In the early centuries of the development of Buddhism, monastic leaders compiled large anthologies of disciplinary texts or guidelines, commonly called vinaya. Thereafter, Buddhist monasticism gradually spread across the Asian continent, and the guidelines were translated in many languages. These texts now constitute a rich source of information about the practices, ideas and attitudes that were essential elements in the proper functioning of Buddhist monastic communities. In this paper, six vinaya fragments have been translated. They all discuss the ban of garlic in a monastic environment. The translations not only demonstrate the characteristic step-by-step structure of medieval monastic guidelines, but also reveal why restrictions on the use of garlic became a key identity marker of China’s Buddhists. Garlic is more than just a vegetable; due to its disagreeable smell, it is a symbol of uncleanliness and lack of respect. On the other hand, it is prescribed as an effective medicine, which testifies to the significance of medical care in Buddhist monasticism. And, finally, the illustrative stories that accompany the precepts provide a window onto the Buddhist establishment’s attitudes towards its male and female devotees.