Should Hindus Be Vegan?
Case Study: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
Does Krishna Require Dairy Products?
Srila Prabhupada taught that the goat sacrifices offered to goddess Kali are
a concession, and that temples must never be turned into slaughterhouses.
But many devotees of Kali are under the impression that Kali demands blood.
During the college preaching programs in the 1980s, devotees would say that Western vegetarian dishes can be offered to Krishna in place of rice and sabji (vegetable preparations). Similarly, one must ask:
Does Krishna require dairy products?
Lalita devi dasi ACBSP (Leona Oster) writes about "how necessary it is to drink very hot milk to create brain substance for understanding spiritual knowledge."
However, she has forgotten Srila Prabhupada's words, that the food be obtained nonviolently, especially when it is intended to be offered:
Srila Prabhupada said, "If people are to be educated in the path back to Godhead, they must be taught first and foremost to stop the process of animal-killing."
In a purport from the First Canto of the Srimad Bhagavatam, Srila Prabhupada writes: "It is nonsensical to say that the killing of animals has nothing to do with spiritual realization."
In his purport to the Srimad Bhagavatam 6.10.9, Srila Prabhupada writes:
“One cannot continue killing animals and at the same time be a religious man. That is the greatest hypocrisy. Jesus Christ said, ‘Do not kill,’ but hypocrites nevertheless maintain thousands of slaughterhouses while posing as Christians. Such hypocrisy is condemned...”.
Srila Prabhupada even candidly told a Catholic priest in London in 1973, that, “Animal-killers cannot understand God. I have seen this. It is a fact.”
In his purport to Bhagavad-gita 16.3, Srila Prabhupada writes:
“There is no necessity for animal killing. This injunction is for everyone. When there is no alternative, one may kill an animal, but it should be offered in sacrifice. At any rate, when there is an ample food supply for humanity, persons who are desiring to make advancement in spiritual realization should not commit violence to animals. Real ahimsa means not checking anyone’s progressive life.
“The animals are also making progress in their evolutionary life by transmigrating from one category of animal life to another. If a particular animal is killed, then his progress is checked. If an animal is staying in a particular body for so many days or so many years and is untimely killed, then he has to come back again to that form of life to complete the remaining days in order to be promoted to another species of life. So their progress should not be checked simply to satisfy one’s palate. This is called ahimsa.”
In the purport to Bhagavad-gita (Chapter 17, verse 8), Srila Prabhupada writes:
“Milk, butter, cheese and similar products give animal fat in a form which rules out any need for the killing of innocent creatures. It is only through brute mentality that this killing goes on. The civilized method of obtaining needed fat is by milk. Slaughter is the way of the subhumans. Protein is amply available through split peas, dahl, whole wheat, etc.”.
Srila Prabhupada’s words indicate that milk products are considered “pure” (after all, the cow is sacred!), but they must be obtained nonviolently: “killing innocent creatures” is a “brute mentality” and slaughtering animals “is the way of the subhumans.”.
Again, veganism is not ruled out. Indeed, veganism would appear to be a logical conclusion of (or at least consistent with) Srila Prabhupada's teachings on nonviolence (see above). Dairy products, however, are not forbidden, either -- but they must be obtained humanely!
Which is the greater deprivation or harm: the "finer brain tissues" not developing due to a lack of dairy products, or remaining an animal-killer, a cow-killer, and not understanding God at all?