further charge karma to take them into a lower life form after death. For those who do not make excuse and know very well that is against ahimsa they would still have to suffer the consequence but the suffering in the next life will not be as severe. It is not to say that a buddhist cannot decide to eat meat for whatever reason, but just understand that there are karmic debt to be paid and the more excuses one made the greater the debt will be.
    As a buddhist (that is if you were a buddhist) one would and should understand that health and death is not dictated by one effort, it is due to karma.
    This is not to say that one should not make an effort to maintain good health and just wait for karma to take care of things. The middle path meant make an effort for your good health at the same time do as much as you can to sustain ahimsa. One ultimately have to decide for oneself which is more important but hope one will stop making excuses for going against ahimsa.
    Perhaps in the older days in India the doctor do not know enough about nutrition as we do now. We now know through development of science that it is possible to eat a well balanced vegetarian meal. If HH still insist he is following doctors order then only HH knows what is really going on.

  19. No one seems to mention the devastating effect of animal production on our enviornment. The sad thing is the Dalai has the opportunity to lead on this issue, but he leads with his belly instead of his heart. Besides, the worst thing you can do is burden your liver with urich acid when you get jaundice. He got bad advice and he leads by bad example.

    • I have to agree to this. If you are an environmentalist, the first thing you know is you can no longer eat meat and contribute to the devastation!

  20. From the age of 26 to 59 I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian. Much of the time I was vegan and did not use leather goods or eat honey. My belief in avoiding killing anything was the central organizing principal of my existence.
    I realized that humans are anatomically designed to eat most anything not poisonous and can be healthy on an omnivorous diet, native Americans being one example.
    I began eating meat again in 2010 for reasons that seem petty to me now. One was that my life changed.I went from living around people who were of vegetarians to those who ate meat everyday. It was much easier to eat omnivorously and it actually tasted good. Some aspects of my health may have improved, but in general, I can say that my health is not as good as it used to be. I am older and my life in general is not as active as before, so there are other reasons that my general health may not be as good as before.
    I decided that while it seemed immoral to eat animals and use their skins, etc, the Indians were not vegetarians and the Dali Lama is not a vegetarian so it must be okay for me to eat meat.
    I do not really believe that. If I killed my own food in the wild,
    it would be better, but I still question it. If I cannot kill something, skin it,
    gut it, and cook it, I should not eat it.
    I am considering going back to a non meat diet, but with the realization that I cannot escape killing. Driving a car kills insects.
    All of us have to make these decisions for ourselves.

  21. The problem is nowadays that our meat is tainted, unhealthy and no longer an option for those that knows how they are prepared to die. Filled with every kind of poison to plump them up so they can no longer even stand on FOUR feet and besides that, then “cleansed” with ammonia…no thank you!


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