“What!”, I hear you cry, “aren’t all Buddhist priests supposed to be vegetarians?” The key word is of course supposed. The original Buddha, Shakyamuni, apparently was not, as is popularly believed, vegetarian, but instead just forbade people who would offer him food from killing an animal on his behalf. If he visited a family with a mutton curry in the pot, he would eat it if offered, or so it is recorded.

However, the various schools have adopted their own particular set of rules for their monks and priests, and most do (presumably) prescribe a vegetarian diet. And no alcohol of course.

Bearing this in mind, Triva no Izumi (Fount of Trivia) decided to ask 100 meat-eating priests what their favourite kind of 焼肉, yakiniku, grilled meat, beef in particular, was. What percentage of the total number of priests asked admitted to meat-eating is sadly not recorded. I have also previously translated another survey on the general population’s favourite grilled meat.

First, they interviewed a number of priests who described their favourite cuts; most were brave enough to come out in the open, but a few were hidden behind mosaic blurs. The excuses used were varied, from just the simple “I know I’m not supposed to, but I do it anyway”, to more complex justification such as “The vegetarian diet is OK for young people, but I’m getting on a bit so I need the extra nutrition…”, via the enigmatic “I like shojin ryori (Buddhist veggie meals) of course, but yakiniku is yakiniku…” They then had the priests introduce their favourite cuts in just far too much detail, before presenting the final top three. From 100 meat-eating priests (with at least one liking to wash it all down with a beer or three), the third ranked was タン塩, tan shio, salted tounge with 19 votes. Second was ハラミ, harami, “outside skirt” with 22 votes, but the outright winner that forty-four out of a hundred vegetarian priests prefered was カルビ, karubi, ribs.

In addition, the same episode of Trivia no Izumi revealed the fact that Kentucky Fried Chicken Japan hold an annual Shinto-based memorial service for all the broilers that have selflessly given their lives so that you enjoy your party bucket.

1 Comment

Fish-eating (and vegetarian statistics) in Japan » 世論 What Japan Thinks · January 8, 2009 at 22:32

[…] The vegetarian numbers can be derived from first noticing that 0.7% don’t eat fish according to Q2, then 2.7% of these 0.7% say they don’t eat fish because they are vegetarians, meaning that a whole 8 people from the original 9,524, or 0.08% of the sample, which makes a mere 10,000 vegetarians in the whole of Japan! Of course, monks would inflate the figures, although note that the average local priest is not averse to even grilled beef! […]

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