Great Vegan Debate

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Johnny Dangerous
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

Post by Johnny Dangerous »

mirrormind wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 11:07 pm
Dhammanando wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 10:50 am ... the only food rule is the requirement not to eat between midday and dawn when one is observing the eight or ten precepts.
This explanation addresses the question very clearly. What then is the reasoning why retreat centres generally do not serve (much) meat?
Institutional food prep is a different thing, when you have to accommodate multiple diets not serving meat covers a lot of bases.

Every religious org I’ve personally seen plan group events (few Churches, Synagogues, lots of Dharma center) stick to vegetarian meals.

It also makes cooking, cleanup etc. easier, way less worry about cross contamination, stores better and whatnot.
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

Post by mirrormind »

Thanks for all your responses. So the rationale would be mainly practical considerations and limitation of choice apparently.
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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mirrormind wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 11:07 pm This explanation addresses the question very clearly. What then is the reasoning why retreat centres generally do not serve (much) meat?
In the case of Goenka, there are two stated reasons for his centres offering lacto-vegetarian fare. One is the familiar supply and demand argument of secular vegetarian advocates. The other is a pseudo-scientific claim to the effect that an animal's mental defilements are somehow preserved in its flesh and will adversely affect the meditation practice of anyone who eats it. (I suspect there may also be a third, unstated, reason, namely, that his Indian followers include a huge number of Vaishnavites).

From The Art of Living:
Student. Is it breaking sīla to eat meat?

Goenka. No, not unless you have killed the animal yourself. If meat happens to be provided for you and you enjoy its taste as you would that of any other food, you have not broken any precept. But of course by eating meat you indirectly encourage someone else to break the precepts by killing. And also at a subtler level you harm yourself by eating meat. Every moment an animal generates craving and aversion; it is incapable of observing itself, of purifying its mind. Every fibre of its body becomes permeated with craving and aversion. This is the input you receive when eating non-vegetarian food. A meditator is trying to eradicate craving and aversion, and therefore would find it helpful to avoid such food.

Student. Is that why only vegetarian food is served at a course?

Goenka. Yes, because it is best for vipassanā meditation.

Student. Do you recommend vegetarianism in daily life?

Goenka. That is also helpful.
As for Dharma centres in the West, I think the decision just reflects the fact that so many Buddhists are in fact vegetarians. I don't know whether they constitute a majority of Buddhists in the West as a whole, but in the circles that I'm most familiar with (i.e., Theravada and Zen Buddhism in the UK and Iceland) if we set aside the first- and second-generation Asian immigrants, nearly everyone I know is a lacto-vegetarian.
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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mirrormind wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 11:07 pm
Dhammanando wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 10:50 am ... the only food rule is the requirement not to eat between midday and dawn when one is observing the eight or ten precepts.
This explanation addresses the question very clearly. What then is the reasoning why retreat centres generally do not serve (much) meat?
Our temples prohibit it because it's against the additional Bodhisattva precepts. You are not even allowed to bring it onto the temple grounds.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 2:26 pm
Aemilius wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 9:27 am All preparing of food (and eating it) is creating the demand and market for the future production of meat or other foodstuffs.
But the person who is offered the meat food is not demanding it, and individually is not creating a demand for it, because the meat has already been cooked. That’s the point when discussing the Buddhist teachings on karma, which are not about manipulating the food industry, but about the actions of the individual practitioner.
Roshi Philip Kapleau has refuted that very clearly. If you are an alms dependent monk in a human society, the people supporting you will know what you like and what you don't like. Your supporters will get accustomed to your presence and to the monks gathering alms food in general. Thus they will know your existence, your likes and dislikes, when they are preparing the food. In this manner the provision of alms food is taken into consideration in the process of preparing the food. This means that you were thought of when the food was prepared and when the ingredients for it were bought.

To Cherish All Life: A Buddhist Case for Becoming Vegetarian, by Philip Kapleau, 1986
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They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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mirrormind wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 11:07 pm
Dhammanando wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 10:50 am ... the only food rule is the requirement not to eat between midday and dawn when one is observing the eight or ten precepts.
This explanation addresses the question very clearly. What then is the reasoning why retreat centres generally do not serve (much) meat?
Meat or alcohol are not allowed in our (zen) centers. This is true of all Chogye (Korean) temples, and since that is our root tradition, we do the same.
When walking, standing, sitting, lying down, speaking,
being silent, moving, being still.
At all times, in all places, without interruption - what is this?
One mind is infinite kalpas.

