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NOT VEGANS, COW PROTECTORS

Thursday, 09 August 2007 / Published in Sivarama Swami, Vegetarianism / 9,650 views


Above: The goshala at New Vrajadhama

By HH Sivarama Swami (from a recent podcast on www.sivaramaswami.com)

Question: Vegans claim that we are contributing to factory farming and calves being deprived of their mothers’ milk. How do we address this argument?

Answer: There are two points here, first that a cow gives more milk than a calf can drink, so it’s not necessarily that they’re being deprived. However a calf should be able to drink its mothers milk, and that happens when they’re being taken care of in a natural way in a gosala. The calves drink their mothers’ milk and the cow gives more milk. Also, if you just let a calf drink as much as they wanted, they’d get sick.

However, the modern system of simply farming cows, inseminating them so they’re constantly milking rather than allowing it to take place in a scheduled way — which is good for the overall health of the cow, so it’s not always giving milk, and it’s not always inseminated — that is certainly violent, and the answer to that is not to become a vegan, or to stop drinking milk. The answer is to drink milk procured only by the proper means. Reason being is Krishna drinks milk, it is part of our diet, and go brahmanya hitaya ca — a whole culture is based on drinking milk. It’s not something we are willing to sacrifice. Therefore, we need to have farming communities as Srila Prabhupada established, where cow protection is a priority. For this reason Srila Prabhupada said to keep as many cows as possible, which is a tall order.

But if we do keep as many cows as possible, and if we have cow protection, and if devotees and congregation members are actually protecting those cows and maintaining them, then we can have enough milk to provide temples and congregation members and everyone with milk.

Then you’re above this kind of criticism. You don’t need to say, “Oh welll, I’m a Hare Krishna, I’ve offered it to Krishna, and therefore I’m free from the reaction.” It is questionable if you’re free from the reaction. Why? Srila Prabhupada has made it clear that our duty is cow protection. Krishna set the personal example of cow protection. Therefore, just because we are devotees, just because we offered some milk then we think we’re free from the reaction for the violence that’s involved in procuring that milk–and remember that the cow, the bull, and the calf are later all slaughtered, and that’s something you’re also involved in when you’re drinking milk–then you have a very hard argument to try to defeat. In fact, it’s not an argument you can defeat.

Therefore Srila Prabhupada gave us a very simple formula to defeat that argument, so that we don’t have to fall back on strawman tactics and arguments: he gave us cow protection, which is a completely friendly, non-violent, and inoffensive way to provide milk.

So therefore, I ask again: what are you doing about cow protection?

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7 Responses to “NOT VEGANS, COW PROTECTORS”

  1. ananta says :

    This is no doubt an important point, and well worth thinking what I can do about it, maybe use soya milk. One questions comes to mind, what level and in what circumstnaces does Lord Krishna protect us from sinful reactions? Yes, I guess we could al live without milk, infact I hardly drunk it before I joined the movement, but that means we also have to stop using ALL by products from milk. We are all shopping at supermakrets which sell so much meat, which means we are supporting them, in fact everywhere we shop, we are helping karmis make more money, so why sto at the milk issue? Unless and until we have sufficient communities to support our congregations, what are we to do?

  2. Chintamani says :

    Surely we need to develop self sufficient communities that produce all our milk and other needs, but how far away is that? Meanwhile, shall we stop offering milk products to Krishna? We can’t offer him soya products. Is there any benefit for the poor cows in the hellish dairy industry when we offer their milk? And Ananta makes a good point — violence is everywhere in today’s food industry, and indeed in many other non-food products. Very difficult to avoid. We have to work towards avoiding it asap, but in the meantime can we not take a branch from that tree to make an axe to cut it down?

