I have seen animals sacrificing for Kali mata. I am not brahmin by birth but had developed interest towards Lord Siva. I read Shiva Purana but there are no references for devotees of Shiva. I have read story of Bhaktha kannappa. Can Shaivaites eat meat?
Can one eat meat and still be a devotee ? The answer to this question will be Yes.
But, if the question is whether Lord Shiva approves such an act? (which is what a true devotee will be more concerned about) then the answer will be No.
Lord Shiva does not approve meat eating unless it is part of some rituals.
This is what he says to Sri Devi:
Pitridevatayajneshu VaidahimsA Vidhiyate |
AtmArtham PrAninAm HimsA kadAchinnoditA Priye ||
In Pitru Yanjna and Deva Yajnas sacrificial killing is allowed. But other than that the Shastras never allow prani himsa (killing) for one's own pleasure.
KulArnava Tantram, Chapter 5, Verse 45.
So, it is clear that Lord Shiva does not like the idea of his devotees eating non-sacrificial meat.
Eating meat is allowed only if it is part of some ritual.
Kashmiri Pandits worship a variation of Shiva known as Batuka Bhairava - with fish and meat.
Vamachara maarg of Tantra is inclined towards the Five M's -
- Madya (wine)
- Mamsa (meat)
- Matsya (fish)
- Mudra (cereal)
- Maithuna (sexual intercourse)
Here we can understand it is meat.
Also in Ashwamedh and Purushmedh yagna sacrifices are made and deities are offered meats. So we can consider Shiva may eat meat.
Also in Ramayana Later, Sita said to Ravana (disguised as a sage):
"Āgamiṣyati me bharta vanyamādāya puṣkalam z Rurūṇ godhān varāhāñca hatvā ādāyāmiṣaṃ vahu zz Sa tvaṃ nāma ca gotraṃ kulamācakṣava tatvataḥ z Ekaśca daṇḍakāraṇye kimartha carasi dvija zz" (Araṇya/47/23-24)
"My husband Ram will come back soon with many kinds of wild fruits and plentiful of meat by hunting ruru (a kind of deer), varaha (wild boar) and godha (iguana). Now you please be kind and tell me your name, your gotra (clan or lineage) to which you belong and what you are roaming in this lonely forest for?" (tr. Ibid, p-323).
There are several other verses that suggest that Ram was not vegetarian. This is also one proof that GODs eat meat.
God is so simple, He is our Aid /wellwisher, who accepts whatever we offer Him with LOVE.
In most of the stories or myths related to temples it could be seen that when the installation of the idol is completed the related people worship the idol with whatever they have in their home.
So, people staying near sea and depending on the sea for their living, naturally will have dried fish as a stock of food at their home. If this community installs an idol in their village, definitely, this dried fish can be expected as an offering.
Pandavas were voracious meat eaters according to Mahabharata.
Mahabharata Vana Parva Section CCLVI says, "Once on a time, as Yudhisthira lay down at night in the Dwaita woods, some deer, with accents choked in tears, presented themselves before him in his dreams. To them standing with joined hands, their bodies trembling all over, that foremost of monarchs said, 'Tell me what ye wish to say. Who are ye? And what do ye desire?" Thus accosted by Kunti's son - the illustrious Pandava, these deer, the remnant of those that had been slaughtered, replied unto him, saying, 'We are, O Bharata, those deer that are still alive after them that had been slaughtered. We shall be exterminated totally. Therefore, do thou change thy residence. O mighty king, all thy brothers are heroes, conversant with weapons; they have thinned the ranks of the rangers of the forest. We few - the remnants,-O mighty minded one, remain like seed. By thy favour, O king of kings, let us increase.' Seeing these deer, which remained like seed after the rest has been destroyed trembling and afflicted with fear, Yudhisthira the just was greatly affected with grief. And the king, intent on the welfare of all creatures, said unto them, ' So be it. I shall act as ye have said.' Awaking after such a vision, that excellent king, moved by pity towards the deer, thus spake unto his brothers assembled there, 'Those deer that are alive after them that have been slaughtered, accosted me at night, after I had wakened, saying, 'We remain like the cues of our lines. Blest be thou! Do thou have compassion on us. And they have spoken truly. We ought to feel pity for the dwellers of the forest. We have been feeding on them for a year together and eight months. Let us, therefore, again (repair) to the romantic Kamakhyas, the best of forests abounding in wild animals, situated at the head of the desert, near Lake Trinavindu. And there let us pleasantly pass the rest of our time.'
