Since as a Mahayana practitioner one should readily give ones own life, it is certainly not appropriate to inflict suffering on others and eat their cherished bodies merely in search of something delicious for oneself. On top abandoning harm and the causes of harm, at its root the foundational training of the Mahayana is accomplishing the benefit of others.
Further, the essence of all the teachings of the Mahayana is loving-kindness, compassion and bodhicitta. As the master Jampal Drakpa said, “The Mahayana practitioner should not be separated from loving-kindness and compassion for even an instant.”
Most would accept that in this world, there is not any punishment more severe one can bestow upon a criminal than taking their life. But to humble animals staying in solitude that have done no wrong, people inflict the greatest harm while still saying, “May I accomplish Buddhahood in order to benefit of all beings.”
If one thinks about such deeds, forget about what others witnessing this would say, one will become a source of shame to oneself. As Gyalse Thokme said,
Beings that have been our relatives from beginningless time,
Even when they die naturally it is appropriate to shed tears.
Therefore it stands to reason that it is not appropriate to eat
This flesh that is killed for the purpose of meat.
If one reflects on the kindness that all beings have shown one, one’s mind will be appropriately saddened even if a being dies naturally; it will be as if one’s own parents had died. No need to mention the feeling that will arise when beings are killed for their flesh.
Thus, even if one recites all sorts of majestic sounding phrases such as, “May I accomplish Buddhahood in order to benefit all beings,” or “May all sentient beings be endowed with happiness and the causes of happiness,” but does not possess loving-kindness and compassion, then there is not even a hint of a Mahayana practitioner to be found.
There is no need for much analysis to discover whether or not one is endowed with loving-kindness and compassion. Look at the way one eats meat while not being endowed with the ability to liberate beings. When giving rise to loving-kindness and compassion, ought it not be directed towards animals?
If one engages in acts of causing pain and suffering to animals and even takes their lives while thinking, “I’m a Mahayana practitioner…I’m endowed with loving-kindness and compassion,” then it seems that this compassion must be directed towards earth, stones and sticks! And if one thinks, “I only ate the meat…I did not kill the animal,” then on top of not having compassion, is this not a sign of also not having any intelligence?
From the Lankavatara Sutra,
Killing animals for profit,
Trading goods for meat,
Those engaging in both these negative acts
Will fall into the [hell realms] upon death.
Thus, it is said that the fault of the killer and the eater are equal. However, if one wonders if the misdeed is less severe if it is meat of the three-fold purity, to expand on the earlier quoted scripture,
With no asking for it, searching for it or thinking about it
There would be no meat of three-fold purity.
Since there is nothing without cause
One should not eat it.