There seems to be an ongoing debate over Veganism vs. Vegetarianism amongst devotees. Even in communities like New Vrindaban, where the cow is being protected, and there is an ample supply of fresh whole milk.
I happened to run across this comment by Mahananda dasa on Facebook and decided to share part of it with you today.
Milk… Krsna’s Miracle Gift To Mankind
EDITORIAL, Jul 27, 2000 — by Mahananda dasa
“The protection of cows maintains the most miraculous form of food, i. e., milk for maintaining the finer tissues of the brain for understanding higher aims of life. ” Srila Prabhupada
In response to the article written a few days ago about the harmful affects of drinking milk, I would like to present our view of milk drinking that we have accepted from our spiritual master.
Despite the evils of modern dairies and the cruel methods of obtaining milk from the mother cows, or despite the unwanted chemicals that store bought milk might introduce into your body and cause ill effects, still, we do not condemn drinking milk nor support veganism as part of our philosophy.
Quite the contrary. The glories of drinking cow’s milk are everywhere in Srila Prabhupada’s books. And though this may cause some doubts in the minds of those who have embraced vegan-ism, we as devotees faithfully follow the advise of our teacher, though it is sometimes contrary to fads or scientific theory.
This morning as I was heating up some hot milk to offer, I was reminded of something Srila Prabhupada said about drinking milk; ‘that we should drink milk “sipping hot” this will help develop the finer brain cells needed to understand spiritual subject matter’
I don’t have anything against vegans, rather I respect their endeavor to not promote violence against animals by refraining, but we are getting our milk from protected cows, and I view milk as one of the many gifts from God. Milk, yogurt, butter, ghee, and paneer (cheese curd), have all been used for thousands of years in Vedic cooking. And Krishna is also known as Makhan Chor (the butter thief) and is very fond of eating butter and yogurt, and is something that is offered daily in all the ISKCON temples
…Milk is compared to nectar, which one can drink to become immortal. Of course, simply drinking milk will not make one immortal, but it can increase the duration of one’s life. In modern civilization, men do not think milk to be important, and therefore they do not live very long. Although in this age men can live up to one hundred years, their duration of life is reduced because they do not drink large quantities of milk. This is a sign of Kali-yuga. In Kali-yuga, instead of drinking milk, people prefer to slaughter an animal and eat its flesh.
The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His instructions of Bhagavad-gītā, advises go-rakṣya, which means cow protection. The cow should be protected, milk should be drawn from the cows, and this milk should be prepared in various ways. One should take ample milk, and thus one can prolong one’s life, develop his brain, execute devotional service, and ultimately attain the favor of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. As it is essential to get food grains and water by digging the earth, it is also essential to give protection to the cows and take nectarean milk from their milk bags. (purport to SB 8.6.12)
I ran across the following article on the Sampradaya Sun the sometime ago, on Vegetarian Ethics. It is a very nice collection of quotes on the importance of a vegetarian diet, and a case against animal slaughter.
“Many people consider the ethical reasons the most important of all for becoming vegetarian. The beginning of ethical vegetarianism is the knowledge that other creatures have feelings, and that their feelings are similar to ours. This knowledge encourages one to extend personal awareness to encompass the suffering of others.” (The Hare Krishna Book of Vegetarian Cooking)
“If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men.” (St. Francis of Assisi)
Food prepared for and offered to Krishna with love and devotion becomes completely spiritualized. Such food is called Krishna prasadam, which means “the mercy of Lord Krishna.”
Lord Caitanya said of prasadam…”now that they have been prepared for Krishna and offered to Him with devotion, these foods have acquired extraordinary tastes and uncommon fragrances. Just taste them and see the difference! Apart from the taste, even the fragrance pleases the mind and makes one forget any other fragrance. Therefore, it should be understood that the spiritual nectar of Krishna’s lips must have touched these ordinary foods and imparted to them all their transcendental qualities.”
