By His Holiness Danavir Goswami

(Vaiñëava Society Vol. 10)

Some vegetarians turn out to be the most vociferous critics of milk—in any form. They openly advertise “MILK IS PUS.” They claim that cow’s milk is never to be drunk or used by humans because:

A) cow’s milk is meant solely for its calves
B) cow’s milk is unhealthy for humans
C) cows, as well as all animals are not to be engaged/exploited by humans for the gain of human society
D) any human who indulges in using dairy products is a direct conspirator to the slaughter of cows through the medium of supporting the beef industry.

Are these views in line with what Srila Prabhupada teaches in his books? Or are they completely ignorant about the purpose of the cow and milk products and their function relating to human society and God’s overall plan?

“Who is the guest of all creatures? What is the eternal religion? O king of kings, what is life-giving nectar, and what pervades this entire universe?”

“Agni is the guest of all creatures. Cows’ milk is life-giving nectar. Offering ghee into fire sacrifices made to the Lord is the eternal religion, and this entire universe is pervaded by air.”

“What is the path one should follow? What is spoken of as water, as food, and as poison? What is the proper time for a çraddhä?”

“Following in the footsteps of the righteous constitutes the proper path. Space is spoken of as water in the Vedic texts on cosmogony. The cow is considered as food, as it is from milk that ghee is obtained; ghee is then used in sacrifices, and thanks to sacrifices there is rainfall, from which we get food grains. A request is poison. The proper time for a çraddhä is whenever a qualified Brahmin is available.” (Questions by Dharma to Yudhisthira: Mahabharata)

Now someone may argue that, “We don’t agree with all of the concepts against dairy products but we propose a “conditional anti-dairy” policy whereby only milk products obtained from protected cows who will never be slaughtered is consumed. In this way, by boycotting commercial dairy products, they hope to force ISKCON to develop viable farm communities faster. Protecting cows is a commendable aim, but did Srila Prabhupada ban the use of commercial dairy products in his movement or outside it until our farms could produce enough to supply everyone? The dairy industry has not changed its methods significantly in the past thirty years.

Sometimes “conditional anti-dairy” advocates display a picture of a cow with a circle and a stripe superimposed over it indicating the cow is banned (such as we often see with a cigarette indicting “no smoking”). A banner across the picture reads, “conditional use.” This, in my opinion is offensive. The anti-dairy advocates base their beliefs on sentiment, pride and lots of ignorance about God’s plan for cows, milk products and humans. Why should the Hare Krishna movement present anti-dairy propaganda opposed to the teachings of Krishna consciousness?

In reply to the suggestion that boycotting dairy products would reduce cow slaughter Syamasundara Dasa, the Goshalla Manager at Bhaktivedanta Manor comments,

A reduction in milk production wouldn’t decrease the number of animals killed. The only way we can reduce the number of animals being killed is for more of the population to become vegetarian and thus the demand for beef to drop. 

Milk products are not required in every offering to Lord Krishna. Yes, we know that, but to emphasize the condemnation of milk products as anti-dairy advocates do, is diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Vedas. I find anti-dairy cook books to be incompatible with the content of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings.

One influential person within our society recently wrote, “Ironically, by advocating the consumption of commercial milk we [devotees] are participating in the slaughter of innocent cows.” This is quite an accusation! Srila Prabhupada also was an advocate of commercial milk. Is he and all of the devotees cow slaughterers? This statement comes from a person who is only conditionally against dairy use. Total anti-dairy advocates consider devotees who use commercial dairy products to be real close to demons.

QUESTION: How about calling it “dairy-free” instead of “anti-dairy.” Just a thought.

ANSWER: “Dairy-free” is perhaps better than “anti-dairy,” but it also carries negative connotations of something that is harmful—just as we have smoke-free environments, sugar-free diets, fat-free food, etc. Smoke, sugar, fat and dairy are presented in a negative light. Why must we submit to the popular notion that dairy products are negative? By presenting dairy-free recipes the implication is that dairy is not desirable. I am not in favor of, even slightly, tainting the credibility of milk.

It appears that we are not convinced that dairy products are essential and healthy, thus we are quick to discard them. Most unfortunately, our movement does not seem to be progressing toward supplying the required milk from protected cows to devotees and the public, therefore slurring commercial dairy is all the more troublesome.

It would be preferable to hear positive suggestions for how to supply purer dairy products to the devotees and the public than to advocate the elimination of using milk products (dairy-free means without dairy).

