Most of today's Buddhists in India were formerly from communities and castes traditionally called untouchable. Various scholars have gathered evidence to show that many untouchables were originally Buddhists, who were broken and degraded by a resurgent Brahminism. There are many factors that link traditional untouchable life styles with Buddhism. One of them is the attitude many untouchables had towards killing animals; they would not kill animals for meat or other purposes and would only eat the meat and use the skins of naturally died animals.
While many of the today's new Buddhists (converted from so-called Untouchables) eat meat purchased from the shops, Dr. Ambedkar interpreted the precepts not only as not killing but also developing love for all beings, all that breathe. As yet this had not translated into wide spread vegetarianism, or pro-active care for animals, although as more and more people take Buddhism seriously we expect them to become more inclined towards vegetarianism.
In the Triratna Community, both in the West and in India, we interpret the first precept as not creating a demand for animals to be bred for slaughter, or to be exploited in any way; those who become members of the non-monastic Triratna Buddhist Order are expected to follow this principle. In the west many of the members of the Triratna Community go further and are vegan, wanting nothing to do with any animal products or derivatives, which could possibly involve their exploitation.