At least Arjuna among the Pandavas worshipped Shiva.
The Answer would vary depending upon the sub-sect of Shaivism.
But Tirumantiram, one of the most important texts of Shaiva siddhanta written by Tirumular (One of the 63 Nayanmars) and seen as the essence of Shaivagamas clearly criticises Meat eating as well as drinking as sinful and a sin leading to hell.
--- Tirumantiram Tantra 1 ---
The rules vary depending upon the subsect as already stated in the other answers.
I shall be covering the stance of the pAshupata sampradaya on the matter. While the pa~nchArthika pAshupatas (led by kauNDinya has almost Jaina alias shramaNa like tremendous emphasis on ahiMsA; The same pAshupata sUtra-s, asserting the existence of a different stream of the same pAshupata sampradAya from the above mentioned one, allows it's initiates to eat buffalos, boars, goats etc. If they are given as alms. Which means they themselves can't hunt but can eat it, if given by someone else.
Quoting Directly from Sri kauNDinya's commentary on the pAshupata Sutra.
Pasupata Sutra V.16
Key verse - यस्य माहिषवाराहादीनाम् अन्यतमम् यत् प्राप्यते तत् खलु हिंसास्तेयरहितत्वात्॥
This pAshupata seems to be represented by shrI haraprabodha who's a contemporary to a Jaina alias shramaNa called chaNDakarmana. This episode is found in the "yashastilaka" ,written by another Jaina called "somadeva suri" of 10th century CE . The verse is-
अग्निवत् सर्वभक्षोsपि भवभक्तिपरायणः।भुक्तिं जीवन्नवाप्नोति मुक्तिं तु लभते मृतः ॥
[Translation]'One who is devoted to shiva obtains pleasure in life and release on death, even though he is omnivorous like Fire.'
The saura purANa, a shaiva shAstra,embodies this stand.
Saura Purana Chapter 11
ईश्वर उवाच - मद्भक्तः सर्वदा स्कन्द मत्प्रियो न गुणाधिकः । सर्वाशी सर्वभक्षी वा सर्वाचारविलोपकः ॥५॥
[Translation] Shiva says - "My devotee, though may be omnivorous, eats anything and everything, is still the dearest to me".
Eating for survival is individual survival and well being depending upon environments and work culture. But, a Hindu has commitments towards God.
You can see communities/religions seek refuge and live in India because in their countries they dont actually worship God. Their worship is not sufficient to protect themselves from calamities - cyclones, forest fires, genocides, wars and ethic / race clashes similar to our national conflicts by people.
Only a Hindu can lead a beautiful mindset towards God.
Apologies to sainthood of other religions. Saints globally are beyond what is written.
Eating meat is restricted for priesthood(Divine ritual facilitators) and antima-samskaaram(death ritual facilitators), Gurus (spiritual & scientific teachers), doctors(who are with humans during their death / trying to heal human suffering).
If above four classes eat meat they can never save humans from heavy suffering. Four classes of jobs are not exhibitions of rage/valour or power.
Vaishnavites & Shaivaites in above mentioned four classes of jobs must avoid meat & slaughter house products to maximum possible limits of their survival.
linga purANa uttarabhaga ch. 78 :
11-15a. Those who protect persons of various sorts like a loving master or with love as if they were their own sons and grandsons, go to the world of Rudra. Hence, by all means sprinkling should be performed by means of water filtered with a cloth. The ablution should be carried out particularly. Even by killing a single person in the premises of Śiva’s temple one attains the sins that accrue from destroying the three worlds. But, O excellent brahmins, violence to flowers must always be pursued for the worship of Śiva, violence to the animals for the sake of sacrifice. The chastisement of the wicked by the Kṣatriya caste can be pursued.