One of the best places to eat vegetarian is at a Chinese Buddhist temple. Not that all, or even most, Buddhists are strict vegetarians, but many of us go through periods of avoiding meat for some sort of cleansing or another.
And the various monks and nuns are very good at preparing vegetarian meals because they are more hardcore about everything Buddhist, right?
In fact, they are so hardcore that the five “pungent vegetables”—onions, garlic, scallions, chives and leeks—are often avoided.
You would think that these very flavorful vegetables could be used to make some very flavorful food, and no animals were killed, so all good, right? But it isn't so.
There's a tale in Chinese Buddhism that shows up in many forms…one is where evil people feed the Buddha meat disguised as an offering. When told this, the Buddha vomits, and from his vomit, leeks and onions grow. 
Making the Buddha ill is a powerful image—meat is so bad for you and your karma that even vegetables once removed should be avoided. Thus, many believers not only shun meat, but avoid these “five pungent vegetables.”
However, this tale is non canonical—it's as apocryphal as apocryphal gets, even when discussing icons such as the Buddha.
It is likely that the historical Buddha ate meat—at least for a time in his life. But it was unpleasant. Maybe. His last meal might have been spoiled pork. Which was given as a pious offering by a worshipper (to this day, Buddhists in Hawaii will donate cans of Spam to temples). Yet, he rejected the notion of vegetarianism in one tale.
But he supported it in another.
As it stands, Buddhism lacks a clear doctrine on “you should or should not eat meat.” (To me, at least, that wouldn’t seem very Buddhist.)
And so, different Buddhist communities have differing views on meat—and there are many different Buddhist communities. If you want a vegetarian Buddhist meal, there are plenty of temples who will give you just that. If you want to go to a Buddhist festival and have yakitori skewers with the monks? Well, you can have that, too.
So, what will you do?
When the canon is incomplete or contradictory or absent, what is left is head canon.
It may seem strange to use head canon when talking about religion. However, listen to people religiously explain their head canons, their analyses of this plot point, or that coincidence. Head canon is not mere fantasy—people are studying the stories they love with an intensity and passion that any scholar might respect.
Head canon is most often encountered in fandom, when two characters in your favorite anime or TV show have a scene together, and you just know it means they have a relationship. (I mean, look at them, they have got to be dating)—or perhaps to explain similarities between two unrelated franchises (the worlds of Mary Poppins and She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named).
Nor does head canon lack critical value. While Jim Shooter was the Editor-in-Chief at Marvel Comics (1978-1987), he had a No Gay and Lesbian characters policy at Marvel. That’s right! No LGBT characters for Jim.
And that’s why all of Marvel Gen-X superheroes are straight.
Sure, writers need to follow guidelines to eat, but I know I would be down low implying all sorts of queerness—not just because I’m queer, but because I’m a writer and screw editors like that.
And, in my head canon, a lot of writers agreed.
Head canon is also a good way to explain propaganda, as how the story of little George Washington cutting down a cherry tree could easily spread throughout a growing United States, and for so many years be accepted as truth.
And—so long as everyone agrees we’re sharing head canon—discussing even opposing interpretations can be nonthreatening. In fact, that’s a good way to recognize head canon. People die for religion and politics every day, but who would die for George Washington’s cherry tree or to stop this tale about the Buddha and leeks?
Although differences of opinion so often divide us, with head canon, since we all realize we're making educated guesses, we can disagree, while maintaining—and even reinforcing—our sense of community.
And I find that beautiful.
I was thinking about this, while listening to Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D.
The Canon in D is synonymous with weddings. Your mother has cried to it, so has your Aunty Mavis, and so have you. Played with a grace and romantic wistfulness (and walking pace) that is perfect for your little sister's wedding, countless people know the Canon played just this way:
And yet, when Johann Pachelbel composed his Canon and Gigue for 3 violins and basso continuo—wait—let’s back that up. We don’t even know when the piece was written—sometimes between 1680 and 1706. Furthermore, only one manuscript copy survives, and there are no tempo marks to be seen.
What most people recognize as the Canon in D was first recorded in 1968 by Jean-François Paillard. His was the second major version recorded. The first was recorded in 1940 by Arthur Fiedler, based upon a version published in 1929 (which was based upon another version published in 1919).
The Paillard version became the most popular by far, and for many, this is the “right” version of the Canon.
However, I prefer the earlier version of Pachelbel’s Canon and Gigue:
Yes, it would be madness to play the Canon in D at this pace for any wedding. Yes, the articulation seems far too playful to mark the beginning of two lives shared. But maybe because I’ve never been married—or maybe because, looking back upon my life I realize that I am far more familiar with deaths than births—this is the version I need, to remind me that there is still good in the world.
As I listen to this, I reconnect with the joyful and ephemeral. Suddenly it’s a first date and there a grandparent is pushing his granddaughter on the park swing, and no matter where I am the lightness of spring has returned.
For me this is the correct version of the Canon. But of course, I know it’s all head canon.
And the next time I’m at a wedding, of course I am going to cry.
Cover: Rainer Haessner - Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1049710
 In some versions it is a monk that is misled, not the Buddha. And other versions emphasize that the Buddha was not fooled—rather, he knowingly and purposely got sick to teach a lesson. Which to me seems super hardcore!
*Thetruthaboutfgs at English Wikipedia, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
**By Disney trailer screenshot - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOfH7uEojKk, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88921414