I'm happy to find discussion about vegetarianism, a topic much on my mind lately. I have a tendency to try to simplify -- perhaps oversimplify -- everything, but it seems to me that vegetarianism is at least implied in the first precept which suggests that we abstain from taking the life of sentient beings; from that point of view alone, I have taken up a vegetarian life style. Whether I'll be able to maintain it, I don't know. Realizing that people who live in areas where edible vegetable matter is scarce, and that accepting all offerings of the laity by monks can be considered the greater good, and that there are many points of view and rationales for what we eat, I can only speak for myself, hopefully free of judgement. It's interesting to find the discussion under Pureland Buddhism here. I've also been recently introduced to Pureland practice, so it's nice to find these two together.
Verse of the Three Morsels of Food (selections)
This food is for the Three Treasures
This food is four our teachers, parents, nation, and all sentient beings.
This food is for all beings in the three worlds.
Thus we eat this food with everyone,
We eat to stop all evil,
We eat to practice good,
To save all sentient beings,
And to accomplish our path
LastLegend wrote:How important is food in aiding us practicing Dharma?
LastLegend wrote:... when we have to pee so often throughout a day, we have a hard time practicing meditation on that day.
... eating any vegetarian or vegan diet is healthy or even beneficial to our practice?
... but seriously, you can even pee in a meditative state of mind, paying attention to the very act itself. Don't reduce "meditation" (what an awkward word that is!) to just sitting on the cushion. Buddhist cultivation (bhavana) includes every activity, yes, even excretion.
May I ask you a question: How do you feel (honestly) after eating anything, it doesn't matter what, of which you know caused suffering to others?
And then look at how do you feel after eating anything which didn't cause suffering to others.
Does that answer your question?
LastLegend wrote:Sure, eating meats has its ill effects directly and indirectly. Human now use chemicals and hormones to raise their animals and all cage raise them. When we eat these animals, we ingest their effects also. On the other hand, by eating vegetarian or vegan diets, we are not contributing to the death of those animals and also avoid ingest their effects otherwise would have. But does that mean eating any vegetarian or vegan diet is healthy or even beneficial to our practice? For example, when we eat sugary food, our body will release many CO2 through metabolism. So we need O2; this means we have to breath harder. This means the heart has to pump blood faster, and therefore increase pressure in blood flow. When the brain experiences the pressure, neurons will fire more and we think more. So then our mind cannot remain calm.
What about the advice that we should drink plenty of water? Sure if we eat a lot and many portions at the same time, then we will need a massive amount of water to process wastes and impurities resulting from biochemical reactions. The problem with drinking a lot of water is we are putting extra stress on our kidneys. An average adult has about 5 liters of blood that are filtered by our kidneys about 200 times per day. So that means the kidneys filter 1000 liters of blood per day in addition to the amount of water that we drink. How is this gonna benefit us on the long run?
Now if we only eat, let say a medium portion of brown rice and soy sauce, then there is a low level of biochemical reaction. Thus, we don't have to drink a lot of water and less stress on kidneys. Also notice that when we have to pee so often throughout a day, we have a hard time practicing meditation on that day.
black_tea wrote:The ethics of eating meat aside, from a health standpoint you can be an unhealthy meat eater or a healthy meat eater, an unhealthy vegetarian or a healthy vegetarian, etc. It's making sure we get the stuff that we need, and don't go overboard on the stuff that we don't. However, our bodies are all different -- some people are more affected by things like sugar, caffeine, etc. Some might have a harder time processing certain foods. We have to pay attention to what our bodies are telling us. If I ate enough sugar I would not feel well, but putting a little in my tea or having the occasional treat doesn't make me not calm or speedy. However, I am much more sensitive to caffeine and anything stronger than tea is a no-no for me. But that's me.
Though it is possible to drink too much water, that would take a good bit of effort to do. Most people don't drink enough. Staying well hydrated helps prevent UTI's as you flush out more bacteria. It's actually better for your kidneys and bladder.
But does that brown rice and soy sauce contain a balance of what you need?
It's also possible to stay mindful while you pee. I have a problem with low blood pressure, and if I get dehydrated my blood volume drops and I get more symptoms. Being dizzy and lightheaded is far more distracting than taking a moment to go use the restroom. I think worrying about keeping a low biochemical reaction maybe looking at the wrong things (or perhaps overcomplicating the issue???) -- you need to look at whether or not you are getting the nutrition that you need to be healthy and that you are staying hydrated. I agree that eating in moderation is a good thing as well as not overindulging when it comes to sugary snacks
LastLegend wrote:If you have low blood pressure, that's because there is something wrong with your body. If your body is healthy in the first place, you would not have low blood pressure.
I have an autonomic nervous system disorder. It has nothing to do with what I eat or the overall state of my health -- it's genetics at work. It does make me more sensitive to certain things and being dehydrated is one of them (there are worse things in life than having to pee ). I understand your concerns, but it feels like you are exaggerating the perceived dangers. That has a way of happening in discussions about diet no matter where one goes.
What I was trying to get at with the sugar and caffeine example was simply that we are all different, and what affects you negatively may have little to no effect on someone else. Of course you don't need either sugar or caffeine in your diet, but they are what popped into my head as it is easy to see how they can effect people in completely different ways -- that's why proclaiming something as a 'poison' across the board comes off as reactionary. If eating something sugary or drinking a cup of coffee really does interfere with your physical health or meditation, then by all means avoid those things, but don't assume that they have the same effect on all other people.
At the heart of it, though, we do need a variety of nutrients to be healthy and that is not likely to come from brown rice and soy sauce alone.
Also, the amount of water you drink when your naturally thirsty is not going to damage your kidneys -- this is where listening to your body comes in. If you are thirsty, your body is telling you something.
And while diet is an important part of one's overall health, good diet alone is not going to stop you from ever getting sick.
UTI's don't come from an unhealthy immune system, they are caused by bacteria ending up in your urinary tract (an issue much more common for women than men for obvious anatomical reasons).
I'm not saying you should guzzle water all day, or over indulge when it comes to food -- just suggesting a little moderation. We shouldn't be gluttons, but we shouldn't deprive our bodies either.