Based on the teachings of His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada
The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust
We dedicate this book to our beloved spiritual master and guide, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, who brought the transcendental teachings of Lord Krsna to the Western world.
- The Editors
Influenced by factors ranging from health and economics
to ethics and religion, millions of people around the world are turning to a
vegetarian diet. In America alone, ten million people now consider themselves
who have renounced meat are many celebrities – film stars Gloria Swanson,
Willian Shatner, Dennis Weaver, Samantha Eggar, Candace Bergen, and Sandy
Dennis; recording artists Michael Jackson, Paul and Linda McCartney, George
Harrison, John Denver, Johnny Cash, Jeff Beck, Chubby Checker, Graham Nash,
David Cassidy, Johnny Rivers, Captain and Tennille, Alice Coltrane, Annie
Lennox, Chrissie Hynde, Donovan, Stevie Wonder, and Todd Rundgren; models
Brooke Shields and Christine Brinkley. In sports, the list includes Chris
Campbell (1981 world wrestling champion), Aaron Pryor (welterweight world
boxing champion), Edward Moses (world record holder for 400 meter hurdles).
Robert DiCostella (Olympic marathon champion), Anton Innaver (Olympic ski
champion), Killer Kowalski (wrestler), and the entire Seibu Lions (Japanese)
baseball team (who won the Pacific League championship two years in a row after
switching to a vegetarian diet).
Higher Taste clearly
explains the many reasons why people stop eating meat. But beyond that it
contains over sixty gourmet vegetarian recipes that are guaranteed to carry you
beyond the pleasures of ordinary food into new realms of epicurean delight. If
you ever thought that being a vegetarian means eating only limp steamed
vegetables and cold salads – you're in for a big surprise. In The Higher
Taste you'll learn how to prepare complete, nourishing, taste-tempting
meals. How about an evening in Italy, with savory minestrone soup, a hearty
spaghetti main course complete with veggie-balls in tomato sauce, breaded
zucchini sticks, hot ricotta-stuffed calzone, and a Neapolitan cheesecake for
dessert? The Higher Taste will show you how. You'll also find equally
delicious Chinese, Indian, French, Mexican, and Middle eastern dinners. And
best of all, these tested recipes have all been chosen for their simplicity,
quickness, and ease of preparation.
important as the ingredients we use in cooking is our consciousness. The
Higher Taste shows how anyone can turn a daily chore into a blissful,
enlightening experience. Preparing karma-free vegetarian food is an
integral part of the topmost system of yoga and meditation described in
the timeless teachings of India's Vedic literature. In Bhagavad-gita Lord
Krsna says, "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower,
fruit, or water, I will accept it". One who prepares pure, natural
vegetarian food and then offers it to the Supreme will automatically feel an
awakening of sublime spiritual pleasure in the heart.
Lord is described in the Vedas as the reservoir of all pleasure, and to
increase His pleasure He expands Himself by His pleasure energy into uncounted
millions of living beings who are all meant to share in His enjoyment. We are
all part of the eternal pleasure potency, and by the simple act of preparing
food for the pleasure of God we can experience transcendental enjoyment. You'll
notice that as soon as you taste the food you've offered. As George Harrison
said in a recent interview, "When you know someone has begrudgingly cooked
something, it doesn't taste as nice as when someone has done it to try and
please God, to offer it to Him first. Just that in itself makes all the food
taste so much nicer." That's what we mean by "a higher taste".
trying the recipes, be sure to have a look at the opening chapters of The
Higher Taste. They explain the whole philosophy behind spiritual
vegetarianism, and reading them will help you prepare food in the best possible
state of mind.
reveals how modern medical research has shown links between meat-eating and
killer diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Chapter Two exposes the myth
of a worldwide food scarcity and explains the economic advantages of a
vegetarian diet for society and the individual. In Chapter Three, the ethical
foundations of vegetarianism are set forth, focusing on the writings of some of
the world's greatest philosophers, authors, and religious leaders, among them
Pythagoras, Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, Rousseau, Franklin, Shelley, Tolstoy,
Thoreau, Gandhi, and others. The principle of nonviolence, as found in the
teachings of Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism, is also examined.
An analysis of how the laws of karma and reincarnation are related to
vegetarianism forms the basis of Chapter Four. Chapter Five explains in detail
the rationale and procedures for offering vegetarian food to the Supreme Lord
as part of the bhakti-yoga system. In Chapter Six, excerpts from the
writings of Srila Svami Maharaja, one of India's greatest authorities on Vedic
culture and science, provide a concise, highly readable summary of the
philosophy underlying the spiritual vegetarian diet outlined in The Higher
provides an overview of the Krsna consciousness movement's varied food-related
activities – vegetarian restaurants, self-sufficient farm communities,
food-relief programs for the unemployed and underprivileged, and more.
question about vegetarian diets used to be whether it was healthy to eliminate
meat and other animal foods. Now, however, the main question has become whether
it is healthier to be a vegetarian than to be a meat eater. The answer to both
questions, based on currently available evidence, seems to be yes. – Jane E. Brody, New York Times News
increasing evidence of diet's critical effect on good health and longevity,
more and more people are investigating this question: Is the human body better
suited to a vegetarian diet or one that includes meat?
search for answers, two areas should be considered – the anatomical structure
of the human body, and the physical effects of meat consumption.
eating begins with the hands and mouth, what can the anatomy of these bodily
parts tell us? Human teeth, like those of the herviborous creatures, are
designed for grinding and chewing vegetable matter. Humans lack the sharp front
teeth for tearing flesh that are characteristic of carnivores. Meat-eating
animals generally swallow their food without chewing it and therefore do not
require molars or a jaw capable of moving sideways. Also, the human hand, with
no sharp claws and with its opposable thumb, is better suited to harvesting
fruits and vegetables than to killing prey.
the stomach, meat requires digestive juices high in hydrochloric acid. The
stomachs of humans and herbivores produce acid less than one-twentieth the
strength of that found in carnivores.
crucial difference between the meat-eater and the vegetarian is found in the
intestinal tract, where the food is further digested and nutrients are passed
into the blood. A piece of meat is just part of a corpse, and its putrefaction
creates poisonous wastes within the body. Therefore, meat must be quickly
eliminated. For this purpose, carnivores possess alimentary canals only three
times the length of their bodies. Since man, like other non-flesh-eating
animals, has an alimentary canal twelve times his body length, rapidly decaying
flesh is retained for a much longer time, producing a number of undesirable
organ adversely affected by these toxins is the kidney. This vital organ, which
extracts waste from the blood, is strained by the overload of poisons
introduced by meat consumption. Even moderate meat-eaters demand three times
more work from their kidneys than do vegetarians. The kidneys of a young person
may be able to cope with this stress, but as one grows older the risk of kidney
disease and failure greatly increases.
inability of the human body to deal with excessive animal fats in the diet is
another indication of the unnaturalness of meat-eating. Carnivorous animals can
metabolize almost unlimited amount of cholesterol and fats without any adverse
effects. In experiments with dogs, up to one half pound of butterfat was added
to their daily diet over a period of two years, producing absolutely no change
in their serum cholesterol level.
other hand, the vegetarian species have a very limited ability to deal with any
level of cholesterol or saturated fats beyond the amount required by the body.
When over a period of many years an excess is consumed, fatty deposits (plaque)
accumulate on the inner walls of the arteries, producing a condition known as arteriosclerosis,
hardening of the arteries. Because the plaque deposits constrict the flow of
blood to the heart, the potential for heart attacks, strokes, and blood clots
is tremendously increased.
As early as
1961, the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that ninety
to ninety-seven percent of heart disease, the cause of more than one half of
the deaths in the United States, could be prevented by a vegetarian diet. These findings are supported by an
American Heart Association report that states, "In well-documented
population studies using standard methods of diet and coronary disease
assessment … evidence suggests that a high-saturated-fat diet is an essential
factor for a high incidence of coronary heart disease." The National Academy of Sciences
also reported recently that the high serum cholesterol level found in most
Americans is a major factor in the coronary heart disease "epidemic"
in the United States.
evidence of the unsuitability of the human intestinal tract for digestion of
flesh is the relationship, established by numerous studies, between colon
cancer and meat-eating. One reason for the incidence of
cancer is the high-fat, low-fiber content of the meat-centered diet. This
results in a slow transit time through the colon, allowing toxic wastes to do
their damage. States Dr. Sharon Fleming of the Department of Nutritional
Sciences at the University of California at Berkeley, "Dietary fiber
appears to aid in reducing … colon and rectal cancer". Moreover, while being digested,
meat is known to generate steroid metabolites possessing carcinogenic
continues, evidence linking meat-eating to other forms of cancer is building up
at an alarming rate. The National Academy of Sciences reported in 1983 that
"people may be able to prevent many common cancers by eating less fatty
meats and more vegetable and grains". And in his Notes on the
Causation of Cancer, Rollo Russell writes, "I have found of
twenty-five nations eating flesh largely, nineteen had a high cancer rate and
only one had a low rate, and that of thirty-five nations eating little or no
flesh, none had a high rate".
