“When animals are killed in a slaughterhouse, six people connected with the killing are responsible for the murder. The person who gives permission for the killing, the person who kills, the person who helps, the person who purchases the meat, the person who cooks the flesh and the person who eats it, all become entangled in the killing. Narada Muni wanted to draw the King’s attention to this fact. Thus animal-killing is not encouraged even in a sacrifice.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.25.8 Purport)
Friend1: I hate bringing this topic up because it is so at the preliminary stages, but it does get a lot of attention from newcomers.
Friend2: Shaving the head? Moving into a temple? Chanting a mantra on a set of beads each morning?
Friend1: No; meat-eating. Or as it is often labeled, vegetarianism.
Friend2: You have to include the restriction on intoxication in there. I think they are associated. You take away meat and alcohol, and many people might jump off the ledge.
Friend1: What else is there in life? So many important celebrations involve the two.
Friend2: Yes, the traditional bachelor party. Eat at a steakhouse, followed by a visit to the strip club.
Friend1: Yeah, so the commonly offered objections are not so important to me. People just don’t know any better. Whatever the degraded condition of today they accept as the norm.
Friend2: Think about it. If every person around you is following a certain way of life, you will think anything different to be odd or unusual. That is the very definition, in fact. You never consider the reverse condition.
Friend1: Where people grow up respecting animals and not killing innocent life for the purpose of satisfying the belly.
Friend2: In such a place the meat-eater is considered strange. In fact, the Vedas have two words of importance here. Mlechcha and yavana. People who ignore shastra. They take to the way of the animal, either out of ignorance or straight up defiance.
Friend1: Then you get a tradition started, sort of a parampara, but where the proper culture is lacking. Anyway, what I wanted to focus on is the objections from people who are somewhat familiar with the Vedas.
Friend2: Objection to what?
Friend1: The restriction on meat-eating.
Friend2: Oh, right.
Friend1: They will say that animal killing is found all over the place. There are sacrifices recommending the killing of this animal and that.
Friend1: And so why is vegetarianism a big deal all of a sudden?
Friend2: Similar objections were heard by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The antagonist brought up the idea of bull and cow sacrifices.
Friend1: I understand that in a true yajna the animal isn’t really killed. They get a new body in the next life, one more auspicious than what they have.
Friend2: For sure. The yajna must be conducted by a qualified brahmana. A real priestly person, not just one who descends from others of a previous age or who appears in a family of such.
Friend1: Okay, so the meat-eater today will use that as justification.
“The rishis of the past ate meat. I’m just following what they did.”
Friend2: But you aren’t. There were no such things as slaughterhouses. The existence of a single place where such mass killing takes place implicates so many people in karma. Yajna is supposed to be karma-free.
Friend1: What does that mean, exactly?
Friend2: There are no implications relating to the body. It is a spiritual practice. You are not killing the animal to satisfy any taste buds. That brings me to another argument, one based in common sense. Eating and sex life are mentioned in shastra for a reason. The purpose has to be restriction; otherwise no one needs to be taught.
Friend1: What do you mean?
Friend2: These are animal instincts. I don’t need a higher authority telling me what to eat. Sex attraction is there regardless of instruction. The Supreme Lord passes on these instructions for the purpose of limitation. Interact with the material nature, maya, in a way that you stay free from the effects. No implication. Eat, but in an authorized way.
Friend1: Okay, but people will say that meat eating is, in fact, authorized.
Friend2: The justification is that karma is very difficult to transcend. Sadhu, shastra and guru combine to help a person, but you can’t expect immediate success for everyone. The animal sacrifices are there as a way to gradually break free of the attachment. Regardless, there is no one who knows how to properly conduct these yajnas today. That is why the yuga-dharma is the sankirtana-yajna, something which every person can follow. The chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. Just try the recommendations for yourself. Give it a chance and every restriction soon becomes crystal clear in its purpose.
Words of guru not believing,
So many objections receiving.
Like in shastra yajna mentioned so,
But animal to higher birth to go.
Not that slaughterhouses to run,
Where damage to karma done.
Consciousness clear when no more meat,
And food only suitable to Krishna to eat.