(Kadamba Kanana Swami, 06 September 2016, Cape Town, South Africa, Srimad Bhagavatam 1.9.26)


Veganism is considered to be holier-than-thou and vegans are sort of telling the rest of the world that we are not compassionate at all, that we are contributing to the slaughter of cows by that fact that we are so lusty and cannot control our tongues. We are so attached to milk products – pizza, ice-cream, butter, etc. and in this way, the Hare Krsnas are contributing to cow slaughter. So what do the Hare Krsnas have to say…?

Well, there are two sides to the story. One side of the story is that we say to the vegans: My dear vegans, you are toothless tigers. Do you really think that you are going to stop animal slaughter? You are dreaming. In this way, it will not happen. Why would people take to your vegan philosophy? Just by moral preaching? Don’t you know that only a small percentage of the world is moral!? The rest of the world would rather let it ‘all hang out’. My dear vegans, we respect you for your idealism but your solution is a material one and therefore it cannot succeed as it lacks the transcendental perspective.

You may not like our argument but still consider it for a moment. Do you realise that if we take milk from any cow, we will offer that milk to Krsna and when that milk gets offered to Krsna then the cow gets eternal benefit. Even if that cow is undergoing temporary suffering in a horrible situation and will be slaughtered, still it will get eternal benefit. Therefore it is better to offer the milk of the cow to Krsna than to fast from milk altogether.

It is only now, for the time being that we are in a society which is upside down, which is all gone astray. Eventually we must manage again to take care of our own cows and more cows must be protected. Cow protection is essential and then we can take the milk of these protected cows and in this way, we can change society. But in the meanwhile, we do not fast from milk because milk is such essential food and not just for bones and calcium, it is also required for finer brain tissue development.

Srila Prabhupada was very adamant about this. In the United States, once there were additives in the milk including vitamin D which generally comes from a non-vegetarian source, often from cod liver oil, and so the devotees were wondering about drinking that milk and Prabhupada said not to worry about it and have it! With the special mercy of Lord Caitanya, there will be protection somehow or other, in this state of emergency.

Nowadays, in Iskcon, veganism is on the rise – more and more Hare Krsnas are turning vegan. This is very interesting! And the vegans say that the milk coming out of the factories today is not even milk anymore; it is just reconstituted chemicals and if Prabhupada was here today, he would tell us to be vegan. I am not so convinced about that and it is a problem, in this whole debate to be vegan or not, to put words in Prabhupada’s mouth. Well, he is not here right now so let us just stick to what he said and NOT to what he would have said because if we go that way, then maybe he would have said, “Today, four regulative principles would not work so let’s have three.” Then we going to be on a slippery slide and I do not know where we are going to wind up.


  1. KKSBlog Admin on

    From HH Kadamba Kanana Swami:

    The last talk about veganism was a little challenging, although I stand by the substance of it, this time I would like to approach the subject from another perspective to give you all due respect . I think that it was a talk among friends. We all want the best for the world, the best for the cows. We all are working to bring about a chance in this mad world.
    How sad is all the suffering that is created by cruel and hardhearted people using other living beings for their own sense enjoyment without considering their welfare.
    We are working to improve the conditions in the world, currently we are living in a misguided, misdirected civilization. So therefore we are using things under these circumstances, that one day will be no longer needed. One day there will be no more need for Internet, no more need for cars and so many machines, once Krsna consciousness will spread to every town and village, then we will be satisfied with simple living and high thinking. No more need for so many factories, just chant hare Krsna and live of the land and keep cows and look after them with love for their entire natural lives.
    Meanwhile, the world is still in chaos and we must go on with our Krsna consciousness under these circumstances, we must offer milk and milk-products and milk-sweets to Krsna. Devotees must take milk to develop finer brain tissue, which makes them more sensitive to spiritual understanding. They must take milk Prasadam, it is an essential element of spiritual culture, as Srila Prabhupada stressed in the first canto of Srimad Bhagavatam and on other occasions.
    So we will take milk from wherever it is available.To have our own farms or ahimsa milk from elsewhere would be wonderful, but maybe a bit idealistic and not always practical. So in this way our lives are going on. Some may disagree with some of the points I make, and sometimes friends argue a bit on a topic ,dear to their heart; but more important than arguing among ourselves, is to stand shoulder by shoulder despite our differences to fight the cruel, demoniac exploitation in the world.

