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