A meat ban would be non-Buddhist and destroy Bhutanese people. Vegetarianism is the teaching of Devdatta, not Lord Buddha who had compassion for humans as well and ensured their full nutrition by teaching Maghata.
In Buddhism ignorance is violence. Buddhism is about The Middle Way, ensuring internal and external balance and harmony. Jainism would be considered extremist and destroying human health (modern science agrees humans need fish and meat) as millions of humans have died due to malnourishment due to vegetarianism – this is the greatest violence!
Lord Buddha cared for human nutrition and health and made sure we could eat fish and meat without guilt as long as we treated animals humanely by teaching us Maghata which is Buddhist Kosher.
As Buddhists, we eat to be healthy but are mindful of overeating and observing the weekly fast days. Governments are fully authorized to provide fish and meat for the public since it comes from intention of providing healthy food for the public.
Buddhism fully encourages eating meat and defends it, even to the point of splitting The Sangha when Devdatta demanded vegetarianism. So in Buddhism humans have the fundamental right to eat fish and meat for nutrition and medicine.
In Buddhism eating with a mind of lust is called eating “flesh” (Kumbhakara Jataka) — so this includes plants. So lust destroys the seed of compassion, not eating actual meat.
Buddha said eat with wisdom for health and enlightenment and in moderation, not for lust and greed. Sharing of food is sacrifice (Ilisa Jataka).
Buddhism calls out the hypocrisy of vegetarians in the Jatakas.
In The Lakkhana Jataka and Vyaggha Jataka Buddha clearly shows how many animals, creatures and entire habitats are killed for farming. So is it all right to destroy entire habitats, crush animals and insects under plows and claim you have not broken the first precept? If you claim a meat eater is a killer just because he eats meat and did not kill, than by that same logic all who partake in food from agriculture are killers and destroyers and every vegetarian has blood on their hands and are guilty of murder.
Just like a farmer’s intention is to provide food, so is the intention of a good butcher- to provide nutritious food. They are not killers since their intentions are pure.
Buddha talks about crop failure and famine in Gahapati Jataka where they kill a cow and eat it during a famine. So are you saying that humans should starve if crops fail? Crop failure is quite common. That is why humans raise both animals and crops for food security.
Virochana Jataka asks if a lion is a sinner if he kills for food? No, neither is a human if the intention is for nutrition and not for mere taste.
Animals must sacrifice too as they are born as animals since they committed sins and are in constant fear of being hunted and killed for food. Lord Buddha ensured animals who sacrificed themselves for humans through the government through Maghata got a good rebirth and a chance to escape from samsara (Maccha Jataka, Sasa Jataka). Governments must ensure animal welfare.
The Vinaya fully declares fish and meat has medicinal value! So meat is good for you.
Buddha even encourages you to eat meat in Nigrodha Jataka which talks of eating meat based on the merit of the animal and so chicken is good for you.
Munika Jataka says give animals good food and shelter. Also, beef has a lot of iron which is why the ox are called “Lohita” which means red blood.
On clean and unclean even the grass, trees and all plants are raised on nutrients derived from dirt which is composed of carcasses, blood, etc. As Buddhists we reflect on this quality of the earth and water. We too are like these elements.
Buddha not only defended eating meat in the Amagandha Sutta and stated in The Sukhamala Sutta that his family was rich enough to even give his servants meat, he even gave methods for Buddhist Kosher meat, known as uposathe māghāte maṃsaṃ.
Buddhist Kosher is Government authorized meat. “On the days of the new and full moon to keep Uposatha vows and to abstain from taking the life of anything.” The king of Benares, never ate his rice meal without meat, and to observe a holy day they would take his meat and put it on one side.
As per the Mahasutosoma Jataka on a fast day, when there is no killing, the man could find no meat;The sage perceived that the man must have been unable to find meat on this fast day when there was no killing.
Amagandha Sutta defends eating meat. SukhMala Sutta says he was raised in such luxury so that even his servants ate meat.
Vinaya tells monks they can eat meat in a blameless manner in three ways which is that they have not seen, heard or rumored that the animal is killed specifically for them. This criteria is met when meat is commercially provided through rulers for the entire public (story of Suppeya where meat bought from store is blameless meat). In Jatakas this duty falls on rulers who have a right to provide meat. Slaughterhouses would be closed on new and full moon days to observe Uposaths (Mahasutosoma Jataka, Mahaummaga Jataka).
In Vinaya meat is also cited as medicine. It also recommends meat broth as a medicine (Vinaya I,206). In the section on medicine in the Vinaya it says that monks are allowed to take the oil, fat and tallow of fish, crocodiles, pigs, bears and other animals for medicinal reasons (Vinaya I,200). Monks were even allowed to eat raw meat and drink blood (Vin.I,202-3), which apparently was believed to cure possession by evil spirits.
Books of the Discipline: Book One (Page 98) says some monks were descending the slopes of Vulture’s Peak. They saw the remains of a lion’s kill, had it cooked, and ate it. At other times, other monks saw the remains of a tiger’s kill, remains of a panther’s kill etc.had it cooked, and ate it. Later the monks were unsure if it had amounted to stealing from the lion, tiger, panther, etc. The Buddha excused them by saying that there is no offence in taking what belongs to animals. Here again we see that monks ate meat and the Buddha did not criticize or disapprove of it.
There also also several instances in the Jataka of the Bodhisattva eating meat. In Bhallatiya Jataka the Bodhisattva himself as a King goes hunting for pork and venison. In Vessantara Jataka as a prince he eats meat. In Mahasutosoma Jataka he tells a reformed prince he could return to enjoying meat. Kshatriyas, or rulers, are allowed meat. In Gahapati Jataka he eats beef, in Maccha jataka he eats fish, in
Mahaummaga Jataka he throws parties with meat kabobs, in Nigrodha Jataka he eats chicken and in
Sabbadattha Jataka he teaches how to dry and cure meat.
Many vegetarians claim Vanijja Sutta forbids meat and animal trade. This is false. This Sutta is for government licensing and monitoring of these activities ensuring no abuse is taking place. For example, this Sutta also says trade in alcohol should be monitored, The Varuni Jataka has the governor constantly checking on the activities of alcohol dealers.
With regards to butchers, they too must be licensed and professional.
Animals have to be treated humanely (Munika Jataka) and given good food and you had to ensure you were not killing a pregnant female (Nigrodha Miga Jataka) So caretakers had to be excellent, conscientious farmers. Butchers had to be skilled to make it as painless as possible and licensed through the government standards (Vanijja Sutta) if they wanted to sell meat.
They would not work on the new and full moon since the slaughterhouses would be shut on those days. This allows fish to lay eggs and animals to be strong and regenerate ensuring sustainability since animals/fish time reproduction through lunar cycles. This would be considered a sacrifice of animals raised by the government for the welfare of the people and so becomes blameless.
The animal is than guaranteed a good rebirth (Maccha Jataka) and escape from the animal realm. The animal realm is extremely difficult to escape from and is just above a hell rebirth.
Buddhism is the Middle Way or the Way of Balance. So you have to always be thinking of balance and ensuring balance of the mind and in nature.
So Buddhism is quite complete and teaches how to ensure both human and animal welfare.