Buddhism dietary practices

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Buddhism dietary practices

Healthline 04 May 2020

Siddhartha Gautama, or the ”Buddha,” founded Buddhism in the 5th to 4th century B.C. in the eastern part of India. Today, it’s practiced worldwide.Several forms of Buddhism exist globally, including Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana. Each type has slightly different interpretations of Buddha’s teaching, particularly when it comes to dietary practices.


Five ethical teachings govern how Buddhists live.

One of the teachings prohibits taking the life of any person or animal. Many Buddhists interpret this to mean that you should not consume animals, as doing so would require killing.

Buddhists with this interpretation usually follow a lacto-vegetarian diet. This means they consume dairy products but exclude eggs, poultry, fish, and meat from their diet.

On the other hand, other Buddhists consume meat and other animal products, as long as the animals aren’t slaughtered specifically for them.

Nonetheless, most dishes considered Buddhist are vegetarian, despite not all traditions requiring lay followers of Buddhism to follow this diet (2).

Alcohol and other restrictions

Another ethical teaching of Buddhism prohibits intoxication from alcohol given that it clouds the mind and can lead you to break other religious rules.

Still, lay followers of the religion often disregard this teaching, as some traditional ceremonies incorporate alcohol.

Aside from alcohol, some Buddhists avoid consuming strong-smelling plants, specifically garlic, onion, chives, leeks, and shallots, as these vegetables are thought to increase sexual desire when eaten cooked and anger when eaten raw.


Fasting refers to abstaining from all or certain types of foods or drinks.

The practice — specifically intermittent fasting — is becoming increasingly popular for weight loss, but it’s also often done for religious purposes.

Buddhists are expected to abstain from food from noon until the dawn of the following day as a way to practice self-control.

However, as with the exclusion of meat and alcohol, not all Buddhists or lay followers of the religion fast.



 Like other religions, Buddhism has specific dietary practices that followers may or may not practice. Some Buddhists may fast or refrain from consuming animals, alcohol, and certain vegetables.

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