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Re: Great Vegan Debate

Post by Dhammanando »

Aemilius wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 9:50 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 2:26 pm
Aemilius wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 9:27 am All preparing of food (and eating it) is creating the demand and market for the future production of meat or other foodstuffs.
But the person who is offered the meat food is not demanding it, and individually is not creating a demand for it, because the meat has already been cooked. That’s the point when discussing the Buddhist teachings on karma, which are not about manipulating the food industry, but about the actions of the individual practitioner.
Roshi Philip Kapleau has refuted that very clearly.
Not really. Kapleau merely shows that PadmaVonSamba's observation wouldn't apply to takuhatsu (almsround) as practised in Japan. But it would be an unwarranted extrapolation to claim that what Kapleau witnessed in Japan is applicable to monks and almsfood in general.

On a typical almsround in rural Thailand and Myanmar, for example, all or most of the offerings will be simply a portion of whatever meal the lay donors have cooked for themselves. Few of them will be exercised over the question of whether the food will be to the monk's taste, for even if it isn't there's sure to be some other monk in the monastery who'll like it. (And even if no monk at all likes it, they'll still get the merit of offering it).
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

Aemilius wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 9:50 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 2:26 pm
Aemilius wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 9:27 am All preparing of food (and eating it) is creating the demand and market for the future production of meat or other foodstuffs.
But the person who is offered the meat food is not demanding it, and individually is not creating a demand for it, because the meat has already been cooked. That’s the point when discussing the Buddhist teachings on karma, which are not about manipulating the food industry, but about the actions of the individual practitioner.
Roshi Philip Kapleau has refuted that very clearly. If you are an alms dependent monk in a human society, the people supporting you will know what you like and what you don't like.
That doesn’t refute my statement at all. It merely states that the people supporting you will know what you like and what you don't like. but the monk still subsists on what is offered to them. If some bonito fish flavoring finds its way into the monk’s bowl, that becomes part of his meal too. Has the monk thus increased the demand for bonito fish? Of course not. That’s my point.
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

Post by Giovanni »

KeithA wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 1:18 pm
mirrormind wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 11:07 pm
Dhammanando wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 10:50 am ... the only food rule is the requirement not to eat between midday and dawn when one is observing the eight or ten precepts.
This explanation addresses the question very clearly. What then is the reasoning why retreat centres generally do not serve (much) meat?
Meat or alcohol are not allowed in our (zen) centers. This is true of all Chogye (Korean) temples, and since that is our root tradition, we do the same.
And we shoukd respect that tradition while at the same time recognising that it is not a tradition held universally in Buddhadharma. In many schools of the Vajrayana for example both alcohol and meat are seen as essential items in certain practises. And that is not typical of all Buddhadharma either.
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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Giovanni wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 3:52 pm
KeithA wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 1:18 pm
mirrormind wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 11:07 pm

This explanation addresses the question very clearly. What then is the reasoning why retreat centres generally do not serve (much) meat?
Meat or alcohol are not allowed in our (zen) centers. This is true of all Chogye (Korean) temples, and since that is our root tradition, we do the same.
And we shoukd respect that tradition while at the same time recognising that it is not a tradition held universally in Buddhadharma. In many schools of the Vajrayana for example both alcohol and meat are seen as essential items in certain practises. And that is not typical of all Buddhadharma either.
Hmm...never said it was universal. I just answered the question.

There can be no debate that a world without meat eating would be a better place, however. That's coming from a non-vegetarian.

Out of genuine curiosity, I would be interested to hear from any traditions where meat is served during retreats, or even during Sangha get togethers/celebrations.

_/|\_
When walking, standing, sitting, lying down, speaking,
being silent, moving, being still.
At all times, in all places, without interruption - what is this?
One mind is infinite kalpas.

