Tibetan Buddhists move towards vegetarianism
April 26, 2007 : 12:00 AM
The Dalai Lama to visit San Francisco April 27-29
By Sharon St. Joan

There is a movement afoot among American Buddhists to encourage Tibetan Buddhists to become vegetarians. We learn this from Jordan Rothstein, who plans to be leafleting on behalf of the vegetarian cause during the visit of the Dalai Lama in San Francisco this coming Friday through Sunday, April 27-29.

The leaflets he hands out will invite Tibetan Buddhists to become vegetarian, a move it is said that the Dalai Lama supports.

At the Dalai Lama's traditional celebration last year, the Kalachakra, he spoke out, in Tibetan, in favor of a vegetarian diet. He also forcefully spoke against the trade in wild animal skins and fur.

The food served at the celebration last year was vegetarian.
It is reported that, at the Dalai Lama's residence in Dharamsala in the northern mountains of India, no meat is served. The Dalai Lama does, however, depart from a strictly vegetarian diet while traveling. His doctors have recommended this for health reasons.

The Dalai Lama has, over the past several years, requested that his followers become vegetarian. This has met with some resistance.

Traditionally, Tibetans are not vegetarians. A vegetarian diet can be more difficult in cold climates, where there is only a short growing season for vegetables, and where it is often believed that meat is essential for keeping warm.

There is a plan for each Tibetan monastery in India and Nepal to have a tofu machine. Each of these would be able to provide tofu, a source of protein, fresh daily to 3,000 monks and nuns.

A number of influential Buddhist teachers and followers of the Dalai Lama are advocating becoming vegetarian.

Among them is the Karmapa, a young Buddhist leader now in his early twenties, believed to be the latest in a long line incarnate monks, stretching back for around one thousand years. This Karmapa, discovered as a little boy, was the son of nomads in Eastern Tibet. It is said that he used to cry when he saw other children harming animals. He is now an outspoken advocate of vegetarianism, requiring all the monasteries that follow him to refrain from serving meat.

A growing movement among young Tibetans in the refugee communities of India and Nepal is starting groups to promote animal rights, animal welfare, and not eating meat.

The quickly growing organization, Tibetan Volunteers for Animals works among Tibetan communities in India, opening vegetarian restaurants and converting thousands of Tibetans to vegetarianism.

The Dalai Lama seems to have always been fond of animals. He wrote in his autobiography that he believed he had personally saved 10,000 yaks (yak pictured) by buying them, over a number of years, as they were on their way to be slaughtered and then sending them off to sanctuaries.

Jordan Rothstein who covers this information on his website
http://rawveg.info/buddhistveg.html includes a poem said to be a quote from Ancient Chinese verse.

For hundreds of thousands of years the stew in the pot
Has brewed hatred and resentment that is difficult to stop.
If you wish to know why there are disasters of armies and weapons in the world,
Listen to the piteous cries from the slaughter house at midnight.
- Ancient Chinese verse