Buddhist cuisine is an East Asian cuisine which is followed by some believers of Buddhism. It is primarily vegetarian, in order to keep with the general Buddhist precept of ahimsa (non-violence). Parts of Ancient India were also Buddhist, and many Indians remain vegetarian.
Vegetarian cuisine is known as zhāicài ("(Buddhist) vegetarian food") in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan; đồ chay in Vietnam; shōjin ryōri ("devotion cuisine") in Japan; sachal eumsik ("temple food") in Korea and by other names in many countries.
Jainism, a religion contemporary to Buddhism, also features a similar cuisine, see Jain (Satvika).
Buddhism and vegetarianism
Buddhism, along with Jainism, recognizes that even eating vegetables could contribute to the indirect killing of living beings because animal life is destroyed by tilling the soil or the use of pesticides. Jainism consequently considers death by starvation (only after undergoing 12 years of strict asceticism) as the ultimate practice of non-violence, while Buddhism considers extreme self-mortification to be undesirable for attaining enlightenment.
Both Mahayana and Theravada thinking is that eating meat in and of itself does not constitute a violation of the Five Precepts which prohibit one from directly harming life.
When monks and nuns who follow the Theravadan way feed themselves by alms, they must eat whatever leftover foods which are given to them, including meat. (The Pali/Sanskrit term for monks and nuns means "one who seeks alms".) The exception to this alms rule is when monks and nuns have seen, heard or known that animal(s) have been specifically killed to feed the alms-seeker, in which case consumption of such meat would be karmically negative. The same restriction is also followed by lay Buddhists and is known as the consumption of the "triply clean meat" (三净肉).
On the other hand, when lay communities specifically purchase meat for the consumption of monks and nuns, the permissibility of meat eating differ among Buddhist sects. The Theravada Pali Canon records instances of Buddha eating meat that was specifically purchased for him. This act was deliberately performed by the Buddha to demonstrate that, if need be, a Buddhist can bend the rules in times of emergency or inconvenience. Obstinately observing vegetarianism or Buddhist rules in times when you cannot conflicts with Mahayana philosophy because obstinacy or attachment for anything, is considered to be "stubbornness" (执著), which will become an obstacle to nirvana or enlightenment. However, if one undertakes a vow to be a Buddhist vegetarian, one is expected to follow this vow until it is humanly impossible to continue one's vegetarian diet.
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