What are the dietary practices of Buddhist monks?

- through Francois Leclercq

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Buddhism is a way of life that advocates freedom, equality and compassion. Today, this practice is booming. In fact, there are nearly 600 million Buddhists in the world. But this religion requires real discipline, especially in eating habits. So what do Buddhist monks eat on a daily basis? And what are the restrictions?

Buddhism: what diet?

Today, people who are interested in Buddhism are not always familiar with the practices associated with this religion. THE online stores and specialty stores often sell items such as rings, statues or even necklaces, but few brands mention eating habits. So, what are the Buddhist culinary specialties?

What is shojin?

The origins of this vegetarian cuisine date back to the Middle Ages. At that time, meat was already prohibited among monks. But Buddhist culinary practice really developed between the 17th and 19th centuries in Japan. During this period, the monks developed new preparation techniques (frying, etc.). In addition, vegetables such as bamboo, watermelon or even seaweed are added to the recipes. Vegetarian cuisine, called shojine, began to spread among Buddhist communities. 

What do you find on a Buddhist plate?

Today, the monks follow a lacto-vegetarian diet. This means that they generally do not consume any products of animal origin (eggs, poultry, fish, etc.). Nevertheless, the dairy products such as yogurt or cottage cheese are included in Buddhist cuisine. The day's plates mainly consist of cereals (rice, quinoa, bread, etc.), nuts (almonds, pistachios, etc.) and vegetables (cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, corn, etc.).

What practices are associated with diet?

Please note that Buddhist monks never drink alcoholic beverages. According to them, drunkenness is a transgression that harms fundamental Buddhist principles. On a daily basis, a small majority of monks devote themselves to fasting. Generally, affected individuals no longer eat after midday and this diet lasts until the next day, at dawn. Additionally, they meditate regularly. Meditation and relaxation are essential notions of Buddhism. It improves concentration and strengthens well-being.

What are the strengths of the Buddhist menu?

Buddhist cuisine consists mainly of cereals and vegetables. Generally, this type of vegetarian diet provides the body with vitamins, minerals and even fiber. In addition, thanks to this balanced diet, the body fat drop. With the shojine, the monks implement a sober and respectful lifestyle, faithful to the principles of Buddhism (no excess...).

The Buddhist diet, a good alternative?

Nowadays, Buddhism interests new generations in search of spirituality. However, this practice requires discipline. Indeed, there are numerous dietary restrictions (alcoholic drinks, meats, etc.). However, shojine leads individuals towards healthier and more balanced consumption. So, if this lifestyle appeals to you, take all the necessary information and start your journey.

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Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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