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Re: Great Vegan Debate

Post by PadmaVonSamba »

KeithA wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 4:19 pm I would be interested to hear from any traditions where meat is served during retreats, or even during Sangha get togethers/celebrations.
So many lamas in the west today were born in India.
But only a few decades ago, many had grown up in Tibet, where eating meat every day was the norm. It’s what their bodies were used to eating.
In western Tibetan Buddhist sanghas 30 years ago, because the lamas tended to eat meat, meat was often included in group meals.
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

Post by Giovanni »

KeithA wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 4:19 pm
Giovanni wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 3:52 pm
KeithA wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 1:18 pm

Meat or alcohol are not allowed in our (zen) centers. This is true of all Chogye (Korean) temples, and since that is our root tradition, we do the same.
And we shoukd respect that tradition while at the same time recognising that it is not a tradition held universally in Buddhadharma. In many schools of the Vajrayana for example both alcohol and meat are seen as essential items in certain practises. And that is not typical of all Buddhadharma either.
Hmm...never said it was universal. I just answered the question.

There can be no debate that a world without meat eating would be a better place, however. That's coming from a non-vegetarian.

Out of genuine curiosity, I would be interested to hear from any traditions where meat is served during retreats, or even during Sangha get togethers/celebrations.

_/|\_
I attended many retreats when I was a Karma Kagyu student and serving meat meals was the norm. There were usually vegetarian options too. In fact at Samye Ling monastery the then Abbott Akong Rinpoche had a large walk in freezer installed so that fewer sentient beings died in order to feed those on the Three Year retreat. Those was achieved by buying whole carcasses, which equalled fewer beings. As he said at the the idea that small creatures are less important than big ones is not compassionate. One of the current Karmapas encouraged his centres to stop serving meat but I hear that his words are not being obeyed everywhere.
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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KeithA wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 4:19 pm
Giovanni wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 3:52 pm
KeithA wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 1:18 pm

Meat or alcohol are not allowed in our (zen) centers. This is true of all Chogye (Korean) temples, and since that is our root tradition, we do the same.
And we shoukd respect that tradition while at the same time recognising that it is not a tradition held universally in Buddhadharma. In many schools of the Vajrayana for example both alcohol and meat are seen as essential items in certain practises. And that is not typical of all Buddhadharma either.
Hmm...never said it was universal. I just answered the question.

There can be no debate that a world without meat eating would be a better place, however. That's coming from a non-vegetarian.

Out of genuine curiosity, I would be interested to hear from any traditions where meat is served during retreats, or even during Sangha get togethers/celebrations.

_/|\_
I’m not sure a world with no humans eating meat is possible, or even worth working towards. To me a more general ecological and economic change wrt to industrial agriculture is probably a saner idea. It’s not just about whether or not humans eat meat, but the fact that economic growth is connected to a rise in human meat consumption and just how much that consumption has gone up.

In that sense, the people looking at the problem through a lens of sustainability, food systems etc.probably have a better grasp of the problem than people who advocate certain individual diets…which sorry to say really is a privilege one only acquires by living in a society with a huge abundance of food choices and a certain amount of insulation from how others have to live wrt food.

Focusing on individual meat consumption is diagnostic of the problem itself, which is systemic, and not primarily individual. People believing it’s a problem solvable through individual diets are engaging in a particular kind of magical thinking, similar to believing that drug abuse can be solved simply by individuals modifying behavior, being locked up, etc.

We have enough evidence now to know how naive that sort of approach is by looking at other areas of society, the theoretical idea of a meat free future driven by consumer choice is kind of absurd, in my opinion.
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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Johnny Dangerous wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 7:09 pm
KeithA wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 4:19 pm
Giovanni wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 3:52 pm

And we shoukd respect that tradition while at the same time recognising that it is not a tradition held universally in Buddhadharma. In many schools of the Vajrayana for example both alcohol and meat are seen as essential items in certain practises. And that is not typical of all Buddhadharma either.
Hmm...never said it was universal. I just answered the question.

There can be no debate that a world without meat eating would be a better place, however. That's coming from a non-vegetarian.

Out of genuine curiosity, I would be interested to hear from any traditions where meat is served during retreats, or even during Sangha get togethers/celebrations.