Anna, ghrta, dadhi and dugdha are food grains, ghee, yogurt and milk. Actually these are the basis of all food. Vegetables and fruits are subsidiary. Hundreds and thousands of preparations can be made out of grains, vegetables, ghee, milk and yogurt. The food offered to Gopala in the Annakuta ceremony contained only these five ingredients. We should understand that in order to prepare nutritious food, we require only grains, ghee, yogurt and milk. (Caitanya caritamrta Madhya 4.93 Purport)

QUESTION: Was Srila Prabhupada informed that it frequently happens in industrial milking that blood is being sucked from the udder into the pipe system because dairy farm staff is not experienced or careful enough to adjust suction power and time to each individual cow and that blood often ends up in commercial milk?

ANSWER: Faults in acquiring milk should be corrected. But eliminating milk is not the solution. Inexperienced book distributors may irritate the public yet we correct the distributor rather than eliminate the distribution.

Let me try to put it in other words. Because Srila Prabhupada worked so hard to establish the paramount value of milk products I feel it is incorrect for us to do anything or say anything that might be construed as minimizing milk and its byproducts.

QUESTION: I am not at all averse to pure “non-violent” milk that flows from protected cows. I understand clearly the benefits of such milk. However, commercial milk, even organic commercial milk, is another matter entirely. In this case, I see nothing wrong with encouraging a healthy plant-based diet. I am not trying to appease the “foolish public,” rather my hope is to try to educate the uninformed. A plant-based diet is a perfectly natural way to live. Even in the Bhagavad-Gita Krishna says, “If one offers me fruit, vegetables, a flower or water…” That is a dairy-free diet! Granted, PURE milk flowing from protected cows is also very nutritious, but it is NOT necessary for developing love of Krishna. Only bhakti is necessary.

ANSWER: You are insinuating that the use of commercial dairy products in the service of the Lord, by cooking, offering and honoring the prasädam, involves the users in complicity with the slaughter of animals. This is illogical and offensive to devotees, including His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada.

Although the meaning of toyam is “water,” it is incomplete to rule out “milk” from that verse since Srila Prabhupada generally included it in his definition and explanation.

In Bhagavad-gétä the Supreme Lord says that He accepts preparations of vegetables, flour and milk when offered with devotion. Patraà puñpaà phalaà toyam. (Bhagavad-gita 17.10 Purport)

Kåñëa says patraà puñpaà phalaà toyaà yo me bhaktyä prayacchati. “If somebody offers Me vegetables, leaves, grains, milk, water, flowers, then I accept.” (Lecture Aug. 29, 1973)

Kåñëa says, patraà puñpaà phalaà toyaà yo me bhaktyä prayacchati. So especially vegetarian, vegetable products, food grains, vegetables, milk, Kåñëa says, “If somebody offers Me with love and devotion, then I accept them.” Our proposal is that you take remnants of foodstuff taken by Kåñëa. Therefore we offer this foodstuff from food grains, fruit, vegetable, milk, we offer to Kåñëa, and you take the remnants of foodstuff. (May 25, 1974)

We eat kåñëa-prasädam. Kåñëa says, patraà puñpaà phalaà toyaà yo me bhaktyä prayacchati: “Anyone who offers Me with love and affection vegetables, grains, milk, I eat.”

Cows are naturally and divinely meant to supply milk for humans to offer to Lord Krishna and then consume the prasädam. The fact that demons slaughter cows and before doing so take their milk for profit does not discredit the cows’ service to human society nor to Krishna. Kamsa slaughtered Devaki’s babies but that did not disqualify Devaki from mothering Krishna.

The fault of demons who slaughter cows is their own. The fault does not transfer to A) the cows, B) the users of dairy products, especially those who offer those products with love and devotion to the Supreme Lord.

We should not think that we are more intelligent than Srila Prabhupada who taught us that A) milk is helpful for developing finer brain tissues in order to understand transcendental knowledge and B) milk is helpful for longevity.

“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.” (8.6.12 Purport)

“Cow’s milk is particularly essential for developing the finer tissues of the human brain so that one can understand the intricacies of transcendental knowledge. A civilized man is expected to live on foodstuffs comprising fruits, vegetables, grains, sugar and milk.” (3.5.7 Purport)

QUESTION: Ironically, by advocating the consumption of commercial milk we are participating in the slaughter of innocent cows.

ANSWER: My dear sir, how do you justify such a statement in regards to Srila Prabhupada? Was he too participating in the slaughter of innocent cows? Are you more advanced than Srila Prabhupada in determining what is beneficial and what is sinful activity?

Your conclusion that devotees who offer and honor prasädam made with commercial dairy products are participating in the slaughter of innocent cows is, in my humble opinion, nothing less than hati mata. LessengerArticlesDairyDanavir GoswamiBy His Holiness Danavir Goswami (Vaiñëava Society Vol. 10) Some vegetarians turn out to be the most vociferous critics of milk—in any form. They openly advertise “MILK IS PUS.” They claim that cow’s milk is never to be drunk or used by humans because: A) cow’s milk is meant solely for its...