Founder Acharya His Divine Grace
A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

Eating Green from the Vedic Perspective
By Jahnavi Harrison   |  Jul 12, 2008

If you ever watch TV, read a newspaper, or listen to the radio, chances are you’ll have heard of the term ‘carbon footprint’ by now. In our increasingly green conscious society, it’s the buzzword of the minute, and refers to the impact human activities have on the environment.

Of course, most of us like to think
that we do our bit for the planet, and
advertisers have been quick to catch on
to this. Today, everything from washing
detergents to hybrid cars are sold with
the promise of reducing the heavy
impact of our daily activities. These
slickly packaged claims can be pretty
convincing, but how much do these
little things actually help, and isn’t there
a simpler way?


The answer, according to a huge
number of environmentalists and those
in the know, is a resounding yes. In
the official handbook for the Live
Earth concerts, organised by American
politician, Al Gore, it is stated that
‘refusing meat is the single most
effective thing you can do to reduce
your carbon footprint’. They’ve even
enlisted famous faces, such as Paul
McCartney to promote this message.
Of course, some might say that this
is just another form of propaganda,
but look past the high profile events
and celebrity endorsements, and the
statistics speak for themselves.

A 2006 United Nations report found
that the meat industry produces more
greenhouse gases than all the SUVs,
Hummers, cars, trucks, planes, and
ships in the world combined. Here’s
an even simpler way of looking at it:
eating 1lb of meat has the same effect
on the planet as driving a Hummer 40

It’s not just the air that’s polluted either.
The amount of manure produced by the
meat industry is a problem that’s near
impossible to deal with. Even when a
portion of it is used for fertilizer, the
majority ends up dumped in fields and
rivers, leaching excess minerals into the
soil and upsetting the fragile balance of
the earth’s ecosystems.

Raising and feeding the livestock puts
a major strain on the environment also.
About 44% of all the grain in the world
is used for animal feed. Therefore,
most farm animals will, at any moment
of their lives, have consumed more
food-energy or protein than they can
ever deliver in the form of meat. After
reviewing the tens of millions of acres
of agricultural land being used for
animal feed and grazing in Europe, the
European parliament commented last
year, that ‘European farming is capable
of feeding Europeans, but not their
farm animals’.

Even with all this land being used, it’s
still not enough to meet the demands
of the commercial meat industry. Every
year, large areas of forest throughout
the world, are cleared, creating new
grazing land, and ultimately often
creating new areas of desert-like,
infertile land, as a knock on effect of
the deforestation.

This evidence is clear proof of the
importance of vegetarianism. However,
it’s not just about the effect on the
environment. Giving up meat is also
recommended for its positive effect
on our bodies and consciousness. If
it’s true that out of sight means out of
mind, then it’s no wonder we don’t
always make the connection between
what we eat and how it influences our
thoughts and actions. We buy nicely
packaged meat off the shelf next to
innocuous foods like cheese and milk,
but it is anything but innocuous.

When an animal is slaughtered, its
feelings of intense pain and fear
experienced at death remain within its
body, and these have an effect on those
who consume this flesh later. As these
feelings arise in us, it also becomes
harder to feel compassion for others,
whether animal or human. Ultimately,
this lack of compassion can be found
at the heart of many major world
problems, as well as many difficulties
within our day to day lives.

The legendary mathematician and
philosopher of Ancient Greece,
Pythagoras, stated ‘For as long as men
massacre animals, they will kill each
other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of
murder and pain cannot reap joy and
love.’ This message has been repeated
by saints, philosophers, and great
thinkers throughout the centuries.
Krishna also tells us to only offer him
vegetarian foodstuffs, and devotees will
never eat any food not first offered to
their Lord. By so doing the Bhagavadgita
tells us that we will avoid the
“great sinful reactions” that are
otherwise incurred.

If we follow Krishna’s simple directions
for our diet we will be healthier,
happier and save our planet.