Generally, it is understood that monks live radically different lifestyles than most people, though, people rarely consider their diets. Beside other unique aspects of their lives, monks also have to keep a very unique and strict diet. The diet which is known as Shojin Ryori in Japanese which means completely vegetarian and vegan.
The Buddhist vegetarian cuisine, is also found in all other East Asian Buddhist countries. However, the names for the cuisine are different as they are in their own languages. In the Buddhist meal, rice features heavily as a staple in the form of rice porridge or gruel as the usual morning meal. The vegetables of all sorts are usually either stir-fried or cooked in broth with seasonings or eaten with various sauces. Some Buddhist vegetarian chefs are in many monasteries which serve Wu Hun and mock-meat (meat analogues) dishes for the monks and visitors (including non-Buddhists, to Buddhists who are not monks).
In various Buddhist restaurants the non-alcoholic, vegetarian, vegan, and/or Wu Hun dishes are served. Some Buddhists eat vegetarian only once per week or month, or on special occasions such as annual visits to an ancestor’s grave. For such customers, the menu of a Buddhist vegetarian restaurant usually shows no difference from a typical Chinese or far-Eastern restaurant, excluding that in recipes originally made to contain meat, a chicken flavored soy or wheat gluten can be served instead.
The Buddhists in Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand are more likely to eat meat than the Buddhists in India. As fish are merely removed from the water and are not killed so, in maritime countries, seafood and fish are accepted as a good sources of protein. Buddhists in some countries like Japan, Mahayana, avoid eating plants that have a strong smell, like garlic, leeks, onions, chives and shallots.
It is true that, the practices of Buddhist vegetarian cuisine differ based on location and sect, as it is very common for East Asian Buddhists to have one major difference from Western vegetarians: to avoid the harming of plant life. In the cuisine preparation, Buddhists believe that it is vital to keep the cooking practices simple, healthy and attentive to the quality and flavor that comes naturally from the earth. The common ingredients included in Buddhist cuisine are vegetables like kale, broccoli, beans, etc. and sesame seeds, sugar, tofu, pickles, rice, soy sauce, lemon grass, ginger and many more.
“Shojin Ryori” is the food-based training of Buddhism. Eating Shojin Ryori, and preparing it, both are parts of Buddhist training. In Buddhist training, Buddhism is the way to find peace within oneself, and on the other hand Shojin Ryori supports the mind as well as body in this process. It is less important what to eat, but rather how to eat. Even if you eat the same vegetable, it is essential to understand the purpose of eating it plus the way you arrange the food. To be aware of the relationship between the food and yourself is very important. So, both what you eat and how you eat it is what makes up Shojin Ryori. There are various temples like Komyoji Temple, Higashi Honganji Temple, Ichijoin Temple, Koutakuji Temple, Sojiji Temple and Jofukuin Temple known for serving the best Buddhist cuisine.