By Dusyanta Dasa
The concept of Veganism in the secular world is based on two foundational issues.
Desire to not exploit animals in any way.
There maybe some other mitigating individual circumstances that can be genuinely overlooked related to dietary needs and reactions to dairy food especially cow milk. Of course those considerations are no problem. Some people can’t even consider the idea of putting a commodity like cows milk into their body from a cow’s body, it makes them shudder. So the mitigating circumstances are a minority of cases in the world. But for devotees of Lord Krishna who follow Srila Prabhupada we find there are much bigger concepts in play than these individual needs.
Because Krishna Consciousness is also a way of life, and in this sense and context the word “way” is more like the word “Tao” rather than just a process or even a choice, then for Vaisnavas part of our mission is to establish and illustrate this way of life. Suffice to say that Iskcon has actually made only a half-hearted effort on this platform of Vaisnava lifestyle in Iskcon. Actually this is the 7th purpose of Iskcon. So it begs the question why on earth has this not been a priority, and why is this purpose not just introduced each time a new community of devotees is founded?
Putting that aside for now then there are two main players in this conflict, which is exactly what we have here. Either we are trying to establish Veganism in Iskcon for whatever reason or we are trying to establish Cow protection. These are the two main players. And although seemingly insignificant in themselves the truth is the relevance bears down on each individual member of Iskcon more than we can say. Essentially the two antithetical “ways” of life illustrate the actual meditation and realisation that has gone into each one. This is so important to Iskcon members because of the marrying up of different parts of our spiritual lives.
Community dynamics and Sannyasis and Brahmacaris.
Symbiosis with Cows and Land.
Mode of goodness economics.
In my view these seven items together are based on the Cow protection projects. What we have with Cow protection is a perfectly complete process that needs no importation of other commodities. Which makes the qualities of self-determination and self-sufficiency achievable, although this requires a lot of hard work but the Vegan model cannot afford these facilities.
The cow protection model demands mode of goodness standards at every step. It helps raise awareness and challenges the devotees to find mode of goodness answers to all the economic problems of life. The cow protection project then demands an integrated relationship. Communities symbiotically develop the relationship in the mode of goodness with Cows, Bulls and Land.
And it does not stop here. If we imagine a wheel as an analogy of the model then, the cows, bulls and the land are the hub of that wheel. The individual spokes of that community wheel are the devotees, some families; others Sannyasis, all are included. And then the rim of the wheel binds the whole project together, which makes the relationship of the community closer together and helps teach a simpler way of life.
Because the economic problems of life are solved by cow protection then all the solutions of those economic problems are mode of goodness orientated. They are ecologically friendly, locally sourced and recyclable. Because Veganism has no similar based dynamic there is no community model, no economic model and no symbiosis related to it.
When we look minutely into the Vegan model it offers a very shallow alternative that does not work, it can’t actually work on a global level. Veganism does not offer any less violence that is a myth. Veganism is not a healthy option to Cow protection. Veganism does not offer protection to Cows. Veganism does not offer an alternate illustration on how to farm without the use of animal products, essentially Veganism borrows animal products through the back door because Veganism is not itself a vegetarian farming process. To actually farm in a Vegan way means to use all the products that all commercial farmers are forced to use because they cant produce them in a self-sufficient way unlike Cow protection by using Cow manure, Urine, Water and Straw.
Whenever a Vegan eats a bought Vegetable, Grains or Soya product there is a violent animal exploited process behind the growing of the product.
Unless you grow it yourself you are in the same boat as all us consumers in the world market. Do you eat vegetables grown abroad and flown in to your country? What fertilisers do they use in South America, Africa and China? What labour is being exploited in sugar production in South America? How much carbon footprint do you cause just because you buy vegetables from your local supermarket yearlong? Who are the Vegans trying to kid apart from themselves?
Now all these problems of economy are solved by Cow protection. But Iskcon has not been able to step up to the mark to solve them. So instead of trying to solve the problems the Vegans are just adding to the problems. Just because Iskcon has not reached the goal does not negate the goal. Far from it, infact the Vegan attitude in Iskcon is not just another setback from the 7th purpose of Iskcon, but a positive hindrance that solves no problems. Whether we have personal problems with diet due to allergies and personal preference is of no consequence in Iskcon. Our Iskcon purpose is to protect Cows primarily and then to be able to protect cows using the mandated instructions from Srila Prabhupada. Veganism is just a weak persons copout because they have no alternative, no other vision and no other conclusions.
In Iskcon we must always keep Srila Prabhupada’s instructions uppermost in our minds even if we fail. Better to fail trying to follow Srila Prabhupada than go against His teachings.
“In all spiritual affairs, ones first duty is to control his mind and senses. Unless one controls his mind and senses, one cannot make any advancement in spiritual life. Everyone within this material world is engrossed in the modes of passion and ignorance. One must promote himself to the platform of goodness, sattva-guna, by following the instructions of Rupa Goswami, and then everything concerning how to make further progess will be revealed.” Nectar of Instruction Preface by Srila Prabhupada.
Naturally this instruction begs the question how Veganism promotes the mode of goodness?
And positively how important the mode of goodness lifestyle is for devotees that Cow protection provides. The mode of goodness is the key stepping stone to the transcendental world. Unless the devotee has entered into the mode of goodness there is no chance of controlling the mind and senses, which means no advancement can be made. That’s how important Cow protection is. And that’s why Srila Prabhupada wrote the 7th purpose of Iskcon. Not Veganism.