Debate: Lilananda & Adikarta On Consuming Milk Part 2 of 3

First Posting


Dear Adikarta Prabhu, thank you for your comment! Prabhupada said that food should be taken according to one’s taste. He also said that health comes first. You wrote: “. It’s possible that pasteurized or homogenized milk are questionable for the health, still, raw milk from healthy grass fed cows, is, according to the Vedas, absolutely essential for long term good health” According to, the word essential means: absolutely necessary; indispensable. Based on the evidence I will show below, I would like you to explain, with scientific evidence and reputable research, how we can reconcile your statement with the overwhelming evidence against milk and in favor of a plant based diet. Here is an example, among many, from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showing that vegans can be healthy. Can vegans be unhealthy? Certainly! The same applies to lacto vegetarians and carnivors. As far as grass fed cows, their milk still contains casein, which makes up 87% of cow’s milk protein. You wrote about long-term good health. Here is more information from the book The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-Term Health. “But that’s not all. We found that not all proteins had this effect. What protein consistently and strongly promoted cancer? Casein, which makes up 87% of cow’s milk protein, promoted all stages of the cancer process. What type of protein did not promote cancer, even at high levels of intake? The safe proteins were from plants, including wheat and soy. As this picture came into view, it began to challenge and then to shatter some of my most cherished assumptions.” Campbell, T. Colin; Thomas M. Campbell II. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, We (p. 6). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.
You wrote: “Yes, Srila Prabhupada may have possibly condoned the Vegan diet, but we can’t say for sure, it means he would have to have contradicted himself quite strongly. Bottom line is that he wanted farms where we could all support protected cows, and get the benefit from the milk products.” Yes, Prabhupada certainly wanted farms and he wanted us to protect the cows, but other than not eating meat, fish, eggs and food containing these ingredients, and offering our food to Krishna, he never imposed any specific diet on us. There is no mention in our initiation vows that we must consume dairy. It is not mandatory to drink milk. Why so much effort to put down vegans and shove dairy down their throats? If you want to develop a farm and protect the cows the way you believe it is right, I have no ambiguity. A vegan person may ask you: “1. Except for bulls assigned for procreation, are the other bulls castrated or somehow or other restricted or are they allowed to freely mix with the cows as it would happen in a natural environment? 2. Are the calves freely mixing with their mothers and drinking as much milk as they want or are they restricted? 3. Are the cows simply eating what they would eat naturally or are they fed special food for higher milk production?” A vegan person may want you to answer these questions. What would your answers be?

Although some vegans see us a hypocrites, we should see them as allies. They are convincing thousands to change to a cruelty free diet and life style. The percentage of Hare Krishnas who consume ahimsa milk is irrelevant compared to the total number of members. The odds of a large percentage of Hare Krishna communities moving in that direction, if statistically accounted for throughout the past five decades, is discouraging and unrealistic. Veganism became a strong global movement that is helping our preaching, of course, assuming we won’t take a radical approach of trying to shove dairy down their throats with unscientific information unsubstantiated by facts. I know temples who are successfully catering to vegans. As pointed out by Bir Krishna Goswami in the series Stop Killing The Devotees, two of his disciples had their feet amputated due to diabetes. The obesity in our movement, which is a pre-condition for diabetes, is a fact that should concern all of us. In the medical paper from the medical journal link above, one fact that identifies vegans is that they are usually thin. Adikarta Prabhu, just look around you and tell me if good health is something Hare Krishnas are known for. I see in your email exactly what Dr. Radharadhya says in his interview with Bir Krishna Goswami: “when dealing with devotees you find so many opinions that usually don’t lead to anything. They are quick fixes that are very one-sided and that is not the way how to stay healthy.” One of his books is based on 1400 case studies and the other on 1000 case studies. The health approach is much more multidimensional and complex than you present. Being a lacto-vegetarian and drinking grass fed cow milk, in themselves alone, are no evidence of being healthy.
You wrote: “The British health authorities are very concerned about the rise of Veganism in the UK, {more than US} because they say that in the long term many young Vegans will suffer from the Vegan diet.” I won’t be able to comment on this unless you provide information on how they reached this conclusion. We know that governments are in bed with the meat industry, which is in bed with the dairy industry, which in bed with the pharmaceutical industry. Just see plenty of evidence below. PHARMACEUTICAL INDUSTRY SELLS 80% OF ALL ANTIBIOTICS MADE IN THE UNITED STATES TO ANIMAL AGRICULTURE (I doubt this is much different in the U.K.)
Loglishi, Ralph F. “Animals Consume Lion’s Share of Antiobiotics”. Food Safety News. Dec. 27, 2010
“2009 Summary Report on Antimicrobials Sold or Distributed for Use in Food-Producing Animals”. FDA: Department of Health & Human Services Sep. 2014
“FSIS National Residue Program for Cattle”. USDA Office of Inspector General. March 2010
Greger, M.D., Michael “Drug Residues in Meat”. video. Volume 4. October 18th, 2010
“Antibiotic Resistance: NARMS- Combatting Antibiotic Resistance with Surveillance”. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America”. A Report of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production.
“Industrial Food Animal Production in America: Examining the Impact of the Pew Commission’s Priority Recommendations”. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Center for a Livable Future. October 2013

