Western interest in Buddhism first surfaced after the fatalities of World War I left Westerners looking for a spirituality that transcended life and death. Later, Chogyam Trungpa , a Tibetan monk, noticed the way Westerners tend to turn religion into a consumer item. He became the first man to try to bring the religion to America.
The Beat poets and writers of the 1950s admired Trungpa for his for his 'crazy wisdom' rule-breaking approach. Many became devotees.
Speaking of rule-breaking, are Buddhists allowed to eat chocolate?
The short answer is yes! And, no. It's your choice.
A Very Practical Spirituality
Buddhist spirituality is often called the most psychological of the major religions and belief systems. It is not just pragmatic, as in, 'do what works', but practical as in 'focused on practice'. Meditation is one well-known practice.
But did you know chocolate could be part of a practice?
The Buddha saw that people suffer because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of life. The person you think is you is really a construct that thinks, and that thinking runs you around and makes you desire and suffer.
In reality, everyone, every thing is connected. All connected events turn and turn on an endless wheel of becoming. Breaking free of suffering happens when individual awareness transcends the thinking desiring ego to see the bigger picture. Once that happens, compassion for self and others blossoms.
All Buddhists commit to end the suffering of all sentient beings by training awareness in this way.
Here's one possible scenario:
You notice you want chocolate. You just notice the desire, you don't judge it. Probably a lot of chatter fills your head. Maybe it goes something like, "I really want that, I shouldn't have it though, it's bad for me, I deserve it, no I don't, I'm bad, I'm not bad..." and so on and so forth. You notice thinking is happening and let that go. Maybe you do eat the chocolate. You notice that and what happens after in the same way.
What you are doing in this practice is training your mind not to identify with the desire or the thinking; in other words, not to identify with your ego. Practice this way enough and your awareness will change and your compassion will grow.
You don't have to follow a Buddhist diet. You just practice training your mind. And keep doing it. Until all sentient beings are released from suffering.