Veganism, Vegetarianism and Prasadarianism
By Dusyanta dasa
In this article that is dealing with the differences between Veganism, Vegetarianism and Prasadarianism there is a necessity to provide quotes from scripture, from Sri Guroh and from Sadhu. As Vaisnava devotees of Lord Krishna we always use these three principles to authenticate our actions, our ways, and our decisions. Any quotes provided will only be from Srila Prabhupada’s books.
But firstly to fully understand what we are dealing with we need to understand the holistic integrated process that eating entails.
Eating is the last process in an Agricultural act.
Unless we understand and accept that eating is intrinsically linked to agriculture then our understanding will always be flawed and incomplete. What we put into our mouths is based on a huge agricultural system that began months before we even bought or grew the food. The way our food is farmed bears down exactly on whether there is violence in our food, whether the environment has been exploited and damaged, whether animals have been slaughtered, whether artificial pharmaceutical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides have been utilised and whether we have assisted in a holistic process or not. Just by what we put into our mouths.
As devotees we have a lot of issues to consider before we eat. Firstly we offer our food for Krishna’s pleasure, Bhagavad-gita As It Is 3.13. Then we have the huge issue of whether or not the food we eat is violent. On this issue there are many quotes from Scripture for us to consider. One of the main principles that Veganism was originally conceived in 1948 was this whole point. Their point was that to avoid violence, then all animal interaction needed to be by-passed as they perceived the connection to animals in farming was the source of all violence. However as will be revealed by scriptural reference this is just a materially superficial understanding and explains comprehensively why Veganism is a relative modern movement based on no Vedic theistic foundations.
Violence as a principle is an inherent natural law of the material world and is unavoidable in all circumstances of Agriculture as explained in the Srimad Bhagavatam. In the third canto of Srimad Bhagavatam the principles of Devotional Service are explained in detail and one point being Ahimsa, or non-violence. But in the further explanations of devotional service in 3.29.15 the final conclusion on violence related to agricultural products is explained in detail so there is no misunderstanding..
Canto 3. Chapter 29. Text 15.
“A devotee must execute his prescribed duties, which are glorious, without material profit. Without excessive violence, one should regularly perform one’s devotional service.”
So the principle of violence is delineated here for the devotee to fully comprehend by the text using the word, “Natihimsrena” – excessive violence, and in the context of the verse it is used as “without excessive violence.” The inference being that there will be some violence in the execution of devotional service, as in the case of Arjuna and his devotional service.
The word “Ahimsa” –with no violence, is not used in the context of executing devotional service and this is further elaborated in the explanation in Srila Prabhupada’s purport that is related exactly to food, eating and agriculture. A few significant points are made here. Firstly that eating vegetables is Violence.
“The answer is that eating vegetables is violence, and vegetarians (and in this case Vegans as well) are also committing violence.” And then a bit later in His purport Srila Prabhupada writes; “We have to commit violence; that is a natural law. We should not, however, commit violence extravagantly, but only as much as ordered by the Lord.”
# My added words in brackets to include Vegans, who also eat Vegetables.)#
Eating means we have to pursue agriculture because eating is an integrated component of agriculture, it is the last action in agriculture. And in agriculture there is only violence to commit by eating vegetables, by ploughing the land, by weeding the land, by harvesting crops, and a whole host of other agricultural activities. Once we put food into our mouths we are already implicated fully into the violence of producing that food, there is no material way out of that.
1974 Conversations and Morning Walks
We are negative of vegetarian and non-vegetarian. We are not vegetarian, neither non-vegetarian. We eat Kṛṣṇa prasāda. Rather, “prasādarian.” We are neither vegetarian, nor non-vegetarian. Because we don’t eat which is not offered to Kṛṣṇa. Things are prepared according to the order of Kṛṣṇa, and when Kṛṣṇa eats, we take the remnants of foodstuff. Therefore we do not fall in the group of vegetarian or non-vegetarian. We are transcendental.
Room Conversation with Reverend Gordon Powell, Head of Scots Church — June 28, 1974, Melbourne:
Prabhupāda: These flowers are very nice. They are called?
Prabhupāda: Daffodils. Oh.
Reverend Powell: No, jonquils, aren’t they?
Prabhupāda: Very… Just see how God’s artistic brain.
Reverend Powell: Hmm. Yeah.
Prabhupāda: You can see God in everywhere. But one must be Kṛṣṇa conscious, God conscious. Then he’ll see every moment, everywhere God, nothing but God.
Reverend Powell: Is this part of the God consciousness, that in everything is the God?
Prabhupāda: Yes. Everything is made out of energy of God.
Satsvarūpa: Here are some sweetballs made out of milk and butter.
Prabhupāda: You can, you can pick up.
Reverend Powell: Made out of what?
Satsvarūpa: Mostly out of milk and butter.
Prabhupāda: Milk preparation.
Reverend Powell: Thank you. And, um,…
Prabhupāda: Yes, you can eat.
Reverend Powell: Now?