  2. Sachimata on

    Just wondering if Kadamba Kanana Swami will respond to any of these comments??

    • KKSBlog Admin on

      Dear Sachimata,

      Although Kadamba Kanana Swami does read the blog, he might not always be in a position to answer directly. Currently he is on the way to Australia and has a busy schedule. I will notify maharaja on all the comments 😉

  3. Vegans are saving more people and cows than hare Krsnas, The vegan community have more cows under protection than the hare Krsna community, the veganism are saving more cows than the hare Krsna community. and the vegans doing just because they love and respect, they are not waiting for any liberation, just love and respect. The number of cows that the hare Krsna movement are killed in their festival is huge. this is very
    disrespectful article against people who are serving, saving and protecting cows… And cow protectors are the most beloved by krsna

  4. Shirley Prins on

    Maharaj, PAMHO! AGTHDGSP! Somehow or other, I can’t agree with you this time. Drinking milk, or using dairy from regular sources, and not from protected cows, is keeping the slaughterhouses open. I have many friends that are only “vegan” when they can’t get milk from devotee cows or protected cows, which is rare. They have an ad in America about “California cows” are “Happy Cows” – it’s just an advertising tactic. When devotees go out to eat, and eat pizza or ice cream, and simply offer it on the spot, do you really think that is benefitting the cows? I can’t agree. I became vegan originally for my health, as an Ayurvedic doctor in India told me that my asthma would get a lot better without milk. He was right. Then I started thinking, I’ve been vegetarian for over 40 years, why not always remain vegan, and protect the cows??? Anyway, I love your blogs, but had to comment on this one. ys, Sachimata dd

  5. Veganism attempts to make a material solution to suffering, but the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement is supposed to be promoting spiritual solutions as the only real fix.

    The accusation that Mahārāja is advocating violence against cows is extremely offensive. It’s shocking to see such remark, which of course is untrue. The position Mahārāja advocates simply faces the reality that boycotting milk doesn’t save cows. Since the cows in the milk industry are not helped by abstaining from their milk, no moral value can legitimately be attributed to that response. The way to help cows, or anyone, is to employ them in Kṛṣṇa’s service. Offering milk to Kṛṣṇa is entirely better than avoiding milk, regardless of whether the cows are in the dairy industry or on devotee farms.

  6. kavicandra swami on

    The fact is that if no one buys commercial dairy products the cows will be killed right away, like the bulls are now.

    We do have to serve cows and to engage bulls in field work.. Vegans will say that is cruel, I wonde what they plan to do with the bulls?

  7. With all due respect, Maharaja I would like to make the following comments:

    First of all, it is true that there are many people that follow a vegan diet that consider themselves holier-than-thou. They are just very puffed up, but this is certainly not the fact for every person that follows a vegan diet. Most have chosen this path as a way to do less harm in the world and not support the wholesale rape, abuse, torture, child (calf) adduction and slaughter of innocent cows by voting with their dollars.

    Now when devotees decide to follow the vegan diet, most often it is not because they are not aware of the glories to pure milk as described in the Vedas and Srila Prabhupada, it is because they are adamantly against supporting the most evil industry on the planet and do not feel that commercial-grade dairy is pure enough to offer to Lord Krishna.

    Krishna clearly states in the Gita that he will accept SATTVIC foods that have been offered in devotion. For those of us that have chosen to abstain from commercial dairy and adopt the Krishna-dairyian diet (not vegan), it is because we feel commercial milk is not Sattvic in quality but more tamasic and therefore not good enough to offer Krishna.

    Your “tongue-in-cheek” question: Do you really think that you are going to stop animal slaughter?

    I would emphatically say, YES and there is plenty of proof to back this up.


