The Vegetarian and Vegan Myth

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By Dusyanta dasa

There have been many articles where devotees have converted to vegetarianism or vegan-ism because they want to be Non-violent or Ahimsa. The idea of Cow protection resonates happily in their hearts, the production of Ahimsa Milk also appeals to Vegans as an alternative to the commercially produced milk from dairy farms globally. And in this plethora of vegetarianism, vegan-ism, and Non-violent food and milk production there lies the real truth concerning all these products.
Are any of them really vegetarian, vegan and non-violent?

In todays global economy from a philosophical point of view there are two main players that dominate and influence the scenario. As with Agriculture, Horticulture and all food production the common driver of these factors are two powerful illusions. The first is the mode of ignorance and the second is the mode of passion. Within the influence on the global markets and food production farms the modes of ignorance and passion pre-dominate the practises and principles that they work by and drives them forward into the illusion of the very false economy.

Because the food industry, and this is exactly what it is, an industry, is motivated primarily by the mode of passion the use of industrialised materials is prevalent. The most necessary product that is required in food production today is fertiliser.N.P.K. Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. In all food production , that is commercialised, organic and homegrown the use of food for the plants is derived from animal carcasses. All parts of the bodies of dead animals are used to this end. The parts of dead animals are excellent for providing the necessary N.P.K that plants require to produce the fruits and vegetables. And the parts of dead animals are not just readily available but in plentiful supply to be used in this way so that nothing from the slaughter industry is wasted. This is the capitalistic mans ethos.

When we go to buy our vegetables, grains, fruit, dairy products it is guaranteed that the products contain dead animals and are therefore neither vegetarian nor Non-violent. The “organic” business industry also uses the same products and so do the vegan industry. There is no way out of this unless you grow your own, and that also is not guaranteed unless you know exactly where your fertiliser originated. Compost, grow bags and other boxed and bagged fertilisers all contain dead animals.

What we are supposed to do is protect Cows and Bulls. In fact in just one line from Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad Bhagavatam sums up the whole Iskcon philosophy on non-violent food production intended for the members of Iskcon.
“…….Cows and Bulls solve all the economic problems.” S. Bhagavatam.
And of course Srila Prabhupada’s all encompassing maxim, “Simple living-High thinking” also intended for all Iskcon members.From this platform of “Simple-living–High thinking” coupled with community based Cow protection projects Iskcon establishes its mandate from Srila Prabhupada in being the example par excellence in the world order of the real alternative economy based on the mode of goodness.This is iskcon’s lifestyle goal.

Iskcon’s mandate is for rural communities that are based on a symbiotic relationship with Cows, Bulls and Land, and this solves the economic problems of life. With the protection of Cows comes an unlimited source of compost,fertiliser and draught power.Harnessing the Cows manure in an anaerobic digester provides free and ecological methane gas as an energy source with compost produced as a by-product of the process and so solves all those problems in one go.

But the main economic problem is not solved is it?
The answer is yes it is, because what the Cows also give is the association of the mode of goodness for the humans. And through this mode of goodness the devotees can then by-pass the mode of ignorance and mode of passion economy by following the real economy of the mode of goodness just like the Cows do.Only when the devotees become situated in this mode of goodness and follow this economy do all the economic problems of life get solved.

Iskcon’s mandate as far as the economic problems are concerned are to follow the solutions as given in the Bhagavad- gita because only when a person is situated in the mode of goodness are there no economic problems.In other words for a person situated in the mode of goodness, sattva guna, there are no economic problems.What economic problem is there for the mode of goodness? The mode of goodness lifestyle solves all the problems of life and thats why Iskcon’s mandate is to follow Cow protection in the mode of goodness.Truly vegetarian and truly non-violence. The only one solution for us all.And the only way Cow protection will work in Iskcon,

your servant, Dusyanta dasa. Wales.

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1 Unregistered

Scripture says that Krsna is fond of milk products. Still, one does not have to drink milk or offer milk to Krsna in order to be a devotee. Bhagavad-gita says, patram puspam phalam toyam, that if one offers to Krsna with devotion a leaf, flower, water, or fruit, then he will accept it. The main ingredient mentioned in this verse is devotion, bhaktya prayacchati. It is the bhakti in the offering that satisfies Krsna. Therefore, there is no offense if one refrains from offering milk to Krsna because of conscientious objections over inhumane dairy farming methods. Krsna conscious ahimsa is not a bad thing.

On the other hand, I don’t believe that all devotees should be mandated to boycott milk in opposition to factory farming; rather they should follow their conscience in this regard. However, I do believe that a dynamic understanding of cow protection implies that whenever possible devotees should avoid buying milk from companies that grossly mistreat cows, even if milk from more humane companies is costlier. Fortunate are those few devotees who have been able to alter their lifestyles around scripture and cow protection such that “cruelty free” milk prasadam is always available to them.

Otherwise, one does not necessarily need to offer and consume milk in order to practice devotional service. A person can be vegan and still be a devotee of Krsna, but he or she should aspire to be a bhakta first and foremost, and a vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, or whatever second. A bhakta is a person who values devotion to Krsna above all else.

