To be a vegetarian is to cultivate our compassionate mind, a respect for all lives and to observe the precept of refraining from killing. This practice originated in Chinese Buddhism. While traditional Buddhist scriptures do not mandate vegetarianism, Chinese monastics must take a vow not to eat meat. Lay followers, however, are not required to do so. If not daily vegetarians, many Buddhists observe vegetarian diet during retreats or special days of a month.