The following is an excerpt from a lecture given by HH Hrdayananda das Goswami in Gainesville, Florida on August 30, 2008. To listen to the entire lecture, please click here.
Bhaktin Kelly:Does Krsna willing accept milk from cows that were raised inhumanely and will eventually be slaughted?
HH Hridayananda das Goswami: A sincere devotee could have two positions. You could just say, I am going to set a proper example and not patronize that cruel industry and not buy milk products- which is one position, which is obviously valid. And then another position, someone could say, is that by offering the milk, the cows benefit by the offering to the deity and you are actually saving cows. You could say that in practical terms, not ideological, the amount of milk that is being purchased and offered to the deities has absolutely zero impact on the dairy industry and, therefore, it does not change the economic dynamics of it. So it doesn’t save cows but it saves souls by engaging them in Krishna’s service.
What I see in the Bhagavatam is that within Vedic culture there was a diversity of views. People have different opinions on these things and a certain frame of consciousness. Some are inspired to save cows by offering their milk to the deity.
Now let’s say the devotee is not making a serious offering, not really connecting with the deity, just “I like milk.” Then I think to participate in this horrifically cruel industry just because you like milk is something which is much harder to justify. It is just one of those- “I’m hungry, I really want to eat, I have to offer it.” But if someone is seriously deity-conscious, their nature is really to worship Krsna, and their consciousness is to save the soul in the cow’s body, then I think, whether or not I would do that, is a position that should be respected.
Although, I do not think that devotees are required to do that. If I was managing a temple with deities, I would not say you have to offer milk. I think it is a matter of consciousness of the individual.
By Bryan Walsh, Time Magazine
Need another reason to feel guilty about feeding your children that Happy Meal — aside from the fat, the calories and that voice in your head asking why you can’t be bothered to actually cook a well-balanced meal now and then? Rajendra Pachauri would like to offer you one. The head of the U.N.’s Nobel Prize–winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Pachauri on Monday urged people around the world to cut back on meat in order to combat climate change. “Give up meat for one day [per week] at least initially, and decrease it from there,” Pachauri told Britain’s Observer newspaper. “In terms of immediacy of action and the feasibility of bringing about reductions in a short period of time, it clearly is the most attractive opportunity.” So, that addiction to pork and beef isn’t just clogging your arteries; it’s flame-broiling the earth, too.
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Livestock production has a bigger climate impact than transport, the UN believes
People should consider eating less meat as a way of combating global warming, says the UN’s top climate scientist.
Rajendra Pachauri, who chairs the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), will make the call at a speech in London on Monday evening.
UN figures suggest that meat production puts more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than transport. But a spokeswoman for the UK’s National Farmers’ Union (NFU) said methane emissions from farms were declining.
Dr Pachauri has just been re-appointed for a second six-year term as chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning IPCC, the body that collates and evaluates climate data for the world’s governments.
“The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has estimated that direct emissions from meat production account for about 18% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions,” he told BBC News.
“So I want to highlight the fact that among options for mitigating climate change, changing diets is something one should consider.”
Climate of persuasion
The FAO figure of 18% includes greenhouse gases released in every part of the meat production cycle – clearing forested land, making and transporting fertiliser, burning fossil fuels in farm vehicles, and the front and rear end emissions of cattle and sheep.
The contributions of the three main greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide – are roughly equivalent, the FAO calculates.
Transport, by contrast, accounts for just 13% of humankind’s greenhouse gas footprint, according to the IPCC.
Dr Pachauri will be speaking at a meeting organised by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), whose main reason for suggesting people lower their consumption of meat is to reduce the number of animals in factory farms.
CIWF’s ambassador Joyce D’Silva said that thinking about climate change could spur people to change their habits.
“The climate change angle could be quite persuasive,” she said.
“Surveys show people are anxious about their personal carbon footprints and cutting back on car journeys and so on; but they may not realise that changing what’s on their plate could have an even bigger effect.”
There are various possibilities for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with farming animals.
They range from scientific approaches, such as genetically engineering strains of cattle that produce less methane flatus, to reducing the amount of transport involved through eating locally reared animals.
“The NFU is committed to ensuring farming is part of the solution to climate change, rather than being part of the problem,” an NFU spokeswoman told BBC News.
“We strongly support research aimed at reducing methane emissions from livestock farming by, for example, changing diets and using anaerobic digestion.”
Methane emissions from UK farms have fallen by 13% since 1990.
But the biggest source globally of carbon dioxide from meat production is land clearance, particularly of tropical forest, which is set to continue as long as demand for meat rises.
Ms D’Silva believes that governments negotiating a successor to the Kyoto Protocol ought to take these factors into account.
“I would like governments to set targets for reduction in meat production and consumption,” she said.
“That’s something that should probably happen at a global level as part of a negotiated climate change treaty, and it would be done fairly, so that people with little meat at the moment such as in sub-Saharan Africa would be able to eat more, and we in the west would eat less.”
Dr Pachauri, however, sees it more as an issue of personal choice.
“I’m not in favour of mandating things like this, but if there were a (global) price on carbon perhaps the price of meat would go up and people would eat less,” he said.
“But if we’re honest, less meat is also good for the health, and would also at the same time reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.”