Dallas, Texas: Steve Gottleib.
Dallas, Texas: Steve Gottleib.

We Tibetans like to eat meat. We don’t care if it’s healthy or not—we like it. Basically, eating meat is a negative. It’s not great. In the old Tibetan practice, if you get the meat from a market and can make sure that it wasn’t killed for you specifically, it’s okay to eat it. I don’t slaughter animals or eat animals slaughtered for me. Being a general buyer of meat is not that bad but, of course, if there’s no demand, there will be no supply. I’m not going to argue with that. But it’s not direct killing committed by me, for me.

“On the other hand, you cannot totally escape negatives. Vegetarians may think they are totally pure, but it’s not true. They may be a little bit self-righteous, but vegetables don’t grow on pure land. There are many insecticides. That’s also killing. We cannot live without eating. We have to eat. We are born in this condition. That’s what it is. That means we’re not hopeless or useless. We can purify our negatives. The one good quality is to be able to purify.”

Find other perspectives on food and practice in our special section: Meat: To Eat It or Not

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