Jon Pendleton
Reston, Virginia
Assistant Bookstore Manager
















“I don’t eat red meat, but I do eat chicken and seafood. I don’t believe in eating red meat. Right now it’s because of the environmental impact—all the grain that goes to feeding cattle could be used to feed people.”

Kevin Mallone
Long Island City, New York
Manufacturing Engineer and Zen teacher at Sing Sing Correctional Facility

“I was a vegetarian for ten years. In 1979 I took a job as gatekeeper at a Zen center. My biggest responsibility was providing firewood for the center. I took in about 125 cords a year. We were felling trees and hauling them out of the woods. That’s not possible on a vegetarian diet. You can’t feed someone brown rice and seaweed and expect them to go out and engage in physical labor.”

Steve Stucky
Mill Valley, California
Landscape Designer, Gardener, and Zen Priest

“It means eating low on the food chain; that is, more carrots and corn, not many chickens, and very few cows. It also means being ready to die. We’re in this interconnected net of existence, and there is some killing involved in all eating. At some point we take our place in that. It’s important to listen for balance and express gratitude.”

Marilou Gari
Portland, Maine
Retired Business Teacher











“I’ve been a vegetarian all my life. I was born into a vegetarian family. Living in Maine where there are so many hunters, especially in November, is most disturbing. My family has always believed in not taking life. How can we feed on the flesh of dead animals and feel physically and spiritually nourished?”

Karen Holden
Willits, California
Painter and Poet













“I was a vegetarian for many many years until I became ill. It was harrowing making the decision to eat fish and poultry, but necessary given my constitution. I was heartened to read that the Dalai Lama also reconciled himself to eating meat. The process made me realize that a larger part of being a Buddhist is learning how to be in the world when we are here, regardless of our ‘beliefs.’ It is comforting to find that space within the practice, rather than lots of guilt and doctrine. I learned that it was one thing to be a Buddhist ‘in mind’ and another to maintain that ‘Buddhism’ in a paradoxical world. What’s important is staying mindful, whatever I’m eating.”

Joseph Rachel
Houston, Texas
Clinical Psychologist















“That issue probably represents one of the greatest unresolved conflicts for me. I practice in the Vajrayana tradition and all my teachers still eat meat; His Holiness the Dalai Lama has commented that if safe alternatives are available, they would be preferable [to eating meat]. Struggling with this dilemma has led me to decrease the amount of meat I consume; it has also sensitized me to the issue of how much my existence is dependent on the existence of other sentient beings. Even if I became a complete vegetarian, just being human—and living in the United States in particular—means that there are other sentient beings who must give up their existence or live at a lower standard of existence for my benefit. So the issue of eating meat has led me to begin the process of examining what aspects of my life represent unnecessary extravagances and has led me to attempt to reduce or eliminate those extravagances.”

Margaret Radcliffe
Naples, Florida
Medical Technician















“I do not eat red meat anymore, only some chicken and seafood.The mere scent of animal food sizzling is an unnatural aroma. I’m evolving toward being a total vegetarian, but Southern Florida caters very little to vegetarians.”

Susan Drum
Tucson, Arizona















“When it comes to eating meat, I like to take the Native American view that you honor the spirit of the animal whose life you take.”

John Marron
Highland Park, New Jersey
Family Therapist















“For me it raises the ante on saying a sort of grace or thanksgiving before eating meat. Also I’m looking at vegetables as beings in their own right, maybe having a lower IQ than meat-bearing creatures, but still sentient and still available for conversation.”

Mu Sang Sunim
Los Angeles, California
Zen Buddhist Monk














“Sutra says: ‘Eating meat is like cutting your own flesh or that of your parents and relatives.’ Be careful!”

Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.

This article is only for Subscribers!

Subscribe now to read this article and get immediate access to everything else.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? .