Some of the
most shocking results in cancer research have come from exploration of the
effects of nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are formed when secondary amines,
prevalent in beer, wine, tea, and tobacco, for example, react with chemical
preservatives in meat. The Food and Drug Administration has labeled
nitrosamines "one of the most formidable and versatile groups of
carcinogens yet discovered, and their role … in the etiology of human cancer
has caused growing apprehension among experts." Dr. William Lijinsky of
Oak Ridge National Laboratory conducted experiments in which nitrosamines were
fed to test animals. Within six months he found malignant tumors in one hundred
percent of the animals. "The cancers," he said, "are all over
the place; in the brain, lungs, pancreas, stomach, liver, adrenals, and
intestines. The animals are a bloody mess."
other potentially hazardous chemicals, of which consumers are generally
unaware, are present in meat and meat products. In their book Poisons in
Your Body, Gary and Steven Null give us an inside look at the latest
gimmicks used in the corporate-owned animal factories. "The animals are
kept alive and fattened by the continuous administration of tranquilizers,
hormones, antibiotics, and 2,700 other drugs", they write. "The
process starts even before birth and continues long after death. Although these
drugs will still be present in the meat when you eat it, the law does not
require that they be listed on the package."
these chemicals is diethylstilbestrol (DES), a growth hormone that has been used
in the U.S. for the last twenty years despite studies that have shown it to be
carcinogenic. Banned as a serious health hazard in thirty-two countries, it
continues to be used by the U.S. meat industry, possibly because the FDA
estimates it saves meat producers more than $ 500 million annually.
popular growth stimulant is arsenic. In 1972 this well-known poison was found
by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to exceed the legal limit in
fifteen percent of the nation's poultry.
nitrate and sodium nitrite, chemicals used as preservatives to slow down
putrefaction in cured meat and meat products, including ham, bacon, bologna,
salami, frankfurthers, and fish, also endanger health. These chemicals give
meat its bright-red appearance by reacting with pigments in the blood and
muscle. Without them, the natural gray-brown color of dead meat would turn off
many prospective consumers.
these chemicals do not distinguish between the blood of a corpse and the blood
of a living human, and many persons accidentally subjected to excessive amounts
have died of poisoning. Even smaller quantities can prove hazardous, especially
for young children and babies, and therefore the United Nations' joint FAO/WHO
Expert Committee on Food Additives warned, "Nitrate should on no account
be added to baby food". A. J. Lehman of the FDA pointed out that
"only a small margin of safety exists between the amount of nitrate that
is safe and that which may be dangerous".
the filthy, overcrowded conditions forced upon animals by the livestock
industry, vast amounts of antibiotics must be used. But such rampant use of
antibiotics naturally creates antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are passed on
to those who eat the meat. The FDA estimates that penicillin and tetracycline
save the meat industry $1.9 billion a year, giving them sufficient reason to
overlook the potential health hazards.
of being slaughtered also adds "pain poisons" (such as powerful
stimulants) into the meat. These join with uneliminated wastes in the animal's
blood, such as urea and uric acid, to further contaminate the flesh the
to dangerous chemicals, meat often carries diseases from the animals
themselves. Crammed together in unclean conditions, force-fed, and inhumanely
treated, animals destined for slaughter contract many more diseases than they
ordinarily would. Meat inspectors attempts to filter out unacceptable meats,
but because of pressures from the industry and lack of sufficient time for
examination, much of what passes is fare less wholesome than the meat purchaser
A 1972 USDA
report lists carcasses that passed inspection after the diseased parts were
removed. Examples included nearly 100,000 cows with eye cancer and 3,596,302
cases of abcessed liver. The government also permits the sale of chickens with
airsacculitis, a pneumonialike disease that causes pus-laden mucus to collect
in the lungs. In order to meet federal standards, the chicken's chest cavities
are cleaned out with air-suction guns. But during this process diseased air
sacs burst and pus seeps into the meat.
has even been found to be lax in enforcing its own low standards. In its
capacity of overseeing federal regulatory agencies, the U.S. General Accounting
Office cited the USDA for failure to correct various violations by
slaughterhouses. Carcasses contaminated with rodent feces, cockroaches, and
rust were found in meat-packing companies such as Swift, Armour, and Carnation. Some inspectors rationalize the
laxity, explaining that if regulations were enforced, no meat-packers would
remain open for business.
the mention of vegetarianism elicits the predictable reaction, "What about
protein?" To this the vegetarian might well reply, "What about the
elephant? And the bull? And the rhinoceros?" The ideas that meat has a
monopoly on protein and that large amounts of protein are required for energy
and strength are both myths. While it is being digested, most protein breaks
down into its constituent amino acids, which are reconverted and used by the
body for growth and tissue replacement. Of these twenty-two amino acids, all
but eight can be synthesized by the body itself, and these eight
"essential amino acids" exist in abundance in nonflesh foods. Diary
products, grains, beans, and nuts are all concentrated sources of protein.
Cheese, peanuts, and lentils, for instance, contain more protein per ounce than
hamburger, pork, or porterhouse steak. A study by Dr. Fred Stare of Harvard and
Dr. Mervyn Hardinge of Loma Linda University made extensive comparisons between
the protein intake of vegetarians and flesh-eaters. They concluded that
"each group exceeded twice its requirement for every essential amino acid
and surpassed this amount by large margins for most of them".
Americans, protein makes up more than twenty percent of their diet, nearly
twice the quantity recommended by the World Health Organization. Although
inadequate amounts of protein will cause loss of strength, excess protein
cannot be utilized by the body; rather, it is converted into nitrogenous wastes
that burden the kidneys. The primary energy source for the body is
carbohydrates. Only as a last resort is the body's protein utilized for energy
production. Too much protein intake actually reduces the body's energy
capacity. In a series of comparative endurance tests conducted by Dr. Irving
Fisher of Yale, vegetarians performed twice as well as meat-eaters. By reducing
the nonvegetarians' protein consumption by twenty percent, Dr. Fisher found
their efficiency increased by thirty-three percent. Numerous other studies have
shown that a proper vegetarian diet provides more nutritional energy than meat.
Furthermore, a study by Dr. J. Iotekyo and V. Kipani at Brussels University
showed that vegetarians were able to perform physical tests two to three times
longer than meat-eaters before exhaustion and were fully recovered from fatigue
in one fifth the time needed by the meat-eaters.
In his 1975
Eco-Spasm Report, futurist Alvin Toffler, author of Future Shock and The
Third Wave, suggested a positive hope for the world's food crisis. He
anticipated "the sudden rise of a religious movement in the West that
restricts the eating of beef and thereby saves billions of tons of grain and
provides a nourishing diet for the world as a whole".
Francis Moore Lappé, author of the bestselling Diet for a Small Planet,
said in a recent television interview that we should look at a piece of steak
as a Cadillac. "What I mean
is", she explained, "that we in America are hooked on gas-guzzling
automobiles because of the illusion of cheap petroleum. Likewise, we got hooked
on a grain-fed, meat-centered diet because of the illusion of cheap
to information compiled by the United States Department of Agriculture, over
ninety percent of all the grain produced in America is used for feeding
livestock – cows, pigs, lambs, and chickens – that wind up on dinner tables.
Yet the process of using grain to produce meat is incredibly wasteful. For example,
information from the USDA's Economic Research Service shows that we get back
only one (1) pound of beef for every sixteen (16) pounds of grain.
In his book
Proteins: Their Chemistry and Politics, Dr. Aaron Altshul notes that in
terms of calorie units per acre, a diet of grains, vegetable, and beans will
support twenty times more people than a diet of meat. As it stands now, about
half the harvested acreage in America is used to feed animals. If the earth's
arable land were used primarily for the production of vegetarian foods, the
planet could easily support a human population of twenty billion and more.
as these have led food experts to point out that the world hunger problem is
largely illusory. The myth of "overpopulation" should not be used by
advocates of abortion to justify the killing of more than fifty million unborn
children worldwide each year. Even now, we are already producing enough food
for everyone on the planet, but unfortunately it is being allocated
inefficiently. In a report submitted to the United Nations World Food
Conference (Rome, 1974), René Dumont, an agricultural economist at France's
National Agricultural Institute, made this judgment: "The overconsumption
of meat by the rich means hunger for the poor. This wasteful agriculture must
be changed – by the suppression of feedlots where beef are fattened on grains,
and even a massive reduction of beef cattle."
It is quite
clear that a living cow yields society more food than a dead one – in the form
of a continuing supply of milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and other high-protein
foods. In 1971, Stewart Odend'hal of the University of Missouri conducted a
detailed study of cows in Bengal and found that far from depriving humans of
food, they ate only inedible remains of harvested crops (rice hulls, tops of
sugarcane, etc.) and grass. "Basically," he said, "the cattle
convert items of little direct human value into products of immediate
utility." This should put to rest the myth that people are starving in
India because they will not kill their cows. Interestingly enough, India
recently seems to have surmounted its food problems, which have always had more
to do with occasional severe drought or political upheaval than with sacred
cows. A panel of experts at the Angency for International Development, in a
statement cited in the Congressional Record for December 2, 1980,
concluded, "India produces enough to feed all its people".
to live, cows produce high quality, protein-rich foods in amounts that stagger
the imagination. In America, there is a deliberate attempt to limit dairy
production; nevertheless, Representative Sam Gibbons of Florida recently
reported to Congress that the U.S. government was being forced to stockpile
"mountains of butter, cheese, and nonfat dried milk". He told his
colleagues, "We currently own about 440 million pounds of butter, 545
million pounds of cheese, and about 765 million pounds of nonfat dried
milk". The supply grows by about 45 million pounds each week. In fact, the
10 million cows in America provide so much milk that the government
periodically releases millions of pounds of dairy products for free
distribution to the poor and hungry. It's abundantly clear that cows (living
ones) are one of mankind's most valuable food resources.
to save seals, dophins, and whales from slaughter are flourishing – so why
shouldn't there be a movement to save the cow? From the economic standpoint
alone, it would seem to be a sound idea – unless you happen to be part of the
meat industry, which is increasingly worried about the growth of vegetarianism.
In June 1977, a major trade magazine, Farm Journal, printed an editorial
entitled, "Who Will Defend the Good Name of Beef?" The magazine urged
the nation's beef-cattle raisers to chip in $ 40 million to finance publicity
to keep beef consumption and prices sky high.
industry is a powerful economic and political force, and besides spending
millions of its own dollars to promote meat-eating, it has also managed to grab
an unfair share of our tax dollars. Practically speaking, the meat production
process is so wasteful and costly that the industry needs subsidies in order to
survive. Most people are unaware of how heavily national goverments support the
meat industry by outright grants, favorable loan guarantees, and so forth. In
1977, for example, the USDA bought an extra $ 100 million of surplus beef for
school lunch programs. That same year, the goverments of Western Europe spent
almost a half-billion dollars purchasing the farmers' overproduction of meat
and spent additional millions for the cost of storing it.
dollars go down the drain in the form of the millions of dollars the U.S.
government spends each year to maintain a nationwide network of inspectors to
monitor the little-publicized problem of animal diseases. When diseased animals
are destroyed, the government pays the owners an indemnity. For instance, in
1978 the American government paid out $ 50 million of its citizens' tax money
in indemnities for the control of brucellosis, a flulike disease that afflicts
cattle and other animals. Under another program, the U.S. government guarantees
loans up to $ 350,000 for meat producers. Other farmers receive guarantees only
up to $ 20,000. A New York Times editorial called this subsidy bill
"outrageous", characterizing it as "a scandalous steal out of
the public treasury". Also, despite much evidence from government health
agencies showing the link between meat-eating and cancer and heart disease, the
USDA continues to spend millions promoting meat consumption through its
publications and school lunch programs.