Eating only food offered to Krishna is the perfection of vegetarianism. In the Bhagavad-gita Lord Krishna says that unless one eats only food that has been offered to Him in sacrifice, one will suffer the reactions of karma. He also states, “If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or water, I will accept it.”
Prasadam: Food for the Body, Food for the Soul and Food for God
by Kirtanananda Swami
Recipes contributed by Sridama das Brahmacari
from Back to Godhead Magazine Vol. 1, Number 32, 1970
Prasadam means food for the body, food for the soul and food for God. More specifically, it is food which has been sanctified by special selection and preparation and then offered to Krsna, God, in love and devotion. Cooking for God? How absurd that sounds to the sophisticates of this modern age! How anthropomorphic! Even most transcendentalists will smile a smile of condescension at the suggestion: cooking for God! But why not? We cook for every conceivable nonsensical purpose. Why not cook instead for the Lord? Why shouldn’t this most important and central activity of life be dedicated to the Supreme? Why not cook transcendentally?
I must have woke up hungry, because my meditation this morning was on wholesome, nurturing foods in the mode of goodness.
…The purpose of food is to increase the duration of life, purify the mind and aid bodily strength. This is its only purpose. (from purport to Bg. 17.8-10)
Foods in the mode of goodness increase the duration of life, purify one’s existence and give strength, health, happiness and satisfaction. Such nourishing foods are sweet, juicy, fattening and palatable. Foods that are too bitter, too sour, salty, pungent, dry and hot, are liked by people in the modes of passion. Such foods cause pain, distress, and disease. Food cooked more than three hours before being eaten, which is tasteless, stale, putrid, decomposed and unclean, is food liked by people in the mode of ignorance. (Bhagavad-gita As It Is 17.8-10)
This morning I was reading from Srila Prabhupada’s Srimad Bhagavatam:
…Any living being, if he terrifies other living beings, is a most wretched subject, and the king should at once kill such a disturbing element. As the wild animal is killed when it creates disturbances, similarly any man who unnecessarily kills or terrifies the jungle animals or other animals must be punished at once. By the law of the Supreme Lord, all living beings, in whatever shape they may be, are the sons of the Lord, and no one has any right to kill another animal, unless it is so ordered by the codes of natural law. The tiger can kill a lower animal for his subsistence, but a man cannot kill an animal for his subsistence. That is the law of God, who has created the law that a living being subsists by eating another living being. Thus the vegetarians are also living by eating other living beings. Therefore, the law is that one should live only by eating specific living beings, as ordained by the law of God. The Īśopaniṣad directs that one should live by the direction of the Lord and not at one’s sweet will. A man can subsist on varieties of grains, fruits and milk ordained by God, and there is no need of animal food, save and except in particular cases. (from purport SB 1.17.10-11)
Ran across this fine devotee cookbook on the Sampradaya Sun sometime back, and thought we should share it with our readers. The recipes did in fact remind us of the early “love feasts”, and devotee diet in the early days of the Hare Krishna Movement. Very Nice!
The following cookbook manuscript, which contains a wonderful collection of vintage Hare Krsna recipes, was reproduced from an old photocopy. While the manuscript doesn’t bear the author’s name, we’re told that it was likely compiled in the early 1970’s by Revatinanda dasa.
1970’s Devotee Cookbook
“This is a very limited presentation of recipes for prasadam offerings that I have become practiced in preparing over the last few years. The ingredients and basic techniques used in the preparations are according to parampara tradition. Whether the details are as Srila Prabhupada would have exactly instructed, I do not know, but I have experienced on many occasions that He has been pleased by some of these exact preparations. Also I have experienced that devotees especially, and usually karmies (non-devotees) as well, are very much attracted by my preparations. For these reasons – to increase the attractiveness of our offerings to Sri Sri Radha and Krishna, and to increase the satisfaction of both the devotees and karmies with the prasadam they take to purify their existence – I have prepared this small cook-book. It is simply an offering of one devotee’s experience in the matter of prasadam preparation.