What Are Buddhists Allowed to Eat?

Buddhism has no set dietary laws like those in Judaism or Islam, but some schools of Buddhism discourage followers from eating meat, fish and other animal-derived ingredients. Additionally, some sects of Buddhism in China and Vietnam do not eat garlic, onion or leek.

The Buddha forbade monks from eating 10 specific kinds of meat, including horse, snake, elephant and dog, but made no distinctions between foods that were permitted or forbidden in the religion other than those. In fact, in Buddha's time, monks were supposed to eat almost any food they were given, including meat or rotting food.

Views on vegetarianism vary between different sects of the religion. The first tenet of Buddhism is often interpreted to mean "do not harm or kill," and many Buddhists believe that eating meat is harming or killing an animal by proxy. Others argue, however, that if an animal is already dead or it was not slaughtered to feed oneself, then consuming it is not the same thing as killing it. Some schools consider vegetarianism to be a personal choice. Others encourage it but do not believe it is necessary when practicing Buddhism. Others may not buy and prepare meat for themselves but accept it if someone cooks it and offers it to them.