Should Hindus Be Vegan?
Case Study: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
The Doctrine of Ahimsa or Nonviolence is Central to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism
The distinction between vegetarians and vegans is similar to the distinction
between Hindus and Buddhists. We can see the obvious points of similarity
between the two religions, but the Hindus revere the cow as the
representation of the Supreme Lord (a personal God), His pastimes
(Krishna-lila) and the spiritual world, whereas the Buddhists do not,
perhaps because the Buddhists do not recognize a personal God.
There is a distinction between Hindus and Jains along these lines as well.
The Jain monks avoid agriculture, because insects, rodents, and other living entities are killed when fields are ploughed for farming. This philosophy is incomplete, because through their purchases as consumers, they are still killing other living entities.
A Ramesvara disciple, Pariksit dasa (Don Vitcenzos), said in 1982 that meat-eaters can't make the excuse that they didn't kill the animal themselves, because a person who purchases stolen goods is just as guilty as the person who stole them.
Similarly, in correspondence with Prajapati dasa in 1982, I asked him how Krishna devotees avoid the karma involved when insects, rodents, and other living entities are killed when fields are ploughed for farming.
Prajapati dasa responded:
In Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krishna tells His devotee (Arjuna) to surrender unto Him, and promises, "I will deliver you from all sinful reactions."
So, one need not artificially try and save oneself by becoming fanatical about nonviolence -- which is impossible, anyway, as innumerable microorganisms are killed just by breathing.
In Western theological language, too, it's impossible to become free from sin by one's own power -- one needs the saving grace of a personal God. Similarly, one should take shelter of the Supreme Lord, and be delivered from all sinful reactions.
At a FOLK ("Friends of Lord Krishna") congregational preaching program in 1986, Badri Narayan dasa (Robert Morrill) made this point clear:
Devotees of Krishna are vegetarian because Lord Krishna Himself is vegetarian (Gita 9.26) and from that, everything else follows: it's merciful to the animals, better for feeding the hungry, better for the environment, one's health, etc. Merely by giving our lives to God, everything else automatically falls into place.
Is veganism being "fanatical" about nonviolence, or is it just being realistic?