The Buddhist Diet
A primarily Vegetarian diet of Eastern Asia following the guidelines of Ahimsa (Non-harming). The type of food you would find in this diet is quite interchangeable because it is not a set law, just a moral code to live off. Different areas of Asia will use foods that are local to them while still adhering to the basic principles.
The nature of the diet stems from the monasteries of Nepal and Ancient India, the origin of the Buddhist's communities. The community would request that one of their members takes the responsibility of head cook, it was then their duty to supply meals respecting the beliefs in Buddhist Precepts. The monasteries and temples would be open to to travellers and so would occasionally serve to guests and as the popularity of cuisine and company grew, functioning restaurants soon became present.
This practice is still carried out today in many parts of the world, in China and Japan, Korea and Singapore, even in Western society as the Temples are built and fall to ruin, the practice will continue with the Religion, the food is known as Devotion Cuisine.
In more recent times the dietary style has been taken on by commercial restaurants to cater for those practising Ahimsa.
Whether you eat meat or not has become more about personal choice in more westernised areas, which take on the multiple beliefs around the faith. Most dishes as you would expect are vegetarian, though the opinion of if meat is acceptable changes by sect. In Japan, for the majority the belief is that Buddha ate meat and so this is acceptable, as a result vegetarianism has become optional there, while in parts of Korea and China the Buddhists will take a strict vegetarian path.
Other sects will only consume meat if the animal has fallen naturally and not been killed for the purpose of consumption.
In more stringent sects this definition will expand beyond just animal life and will apply to plant life equally. This avoidance of harm, extends to root vegetable and any plant that would be killed if removed from the soil, because of this East Asian Buddhists on special occasions will only consume fruit and vegetables that have fallen to the ground naturally, like berries or beans. Carrots, Onion, Turnips and Potatoes, which would all have to be torn from the ground and killed, are shunned from the diet.
Alcoholic beverages and narcotics are avoided, the definition of "mindfulness" in Buddhist script extends to anything that may be considered addictive, however because each person will have a different opinion on what is addictive to them and the discovery of caffeine having addictive properties, this is now considered for only harmful toxins that are addictive in nature.
Caffeine in drinks such as Black Tea and Coffee are widely accepted and indeed encouraged as being good for the body, Tea which is especially popular in Eastern cultures is promoted with health benefits and cleansing properties.
The base principle to remember is the nature of a healthy mind and body, eating only foods the body needs not what it wants, while understanding why the body craves harmful toxins or detrimental foods and why they are not needed in diet.