Comment posted by brahma dasa on June 12th, 2012
2 Unregistered

Hare Krsna.
Aspiring to be a devotee, a Bhakta, of Krsna includes following the idea of growing food that is minimum violent and vegetarian. If we are to offer our cooking to Krsna and Srila Prabhupada then the devotion is required, but devotion does not existe existentially without some effort on our behalf. If we plant seeds and grow food that is truly vegetarian, with minimum violence, then there is more devotion involved in this offering than just buying some chemically produced food and milk. Where is the devotion in just buying from a store?
The mode of goodness already includes the other two lower modes and when we operate in the mode of goodness, either through growing food or any other mode of goodness activity then this already includes the other two lower modes and is therefore a better activity. In our activities in being a Bhakta then the mode of goodness is a better basis for these actions if we are not transcendentally situated. If we are tobe better Bhaktas then how is our devotion understood and measured by Krsna? Why would we offer just any old stuff to Krsna and then say its the devotion that counts, thats just a cop out! Our devotion includes planting the seeds and taking care of our food for offering to Krnsa, then this is the mode of goodness working which is a better platform than the lower modes of nature.
Cow protection also means operating in the mode of goodness to protect Cows and plough with Oxen , Bhagavad-Gita 18.44, but the problem with Cow protection is trying to protect Cows whilst operating in the lower two modes. Cow protection does not work in the mode of passion and mode of ignorance because Cow protection solves all the economic problems of life. In the lower two modes of nature the economic problems are created but the mode of goodness solves the problems so we have to at least operate within the mode of goodness to protect Cows and to grow all our own food.
Therefore any bought food product must have been produced in the lower two modes of nature which means they include non-vegetarian products and also violence, which cant be a good thing to offer to Krsna. Our mandate is to grow all our own foods in the mode of goodness , to protect Cows and plough with Oxen to produce all our own products which will then be vegetarian and non-violent, the real measure of devotion to Krsna and Srila Prabhupada.

your servant Dusyanta dasa. Wales.

Comment posted by ananda dd on June 14th, 2012
3 Venkatesh RD

Hare Krishna!

All the issues I saw mentioned above with regard to the kind/level of violence involved with
production of vegetables, etc., I heard Srila Prabhupada was generally aware of. Given that, we know
that HDG’s own actions (as I heard at least) were:

1. Offer the best that is available to Krishna
2. Work toward establishment of Farm communities.

Most of us are now found wanting in regard to both of the above:

1. We offer the cheapest milk/produce available.
2. No effort to move toward farm communities.

I realize there are exceptions to the above, but by and large I believe the above to be true.
Unless we recognize and accept that there is a problem, there won’t be any solutions to look for.

Some of the reasons I hear given for the status quo are:

1. Srila Prabhupada offered store milk, ignoring the fact that HDG also worked toward
establishing farm communities.
2. Ajnata sukriti for the abused entities. One’s pure devotional service ought to be the
focus as opposed to Ajnata Sukriti for other living entities. When the former is present
the latter will automatically be there.
3. The understanding that it’s the devotion that is important, regardless of us found
wanting in the works part, not realizing these go hand in hand as in “devotional service”.

Once we accept we have a problem, we can try to fix in the following ways:

1. Buy the best produce one can afford (Organic Milk as cows are claimed to be treated
better, at least not given growth harmones and such), locally grown produce at farmers
markets and such.

2. We have to accept that we are addicted to city comforts. However as Dusyanta prabhu states above
we can start with cow protection. What we can do is downsize in cities (move into condos closer to work)
and come together in the spirit of Sankirtan and form a coop farm community an hour or so outside of the city.
Each family can have a share of 5 acres or so. We have a few cowherder devotees (I can name a few
if any one would like me to) that we can encourage each of them to move onto each of these
farms and start cow protection. The city devotees can drive to the farm Friday
after work and return Sunday night to city jobs, working/performing sankirtan on the farm on
weekends and taking milk and other produce back with them. We are not going to say no electricity
no running water, etc. We can let individual devotees progress at their own pace if at all.

contd…

Comment posted by Venkatesh RD on July 7th, 2012
4 Venkatesh RD

One other thing I meant to mention earlier: Sri Manavala Mahamuni (an incarnation of
Sri Ramanujacharya)
in the Srivaishnava Sampradaya is known to have rejected any produce that didn’t
come from Vaishnava farms. It goes without saying Vaishnava farms existed back then in the 1300s

Another thing we keep hearing is trying to make karmis understand the economic sense in
keeping cows/bulls. This is in a way like trying to justify economically the existence of our mothers and
fathers. We have to also realize our end of the bargain, which is that we should value protected
cow milk for what its true worth is and pay for it (or work to pay for it). I once had a discussion
with a senior devotee and he mentioned to me that if store milk cost $3.00, devotees might
be willing to pay $3.50. This kind of a value system is not going to take us anywhere.

Right now, I think it wouldn’t be incorrect to say most city devotees at least are invested
in the stock market/modern economy. Some of it can go toward the farm. Devotees can
continue to send their children to modern universities and such, and when the retire they
could choose to stay and work on the farm becoming more and more austere as would
naturally be the case because of doing cow protection and offering with love, milk and produce from
minimally violent agriculture to Sri Krishna.

I realize there may be many other practicable ideas out there that we should bring up and discuss.
The idea is to wean ourselves away by downsizing in our current situation and upsizing on the
farm. We need not (must not) conjure up the most austere living to start with. We can start
with cow protection and valuing protected cow milk for what it’s truly worth. Same for
other produce that might be generated on the farm.

If we start going in this direction in the spirit of Srila Prabhupada’s efforts toward establishing
farm communities:

1. Srila Prabhupada and Krishna will be very much pleased.
2. On the material level, when the economy does collapse, devotees will have an immediate fallback
in Krishna’s farm, cows, bulls and any agriculture that has already been occurring on the farm.
Lack of electricity, etc, would then automatically cease to be a worry and things will only pick up
“Godspeed” from there on in terms of a fully self sustainable agararian Krishna community.

Yhs,

venkatesh Ramanuja dasan

Comment posted by Venkatesh RD on July 7th, 2012

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