    Vegan is going mainstream, trend data suggests
    By Elizabeth Crawford, 17-Mar-2015

    The appeal and potential for vegan products is expanding beyond the small group of people who avoid animal products for ethical reasons to include the much larger base of consumers seeking healthier, cleaner foods, according to an industry expert. SOURCE: http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Markets/Vegan-is-going-mainstream-trend-data-suggests

    At least 542,000 people in Britain are now following a vegan diet and never consume any animal products including meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs and honey.

    The market for non-dairy products is skyrocketing; meat alternatives sales are expected to reach $5 Billion by 2020; and more than 1/3 of consumers are open to plant-based products. SOURCE: http://latestvegannews.com/plant-based-food-named-top-trend-2016/#

    The vegan diet strongly favors animal rights. People are adopting vegan diets because of ethical concerns toward animals, and the environment. Veganism has become a style of living and philosophy. The vegan diet does not include anything of animal origin, whether it is food, clothing or accessories. A vegan diet is perceived to be healthier and hence is prefered over meat. Packaged vegan foods are prepared using plant-based ingredients that provide phytochemicals. These phytochemicals aid in boosting protective enzymes in the body. Instead of dairy products and meat, consuming nuts and wholegrains help in improving the cardiovascular health. SOURCE; http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20161115005674/en/Global-Packaged-Vegan-Foods-Market-Grow-CAGR


    There are just way more good reasons to abstain from commercial dairy than there are to use it and informed consumers are jumping on board. You bet these consumers are impacting the meat and dairy industry and saving innocent lives.

    PETA did some calculations on this in 2010 and found that vegans save 198 animals a Year. However, there is now a new vegan calculator that gives a more accurate estimate on how many animals lives a vegan has saved and other data, like gallons of water. Check out http://thevegancalculator.com/#calculator

    These are the current facts on the impact of a vegan diet: http://www.cowspiracy.com/facts

    To suggest that devotees that have taken to avoiding dairy products are just “idealist” is a bit of a slap in the face. We have done our research, as should you, and decided that to live a truly sattvic life and support cow protection and the establishment of Krishna farms with protected cow, then it is necessary to stop purchasing milk in the marketplace.

    The arguments you present are very tired ones that do not have a lot of substance. Although I understand the logic, but to state that just by offering commercial milk to Krishna the cow is magically blessed is flawed on many levels.

    First of all, you are suggesting that the milk is perfectly clean and pure (sattvic) and therefore offerable to Krishna.

    To the first point: Commercial dairy is terribly contaminated and even in India.

    “More than two-thirds of Indian milk is adulterated with items ranging from salt to detergent and may be unsafe to drink, a government watchdog says. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India conducted a survey in 33 states and found that 68.4% of 1,791 milk samples was contaminated.”

    Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-16487993

    Second, you are suggesting that the milk is coming from one cow. Which of course is not the case. The milk is extracted from hundreds of cows and mixed in vats where other “fillers” are added. So when you talk about a cow getting benefit, what cow does Krishna benefit from this vat of milk? And more importantly, where in the shastra or in Srila Prabhupada’s teachings does he say this?

    Third, you are suggesting that it is acceptable to abuse, rape, torture a cow, and then steal and kill her baby, just so you can make an offering to Krishna!

    “Cows are beaten into submission and artificially inseminated so that they will keep producing milk. Although this practice should be performed by trained professionals, most cows are repeatedly inseminated by “barefoot healers” who ignore the most basic hygienic standards and use equipment that has not been sterilised, exposing cows to infections and diseases.

    “Most of a cow’s day is spent confined to a narrow, filthy stall. Cows are injected with Oxytocin, an illegal drug that causes them to produce unnaturally large quantities of milk and suffer severe stomach cramps as though they were in labour. Cows are impregnated repeatedly. They grieve for every calf they deliver who is ripped away a few days after birth. Cows often develop mastitis – an infection of the udders – from rough handling and rumen acidosis from unwholesome food.” Source: http://action.petaindia.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=111&ea.campaign.id=2856

    “More than two thirds of milk samples tested in a cross-country health survey in India were found to be contaminated with additives such as detergent and fertilizer,” stated a report by The National (1/11/12) newspaper. “Some samples also were found to contain more alarming substances such as detergent, the bleaching agent hydrogen peroxide and the fertilizer, urea. Also, the addition of water not only reduces the nutritional value of milk but contaminated water may also pose health risks.”

