Posted in Zen Buddhism

The Accidental Carnivore

or, Don’t Kill the Pig Twice

A lot has been written on whether it’s “better” for a Buddhist to be vegetarian. This is not one of those posts. The fact is that I am a vegetarian and have been for nearly 14 years. And yet I found myself eating pork recently. On purpose.

What happened was (my sister-in-law says it’s going to be a good story when it starts with “what happened was”) I was at a restaurant with my husband. I wanted the Quiche Florentine, which is vegetarian. My husband ordered for me, as he usually does, and he accidentally asked for the Quiche Lorraine instead. I suppose my mind was elsewhere (so much for mindfulness!), because I didn’t notice.

Until I put my fork into the quiche and found some animal flesh.

I could have sent the dish back and gotten the “right” one. But the restaurant would have had to throw it away, and the pig would still be dead. So I ate it. Mindfully.

Before I ate, I said a silent prayer for the animal or animals. (There could be meat from more than one in my dish. For simplicity, I’m referring to it here as one animal.) I acknowledged that it hadn’t offered itself voluntarily to me, but I thanked it just the same. I wished it a good rebirth, to realize enlightenment, and to save all beings from suffering.

My being a vegetarian isn’t about physical purity or spiritual perfection. It’s about being conscious of what I put in my body and about the choices I make in each moment.

Thank you, Piggy.

What are your thoughts on mindful eating? Please share in the comments below.

~ Rev. Jăbō



Ven. Dr. Myodo Jabo (Sandy Gougis) is a Zen Master and Priest in the Five Mountain Zen Order. She began studying Theravâdin Buddhism in 1998, adding Zen in 2003, and Vajrayana Buddhism in 2008. She currently practices in both the Zen and Tibetan traditions. Her Zen teacher is Most Ven. Wonji Dharma of the Five Mountain Zen Order, and her Tibetan guru is Lama Tsultrim Allione of Tara Mandala. In her free time, Myodo enjoys painting, jewelry making, and other creative endeavors.

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