(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 01 October 2013, Melbourne, Australia, Srimad Bhagavatam 2.3.1)
More and more devotees are becoming vegan because they say milk is not pure; so much cruelty to the cows is involved now. But Srila Prabhupada was not fanatic about this. Srila Prabhupada felt that milk was very important, that we needed it for finer brain tissue development. Even in America, when the milk was adulterated with Vitamin D which might not have been of a vegetarian source, Prabhupada said, “Don’t worry about it, just take it. We need to take milk.” So, Prabhupada sometimes seemed to be quite pragmatic in these matters.
Now they say, “But it is worse than ever. Now, we do better to become vegans.” Well, I respect these devotees but personally I feel that even if a cow is kept in a hellish condition and being mistreated, it’s a bad thing. It is bad!
I’ve seen here in Australia, many cows waiting to be put on the train. Calves, all in a pen, locked up. I was chanting japa early in the morning, there was nobody around, just these calves… something in me felt like… I sort of felt an urge to let them escape. But there was nowhere for them to go to. I felt like letting them out but they had nowhere to go! The whole planet is a prison for them. There is not a free inch of space for them. Wherever they go, they will be caught – so hellish, absolutely hellish!
But, at least if we take their milk and offer it to Krsna, they make eternal benefit! Although their suffering is hellish, it is temporary. If we don’t take their milk, we may bring some relief to them; a few, tiny drops of relief to their temporary suffering.
We don’t take their milk, okay… (booming voice), “If everyone becomes vegan and like millions and millions of people in the world don’t drink milk, then the milk industry will feel it and milk consumption will go down and less cows will have to suffer for all this. That reduces the temporary suffering of the cows! Yay! We got some temporary benefit for the suffering of those cows.”
But what if we take the milk and offer it to Krsna? We give those same cows eternal benefit that cannot be destroyed by anything. Let devotees take all the milk, as much as possible, and offer it all to Krsna! In this way, give the cows as much eternal benefit as possible. The rest of the world should become vegan (laughing). We should have lots of milk, lots of it and we give milk sweets to the vegans!