price we pay for meat-eating is degradation of the environment. The United
States Agricultural Research Service calls the heavily contaminated runoff and
sewage from America's thousands of slaughterhouses and feedlots a major source
of pollution of the nation's rivers and streams. It is fast becoming apparent
that the fresh water resources of this planet are not only becoming polluted
but also depleted, and the meat industry is particularly wasteful. In their
book Population, Resources, and Environment, Paul and Anne Ehrlich found
that to grow one pound of wheat requires only 60 pounds of water, whereas
production of a pound of meat requires anywhere from 2,500 to 6,000 pounds of
water. And in 1973 the New York Post uncovered this shocking misuse of a
valuable national resource – one large chicken slaughtering plant in America
was found to be using 100 million gallons of water daily! This same volume
would supply a city of 25,000 people.
wasteful process of meat production, which requires far larger acreages of land
than vegetable agriculture, has been a source of economic conflict in human
society for thousands of years. A study published in Plant Foods for Human
Nutrition reveals that an acre of grains produces five times more protein
than an acre of pasture set aside for meat production. An acre of beans or peas
produces ten times more, and an acre of spinach twenty-eight times more
protein. Economic facts like these were known to the ancient Greeks. In Plato's
Republic the great Greek philosopher Socrates recommended a vegetarian
diet because it would allow a country to make the most intelligent use of its
agricultural resources. He warned that if people began eating animals, there
would be need for more pasturing land. "And the country which was enough to
support the original inhabitants will be too small now, and not enough?"
he asked of Glaucon, who replied that this was indeed true. "And so we
shall go to war, Glaucon, shall we not?" To which Glaucon replied,
interesting to note that meat-eating played a role in many of the wars during
the age of European colonial expansion. The spice trade with India and other
countries of the East was an object of great contention. Europeans subsisted on
a diet of meat preserved with salt. In order to disguise and vary the
monotonous and unpleasant taste of their food, they eagerly purchased vast
quantities of spices. So huge were the fortunes to be made in the spice trade
that governments and merchants did not hesitate to use arms to secure sources.
present era there is still the possibility of mass conflict based on food. Back
in August 1974, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) published a report
warning that in the near future there may not be enough food for the world's
population "unless the affluent nations make a quick and drastic cut in
their consumption of grain-fed animals".
usable protein from
Meat (all types) 45
let's turn from the world geopolitical situation, and get right down to our own
pocketbooks. Although not widely known, grains, beans, and milk products are an
excellent source of high-quality protein. Pound for pound many vegetarian foods
are better sources of this essential nutrient than meat. A 100-gram portion of
meat contains only 20 grams of protein. (Another fact to consider: meat is more
than 50% water by weight.) In comparison, a 100-gram portion of cheese or
lentils yields 25 grams of protein, while 100 grams of soybeans yields 34 grams
of protein. But although meat provides less protein, it costs much more. A spot
check of supermarkets in Los Angeles in August 1983 showed sirloin steak
costing $ 3.89 a pound, while staple ingredients for delicious vegetarian meals
averaged less than 50 cents a pound. An eight-ounce container of cottage cheese
costing 59 cents provides 60% of the minimum daily requirement of protein.
Becoming a vegetarian could potentially save an individual shopper at least
several hundred dollars each year, thousands of dollars over the course of a
lifetime. The savings to America's consumers as a whole would amount to
billions of dollars annually. Considering all this, it's hard to see how anyone
could afford not to become a vegetarian.
I have no
doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual
improvement, to leave off eating aninmals.
I do feel
that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill
our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants. – Gandhi
about 134 million mammals and 3 billion birds are killed for food in America.
But few people make any conscious connection between this slaughter and the
meat products that appear on their tables. A case in point: in television
commercials a clown called Ronald McDonald tells kiddies that hamburgers grow
in "hamburger patches". The truth is not so pleasant – commercial
slaughterhouses are like visions of hell. Screaming animals are stunned by
hammer blows, electric shock, or concussion guns. They are then hoisted into
the air by their feet and moved through the factories of death on mechanized
conveyor systems. Often still alive, their throats are sliced and their flesh
is cut off. Describing his reaction to a visit to a slaughterhouse, champion
tennis player Peter Burwash wrote in his book A Vegetarian Primer,
"I'm no shrinking violet. I played hockey until half of my teeth were
knocked down my throat. And I'm extremely competitive on a tennis court … But
that experience at the slaughterhouse overwhelmed me. When I walked out of
there, I knew I would never again harm an animal! I knew all the physiological,
economic, and ecological arguments supporting vegetarianism, but it was
firsthand experience of man's cruelty to animals that laid the real groundwork
for my commitment to vegetarianism."
considerations have always attracted many of the world's greatest personalities
to adopt a vegetarian diet. Pythagoras, famous for his contributions to
geometry and mathematics, said,
my fellow men, do not defile your bodies with sinful foods. We have corn, we
have apples bending down the branches with their weight, and grapes swelling on
the vines. There are sweet-flavored herbs, and vegetables which can be cooked
and softened over the fire, nor are you denied milk or thyme-scented honey. The
earth affords a lavish supply of riches, of innocent foods, and offers you
banquets that involve no bloodshed or slaughter; only beasts satisfy their
hunger with flesh, and not even all of those, because horses, cattle, and sheep
live on grass."
biographer Diogenes tells us that Pythagoras ate bread and honey in the morning
and raw vegetable at night. He would also pay fishermen to throw their catch
back into the sea.
In an essay
titled "On Eating Flesh", the Roman author Plutarch wrote:
you really ask what reason Pythagoras had for abstinence from flesh? For my
part I rather wonder both by what accident and in what state of mind the first
man touched his mouth to gore and brought his lips to the flesh of a dead
creature, set forth tables of dead, stale bodies, and ventured to call food and
nourishment the parts that had a little before bellowed and cried, moved and
lived. How could eyes endure the slaughter when throats were slit and hides
flayed and limbs torn from limb? How could his nose endure the stench? How was
it that the pollution did not turn away his taste, which made contact with
sores of others and sucked juices and serums from mortal wounds? It is
certainly not lions or wolves that we eat out of self-defense; on the contrary,
we ignore these and slaughter harmless, tame creatures without stings or teeth
to harm us. For the sake of a little flesh we deprive them of sun, of light, of
the duration of life to which they arte entitled by birth and being. "
delivered this challenge to flesh-eaters:
you declare that you are naturally designed for such a diet, then first kill
for yourself what you want to eat. Do it, however, only through your own
resources, unaided by cleaver or cudgel or any kind of ax."
Renaissance painter, inventor, sculptor, scientist and poet Leonardo Da Vinci
epitomized the ethical approach to vegetarianism. He wrote, "He who does
not value life does not deserve it". He considered the bodies of
meat-eaters to be "burial places", graveyards for the animals they
eat. His notebooks are full of passages that show his compassion for living
creatures. He lamented, "endless numbers of these animals shall have their
little children taken from them, ripped open, and barbarously
Jean Jacques Rousseau was an advocate of natural order. He observed that the
meat-eating animals are generally more cruel and violent than herbivores. He
therefore reasoned that a vegetarian diet would produce a more compassionate
person. He even advised that butchers not be allowed to testify in court or sit
Wealth of Nations economist Adam Smith proclaimed the advantages of a
vegetarian diet. "It may indeed be doubted whether butchers' meat is
anywhere a necessary of life. Grain and other vegetables, with the help of
milk, cheese, and butter, or oil, where butter is not to be had, afford the
most plentiful, the most wholesome, the most nourishing, and the most
invigorating diet. Decency nowhere requires that any man should eat butchers'
meat." Similar considerations motivated Benjamin Franklin, who became a
vegetarian at age sixteen. Franklin noted "greater progress, from that
greater clearness of head and quicker apprehension". In his
autobiographical writings, he called flesh-eating "unprovoked
Shelley was a committed vegetarian. In his essay "A Vindication of Natural
Diet", he wrote, "Let the advocate of animal food force himself to a
decisive experiment on its fitness, and as Plutarch recommends, tear a living
lamb with his teeth and, plunging his head into its vitals, slake his thirst
with the steaming blood … then, and then only, would he be consistent."
Shelley's interest in vegetarianism began when he was a student at Oxford, and
he and his wife, Harriet, took up the diet soon after their marriage. In a
letter dated March 14, 1812, his wife wrote to a friend, "We have
foresworn meat and adopted the Pythagorean system." Shelly, in his poem Queen
Mab, described a utopian world where men do not kill animals for food.
… no longer now
He slays the lamb that looks him in
And horribly devours his mangled
Which, still avenging Natures's
Kindled all putrid humors in his
All evil passions, and all vain
Hatred, despair, and loathing in his
The germs of misery, death, disease
author Leo Tolstoy became a vegetarian in 1885. Giving up the sport of hunting,
he advocated "vegetarian pacifism" and was against killing even the
smallest living things, such as the ants. He felt there was a natural
progression of violence that led inevitably to war in human society. In his
essay "The First Step", Tolstoy wrote that flesh-eating is
"simply immoral, as it involves the performance of an act which is
contrary to moral feeling – killing". By killing, Tolstoy believed,
"man suppresses in himself unnecessarily the highest spiritual capacity –
that of sympathy and pity towards living creatures like himself – and by
violating his own feelings becomes cruel."
Richard Wagner believed that all life was sacred. He saw vegetarianism as
"nature's diet", which could
save mankind from violent tendencies and help us return to the "long-lost
times in his life, Henry David Thoreau was a vegetarian. Although his own
practice of vegetarianism was spotty at best, he recognized its virtues. In Walden
he wrote, "Is it not a reproach that man is a carnivorous animal?
True, he can and does live, in a great measure, by preying on other animals;
but this is a miserable way – as anyone who will go to snaring rabbits, or
slaughtering lambs, may learn – and he will be regarded as a benefactor of his
race who shall teach man to confine himself to a more innocent and wholesome
diet. Whatever my own practice may be, I have no doubt that it is a part of the
destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating
animals, as surely as the savage tribes have left off eating each other when
they came in contact with the more civilized."
without saying that the great twentieth-century apostle of nonviolence Mohandas
Gandhi was a vegetarian. His parents, being devout Hindus, never gave him meat,
fish, or eggs. Under British rule, however, there was a great attack on the
age-old principles of Indian culture. Under such pressures, many Indians began
to adopt the meat-eating habits of the West. Even Gandhi fell victim to the
advice of some schoolfriends, who urged him to eat meat because it would
increase his strength and courage. But he later resumed a vegetarian diet and
wrote, "I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species. We err in copying
the lower animal world if we are superior to it." He felt that ethical
principles are a stronger support for lifelong commitment to a vegetarian diet
than reason of health. "I do feel," he stated, "that spiritual
progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow
creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants."
