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Q&A 115. Consuming vegetables in a non-vegetarian dish

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Q: Dear Master Lu, I have made a vow to be a vegetarian. But when we eat out, it is often inconvenient to find vegetarian food. Sometimes even a bowl of vegetable noodle soup would contain animal stock. Can I just eat the noodles and not drink the soup? Also, is it alright to eat the vegetables in a dish containing meat?


  • Strictly speaking, if you have made a vow to be a vegetarian, then you should not consume the vegetables in a meat dish. Furthermore, you should not consume any food that comes into contact with meat, seafood, or any of the five pungent spices.
  • Under extreme circumstances when you have no choice but to consume those vegetables, you should say to Guan Yin Bodhisattva in your mind that you are consuming these vegetables because you have no choice, and you do not want to eat them at all.
  • Most importantly, it is all about your intention.  If, when you are consuming the vegetables in a meat dish, you find the vegetables to be tasty, or you even find yourself enjoying the taste of meat, then you are breaking your precepts. This means you have not been able to keep your vow. You need to recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 49 times and sincerely repent your wrongdoings, and then make a vow again that you will be a vegetarian.
  • If you have made a vow, you must try your best to keep it. You should not look for any excuse for being unable to keep your vow. A precept means that you must refrain from doing what you should not do. You must have strong determination and observe your precepts.
  • In addition, you should not consume fertilised eggs (i.e. eggs that can hatch). Quail eggs should also not be consumed as they are already fertilised.
  • When you consume any medicine or health supplements that contain ingredients such as gelatine or fish oil, if your body does not reject the taste, then perhaps you have not reached the level where you are completely observing your precepts. However, it would still be best to avoid consuming such products as they contain animal by-products.
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