No. It is a personal choice in Buddhism whether you are a vegetarian or not a vegetarian. It makes no difference except to you. There are many Buddhists who are not vegetarians, as well as, many Buddhists who are vegetarians. You are not a better Buddhist by being a vegetarian or by not being a vegetarian. You are a better Buddhist by just discovering and demonstrating to the world your Buddhist’s nature.
We had a small discussion regarding vegetarianism in the English Dharma Study group. I will place some of the discussion here for further insight:
Pramila: Thai and Tibetan Buddhist monks eat meat, fish; Bengali Hindus Brahmins eat fish and rice which is all that is available to them due to weather and soil conditions in that area.
When one chooses to be a vegetarian or take precepts to do some thing or restrict not to do something, they are practicing yoga. Literal meaning of yoga is discipline. When one chooses to be a vegetarian or wear certain clothes, they are practicing yoga. Just like many forms of meditation.
Benny: Vegetarianism is not a goal. It is one of many forms or way of practice. It is a personal choice in any form of practice.
One most important point (or one can refer to as ‘goal’ ) of Buddhism practice is compassion. Being a vegetarian is one of many forms of practicing compassion. When a practitioner reaches a different level/area, he/she practices in different form/ways of his/her choice.
Susan: I think whatever you want to put into your mouth is a personal choice. Middle way is the way for me.