Shaolin Monks Vegetarian Diet

This short documentary about the Shaolin Monks asserts that they are vegetarian. Such a fact may sound fairly banal, but these monks are reknowned for their strength, speed and toughness. In hand-to-hand combat they are quite fierce and they also possess an gymnastic-like agility.

In the West, their seems to be a tendency to dismiss vegetarians as weaklings and also lacking in personal worth, because the general culture overemphasizes brute force and individualism.

The Shaolin Temple is not the birthplace of Chinese martial arts, though they are associated with its emergence. The Shaolin monastery may have been established in 497 AD. The earliest published manual on Shaolin Kung Fu may have appeared in about 1610.

An interview with a Shaolin monk by black belt Stacy Neymour confirmed the vegetarian diet:

“Me: The Shaolin Monks don’t eat meat but have boundless energy. What do you they eat for protein?

Bo: Their protein comes from beans, tofu, milk and nuts.

Me: What is the daily schedule for the monks growing up at the temple?

Bo: A typical daily schedule, including the vegetarian diet served at each meal, is up at 5:30 a.m., chanting; 6 a.m. breakfast, which consists of a soup made of beans called eight treasures; then more chanting and a half-hour break, followed by two hours of kung fu training. During training, the monks switch what form or style they are practicing every 10 minutes. After practice, more chanting until at 11:30 a.m., lunchtime, which consists of five to six different vegetables, tofu and rice.”

There is no question the true Shaolin monks are very well-trained athletes. There is also a discipline involved in having a strict diet, such as one that does not include junk food or meat. Some research studies have found that eating a vegetarian diet is associated with having a longer life and fewer diseases. says this about the diet,

“Meat will stay in your system for a long time and I mean a looong time. Reportedly we have a lot of meat just sitting in our guts hanging out. After cooking meat as we do, a lot of the benefits are lost. On top of that, meat these days has so much crap in it that you’re putting a lot of stuff you don’t know about, including antibiotics into your system. My qigong master stresses that cutting meat is a very positive step for improving your clarity of mind and qigong practice, which is an essential part of achieving very high levels of Shaolin Kung Fu.

If you’re training in China you will likely be fed a load of white rice. Rice, while not awful for you, will fill you up and make you sleepy. It also releases its energy relatively quickly so if you are having a two or three hour break, a lot of the energy will already have been released before you resume your training.

In China I had opted for a diet solely consisting of vegetables. I was able to eat and go for a 10km run straight away, while others were sleeping. Trust me, you have more energy, not less.”

To an American who has spent decades eating a lot of beef, chicken and pork, it might sound silly to think of energy coming from a plant-based diet, but Shaolin monks are impressive athletes. Just watch some of their online videos and see them live. They do some stunts and have a physical fitness that are well beyond most untrained individuals that eat meat. So, how could a vegetarian diet be unfit for anyone?



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