Reverend Powell: Thank you. (eats)
Satsvarūpa: Very juicy.
Reverend Powell: Hm. Very juicy. Hm.(laughs)
Prabhupāda: All of them, give, each, one. We can prepare hundreds of nice preparations from milk. Therefore cow protection is required. Do you like?
Guest: Very sweet, Prabhupāda. (laughter)
Reverend Powell: Something quite different. Hmm.
Devotee: Here, perhaps you can use this.
Reverend Powell: Thank you. Yes, I think I need it. You, you, you’re completely vegetarian, and not have meat of any kind and not eggs at all?
Reverend Powell: Why not eggs? Because…
Prabhupāda: We are not even vegetarian.
Reverend Powell: You’re not.
Prabhupāda: No. We are negative of vegetarian and non-vegetarian. We are not vegetarian, neither non-vegetarian. We eat Kṛṣṇa prasāda.Rather, “prasādarian.” We are neither vegetarian, nor non-vegetarian. Because we don’t eat which is not offered to Kṛṣṇa. Things are prepared according to the order of Kṛṣṇa, and when Kṛṣṇa eats, we take the remnants of foodstuff. Therefore we do not fall in the group of vegetarian or non-vegetarian. We are transcendental.
Reverend Powell: Yes.
Reverend Powell: Well, thank you, Your Grace. If you’ll excuse me, I have another appointment.
Prabhupāda: Thank you. That’s… Hare Kṛṣṇa.
It’s plain to see from this conversation that we are neither Vegan, nor Vegetarians nor non-Vegetarians; devotees are transcendental to these material conceptions. We are Prasadarians. And to put this in context with the agricultural model that is used for us to put food into our mouths we need look no further than Bhagavad-gita As It Is by Srila Prabhupada. In the chapter entitled “The Perfection of Renunciation”, chapter 18, text 44 Lord Krishna explains the concept of krsi-go-raksya or “cow protection agriculture”.
Cow protection agriculture is a holistic integrated system of producing food for devotees where there is the minimum of violence and a self-sustaining complete dynamic. No externals are needed because cow protection provides all the necessary tools and facilities to farm in a self-sufficient way. The concept explained here is cow protection and agriculture together. Cow protection does not exist on its own without land to farm. And farming does not exist on its own without cow protection. The relationship between farming and cow protection is based on mode of goodness symbiosis, otherwise from both perspectives intervention on an industrial scale are needed. Farming without draught power from animal’s means mechanistic intervention with tractors and heavy machinery. And fertilizing the soils without organic naturally occurring manures from cow protection means using pharmaceutical artificial prilled fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. For devotees the guiding quality to farm is through the mode of goodness only, which governs how farming is managed. And within the cow protection agricultural model the mode of goodness sits perfectly well.
The main problem with a Vegan type agricultural model is that it does not illustrate an alternative way of producing food that bypasses modern methods. Because in Veganism animals are by-passed completely then Vegans are forced to use industrial mechanistic methods of cultivating the land, harvesting crops and so forth. Without tractors and animals Vegans have no alternative method of torque or draught power for ploughing 1000’s of acres of land to feed the world. Alternatively in Cow protection the Bull and Horse both provide torque and draught power to farm without the need for modern methods of mechanistic agriculture.
That’s the first huge problem with Veganism, they have no methodology of cultivating other than using industrial type tractors to feed the world. The next obstacle for Vegans is how to out source their fertilisers for growing food to feed the world. Without using industrial violent pharmaceutical fertilisers or animal manures there is not much left to them apart from green fertilisers and composting plants. Without the use of animal fertilisers, and animals in any form, Vegans’ hands are tied; they only have composting of green crops as a credible way to replenish the soils. The question then arises; would there be enough green cropping in the world to fertilise the soils to feed the world? The answer is absolutely no chance whatsoever. Of course they could always use the artificial fertiliser route without the use of animal biomass but then we would soon be facing widespread soil erosion globally. As it happens Vegans, without their knowledge, depend on animals to provide vast amounts of biomass as fertilisers to grow their food. If Vegans are “organic” and only eat organically grown food then they are 100% dependent on animals for providing the Hooves, Horns, Blood, Bones, fish, feathers etc that make up the bulk of commercial organic fertiliser around the world. Either way we look at it, Veganism is not an alternative to illustrate how to feed the world without using industrial modern methods, in fact the point is Veganism does not exist purely in any shape or form that can show the model to feed the world successfully, in a sustainable model.
How ever because the authentic Cow protection agricultural model is based on the three principles of Vaisnavism; Guru, Sadhu and Scripture then it can be a successful model. But the problem with Cow protection is what form of model should that take. One of the main reasons that Veganism has popped up in Iskcon is because the Cow protection projects have not serviced the devotees, as they should have done. So to understand fully what the criteria are for a successful cow protection project and therefore a successful agricultural model we have to dive deeply and transparently into finding all the relevant statements on this subject because to date it does not work how it is meant to work.