And here is additional information about the increased health risks caused by the consumption of dairy products.

Barnard, M.D., Neal D. “Milk Consumption and Prostate Cancer”. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Chan, June M., et al “Dairy products, calcium and prostate cancer risk in the Physicians’ Health Study”. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Oct. 2001 vol. 74 no. 4 549-554

And here is some more.
“Q & A: Diet, Arthritis and Autoimmune Diseases”. Michael Klaper, M.D. Nutrition-Based Medicine.
“Foods and Arthritis”. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Maslova, Ekaterina, et al “Low-fat yoghurt intake in pregnancy associated with increased child asthma and allergic rhinitis risk: a prospective cohort study”. Journal of Nutritional Science. 2012. July 6
Greger, M.D, Michael “Treating Multiple Sclerosis with the Swank MS Diet”. video. Volume 15. September 25th, 2013
Yadav, Vijayshree, et al “Low-fat, plant-based diet in multiple sclerosis: A randomized controlled trial”. Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders 9 (2016) 80-90
“The Multiple Sclerosis and Diet Saga”. McDougall Newsletter.
Villagran-Garcia, Edna F, et al “Introduction of pasteurized/raw cow’s milk during the second semester of life as a risk factor of type 1 diabetes mellitus in school children and adolescents”. Nutricion Hospitalaria. 2015; 32(2): 634-637

And yet more.
“What is Lactose Intolerance?”. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
“Lactose Intolerance”. Cleveland Clinic
Bloom, Gabrielle, Sherman, Paul W “Dairying barriers affect the distribution of lactose malabsorption”. Evolution and Human Behavior 26 (2005) 301.e1-301.e33
And one more. But I will stop here.
Kroenke, Candayce H., et al “High-and Low-Fat Dairy Intake, Recurrence, and Mortality After Breast Cancer Diagnosis”. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Volume 105, Issue 9. May 2013

I am looking forward to receiving your reply and would like to continue the conversation. With best wishes, Lilananda dasa


Second Posting


Dear Adikarta Prabhu,

Below is my reply.

ADIKARTA: Dear Lilananda prabhu, Hare Krishna. Thank you for your very well researched info about this topic. I feel we could spend a long time discussing this. Since I have very little faith in things or opinions that directly contradict Srila Prabhupada’s views which are of course, based on the Vedas, and I really don’t think I will be able to sway your opinion, , I think we should just agree to disagree.

LILANANDA: This is a very quick and simplistic approach to a complex subject. Based on the following statement from Srila Prabhupada’s books, I request you to reconsider, thus allowing us to continue this important discussion.

The Caitanya Caritāmṛta says, “A sincere student should not neglect the discussion of [Kṛṣṇa conscious] conclusions, considering them controversial, for such discussions strengthen the mind. Thus one’s mind becomes attached to Śrī Kṛṣṇa.” [CC Ādi 2.117]

ADIKARTA: There are many, many statements you can easily find on the Vedabase attesting to the benefits of milk. Many talk about the spiritual benefits of milk enhancing the brain, and that milk products can help us live, a long, healthy life. A lot of the arguments you present seem to oppose these ideas. Therefore I cannot agree with you about the value of milk. Since spiritual life is %100 dependent on faith in the guru, I just wonder how I, personally, could, on the one hand accept evidence from people who have no knowledge of the Vedas, or who directly contradict them, and keep my faith in them.

LILANANDA: Long before meeting Prabhupada I learned about milk as a miracle food from my mother. She used to say that milk is good for the brain, builds strong bones, will make me live a long life, and so forth and so on. This knowledge was common across the globe. If you look at milk commercials from the 50s and 60s you will find similar statements. However, there were several occasions on which Srila Prabhupada, when presented convincing arguments, accepted them. I will give you a couple of examples.

