Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Buddhist Ethics


Mahayana Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, Vegetarianism, Meat, Jigme Lingpa


Tibetan Buddhism has long argued for the sanctity of life, condemning the killing of humans and animals alike. For just as long, however, meat has been a staple of the Tibetan diet. Tibetan Buddhism idealizes the practice of compassion, the drive to relieve the suffering of others, including animals. At the same time, however, meat is a standard part of the Tibetan diet, and abandoning it is widely understood to be difficult. This tension between the ethical problems of a meat based diet and the difficulty of vegetarianism has not been lost on Tibetan religious leaders, including the eighteenth century master Jigme Lingpa. Jigme Lingpa argues repeatedly that meat is a sinful food, incompatible with a compassionate mindset. At the same time, however, he acknowledges the difficulties of vegetarianism, and refuses to mandate vegetarianism among his students. Instead, he offers a variety of practices that can ameliorate the inherent negativity of eating meat. By so doing, Jigme Lingpa offers his students a chance to continue cultivating compassion without having to completely abandon meat.

First Page


Last Page




Original Citation

Barstow, Geoffrey. "Buddhism Between Abstinence And Indulgence: Vegetarianism In The Life And Works Of Jigme Lingpa." Journal Of Buddhist Ethics 20 (2013): 74-104.


Publisher's Version

Publisher's Statement

Used with permission.

Peer Reviewed


Included in

Religion Commons



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.