George Bernard Shaw first tried to become a vegetarian at age twenty-five.
"It was Shelley who first opened my eyes to the savagery of my diet",
he wrote in his autobiography. Shaw's doctors warned that the diet would kill
him. When an old man, he was asked why he didn't go back and show them what
good it had done him, he replied, "I would, but they all passed away years
ago." Once someone asked him how it was that he looked so youthful.
"I don't," Shaw retorted. "I look my age. It is the other people
who look older than they are. What can you expect from people who eat
corpses?" On the connection between flesh-eating and violence in human
society, Shaw wrote:
We pray on Sundays that we may have
To guide our footsteps on the path
We are sick of war, we don't want to
And yet we gorge ourselves upon the
wrote about vegetarianism in his vision of a future world, A Modern Utopia.
"In all the round world of Utopia there is no meat. There used to be. But
now we cannot stand the thought of slaughterhouses. And, in a population that
is all educated, and at about the same level of physical refinement, it is
practically impossible to find anyone who will hew a dead ox or pig… I can
still remember as a boy the rejoicings over the closing of the last
author Isaac Bashevis Singer became a vegetarian in 1962, at age fifty-eight.
He said, "Naturally I am sorry now that I waited so long, but it is better
later than never." He finds vegetarianism quite compatible with his
mystical variety of Judaism. "We are all God's creatures – that we pray to
God for mercy and justice while we continue to eat the flesh of animals that
are slaughtered on our account is not consistent." Although he appreciates
the health aspect of vegetarianism, he states very clearly that the ethical
consideration is primary. "Even if eating flesh was actually shown to be
good for you, I would certainly still not eat it."
little patience with intellectual rationalizations for meat-eating. "Various
philosophers and religious leaders tried to convince their disciples and
followers that animals are nothing more than machines without a soul, without
feelings. However, anyone who has ever lived with an animal – be it a dog, a
bird, or even a mouse – knows that this theory is a brazen lie, invented to
of meat has been a part of religious practice in nearly all faiths. Some
Egyptian priests were vegetarians, avoiding meat in order to help them maintain
vows of celibacy. They also avoided eggs, which they called "liquid
the Old Testament, the foundation of Judaism, contains some prescriptions for
meat-eating, it is clear that the ideal situation is vegetarianism. In Genesis
(1:29) we find God Himself proclaiming: "Behold, I have given you every
herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in
that which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for
meat." In the beginning of creation as described in the Bible, it seems
that not even the animals ate flesh. In Genesis (1:30) God says, "And to
every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that
creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb
for meat; and it was so." Genesis (9:4) also directly forbids meat-eating:
"But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not
eat. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every
beast will I require it."
books of the Bible, major prophets also condemn meat-eating. Isaiah (1:5)
states, "Saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the
fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or
of he-goats. When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide Mine eyes from you:
yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear, for your hands are full of
blood." According to Isaiah (66:3), the killing of cows is particularly
abhorrent: "He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man."
Bible we also find the story of Daniel, who while imprisoned in Babylon refused
to eat the meat offered by his jailers, preferring instead simple vegetarian
stumbling blocks for many Christians are the belief that Christ ate meat and
the many references to meat in the New Testament. But close study of the
original Greek manuscripts shows that the vast majority of the words translated
as 'meat' are trophe, brome, and other words that simply mean 'food' or
'eating' in the broadest sense. For example, in the gospel of St. Luke (8:55)
we read that Jesus raised a woman from the dead and "commanded to give her
meat". The original Greek word translated as 'meat' is phago, which
means only 'to eat'. So what Christ actually said was, "Let her eat".
The Greek word for meat is kreas ('flesh'), and it is never used in
connection with Christ. Nowhere in the New Testament is there any direct
reference to Jesus eating meat. This is in line with Isaiah's famous prophecy
about Jesus' appearance: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may
know to refuse the evil and choose the good."
Alexandria, an early Church father, recommended a fleshless diet, citing the
example of the apostle Matthew, who "partook of seeds, and nuts, and
vegetable, without flesh". St. Jerome, another leader of the early
Christian Church, who gave the authorized Latin version of the Bible still in
use today, wrote, "the preparation of vegetables, fruit, and pulse is
easy, and does not require expensive cooks". He felt such a diet was the best for a life devoted to the
pursuit of wisdom. St. John Chrysostom considered meat-eating to be a cruel and
unnatural habit for Christians. "We imitate but the ways of wolves, but
the ways of leopards, or rather we are even worse than these. For to them
nature has assigned that they should be thus fed, but us God hath honored with
speech and a sense of quilty, and we are become worse than the wild
beasts". St. Benedict, who founded the Benedictine Order in A.D. 529,
stipulated vegetable foods as the staple for his monks. The Trappist Order
uniformly prohibited meat, eggs, and other flesh foods from its founding in the
seventeenth century. The regulations were relaxed by the Vatican Councils of
the 1960s, but most of the Trappists still follow the original teachings.
Remarkably enough, however, many Trappist monasteries raise cattle for
slaughter to support themselves financially.
Day Adventist Church strongly recommends vegetarianism for its members.
Although little known to the general public, the huge American breakfast
cereals industry got its start at an Adventist health resort run by Dr. John H.
Kellogg. Dr. Kellogg was constantly devising new varieties of vegetarian
breakfast foods for the wealthy patients of his Battle Creek Sanitorium. One of
his inventions was cornflakes, which he later marketed nationwide. Over the
course of time, he gradually separated his business from the Seventh Day
Adventist Church and formed the company that still bears his name.
concentration of vegetarians in the world is found in India, the homeland of
Buddhism and Hinduism. Buddhism began as a reaction to widespread animal
slaughter that was being carried out through perversion of religious rituals.
Buddha put an end to these practices by propounding his doctrine of ahimsa,
scriptures of India, which predate Buddhism, also stress nonviolence as the
ethical foundation of vegetarianism. The Manu-samhita, the ancient
Indian code of law, states, "Meat can never be obtained without injury to
living creatures, and injury to sentient beings is detrimental to the
attainment of heavenly bliss; let him therefore shun the use of meat". In
another section, the Manu-samhita warns, "Having well considered
the disgusting origin of flesh and the cruelty of fettering and slaying of
corporeal beings, let him entirely abstain from eating flesh".
years the International Society for Krsna Consciousness has introduced these
ethical considerations around the world. Srila Svami Maharaja, the movement's
founder-acarya (spiritual master), once stated, "In the Manu-samhita
the concept of a life for a life is sanctioned, and it is actually observed
throughout the world. Similarly, there are other laws which state that one
cannot even kill an ant without being responsible. Since we cannot create, we
have no right to kill any living entity, and therefore man-made laws that
distinguish between killing a man and killing an animal are imperfect …
According to the laws of God, killing an animal is as punishable as killilng a
man. Those who draw distinction between the two are concocting their own laws.
Even in the Ten Commandments it is prescribed, 'Thou shalt not kill'. This is a
perfect law, but by discriminating and speculating men distort it. 'I shall not
kill man, but I shall kill animals'. In this way people cheat themselves and
inflict suffering on themselves and others."
the Vedic conception of the unity of all life, Srila Svami Maharaja then
stated, "Everyone is God's creature, although in different bodies or
dresses. God is considered the one supreme father. A father may have many
children, and some may be intelligent and others not very intelligent, but if
an intelligent son tells his father, 'My brother is not very intelligent; let
me kill him', will the father agree? … Similarly, if God is the supreme father,
why should He sanction the killing of animals who are also His sons?"
society, if one kills a man he has to be hanged [or punished]. That is the law
of the state. Because of ignorance people do not perceive that there is a
complete state controlled by the Supreme Lord. Every living creature is the son
of the Supreme Lord, and He does not tolerate even an ant's being killed. One
has to pay for it.
punishment is the state's ultimate act of reprisal, and no sacrifice surpasses
offering one's life for the sake of others. But although we seemingly attach
great value to life, each year in America hundreds of millions of defenseless
animals are butchered. This wholesale slaughter of animals is not necessary to
prevent us from starving. Moreover, it is economically extravagant and
ethically reprehensible. Most seriously, however, animal killing violates the
universal law of karma, which is similar to the modern scientific
principle of action and reaction.
clearly understand how the physical law of action and reaction ("for every
action there is an equal and opposite reaction") applies to material
objects, but most are unaware of the more subtle law of action and reaction in
the realm of consciousness. Nevertheless, we do have a kind of instinctive
awareness that somehow we all create our own happiness and distress. This
realization dawns upon us when in response to some mishap we reflect,
"Well, maybe I had that coming to me".
In fact, we
sometimes find people jokingly attributing unfortunate occurrences in their
lives to "bad karma". But the law of karma, like any
other law, is ultimately no joking matter. It operates impartially and unerringly,
awarding us exactly what we deserve. Specifically, the law of karma
insures that those who cause violence and suffering to other living beings must
themselves experience equivalent violence and suffering – immediately or in the
Karma, as many in the West now know, is
intimately related with the principle of reincarnation. In India's greatest
spiritual classic, Bhagavad-gita, Lord Krsna describes the soul as the
source of consciousness and the active principle that animates the body of every
living being. This vital force, which is of the same spiritual quality in all
beings, is distinct from and superior to the matter comprising the temporary
material form. At the time of death, the indestructible soul transmigrates into
another physical body, just as one changes clothing. All living beings (not
just a few select individuals) undergo this process of reincarnation, lifetime
after lifetime. The Bhagavad-gita states, "As a person puts on new
garments, giving up old ones, similarly, the soul accepts new material bodies,
giving up the old and useless ones".
explain that the soul, known as the
atma, may inhabit any of 8,400,000 general species of material bodies.