Example number one
When Prabhupada sent a letter to all temple presidents ordering them to stop doing book distribution in western clothes, Karandhara, then president of LA, decided not to read the letter to the devotees. Instead, he wrote to Prabhupada giving arguments why devotees should be allowed to do book distribution in western clothes. Prabhupada accepted his arguments and conceded. In one of the Prabhupada memories DVDs, a godbrother states that Prabhupada had high respect for Karandhara and treated him as an equal.

Example number two
In one of the Prabhupada memories DVDs, TKG relates how once, upon arriving to see Prabhupada ,he read a letter about to go out to all temple presidents, with which he did not agree. He then gave his arguments against it and Prabhupada again conceded and did not send the letter.

If Prabhupada was presented today with the volumes of credible research about the problems caused by dairy, the health issues many of his followers are having with diabetes, cancer and other degenerative diseases related to a diet highly based in dairy consumption, and how several of them, whom I personally know, were able to get off diabetes medication and other medications, have reduced their cancer tumors, have normalized their cholesterol levels, and are thus able to continue serving his mission with a healthy body and mind, I can’t see how Prabhupada would not concede. I doubt he would encourage a milk free diet for everyone, but instead, a dairy free diet for specific cases and a more limited one for the general population. Bir Krishna Goswami told me he remembers reading Prabhupada saying the limit should be 8 oz of milk per day. But I also read Prabhupada using thee expression “abundant quantities of milk.”

An extremist person will not concede to a convincing argument at any cost. But Prabhupada was not an extremist, he was a reasonable person. My faith in Prabhupada is not affected at all by reading statements such as the ones I presented to you and by seeing Prabhupada’s followers becoming healthy again with the help of those researches and professionals.

ADIKARTA: I am well aware of the fact that vegans are acting conscientiously by adopting their diet, but just cannot agree as to their conclusions.

LILANANDA: Fair enough, you have the right to do so. But it would be important to present convincing arguments about the conclusions you don’t agree with. Otherwise, they will not only see us as hypocrites but also as extremists, which, specifically in today’s world, is not a reputation any institution wants to have. Here is one of the comments posted on the second video of Sivaram Swami by a vegan activist who works for CBC News:

You speak a lot about how your actions “help” the cow who is lactating. Putting aside the patriarchal view that females, both human and nonhuman, should be looked upon as “mothers”, you aren’t addressing the himsa that you cause by impregnating those cows in the first place. And if, as you say in your speciesist analogy, that all cows are babies that we needn’t ask permission of, isn’t that impregnation then also tantamount to rape? “Helping” them out of the “pain” of lactating that we caused? Where is the logic here? Where is this “natural”? Regardless of how many centuries the tradition has been carried on, no domesticated cow today even exists in nature! And any similar wild species, like the wildebeest for example, has been getting along for many more centuries without ANY help from us. So I think your “tradition”, apart from being just as deceptive as conventional milk is, if not downright delusional, anything but natural or familial.

Another person wrote: in your tradition you say that cows are mothers and bulls are fathers. Which civilized human being castrates his father?

And here is another comment:

Have you thought how buffaloes in wild manage their milk after calf weans it off ? Have you thought whether cow will give so much milk after calf is weaned off if you don’t feed it controlled food and if you stop milking her after a calf is weaned off ? Cows will produce milk against their will if you milk her. I wonder how you measure willingness of a cow in your farm before you milk her. Vegans spread their message for animal welfare, so humans can let cows free. I wonder why you are promoting milk ? How does that help animals or humans ? Have you thought how many people are addicted to milk and continue to believe that milk is taken harmlessly especially in India and how this reinforces such believes and harms cows whom you consider as a mother ? Cats drink milk because like humans they are trained to drink it. Big cats (tiger, Lion etc)don’t drink cow milk! It is as unnatural for them as it is for humans. i agree humans are different species. We are selfish and cant get out of slavery mindset even after belonging to Krishna tradition. Animals are much better.

There are many other negative comments on the second one as there were many in the first one. There were many positive comments as well.

Congratulations for your cow protection agenda. It would be great if all ISKCON leadership follow your step. Specifically all GBC’s cause they have a duty to represent the kindness of Prabhupada. Thanks.”

And here is another one: I dont get why vegans are loosing theur shit over this. No animals are getting hurt! They are getting treated better yhan most children these days. If its not for you move on. All these comments are why people think vegans are nut jobs. So hell bent on their agenda theu cant see the good in what he is saying.

And one more: Respect him , he did mention he is not complete vegan. He follows vegetarian diet also. And his ethics are far way better than other vegetarians. Though I still find it exploitation. But still we can’t expect an ideal world. He is setting a good example. Cows are not getting harmed. And he does respect them.