Actually it is very simple to understand how cow protection works but what has been the problem is executing it in that way. The very first principle in a cow protection project is using the mode of goodness to manage it. Mostly in Iskcon this has been overlooked time and time again. How to execute cow protection in the mode of goodness? Then, what principles of existence does a cow protection project need to be surrounded by? Then, the holistic integrated model of the three models of Iskcon need to be symbiotically linked together.
What makes cow protection agriculture work, is the principle of community and cow protection harmonising with each other symbiotically in the mode of goodness. Cow protection and related agriculture can only work in the mode of goodness. This means that the lifestyle adopted by the humans managing cow protection compulsorily have to live according to the mode of goodness. If they don’t then cow protection will not solve all the economic problems that cow protection is meant to.
That’s why Veganism stands absolutely no chance of succeeding, because it is not in the mode of goodness on any level practically. The Vegan model of agriculture is based on the mode of passion and mode of ignorance because of those two principles outlined earlier, viz a viz, draught power to cultivate land, and alternative fertilisers. It’s these two principles that Cow protection are outstanding in, in fact cow protection produces all dairy products from the cows, all grain products from the bulls and then all torque and drought power. Then the next added bonus is the manures from all animals. This can be anaerobic-ally digested to produce methane gas and then what is left over is the best fertilizer in the world because the ammonias have been converted to ammonium bicarbonate, which is the ideal food for plants.
It is worth noting at this point in the history of Cow protection within Iskcon exactly where and why the project encountered severe problems. In 1985 at Gita-nagari a revolutionary visionary program was introduced called “adopt a cow”. This in effect meant that cow protection not only became a business and a capitalistic project in the mode of passion but also meant that a symbiotic mode of goodness relationship was not required to sustain the project. Thus the nature of cow protection was totally compromised. Although it seemed as if this were the answer to the prayers of cow protectors universally, the concept eventually fell on its head. The reason was because there was no substance in this mode of passion concept. The devotees collected millions of dollars for the cow protection project and it meant living in style. But it was short lived because the mode of goodness was prevented from entering into the frame. Because Cows are in the mode of goodness and Vaisnavism is Pantheistic money plays no role in environmental husbandry and ecological theology. The main component of cow protection agriculture is the mode of goodness management, the symbiotic relationship and community lifestyle, not monetary dependency.
The workings of cow protection illustrate how it is an authentic system for providing an agricultural model especially for living in the mode of goodness. Within this dynamic of cow protection providing many of the economic solutions of life, is the next step. This is the next model of the totality of Iskcon. There are three Iskcon models that exist in a symbiotic relationship that make up the totality of Iskcon. The first model is the “Temple” model, the second model is the “Community” model and the third step is the “Cow protection agricultural” model. When these three exist in harmony, simultaneously with each other in the symbiotic mode of goodness relationship then the members of Iskcon benefit from this immeasurably.
The second model of Iskcon is the “Community” model. The community model provides the actual pivot to success. Community in Iskcon means creating the whole social body of life and this social body of devotees depends naturally and symbiotically on the mode of goodness cow protection agricultural model, the third model of the totality of Iskcon existence. The social body fills in all the parts of Iskcon that to date are missing. All our social needs are fully covered in the Community model of Iskcon. The Temple model of Iskcon does not cover the social needs of devotees and the Temple model is essentially a preaching tool. Once we move over from trying to make the Temple model our social model by establishing the real social community model of Iskcon so many solutions are solved automatically.
All the food for devotees is produced by the devotees for the devotees on the farm; food is grown for the Temple and for the community simultaneously. Therefore Lord Krishna receives the topmost food produced on the planet with minimum violence and vegetarian fertilisers from cow protection. The farm situation is where the community devotees live and run the farm and all the ancillary village, artisan and cottage industries related to village life in the mode of goodness. These three main models make up the totality of Iskcon and in this structure of Iskcon it becomes a self-sustaining model that needs no outside inputs. The village is supported by craftsmen of all types to construct beautifully designed cottages from natural materials, agricultural labourers, dairy processing devotees, and all types to contribute to the Vedic Village lifestyle. But essentially in this model the Cows are the centre of village life because without the Cows we would have to revert to modern industrial methods of farming and thereby lower the material modes of nature to Capitalism, the mode of passion and ignorance.
Our total successful model of Iskcon is based on these three models working together for the mutual benefit of all members of Iskcon. Not one section of Iskcon is favoured. Our political model of governance for farming and community are based on the four political models of social life.
1. Anarchism- Brahmanism.
And in this way there is not the western one-way approach to government where they hope one glove fits all. There has to be different types of governing to suit all types and qualities of people.
Thus we dispatch to history the concepts of materialism related to our diet. We are Iskcon, a community independent of outside help. We are minimum violent farmers. We are prasadarians that eat only food offered to Lord Krishna. Where is the conflict of interests, in Iskcon the totality abolishes false concepts because the totality of Iskcon is made up from all the answers not all the problems. We are the totality of Iskcon, we have all the solutions.