  3. Dhamesvara Gaura das says :

    Hare Krsna!
    There is also the point of view of the living being as cow which is giving milk and then to be slaughter.
    If we stop think about ourselves: ‘what reactions I will get for offering milk products contaminated by cruelty’, but think: ‘ what kind of blessings and benefits will this cow receive for giving her milk to the Lord ‘ ; whole situation looks very different. They will be slaughter no matter what we do at present, by our preaching we can and should affect the future and hopefully stop that abominable cruelty, but in the mean time the choice is: if I offer some milk product, those living beings as poor cows will do some service and improve their future fate and destiny or I can choose not to offer and they will not benefit at all. Is such offering will be accepted?
    That depend on conciousness and attitude of a devotee and our merciful Lord Krsna Himslef.

    your humble servant
    Dhamesvara Gaura das

  4. bhakta david says :

    Hare Krishna, i think HH Sivarama Swami is missing a vital point, these protected cows are milked long after the calf has gone onto solid food (grass) which can be a very long time till she dries up, i think the movment has to accept its impossible to supply the Dieities and the many thouands of devottees with the milk they require, and therefore in my opinion either go on to soya milk or refrain from milk products, (by the way) which sastra says no soy products?

    Harbol bhakta david

  5. ShyamaPriya dasi says :

    I agree with Sivarama Swami. Where is the cow protection? It is too easy to go to the store and buy cheap, government subsidized milk and butter. Do the devotees realize how cows are treated these days, that most live a miserable life with no pasture or sunshine, that their offspring suffer by being raised for veal? Devotees need to appreciate the value of milk and butter and ghee. Take off your blinders. Buying milk from the store is the same as paying the farmer to produce it for you. Why aren’t we using the facility Krishna has given us for cow protection as we should?
    By the way, in Srila Prabhupada’s day, factory farms were not common or just beginning. It is an unimaginably cruel way to farm that is the norm these days. At least cows that produce milk organically are probably allowed to graze for the six short years they are allowed to live.

  6. dusyanta dasa says :

    Dear Prabhus, HaRE kRISHNA.jUST FOLLOWING ON A BIT WITH THIS SUBJECT I WAS INVOLVED WITH COWS AT THE MANOR FOR 10 YEARS AND CAME ACROSS THIS KIND OF DEBATE MANY TIMES.iN TH bAGAVATAM CANTO 3 CHAPTER29 VERSE 15 THIS IS DIRECTLY DEALT WITH BY SRILA pRABHUPADA.sO ALL ASPECTS OF THIS TYPE ARE DEALT WITH VERY CLEARLY AND PRAGMATICALLY IN THIS PURPORT.i THINK IF WE CONTINUE TO READ SRILA pRABHUPADAS BOOKS THEN ALL OUR QUESTIONS ARE ANSWERED BY HIM.i KNOW OVER THE YEARS OF DEBATE WITHIN OUR MOVEMENT I HAVE FOUND ALL THE ANSWERS IN HIS BOOKS AND ISNT SRILA PRABHUPADA THE ULTIMATE AUTHORITY FOR EVER IN ISKCON?
    YOUR HUMBLE SERVANT DUSYANTA DASA.

  7. dayananda says :

    Dudyanta’s reference to SB 3.29.15 is excellent. In respect to the purport of that verse, there is an environmentalist movement called “deep ecology” whose followers hope to change the mentality of people who are exploiting the earth. They struggle with various perspectives, but Prabhupada’s purport to the verse that Dusyanta has cited encapsulates the Vaishnava “deep ecology” perspective very well.

    It is important for every devotee to understand the Vaishnava philosophy with regard to the environment. So-called “shallow ecology”, exemplefied by Al Gore and the mainstream, is not very philosophical, but deep ecology is.

    Back to Dusyanta’s verse: One of the most important points of Prabhupada’s purport to 3.29.15 is his quote of Gita 3.13: those who enjoy nature without offering it in sacrifice are thieves. In this regard, in Dallas, circa 1972, on a morning walk, devotees pointed out the home of a wealthy oil-man. Prabhupada asked them how they would preach to that man. After the devotees stammered a bit, he said, “Tell him that he is a thief”.

    Thus, hand in hand with cow protection, devotees have a responsibility to speak out and tell others that they are stealing from Vishnu, Who is called Yajna, and His agents the devas. Thus, I challenge the leaders and preachers of ISKCON, “what are you doing about those who steal from Yajna (Vishnu)”.

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