ADIKARTA: Obviously many devotees are unhealthy for numerous reasons, as are many vegans, but I don’t thing that is sufficient reason to blame milk.

LILANANDA: As mentioned on my previous posting, this is a multidimensional issue and am glad we now agree on this point. However, it is not about milk, but about dairy in general. It is proven that milk is addictive, specially when mixed with salt, sugar, in the form of cream, cheese, etc. And this is exactly the diet we are promoting in our ISKCON society. However, several leaders and temples are seeing the downside of this diet and are changing it to a more plant-based diet. I remember visiting New Talavan last year on the occasion of the New Orleans Radha Yatra and was surprised to see sprouts as an option for breakfast, among several other healthy options. And at the Juhu temple, when I visited it about three years ago, they were serving salad every morning as part of a healthy menu.

ADIKARTA: Furthermore there are different types of milk, which you are probably aware of. Type A and type B. Most Western cows give type A, which is not as good as type B. On top of that, we both know that Krishna Himself loved cows, and consumed large quantities of milk products. Do you think He should be a vegan?

LILANANDA: Krishna can do whatever He wants to do and not be affected by material nature. However, if a Hare Krishna, a Muslim, a Christian, a vegan, a lacto-vegetarian, jump from a building, all fall. The laws of nature are the same for all of us. If we want to lead a healthy life and take proper care of the body God gave us and that belongs to Him, we need to eat properly, exercise, get enough rest, and follow proven healthy habits.

ADIKARTA: Srila Prabhupada advocated feeding the dieties a variety of milk sweets.Krishna came to teach us that living simply, having cows, was the optimum life style. Yes, we don’t agree with artificial insemination, and also we let the calves drink enough milk from their mothers to be healthy.

LILANANDA: I mentioned castration of bulls but did not see your reply to that question. As quoted above, we consider the cows as mothers and the bulls as fathers. Where is the decent human being who would castrate his father? Again, Krishna is not subject to the laws of nature.

ADIKARTA: I appreciate that some devotees like HH Bir Krishna Maharaja fully endorse the vegan diet

LILANANDA: It appears to me that you did not watch his interview with Dr. Radharadhya, otherwise you would not be writing this. Please watch the video.

ADIKARTA: …but honestly I don’t feel that Srila Prabhupada would be as pleased by his convictions, as he would by HH Sivarama swami’s wonderful contribution to the world, by establishing a wonderful farm community that exhibits the tenets of Vedic cow protection, and attracts numerous visitors.

LILANANDA: Krishna clearly says in the Bg 18.47, that it is better to engage in one’s own occupation imperfectly, than to do another’s perfectly. It is up to Prabhupada and Krishna to decide who is pleasing them the most, and not up to preposterous opinions of limited beings. And it is certainly not up to me, a mere vegan, to commentate on it.

As far as the quotes you provided, Prabhupada clearly wrote on SB 3.5.7 “The body can be maintained by any kind of food stuff…” He does favor milk, but also said health comes first, food should be taken as one likes, you judge things by the result, etc. And on one of the Prabhupada Memories DVDs, Nanda Kumara quotes Prabhupada saying: “Raw diet is the best diet.” Prabhupada was certainly not an extremist, but a pragmatic leader who encouraged us to be independent thinkers, as we have seen in the examples given by Karandhara and TKG quoted above.

This is confirmed on a famous letter to Karandhara, Dec 22, 1972, (and elsewhere): “The Krishna Consciousness Movement is for training men to be independently thoughtful and competent in all types of departments of knowledge and action, not for making bureaucracy. Once there is bureaucracy the whole thing will be spoiled. There must be always individual striving and work and responsibility, competitive spirit, not that one shall dominate and distribute benefits to the others and they do nothing but beg from you and you provide. No.”

In his purport to the Bhāgavatam 1.5.22, Prabhupada states that human intellect is developed for advancement in science, chemistry, etc. In this purport Prabhupada solely supports applying science in the service of the Lord. “Human intellect is developed for advancement of learning in art, science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology, economics, politics, etc. By culture of such knowledge the human society can attain perfection of life. This perfection of life culminates in the realization of the Supreme Being, Viṣṇu…When advancement of knowledge is applied in the service of the Lord, the whole
process becomes absolute…Therefore, all the sages and devotees of the Lord have recommended that the subject matter of art, science, philosophy, physics, chemistry, psychology and all other branches of knowledge should be wholly and solely applied in the service of the Lord.”

It should not go unmentioned that I have the highest respect for you and for decades of unselfish service you have offered to Prabhupada.

Looking forward to your reply.

With best wishes, Lilananda dasa

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