To drink or not to drink?
by Syamasundara dasa
Posted February 12, 2003

Recently our morning temple discussions moved to the Vegan arguments of not using the milk from the cow. The usual answers came back as we have seen in this discussion about Karma free milk drinking because it is offered to Krishna and thus no reaction for drinking it. Accepting that milk offered with devotion is karma free what is the position of milk that is not quite so offered. Is it enough that one has heard that Krishna accepts and likes milk products without actually offering them with love and devotion. Are we doing all that we can to indeed sanctify the milk we are using.

There is another point against drinking milk which we would not support and that is that somehow drinking milk is wrong because it comes from an animal. There is a notion that cows were somehow domesticated some thousands of years ago and that man is now unjustifiably exploiting them unnaturally. That there were only wild cows roaming around and that they were captured and trained with the consequence that their calves milk was stolen by man. This notion is clearly of a Darwinian slant and has atheism at its heart. There is no God in control and man and cows were surprisingly thrown together haphazardly. As followers of the Vedic tradition and as vaisnavas we do not hold such ideas. We have been informed that the world was created perfect and complete and thus from this cows and man have been given a symbiotic God given relationship. Using cows milk is not a consequence of stealing the calves milk but is an arrangement of Krishna whereby the cow gives more milk than the cow needs.

A third point of consideration before we set ourselves on any path of non milk drinking to avoid implication in the slaughter. Over the years a visitor to India, could gradually watch a sinister development. Decades ago the fields were primarily cultivated by oxen and it was extremely common to find ox wagons, ploughs and other animal draft apparatus outside a villagers home. Food was produced and then transported by ox. The home was dependant on the ox. The food production was supporting the ox and thus the cows were being protected.

At some point someone thought that a tractor and a truck powered by petrol would be of benefit to the food production, and so the ox dependence diminished. Gradually over the decades one started seeing that the ox carts and ploughs were changed for tractors, trailers and tractor implements. Homes were decorated with petrol dependant machinery. Along with this development one could also note that the oxen disappeared, they weren't just idle alongside the tractors but one could hardly find them. A visitor now to India doesn't see that many ox carts and ox ploughs in relation with a few years back.

Food is now produced and transported by tractors fed by petrol. In this environment the oxen has been slaughtered, and with the slaughter of oxen goes any semblance of economic possibility of milk production. In other words the real cause for the slaughter of cows and oxen is the tractor and the truck. If one truly wants to halt animal slaughter then one should boycott food produced by tractors and transported by trucks. To say let us not drink milk produced from slaughter is not complete, if one wants to be actually helpful in having an ethos were milk is available slaughter free then one should only eat food produced by oxen. Srila Prabhupada warned that if you do not work the oxen you will think about killing them.

Just some thougts for deliberation

Syamasundara Dasa
Farm Manager
Bhaktivedanta Manor
syamasundara@pamho.net