We were drawn to Buddhism by its teaching of respect for all forms of life, human as well as non-human. But being new to it, we are confused and concerned about one thing. To practice Buddhism correctly, is it necessary to give up eating meat? There seems to be no agreement among Buddhists on this point. We’ve heard that in Japan and Southeast Asia lay Buddhists and even monks and priests eat meat, and that teachers in the United States and other Western countries do the same. But here in Rochester we’re told that you and your students are vegetarians. Do the Buddhist scriptures forbid
the eating of meat? If so, for what reasons? If they don’t forbid it, why, may we ask, are you a vegetarian? We would become vegetarians ourselves if we were sure that by doing so we could become more deeply involved in Buddhism. But
if that were not the case, we’d rather not give up meat, partly because all our friends eat it. Also, we do have some reservations from a health standpoint about a vegetarian diet.