The physical forms vary in complexity, beginning with the primitive microbes
and amoebas, continuing through the aquatic, plant, insect, reptile, bird, and
animal species, and culminating in human beings and demigods. In consequence of
its own desires to enjoy matter, the atma continually journeys through
these various bodies, on an endless voyage of births and deaths.
of the mind is the prime force compelling the living entity to transmigrate
from one body to another. The Gita explains, "Whatever state of
being one remembers when he quits his body, that state of being he will attain
without fail". Our minds are constantly recording all of our thoughts and
desires, and the totality of these memories floods our consciousness in the
last moments of life. The nature of our thoughts at this critical juncture
propels us into the appropriate physical body. Thus the body we now occupy is
an accurate physical projection of our state of mind at the time of our last
explains, "The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains
a certain type of eye, ear, tongue, nose, and sense of touch, which are grouped
around the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects."
to the Vedas, a soul in a form lower than human automatically evolves to
the next-higher species, ultimately arriving at the human form. But because the
human being possesses freedom to choose between matter and spirit, there is a
chance that the soul will descend again into the lower species. The laws of karma
are so arranged that if a human lives and dies with the animalistic mentality
of a creature such as a dog, then in the next life he will be able to fulfill
his doglike desires through the senses and organs of a dog. This is certainly
an unfortunate occurrence, but such a fate is a definite possibility for a
person immersed in ignorance. The Gita declares, "When he dies in
the mode of ignorance, he takes birth in the animal kingdom".
So the soul
in the body of an animal may once have inhabited a human form and vice versa.
Although a soul may successively occupy plant, animal, and human bodies, its
intrinsic nature remains the same. Because the soul is pure spiritual energy,
it cannot be altered in any way by matter. Bhagavad-gita explains that
the soul is "immutable and unchangeable". It is only the bodily
covering, with its particular combination of mind and senses, that temporarily
restricts or releases the conscious energy of the soul.
and transcendental equality of all conscious entities is not an abstract notion
but is obvious to everyday sense perception – if only we look beyond the
superficial differences in the varieties of material bodies. Anyone who has
ever had a pet or visited the zoo has experienced that animals behave much like
humans as they search for food, protect their young, play, sleep, and fight.
The outstanding difference is that their intelligence and emotions are less
developed, but this distinction is insufficient to discount the far more
numerous and significant similarities in thinking, feeling, and willing that
clearly point toward the universal equality of the consciousness within all
species, the living being is stringently controlled by his natural instincts.
He is deprived of freedom of choice in eating, sleeping, mating, and defending,
being compelled by bodily demands to follow rigid behavioral patterns. For this
reason, the atma dwelling within forms of life lower than human is not
responsible for its actions and thus does not generate new karma. A
similar principle operates withing our everyday experience – a dog chasing a
cat across the roadway is immune from any traffic situations. Animals are not
expected to understand or obey a sophisticated set of laws. On the other hand,
in both the social order and the universal order, a human being is obliged to
be informed and obedient.
when a human unnecessarily takes the life of another entity, especially under
conditions of great pain and suffering, this act of overt aggression produces a
severe karmic reaction. And, if year after year millions of animals are
mercilessly butchered in huge, mechanized slaughterhouses, the accumulated
negative karma produced by all those participating is almost
In his Bhagavad-gita
commentary, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja sternly warns
about the karmic danger of animal slaughter. "In human society, if one
kills a man he has to be hanged. That is the law of the state. Because of
ignorance people do not perceive that there is a complete state controlled by
the Supreme Lord. Every living creature is the son of the Supreme Lord, and He
does not tolerate even an ant's being killed. One has to pay for it."
instruction is present in all religious teachings. The Bible emphatically
states, "Thou shall not kill", and Lord Jesus Christ, who always
displayed deep compassion for all living beings, stated, "Do unto others
as you would have them do unto you".
Lord Buddha also taught the principle of ahimsa, nonviolence,
specifically to protect innocent creatures from being slaughtered.
find that personally killing an animal is too gruesome tend to believe that
merely eating flesh does not implicate them in violence. But this opinion is
short-sighted and unsupported by any valid spiritual authority. According to
the law of karma, all those who are connected to the killing of an
animal are liable – the person who gives permission for the killing, the person
who kills, the person who helps, the person who purchases the meat, the person
who cooks the flesh, and the person who eats it. (These six guilty parties are
enumerated in the Manu-samhita, ancient India's book of civic and
religious codes.) In a court of law all those who conspire in a murder are considered
responsible, especially the party who purchases the assassin's service.
and emotional growth are essential to a progressive life, and all our thoughts
and actions influence our character development. The Bible explains, "As you
sow, so shall you reap". And the subtle laws of karma inform us that negative personality traits
such as hostility, cruelty, depression, arrogance, apathy, insensitivity,
anxiety, and envy are the psychological harvest of those who directly or
indirectly make killing a regular feature in their life. When someone adopts a
vegetarian diet, it is much easier for him or her to remain peaceful, happy,
productive, and concerned for the welfare of others. As the brilliant physicist
Albert Einstein said, "The vegetarian manner of living, by its purely
physical effect on the human temperament, would most beneficially influence the
lot of mankind". But when human consciousness is polluted by the effects
of the negative karma resulting from destructive and injurious actions,
its good qualities become covered.
despite impressive progress in science and technology, the world is faced with
a crisis of unremitting violence in the shape of wars, terrorism, murder,
vandalism, child abuse, and abortion. More than 140 wars have been fought since
the United Nations was formed in 1945, and in America alone, 20,000 people are
murdered each year. With social and political solutions conspicuously failing,
perhaps it's time to analyze the problem from a different perspective – the law
of karma. The callous and brutal slaughter of countless helpless animals
must be considered as a powerful causative factor in this wave of uncheckable
purports to the Srimad-Bhagavatam, Srila Svami Maharaja has pointed out
how the widespread violence among humans is a karmic reaction to animal
this age the propensity for mercy is almost nil. Consequently there is always
fighting and wars between men and nations. Men do not understand that because
they unrestrictedly kill so many animals, they must also be slaughtered like
animals in big wars. This is very much evident in the Western countries. In the
West, slaughterhouses are maintained without restriction, and therefore every
fifth or tenth year there is a big war in which countless people are
slaughtered even more cruelly than the animals. Sometimes during war, soldiers
keep their enemies in concentration camps and kill them in very cruel ways.
These are reactions brought about by unrestricted animal killing in the
slaughterhouse and by hunters in the forest."
question is sometimes raised that if the atma (soul) is completely
transcendental to the material body, why should killing, if great pain is
avoided, be considered wrongful violence? Even the Bhagavad-gita states,
"For the soul there is neither birth nor death. He is not slain when the
body is slain." In his Srimad-Bhagavatam purports, Srila Svami
Maharaja addresses this question. "All living entities have to fulfill a
certain duration of being encaged in a particular type of material body. They
have to finish the duration allotted in a particular body before being promoted
or evolved to another body. Killing an animal or any other living being simply
places an impediment in the way of his completing his term of imprisonment in a
certain body. One should therefore not kill bodies for one's sense
gratification, for this will implicate one in sinful activity." In short,
killing an animal interrupts its progressive evolution through the species.
We can also
appreciate the unjustness of animal-killing by seeing that the body is a
dwelling place for the atma residing within. An individual unexpectedly
driven out of his comfortable home suffers great inconvenience and distress.
Such merciless and unjustified action is undoubtedly criminal. Furthermore, in
order to receive his next material body, the living being must suffer extended
rebirth tribulations. For the human being this involves months of being tightly
packed in the darkness of the womb, where one is constantly disturbed by
infections, acid fluids burning the skin, jarring motions, and discomforts
resulting from the eating and drinking habit of the mother.
common metaphysical question is, "If all living entities are spiritually
equal, then why is it acceptable to eat grains, vegetables, etc., and not meat?
Aren't vegetarians guilty of killing vegetables?" In response, it may be
pointed out that vegetarian foods such as fruits, nuts, milk, and grains do not
require any killing. But even in those cases where a plant's life is taken, the
pain involved is much less than when an animal is slaughtered, because the
plant's nervous system is less developed. Clearly there is a vast difference
between pulling a carrot out of the ground and killing a lamb. But still, one
must undoubtedly suffer karmic reactions even for killing plants.
reason, Lord Krsna explains in Bhagavad-gita that not only should man
eat only vegetarian foods, but he should also offer these eatables to Him. If
we follow this process of sacrifice, the Supreme Lord, Krsna, protects us from
any karmic reactions resulting from the killing of plants. Otherwise, according
to the law of karma, we are personally responsible. The Gita states,
"The devotees of the Lord are released from all sins because they eat food
that is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal
sense enjoyement, verily eat only sin."
Maharaja elaborates on this principle of spiritual vegetarianism. "Human
beings are provided with food grains, vegetables, fruits, and milk by the grace
of the Lord, but it is the duty of human beings to acknowledge the mercy of the
Lord. As a matter of gratitude, they should feel obliged to the Lord for their
supply of foodstuff, and they must first offer Him food in sacrifice and then
partake of the remnants." By eating such sanctified food – prasadam
– one is protected from karmic reactions and advances spiritually.
offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will
accept it. – Bhagavad-gita
concerns of health, psychology, economics, ethics, and even karma,
vegetarianism has a higher, spiritual dimension that can help us develop our
natural appreciation and love for God.
through a supermarket, people may forget a very basic fact of nature – it's not
man but God who makes food. There's something mystical about the way food
grows. You put a tiny seed in the ground, it sprouts, and by the mysterious
life force within it a food factory arises – a tomato plant producing dozens of
tasty red tomatoes, and apple tree producing bushels of sweet apples. No team
of scientists anywhere has yet invented anything as amazing as the simplest
green creation of God.
than admit the existence of a superior intelligence, scientists mislead the
public with their theories of chemical evolution. Without substantial evidence,
they proclaim that life comes from chemicals. Yet they cannot utilize those
chemicals to make a seed that will grow into a shaft of wheat that will produce
more seeds that will sprout into hundreds of more shafts of wheat.
admit that life comes only from life, it's entirely reasonable to suppose that all life originates from a common
living source, the one Supreme Lord, known to the Muslims as Allah, to the Jews
as Yahweh, to the Christians as Jehovah, and to the followers of the Vedas
So at very
least we should offer our food to God out of gratitude. Every religion has such
a process of thanksgiving. But the spiritual path outlined in the Vedic
scriptures of India is unique in that the offering of food to the Lord is part
of a highly developed form of yoga that helps one develop one's personal
loving relationship with God. This is called bhakti-yoga.