_/|\_
I’m not sure a world with no humans eating meat is possible, or even worth working towards. To me a more general ecological and economic change wrt to industrial agriculture is probably a saner idea. It’s not just about whether or not humans eat meat, but the fact that economic growth is connected to a rise in human meat consumption and just how much that consumption has gone up.

In that sense, the people looking at the problem through a lens of sustainability, food systems etc.probably have a better grasp of the problem than people who advocate certain individual diets…which sorry to say really is a privilege one only acquires by living in a society with a huge abundance of food choices and a certain amount of insulation from how others have to live wrt food.

Focusing on individual meat consumption is diagnostic of the problem itself, which is systemic, and not primarily individual. People believing it’s a problem solvable through individual diets are engaging in a particular kind of magical thinking, similar to believing that drug abuse can be solved simply by individuals modifying behavior, being locked up, etc.

We have enough evidence now to know how naive that sort of approach is by looking at other areas of society, the theoretical idea of a meat free future driven by consumer choice is kind of absurd, in my opinion.
Wasn't saying it possible or impossible, or worthy of working towards. Just saying it would be qualitatively better. No amount rationalization can change that. Factory meat production is really a horrific thing. Again, saying this as a non-vegetarian. I do choose to eat less meat than the average consumer. Way less, and basically only for my non-vegetarian family.

Aside from that, I agree with the points made.

For me, the return is always to not judging others. Everyone is responsible for their own karma.

I do feel for vegans, because it seems like a particularly stressful way to live. Having been accosted by vegans in the temple kitchen asking what I using for ingredients, looking for labels, etc., with a frantic look in their eyes, is tough to see. But I do appreciate the direction, and the genuine concern they feel.

Round and round...
When walking, standing, sitting, lying down, speaking,
being silent, moving, being still.
At all times, in all places, without interruption - what is this?
One mind is infinite kalpas.

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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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KeithA wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 7:30 pm
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 7:09 pm
KeithA wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 4:19 pm

Hmm...never said it was universal. I just answered the question.

There can be no debate that a world without meat eating would be a better place, however. That's coming from a non-vegetarian.

Out of genuine curiosity, I would be interested to hear from any traditions where meat is served during retreats, or even during Sangha get togethers/celebrations.

_/|\_
I’m not sure a world with no humans eating meat is possible, or even worth working towards. To me a more general ecological and economic change wrt to industrial agriculture is probably a saner idea. It’s not just about whether or not humans eat meat, but the fact that economic growth is connected to a rise in human meat consumption and just how much that consumption has gone up.

In that sense, the people looking at the problem through a lens of sustainability, food systems etc.probably have a better grasp of the problem than people who advocate certain individual diets…which sorry to say really is a privilege one only acquires by living in a society with a huge abundance of food choices and a certain amount of insulation from how others have to live wrt food.

Focusing on individual meat consumption is diagnostic of the problem itself, which is systemic, and not primarily individual. People believing it’s a problem solvable through individual diets are engaging in a particular kind of magical thinking, similar to believing that drug abuse can be solved simply by individuals modifying behavior, being locked up, etc.

We have enough evidence now to know how naive that sort of approach is by looking at other areas of society, the theoretical idea of a meat free future driven by consumer choice is kind of absurd, in my opinion.
Wasn't saying it possible or impossible, or worthy of working towards. Just saying it would be qualitatively better. No amount rationalization can change that. Factory meat production is really a horrific thing. Again, saying this as a non-vegetarian. I do choose to eat less meat than the average consumer. Way less, and basically only for my non-vegetarian family.

Aside from that, I agree with the points made.

For me, the return is always to not judging others. Everyone is responsible for their own karma.

I do feel for vegans, because it seems like a particularly stressful way to live. Having been accosted by vegans in the temple kitchen asking what I using for ingredients, looking for labels, etc., with a frantic look in their eyes, is tough to see. But I do appreciate the direction, and the genuine concern they feel.

Round and round...
Yeah, a world where there were no addictions, wars, or violence, etc. would be qualitatively better too, but I also suspect nearly impossible. So, I’m willing to settle for a more realistic strategy of reducing harm.

