“The devotees of the Lord are released from all kinds of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, verily eat only sin.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 3.13)
Friend1: Okay, I don’t want to argue vegetarianism necessarily.
Friend2: What does that mean? You’ve decided to try eating meat?
Friend1: No, but I understand that bhakti-yoga has much more to it. People who are devotees of Krishna would never claim that they are part of this “ism” or that.
Friend2: You mean that they are more than vegetarians?
Friend1: Yes, not to mention the inherent bias found in that term.
Friend1: Yeah. Think about it. If you live in a place where people protect cows and don’t kill animals, eating only grains, fruit and milk, how is that weird? In that area someone who does kill innocent animals for food would be considered the oddball. They would be assigned some term to identify how they are different.
Friend2: Right. Carnivore or meat-eater. Something like that.
Friend1: I don’t accept the premise to begin with, that someone has to defend their choice to practice general nonviolence.
Friend2: One counterargument they throw at you is that vegetables have life too. Think of how many vegetables are killed to satisfy the vegetarians.
Friend1: That is a good one. For starters, it shows some intelligence, as the person notices the presence of life outside of the human and animals species. Secondly, if killing a vegetable were the same as killing a cow or a dog, then why not kill your children? Eat them for food. It’s all the same, right?
Friend2: There is no refutation. One that I like to use is the idea of showing children a video of where their food comes from. On one side you have images of a farm and maybe machinery to gather the harvest. On the other…well, you can’t really show that to children.
Friend1: Nope. Not unless you want to scar them. Piggybacking off your idea, tell people to try living next to where their food comes from. Live adjacent to a farm for one week, next to a slaughterhouse for another. Then tell me that they are both the same.
Friend2: I like that. So many diseases around the slaughterhouse, but not so much the farm.
Friend1: I know that Krishna devotees say that they are vegetarian because Krishna is. That is to say they only eat what Krishna will accept, and in the Bhagavad-gita the list is rather clear.
Friend2: Yes. The idea is that you eat karma-free. Offer first to Him and then take the remnants, known as prasadam. Not too different from saying grace before a meal, but the food choice is selective instead of indiscriminate.
Friend1: Here’s the thing. Can’t someone argue that you are following in faith, that you are practicing as a cult?
Friend2: What do you mean?
Friend1: There is no science to it. It is a restrictive diet based on faith alone. No rhyme or reason.
Friend2: Well, do you think that other diets are not based on faith? Who is to say that you are supposed to eat cow flesh? They can do all the studies they want, but it just takes one person to invalidate the findings. You meet people who have smoked cigarettes their entire life and are perfectly healthy. You have people who eat carrots every day and still get diseases. This means that there is blind faith in following any diet.
Friend1: Well, what about the person who doesn’t restrict at all?
Friend2: That is faith in the senses. Do whatever the tongue and the stomach want. By the way, that is a recipe for disaster. The human life is especially meant for tapasya. This is austerity and penance, voluntarily imposed. There is some pain in the beginning to achieve a higher reward later on. Eating without discrimination is for the animal species. Human life is for a higher taste.
“The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.59)
Bhakti-yoga, surrender to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, brings that taste, both literally and figuratively.
Prasadam practice of bhakti one,
Vegetarian, but regulations some.
Following blindly in faith confided,
Since no other reason provided?
Faith in other paths already found,
Though claimed in scientific ground.
Krishna’s ways for finding taste higher,
Bliss of devotion not experienced prior.