each soul has a direct relationship with God in the spiritual world, and
according to the Vedas the main purpose of life is to revive this lost
relationship. The Srimad-Bhagavatam, a classic Sanskrit work known as
the ripened fruit of the tree of Vedic knowledge, states, "The human form
of life affords one a chance to return home, back to Godhead, therefore every
living entity, especially in the human form of life, must engage in devotional
service, or bhakti-yoga, is the highest form of yoga. In Bhagavad-gita,
after discussing various kinds of yoga, Lord Krsna, the master of all yoga,
declares, "Of all yogis, one who always abides in Me with great
faith, worshiping Me in transcendental loving service [bhakti], is most
intimately united with Me in yoga and is highest of all". Lord
Krsna further states, "One can understand the Supreme Personality as He is
only by devotional service. And when one is in full consciousness of the
Supreme Lord by such devotion, he can enter into the kingdom of God."
the process of bhakti-yoga, the yoga of devotion, the Lord says,
"All that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and give
away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as an
offering unto Me". So offering food is an integral part of the bhakti-yoga
also describes the types of offerings that He will accept. "If one offers
Me with love and devotion a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water, I will accept
it." Krsna specifically does not include meat, fish, or eggs in this list;
therefore a devotee does not offer them to Him. Out of love, the devotee offers
Krsna only the purest and choicest foods – and these certainly do not include
the weeks-old rotting corpses of slaughtered animals or the potential embryos
religious systems people ask God to feed them ("Give us this day our daily
bread"), but in Krsna consciousness the devotee offers food to God as an
expression of love for Him. Even in ordinary dealings, somebody will prepare a
meal as a sign of love and affection. It isn't only the meal itself that is
appreciated, but the love and consideration that goes into it. In the same way,
the process of offering food to God is intended to help us increase our love
and devotion toward Him. Of course, it is very difficult to love someone we
have never seen. Fortunately, the Vedic scriptures, unique in all the world,
describe God's personal features in great detail.
conception of God is not vague. In the scriptures of other major religions God
is briefly mentioned as the Supreme Father, but surprisingly little information
is given about His personality. Christ spoke of himself as being the son of
God, and Muhammad was His prophet; but what of God Himself? He appears only
indirectly – as a voice from heaven, a burning bush, and so on.
once we admit that God has created us, then we cannot reasonably deny that He
Himself possesses all the attributes of personhood – a distinct form and
appearance, and all the powers and abilities of various senses and organs. It
is illogical to suppose that the creature of God can in any way surpass his creator.
If we possess distinct forms and personalities, and God were not to possess
them, then we would be superior to Him in that respect. So just as we are
persons, God is also a person – the Supreme Person, with an infinitely powerful
spiritual form, but nevertheless a person. After all, it is said that we are
created in the image and likeness of God.
imaginations, Western artists have generally depicted God as a powerfully built
old man with a beard. But the Vedic scriptures of India give direct
descriptions of God's personalilty – information found nowhere else. First of
all, God is eternally youthful, and He possesses wonderful spiritual qualities
that attract the minds of liberated souls. He is the supreme artist, the
supreme musician. He speaks wonderfully and manifests unlimited intelligence,
humor, and genius. Moreover, He displays incomparable transcendental pastimes
with His eternal associates. There is no end to the descriptions of the
attractive features of the Personality of Godhead found in the Vedas.
Therefore He is called Krsna, or "all-attractive". When we understand
God's personal identity, it becomes much easier to meditate upon Him,
especially when offering Him food.
Krsna is supremely powerful and completely spiritual, anything that comes in
contact with Him also becomes completely pure and spiritual. Even in the realm
of physical nature certain things have the ability to purify various
substances. For instance, the sun, with its powerful rays, can distill fresh,
pure water from a lake contaminated with pollutants. If a material object like
the sun can act in this way, then we can only imagine the purifying potency of
the Supreme Personalilty of Godhead, who has effortlessly created millions of
By His immense
transcendental energies, Krsna can actually convert matter to spirit. If we
place an iron rod in fire, before long the iron rod becomes red hot and takes
on all the essential qualities of fire. In the same way, the material substance
of food that is offered to Krsna becomes completely spiritualized. Such food is
called prasadam, a Sanskrit word meaning "the mercy of the
is a fundamental practice of bhakti-yoga. In other forms of yoga,
one is required to restrain the senses, but the bhakti-yogi is free to
use his senses in a variety of pleasing spiritual activities. For instance, he
can use his tongue to taste the delicious foods offered to Lord Krsna. By such
activities, the senses gradually become spiritualized and automatically become
attracted to divine pleasures that far supass any material experience.
scriptures contain many descriptions of prasadam and its effects. Lord
Caitanya, an incarnation of the Supreme Lord who appeared in India five hundred
years ago, said of prasadam, "Everyone has tasted these material
substances before. However, in these ingredients there are extraordinary tastes
and uncommon fragrances. Just taste them and see the difference in the
experience. Apart from the taste, even the fragrance pleases the mind and makes
one forget any other sweetness besides its own. Therefore it is to be
understood that the spiritual nectar of Krsna's lips has touched these ordinary
ingredients and transferred to them all its spiritual qualities."
food offered to Krsna is the ultimate perfection of a vegetarian diet. After
all, even many animals such as pigeons and monkeys are vegetarian, so becoming
a vegetarian is in itself not the greatest accomplishment. The Vedas inform
us that the purpose of human life is reawakening the soul's original
relationship with God, and only when we go beyond vegetarianism to prasadam
can our eating be helpful in achieving this goal.
consciousness of the higher purpose of vegetarianism begins as we walk down the
supermarket aisles selecting the foods we will offer to Krsna. In Bhagavad-gita,
Lord Krsna states that all foods can be classified according to the three modes
of material nature – goodness, passion, and ignorance. Milk products, sugar,
vegetables, fruits, nuts, and grains are foods in the mode of goodness and may
be offered to Krsna. As a general rule, foods in the modes of passion and
ignorance are not offerable to Krsna, who says in the Gita that such
eatables "cause pain, distress, and disease" and are "putrid,
decomposed, and unclean". As may be guessed, meat, fish, and eggs are
foods in the lower modes. But there are also a few vegetarian items that are
classified in the lower modes – garlic, carrots, onions, leek and mushrooms for
example. They should not be offered to Krsna. (Hing, sometimes called
asafetida, is an acceptable substitute for them in cooking and is available in
most Oriental or Indian specialty shops.) Coffees and teas that contain caffein
are also considered to be in the lower modes. If you like beverages of this
sort, purchase caffein-free coffees and herbal teas.
shopping, you should be aware that you may find meat, fish, and egg products
mixed in with other foods, so be sure to study labels carefully. For instance,
some brands of yogurt and sour cream contain gelatin, which is prepared from
the horns, hooves, and bones of slaughtered animals. Make sure any cheese you
purchase is rennetless, because rennet is an enzyme extracted from the stomach
tissues of calves.
also avoid foods precooked by people who are not devotees of Krsna. According
to the subtle laws of nature, the cook acts upon the food not only physically,
but mentally as well. Food is an agency for subtle influences on our consciousness.
To giver another example of this principle, a painting is not simply a
collection of strokes on a canvas. It is also an expression of the artist's
state of mind, and this mental content is absorbed by the person who looks at
the painting. Similarly, if we eat foods cooked by people devoid of spiritual
consciousness – employees working in a factory somewhere – then we are sure to
absorb a dose of materialistic mental energies. As far as possible, use only
fresh, natural ingredients.
preparing food, cleanliness is the most important principle. Nothing impure
should be offered to God, so keep your kitchen work-area very clean. Always
wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food. While preparing food, do not
taste it. This is part of meditating that you are cooking the meal not simply
for yourself but for the pleasure of Krsna, who should be the first to enjoy
it. When the meal is prepared, you are ready to offer it. Arrange portions of
the food on diningware kept especially for this purpose. (No one else should
eat from these dishes.) The very simplest form of offering is to simply pray,
"My dear Lord Krsna, please accept this food". Remember that the real
purpose of this is to show your devotion and gratitude to the Lord; the actual
food you are offering is secondary. Without this devotional feeling, the
offering will not be accepted. God is complete in Himself; He has no need of
anything. Our offering is simply a means for us to show our love and gratitude
toward Him. Following the offering one should chant for a few minutes krsna-nama,
the holy names of the Lord in sixteeen syllables which is the greatest mantra
of all Vedic literatures and divine teaching: Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna
Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Then the prasadam
may be served. Try to appreciate the spiritual quality of prasadam
by remembering how it frees one from the effects of karma. But above
all, enjoy it.
you may wish to make a more formal offering according to the procedures
established by the de bhagavat-parampara (disciplic succession of
spiritual masters coming from Krsna Himself, then Brahma, Narada Muni,
Vyasadeva, etc.) for persons who desire to practise Krsna consciousness in
their own homes. Briefly, this involves setting up a simple altar with pictures
of Sri Radha- Krsna, or Sri Caitanya and the spiritual master (who initiated
you into the proper process), learning some simple Sanskrit mantras, and
so forth. If you would like to learn how to do this, please contact the Krsna
temple nearest you [or mail to the owner of the website, ed.].
offering prasadam is only part of the process of bhakti-yoga. In
order to further purify your consciousness and spiritualize your senses, you
can practice other chanting of the Hare Krsna mantra - Hare Krsna, Hare
Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. The
Kalisantarana Upanisad states, "The chanting of these sixteen names
composed of thirty-two syllables are the only means to counteract the evil
effects of Kali-yuga [the present age of quarrel and hypocrisy]. In all the Vedas
it is seen that to cross the ocean of nescience there is no alternative to the
chanting of the holy name." Krsna-nama [or hari-nama] may be
chanted either congregationally, sometimes to the accompaniment of musical
instruments, or quietlly as a private meditation. For private meditation, the
recommended procedure is to chant krsna-nama on beads especially made
for this purpose. For further information, see the Contemporary Vedic Lilbrary
Series book Chant and Be Happy, which fully explains the process of krsna-nama
the quality of your spiritual life, you should also avoid the use of
intoxicants – drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes, as well as soft drinks, coffee,
and tea if they contain caffein. Using these substances unnecessarily clouds
the mind, which is already clouded with all kinds of material concepts of life.
The Vedas also recommend that a person attempting to advance in
spiritual life have nothing to do with gambling, for it invariably puts one in
anxiety and fuels greed, envy, and anger. Another activity that increases
material desires and blocks the growth of spiritual awareness is illicit sex.
The regulations of bhakti-yoga do, however, allow sex within the context
following the principles mentioned above, one can always experience increasing
spiritual pleasure as a tangible part of one's life. In particular, one's
offerings of food become more pleasing to Krsna. God does not require the food
we offer; rather, He appreciates the degree of purity and devotion in our
hearts as we offer it.
one should take initiation from a bona fide spiritual master, without whose instruction
and guidance it is not possible to attain the perfection of Krsna
consciousness. In Bhagavad-gita Lord Krsna says, "Just try to learn
the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and
render service unto him. The self-realized sould can impart knowledge unto you
because he has seen the truth."