Again I’m just criticizing the approach of addressing this question via the notion that it’s all about individual diets, not necessarily questioning the general notion that eating less meat is good, or that such a theoretical world would be preferable…just that sometimes I think approaching things from such an all or nothing perspective misses the point.

I’m not accusing you of that personally, just pointing at the pattern in these conversations where binary thinking about complex problems is common.

We talked briefly earlier about vegetarian menus in institutional settings, in many ways I think this sort of thing is a better direction to go in than individual diet, and more impactful.
Don’t you see what’s wrong with the world today? Oh Everybody wants somebody to be their own piece of clay.

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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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Well, being anchored to a strict diet can be stressful, but not quite as much when the only forseeable options are copium and intelligence ( I guess buddhism doesn't happen overnight). I recall a time when I was in pain so much that I would starve as an alternative, forsaking what was necessary. The first couple of years of veganism were awful, just pure grieving processes, but I remember then I could not live with myself knowing what I knew but just quit back to that place of solace. In fact it opened up a new world, and it's not a case of trying to turn it back (stressful in itself) but re-adjusting oneself.
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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Johnny Dangerous wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 7:09 pm People believing it’s a problem solvable through individual diets are engaging in a particular kind of magical thinking, similar to believing that drug abuse can be solved simply by individuals modifying behavior, being locked up, etc.
Yes, it takes a lot more than that. People need to be in the right personal space. This woman tells her story and she is an inspiration. She also gives advice for helping addicts in your life. This is a little off-topic, but it is a good opportunity to share something that might help others.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpClyXHrT08

If anybody is interested, they should watch.

Virgo
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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Virgo wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 2:42 am
Johnny Dangerous wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 7:09 pm People believing it’s a problem solvable through individual diets are engaging in a particular kind of magical thinking, similar to believing that drug abuse can be solved simply by individuals modifying behavior, being locked up, etc.
Yes, it takes a lot more than that. People need to be in the right personal space. This woman tells her story and she is an inspiration. She also gives advice for helping addicts in your life. This is a little off-topic, but it is a good opportunity to share something that might help others.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpClyXHrT08

If anybody is interested, they should watch.

Virgo
Yeah, I’ve used some of her videos in groups, she has some decent things to say.
Don’t you see what’s wrong with the world today? Oh Everybody wants somebody to be their own piece of clay.

-Marvin Gaye
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

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Johnny Dangerous wrote: Thu Jan 26, 2023 2:50 am
Yeah, I’ve used some of her videos in groups, she has some decent things to say.
:namaste:

Virgo
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Re: Great Vegan Debate

Post by Aemilius »

Dhammanando wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 2:27 pm
Aemilius wrote: Wed Jan 25, 2023 9:50 am
PadmaVonSamba wrote: Tue Jan 24, 2023 2:26 pm
But the person who is offered the meat food is not demanding it, and individually is not creating a demand for it, because the meat has already been cooked. That’s the point when discussing the Buddhist teachings on karma, which are not about manipulating the food industry, but about the actions of the individual practitioner.
Roshi Philip Kapleau has refuted that very clearly.
Not really. Kapleau merely shows that PadmaVonSamba's observation wouldn't apply to takuhatsu (almsround) as practised in Japan. But it would be an unwarranted extrapolation to claim that what Kapleau witnessed in Japan is applicable to monks and almsfood in general.

On a typical almsround in rural Thailand and Myanmar, for example, all or most of the offerings will be simply a portion of whatever meal the lay donors have cooked for themselves.
From what I have learned about Buddhism in Maynmar and/or Thailand, it is not the case that the monks are not considered when foodstuffs are bought and meals are prepared.
You cannot seriously claim that the existence of something like 300 000 monks does not affect the production and sales of food ingredients.
svaha
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Sarvē mānavāḥ svatantrāḥ samutpannāḥ vartantē api ca, gauravadr̥śā adhikāradr̥śā ca samānāḥ ēva vartantē. Ētē sarvē cētanā-tarka-śaktibhyāṁ susampannāḥ santi. Api ca, sarvē’pi bandhutva-bhāvanayā parasparaṁ vyavaharantu."
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1. (in english and sanskrit)
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