    For all the mothers reading this comment, how would you feel if I told you that you had to get raped to produce milk to satisfy our consumer demand and that as soon as your baby is born we will it away from you. You will also have to live on a non-grass diet, get injected with steroids to increase milk production, and undergo the usual abuse of factory workers and then be killed at age 3 when your milk productions starts to slow down. Does that sound like a fair deal? Of course not, but that exactly what is happening to hundreds of millions of MOTHERS every day to support consumer demand for cow’s milk.

    You have rightly stated that cow protection is important and to add to that establishing varnashram farming communities is critical to ISKCON’s long term relevancy and success. I and other Krishna-dairyians believe that as long as devotees continue to purchase milk in the marketplace, the motivation to develop such communities will never develop in the hearts of devotees. The old saying, “why maintain a cow when you can purchase milk in the marketplace,” is often quoted as the logic used by an irresponsible man who prefers to purchase prostitutes then maintain a wife. But the actual literal meaning is just as true and it paints a clear picture of ISKCON’s current mindset.

    Another famous adage, often quoted by Srila Prabhupada is “milk touched by the lips of a serpent becomes poison.” We all know the figurative application of this saying that we should avoid the recitation of Mayavadis, however, why don’t we look at the literal meaning as well? Milk by nature is pure, but it too can become contaminated if touched by tamasic ingredients. If you bother to research the standards of commercial dairy, you will fully understand the purport.

    You have also made the point that milk nourishes the “finer brain tissues”. I am aware that Prabhupada said this, but there was no explanation as to how this actually happens. Most devotees assume that any milk has such magical powers. But nothing can be further from the truth. When Prabhupada talks about milk’s subtle powers, he is specifically referring to pure milk gifted to us from protected cows. Such milk is filled with the sattvic quality of love and devotion. It is more than just food, it is liquid love. Now to think that this same subtle influence is there in contaminated commercial milk that was not gifted, but which was forcefully extracted by vacuum tubes and then mixed with nasty ingredients, and handled by tamasic people filled with hate, greed and selfishness — to think that that so-called “milk” will have the same nourishing effect in the finer brain tissue is ludicrous.

    Did you know that a few years back russian factory workers filmed themselves bathing naked in a huge vat of milk used to make cheese, stated the Daily Mail in the UK. “Yeah, our job is really boring,” says the caption on the online posting by Artem Romanov, 27, one of the workers at the Torgovii Dom-Siri cheese factory in Siberia. According to the comments posted by Romanov, the decision to take a bath in the milk was to celebrate a colleague’s birthday!

    You have also mentioned the famous Vitamin D supplement added to commercial dairy back in Prabhupada’s times. It is true that most sources of this are from animals. I admit it is very hard for me to accept that Prabhupada did not object to such contamination and I can only think that he was so keen to establish cow protection and the importance of cows for healthy human life that he tolerated. BUT, what is often forgotten here and which puts such statements into context, is that with Prabhupada’s leniency from time to time, he made it ABUDANTLY clear that he wanted devotees to live off the land, grow their own food, make their own cloths, and produce their own milk. And he started talking about this in 1968 at the founding of New Vrindavan, which was well before this Vitamin D comment was made.

    Finally, you state:

    “Nowadays, in Iskcon, veganism is on the rise – more and more Hare Krsnas are turning vegan. This is very interesting! And the vegans say that the milk coming out of the factories today is not even milk anymore; it is just reconstituted chemicals and if Prabhupada was here today, he would tell us to be vegan. I am not so convinced about that and it is a problem, in this whole debate to be vegan or not, to put words in Prabhupada’s mouth.”

    Actually, none of us are saying that at all. I know Prabhupada would not endorse veganism. But I am positive he would endorse Krishna-dairyianism and tell devotees to stop being lazy and stop purchasing milk in the marketplace.

    Respectfully and I hope you appreciate my point of view.

    Your servant and friend,

    Priyavrata das