(spiritual master) of the Krsna consciousness movement in the Western world
is Srila A.C. Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada (Svami Maharaja). Srila Svami Maharaja
is a member of the authorized chain of disciplic succession established in the
Gaudiya Vedanta Sampradaya reaching back through time to Lord Krsna Himself,
the supreme spiritual master. Shortly before he departed this world in 1977,
Srila Svami Maharaja appointed a number of his disciples to carry on the line
of succession in the West.
Maharaja, renowned as one of India's greates cultural and spiritual ambassadors
to the world, personally instructed his disciples in the art of Vedic cooking
and distributing prasadam. Furthermore, in his books and public
lectures, he extensively explained the Vedic philosophy underlying the practice
of offering food to Krsna. "We should remember then that it is not
vegetarianism which is important", Srila Svami Maharaja once said.
"the important thing is that we simply have to try to learn how to love
Krsna. Love begins with give and take. We give something to our lover, he or
she gives something to us, and in this way love develops." Anyone can
enter into this loving transaction by offering vegetarian foods to Krsna and
accepting the remnants as prasadam.
from the writings of
Bhaktivedanta Svami Maharaja)
With the good will of the Supreme Personality
of Godhead there can be enough fruits, grains, and other foodstuffs produced so
that all the people in the world could not finish them, even if they ate ten
times their capacity. In this material world there is actually no scarcity of
anything but Krsna consciousness. If people become Krsna conscious, by the
transcendental will of the Supreme Personality of Godhead there will be enough
foodstuffs produced so that people will have no economic problems at all. One
can very easily understand this fact. The production of fruits and flowers
depends not upon our will but the supreme will of the Personality of Godhead.
If He is pleased, He can supply enough fruits, flowers, etc., but if people are
atheistic and godless, nature, by His will, restricts the supply of food. – Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 9.38)
Faill: Is it
necessary to follow certain eating habits to practise spiritual life?
Svami Maharaja: Yes,
the whole process is meant to purify us, and eating is part of that
purification. I think you have a saying, "You are what you eat", and
that's a fact. Our bodily constitution and mental atmosphere are determined
according to how and what we eat. Therefore the sastras [scriptures]
recommend that to become Krsna conscious, you should eat remnants of food left
by Krsna [krsna-prasadam]. If a tuberculosis patient eats something and
you eat the remnants, you will be infected with tuberculosis. Similarly, if you
eat krsna-prasadam, then you will be infected with Krsna consciousness.
Thus our process is that we don't eat anything immediately. First we offer the
food to Krsna, then we eat it. This helps us advance in Krsna consciousness.
Faill: You are all
Svami Maharaja: Yes,
because Krsna is a vegetarian. Krsna can eat anything because He is God, but in
the Bhagavad-gita [9.26] He says, "If one offers Me with love and
devotion a leaf, a flower, af fruit, or water, I will accept it". He never
says, "Give Me meat and wine". –
Science of Self-Realization (p. 185)
If we throw
a bag of grain into the street, pigeons may come and eat four or five small
grains and then go away. They will not take more than they can eat, and having
eaten they go freely on their way. But if we were to put many bags of flour on
the sidewalk and invite people to come and get them, one man would take ten or
twenty bags and another would take fifteen or thirty bags and so on. But those
who do not have the means to carry so much away will not be able to take more
than a bag or two. Thus the distribution will be uneven. This is called
advancement of civilization; we are even lacking in the knowledge which the
pigeons, dogs, and cats have. Everything belongs to the Supreme Lord, and we can
accept whatever we need, but not more. That is knowledge. By the Lord's
arrangement the world is so made that there is no sarcity of anything.
Everything is sufficient, provided that we know how to distribute it. However,
the deplorable condition today is that one is taking more than he needs while
another is starving. – Raja-vidya (p. 91)
Svami Maharaja: We
have to accept all the injunctions of the scripture as they are given, not only
those that suit us. If you do not follow the first order, "Thou shalt not
kill", then where is the question of love of God?
this commandment to be applicable to human beings, not to animals.
Svami Maharaja: That
would mean that Christ was not intelligent enough to use the right word: murder.
There is killing, and there is murder. Murder refers to
human beings. Do you think Jesus was not intelligent enough to use the right
word – murder – instead of the word killing? Killing means
any kind of killing, and especially animal killing. If Jesus had meant simply
the killing of humans, he would have used the word murder… If you want
to interpret these words, that is something else. We understand the direct
meaning, "Thou shalt not kill" means "The Christians should not
Emmanuel: Isn't the
eating of plants also killing?
Svami Maharaja: The
Vaisnava philosophy teaches that we should not even kill plants unnecessarily.
In the Bhagavad-gita [9.26] Krsna says: "If someone offers Me with
love and devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or a little water, I will accept
it". We offer Krsna only the kind
of food He demands, and then we eat the remnants. If offering vegetarian food
to Krsna were sinful, then it would be Krsna's sin, not ours. But God is apapa-viddha
– sinful reactions are not applicable to Him … Eating food first offered to the
Lord is also something like a soldier's killing during wartime. In a war, when
the commander orders a man to attack, the obedient soldier who kills the enemy
will get a medal. But if the same soldier kills someone on his own, he will be
punished. Similarly, when we eat only prasadam we do not commit any sin.
This is confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita [3.13]: "The devotees of the
Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food that is first
offered for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment,
verily eat only sin."
cannot give permission to eat animals?
Svami Maharaja: Yes
– in the animal kingdom. But the civilized human being, the religious human
being, is not meant to kill and eat animals. If you stop killing animals and
chant the holy name of Christ, everyting will be perfect … I think the
Christian priests should cooperate with the Krsna consciousness movement. They
should chant the name Christ or Christos and should stop condoning the
slaughter of animals. This program follows the teachings of the Bible; it is
not my philosophy. Please act accordingly and you will see how the world
situation will change. – Science of Self-Realization (pp. 129-33)
grains can be produced through agricultural enterprises, and profuse milk,
yogurt, and ghee [clarified butter] can be arranged through cow protection.
Abundant honey can be obtained if the forests are protected. Unfortunately, in
modern society, men are busy killing the cows that are the source of yogurt,
milk, and ghee; they are cutting down all the trees that supply honey,
and they are opening factories to manufacture nuts, bolts, automobiles, and
wine instead of engaging in agriculture. How can the people be happy? They must
suffer from all the misery of materialism. Their bodies become wrinkled and
gradually deteriorate until they become almost like dwarves, and a bad odor
emanates from their bodies because of unclean perspiration resulting from
eating all kinds of nasty things. This is not human civilization. – Srimad-Bhagavatam
the question is put before us: "You ask us not to eat meat, but you are
eating vegetables. Do you think that is not violence?" The answer is that
eating vegetables is violence, and vegetarians are also committing violence
against other living entities because vegetables also have life. Nondevotees
are killing cows, goats, and so many other animals for eating purposes, and one
who is vegetarian is also killing … that is the law of nature. Jivo jivasya
jivanam: one living entity is the life for another living entity. But for a
human being that violence should be committed only as much as necessary. – Srimad-Bhagavatam
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 … Instead of drinking milk, people prefer to slaughter
an animal and eat its flesh. [Editors' note: Beef has six times the
cholesterol of milk. High cholesterol causes heart disease, America's major
cause of death.] The Supreme Personality of Godhead, in His instructions of
Bhagavad-gita, advises go-raksya, 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. – Srimad-Bhagavatam
is an epidemic disease, an antiseptic vaccine protects a person from the attack
of such an epidemic. Similarly, food offered to Lord Visnu [Krsna] and then
taken by us makes us sufficiently resistent to material affection, and one who
is accustomed to this practice is called a devotee of the Lord. Therefore, a
person in Krsna consciousness, who eats only food offered to Krsna, can
counteract all reactions of past material infections, which are impediments to
the progress of self-realization. On the other hand, one who does not do so
continues to increase the volume of sinful action, and this prepares the next
body to resemble hogs and dogs, to suffer the resultant reactions of all sins.
The material world is full of contaminations, and one who is immunized by
accepting prasadam of the Lord (food offered to Visnu) is saved from the
attack, whereas one who does not do so become subjected to contamination. – Bhagavad-gita
kills many thousands of animals in a professional way so that other people can
purchase the meat to eat, one must be ready to be killed in a similar way in
his next life and in life after life. There are many rascals who violate their
own religious principles. According to Judeo-Christian scriptures, it is
clearly said, "Thou shalt not kill". Nonetheless, giving all kinds of
excuses, even the heads of religions indulge in killing animals while trying to
pass as saintly persons. This mockery and hypocrisy in human society bring
about unlimited calamities; therefore occasionally there are great wars. Masses
of such people go out onto battlefields and kill themselves. Presently they
have discovered the atomic bomb, which is simply awaiting wholesale
destruction. – Caitanya-caritamrta (Madhya 24.251)
prescribed in Bhagavad-gita: "If a devotee offers Me a small
flower, a leaf, some water, or a little fruit, I will accept it". The real
pupose is to exhibit one's loving devotion to the Lord; the offerings
themselves are secondary. If one has not developed loving devotion to the Lord
and simply offers many kinds of foodstuffs, fruits, and flowers without real
devotion, the offering will not be accepted by the Lord. We cannot bribe the
Personality of Godhead. He is so great that our bribery has no value. Nor has
He any scarcity; since He is full in Himself, what can we offer Him? Everything
is produced by Him. We simply offer to show our love and gratitude to the Lord.
– Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.29.24)
men know the art of preparing nutritious foods from milk. For instance, in our
temples and monasteries we make hundreds of first-class preparations from milk.
