Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

Berkeley Thai Buddhist Temple and Vegetarianism

R and I went to Wat Mongkolratanaram in Berkeley today. This is generally know as the “Thai Buddhist Temple” in Berkeley, not by its proper name (amongst non-Thai). Every week, for years and years, they have a Sunday brunch. From what I’ve gathered, many local Thai businesses donate food for this to the temple and the proceeds from the sale of the food go to the temple for funds.<p style="text-align: center"> IMG_1980.JPG

In any case, it is a fairly well known place to go locally for Sunday food and we only live about mile or so away. We’d been meaning to go for quite a while but it has been one of those motivational things to leave the house in the mornings on the weekend.

When we went today, the food was fairly good. They have it split up with drinks in one area, desserts in another, and then two lines for either vegetarian or meat dishes (that are otherwise largely the same). R and I both got food from the vegetarian area, which was basically green beans and tofu and some phad thai.  The food was pretty good and the atmosphere is fun. We wound up sitting across from an obviously Berkeleyite (which is what he told us he was as well). Looked to be in his 50s or so wearing a tie-dye shirt. He confessed to both voting for George W. Bush and smoking lots of weed. An interesting fellow, to say the least.

In regards to the food, I’ve thought about writing something about vegetarianism. I’ve recently made the decision to begin the gradual process of going vegetarian. I do this for both of the typical reasons: health and ethics.

I come from a a family where the men all gain a lot of weight and have heart attacks by the time they reach their mid-40’s, if not before. While my dad was terminally ill with another condition, he did die of a heart attack and had a bit of heart trouble (unbeknownst to me at the time). All of his uncles, his dad, and cousins of the male persuasion have had heart trouble (and attacks) as well. My grandfather has had his chest opened up multiple times. Because of this, I both need to keep my weight down in the long term but also to start eating in a more healthful way. Cutting out the red meat and the fat is part of this. Now, I know (so don’t start telling me) that the vegetarian diet is not always more healthy for all people but I generally think it will be in this case. I’m not cutting out protein and I’m not becoming a Vegan so I think I’ll be ok.

The ethical reason is that, as a Buddhist, I cannot really see myself eating large amounts of meat (if meat at all) over time. The taking of life is something to be avoided and I should be holding up my end there. If I do eat meat, I should do it knowingly and consciously of where it comes from and the death of the animal.

As with most Americans, I have historically eaten meat on a daily basis. Initially, I’m cutting this down to every other day and, then, I will try to take it down to once or twice a week fairly quickly. I’ve been told that doing this as a gradual process is more conducive to both success and to keeping your body happy (thanks, Gwen!). I plan on keeping my protein at a decent level, as I’ve said, and eating a fairly diverse range of food.

We’ll see how this goes and how long it takes. I expect it will come up more in the future.