Whenever visitors come, they are astonished that from milk such nice foods can
be prepared. The blood of the cow is very nutritious, but civilized men utilize
it in the form of milk. Milk is nothing but cow's blood transformed. You can
make milk into so many things – yogurt, curd, ghee (clarified butter),
and so on – and by combining these milk products with grains, fruits, and
vegetables, you can make hundreds of preparations. This is civilized life – not
directly killing an animal and eating its flesh. – Science of
Self-Realization (p. 14)
Krsna is so
kind that if anyone offers Him a leaf, a flower, fruit, or some water, He will
immediatelly accept it. The only condition is that these things should be
offered with bhakti [devotion]. Otherwise, if one is puffed up with
false prestige, thinking, "I have so much opulence, and I am giving
something to Krsna", one's offering will not be accepted by Krsna … for
anything offered to Krsna with love and affection, Krsna can reciprocate many
millions of times over, both materially and spiritually. The basic principle
involved is an exchange of love. Therefore Krsna teaches in Bhagavad-gita (9.27):
"O son of Kunti, all that you do, all that you eat, all that you offer and
give away, as well as all austerities that you may perform, should be done as
an offering unto Me". – Srimad-Bhagavatam (10.11.11)
Another point in
the Declaration of Independence is that all men are endowed by God with certain
natural rights that cannot be taken away from them. These are the rights of
life, liberty, and …
Svami Maharaja: But
animals also have the right to life. Why don't animals also have the right to
live? The rabbits, for instance, are living in their own way in the forest. Why
does the government allow hunters to go and shoot them?
They were simply
talking about human beings.
Then they have no real philosophy. The narrow idea that my family or my brother
is good, and that I can kill all others, is criminal. Suppose that for my
family's sake I kill your father. Is that philosophy? Real philosophy is suhrdam
sarva-bhutanam: friendliness to all living entities. – Science of
Self-Realization (p. 209)
nonviolent to human beings and to be a killer or enemy of the poor animals is
Satan's philosophy. In this age there is always enmity against poor animals,
and therefore the poor creatures are always anxious. The reaction of the poor animals
is being forced on human society, and therefore there is always the strain of
cold or hot war between men, individually, collectively or nationally. – Srimad-Bhagavatam
Svami Maharaja: Some
people say, "We belileve that animals have no soul". That is not
correct. They believe animals have no soul because they want to eat the
animals, but actually animals do have a soul.
How do you know
that the animal has a soul?
Svami Maharaja: You
can know, also. Here is the scientific proof … the animal is eating, you are
eating; the animal is sleeping, you are sleeping; the animal is defending, you
are defending; the animal is having sex, you are having sex; the animals have
children, you have children; they have a living place, you have a living place.
If the animal's body is cut, there is blood; if your body is cut, there is
blood. So, all these similarities are there. Now, why do you deny this one
similarity, the presence of the soul? That is not logical. You have studied
logic? In logic there is something called analogy. Analogy means drawing a
conclusion by finding many points of similarity. If there are so many points of
similarity between human beings and animals, why deny one similarity? That is
not logic. That is not science. – Science
of Selp-Realization (pp. 35-6)
it is confirmed that one who takes
foodstuff after a performance of sacrifice eats real food for proper
maintenance of the body and soul, but one who cooks for himself and does not
perform any sacrifice eats only lumps of sin in the shape of foodstuffs. Such
sinful eating can never make one happy or free from scarcity. Famine is not due
to an increase in population, as less intelligent economists think. When human
society is grateful to the Lord for all His gifts for the maintenance of the
living entities, then there is certainly no scarcity or want in society. But
when men are unaware of the intrinsic value of such gifts from the Lord, surely
they are in want. A person who has no God consciousness may live in opulence
for the time being due to his past virtuous acts, but if one forgets his
relationship with the Lord, certainly he must await the stage of starvation by
the law of the powerful material nature. – Srimad-Bhagavatam (3.5.49)
rascals put forward the theory that an animal has no soul or is something like
dead stone. In this way they rationalize that there is no sin in animal
killing. Actually animals are not dead stone, but the killers of animals are
stone-hearted. Consequently no reason or philosophy appeals to them. They
continue keeping slaughterhouses and killing animals in the forest. – Srimad-Bhagavatam
animals, not only will we be bereft of the human form but we will have to take
an animal form and somehow or other be killed by the same type of animal we
have killed. This is the law of nature. The Sanskrit word mamsa means 'meat'.
It is said: mam sah khadatiti mamsah. That is, "I am now eating the
flesh of an animal who will some day in the future be eating my flesh". – Caitanya-caritamrta
sacrifice in the name of religion is current practically all over the world in
every established religion. It is said that Lord Jesus Christ, when twelve
years old, was shocked to see the Jews sacrificing birds and animals in the
synagogues and that he therefore rejected the Jewish system of religion and
started the religious system of Christianity, adhering to the Old Testament
commandment "Thou shalt not kill". At the present day, however, not
only are animals killed in the name of sacrifice, but the killing of animals
has increased enormously because of the increasing number of slaughterhouses.
Slaughtering animals, either for religion or for food, is most abominable and
is condemned. – Srimad-Bhagavatam (7.15.10)
society is presently structured, there is sufficient production of grains all
over the world. Therefore the opening of slaughterhouses cannot be supported.
In some nations there is so much suplus grain that sometimes extra grain is
thrown into the sea, and sometimes the government forbids further production of
grain. The conclusion is that the earth produces sufficient grain to feed the
entire population, but the distribution of this grain is restricted due to
trade regulations and a desire for profit. Consequently in some places there is
scarcity of grain and in others profuse production. If there were one
government on the surface of the earth to handle the distribution of grain,
there would be no question of scarcity, no neccessity to open slaughterhouses,
and no need to present false theories about overpopulation. – Srimad-Bhagavatam
should know that there are two kinds of diseases in human society. One disease,
which is called adhyatmika, or material disease, pertains to the body,
but the main disease is spiritual. The living entity is eternal, but somehow or
other, when in contact with the material energy, he is subjected to the
repetition of birth, death, old age, and disease … The devotees of Krsna have
taken up Lord Caitanya's [Krsna's] mission of curing this desease, but people
are not very appreciative because they do not know what this desease is. A
diseased person needs both proper medicine and a proper diet. Therefore the
devotees of Krsna [Vaisnavas] supply materially stricken people with their
medicine of the chanting of the holy name, or krsna-nama, and the diet
of prasadam [vegetarian foods offered to Lord Krsna]. – Caitanya-caritamrta
consciousness acts on this principle. The devotees simply give people the
chance to hear about the Supreme Personalilty of Godhead and give them pradadam
to eat, and the actual result is that all over the world people are
reponding to this process and becoming pure devotees of Lord Krsna. We open
hundreds of centers and organize vraja-bhakti festivals all over the
world just to give people in general a chance to hear about Krsna and accept
Krsna's prasadam. These two processes can be accepted by anyone, even a
child. It doesn't matter whether one is poor or rich, learned or foolish, black
or white, old or still a child – anyone who simply hears about the Supreme
Personality of Godhead and takes prasadam is certainly elevated to the
transcendental position of devotional service. – Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi
accepted for one's sense gratification is material, but when the flower is
first offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead by a devotee, it is spiritual.
Food taken and cooked for oneself is material, but food cooked for the Supreme
is spiritual prasadam. This is a question of realization. – Srimad-Bhagavatam
of food is to increase the duration of life, purify the mind, and aid bodily
strength. This is its only purpose. In the past, great authorities selected
those foods that best aid health and increase life's duration, such as milk
products, sugar, rice, wheat, fruits, and vegetables.
is available in the form of milk, which is the most wonderful of all foods.
Milk, butter, cheese, and similar products give animal fat in a form which
rules out any need for the killing of innocent creatures… Protein is amply
available through split peas, dal, whole wheat, etc.
food is the remnant of what is offered to the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
In Bhagavad-gita the Supreme Lord says that He accepts preparations of
vegetables, flour, and milk when offered with devotion. Of course, devotion and
love are the chief ingredients which the Supreme Personalilty of Godhead
to make food antiseptic, eatable, and palatable for all persons, one should
offer food to the Supreme Personality of Godhead. – Bhagavad-gita (17.8-10)
(9.26) Krsna says, "If one offers Me with love and devotion a leaf, a
flower, fruit, or water, I will accept it". The Lord is purna,
complete, and therefore He eats everything offered by His devotees. However, by
the touch of His transcendental hand, all the food remains exactly as before.
It is the quality that is changed. Before the food was offered, it was
something else, but after it is offered the food acquires a transcendental
quality. Because the Lord is purna, He remains the same even after
eating. The food offered to Krsna is qualitatively as good as Krsna; just as
Krsna is avyaya, indestructible, the food eaten by Krsna, being
identical with Him, remains as before. Apart from this, Krsna can eat the food
with any one of His transcendental senses. He can eat by seeing the food, or by
touching it. Nor should one think that it is necessary for Krsna to eat. He
does not become hungry like an ordinary human being; nonetheless, He presents
Himself as being hungry, and as such, He can eat everything and anything,
regardless of quantity. – Caitanya-caritamrta (Adi 4.78)
…after preparing any of these recipes, please offer the food to Lord Krsna
before serving. Here is a summary of the procedure.
1. Do not taste the food or eat
anything else while cooking.
2. After cooking, place the food on
a plate for offering to Radha and Krsna. This plate should not be used for any
3. Set the plate before a picture of
Sri Radha-Krsna. You may use one in the website.
4. In a devotional mood, ask the
Lord to please accept your offering.
5. Repeat krsna-nama several
times – Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare / Hare Rama, Hare
Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
6. Wait for some minutes [10 minutes
for a full meal], and remove the food from the offering plate. This food and
any food remaing in the cooking pots may now be served.
7. Left overs can be eaten the next
day. They should not be thrown away into the toilet or the dustbin with other
filth. Because the prasadam is sanctified food, if it cannot be eaten
anymore one can return it to nature, in the garden, to be eaten by the smaller
animals in nature. Their souls will make spiritual progression likewise.
taken notice of the first six chapters of The Higher Taste,
anyone can perform a little service for the pleasure of Krsna, the
transcendental cowherdboy of Vraja, and help to protect cows and other animals
from human mistreatment and slaughter by distributing the truths about
meat-eating, to inform your friends about the absolute necessity to (re)turn to
cow-protection, and thereby induce people to stop meat-eating all together.
Anyone can copy
and distribute The Higher Taste to friends, family members,
school mates, universities, relevant organizations, governments, and have the
information percolated through physical channels and mass-media as much as
possible. At least, everyone should know what meat-eating actually is –
committing violence on a regular basis affecting all spheres of life: physical,
psychological, social, environmental, moral, ethical, subtle (karmic), and
spiritual. In order to convince people of the importance of vegetarianism and
cow-protection, kindly distribute copies via e-mail and/or link the document to
your homesite, please.
In the holy name
of Krsna, and the peaceful cows – Many thanks for your goodwishes and
- Indira dasi