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Question: Pranaam Acharya Ji. I have watched many of your videos related to Veganism. I would like to know your take on teaching Veganism to children. I know that Veganism has to be a thing of the heart and that just forcing dry ideology is not good for anyone.
As a vegan parent I am not concerned about my ability to show compassion, but rather some choices that I have to make for the sake of my daughter’s well-being. She is very choosy towards vegan protein sources, and that is why we have to sometimes buy dairy products for her. Every time I have to do that, I feel bad.
So there is this conflict between choice of providing her with nutritionally balanced diet and with my heartfelt refusal to take part in the exploitation of other living beings.
I wonder if there is any right and wrong in this.
Acharya Prashant Ji: Ilmari (the questioner), we are neither prakritik (natural) beings nor do we live in Truth fully.
If you look at the animals in the jungle, they live totally by prakriti (nature). If you look at Saints, they live totally by the heart. In the industrialised world man lives neither as a prakritik being and nor as a being of Truth.
We live by the mind, we love by the intellect. The intellect has created all these problems that we are facing. Veganism is a response to the problems created by intellect. We don’t have to teach veganism to animals, neither we have to teach veganism to Saints.
Animals don’t need Veganism, Saints too don’t need Veganism. Man in this modern, post-modern world needs Veganism. The man who is a creation of his intellect needs Veganism.
If you look at man today, he is neither a creation of the jungle, nor is he a creation of God. He is a creation of his own mind. If you look at him closely then you will realise that he is similar to the ones who live in the jungle, and you will have to look at a million human beings to come across a few, who will make you realise that man probably came from God.
If you look at the bulk of human beings from a distance, you will neither feel that they come from jungle, nor would you feel that they come from God. Man comes neither from jungle, nor from God. Today’s man comes from the factory. We are products of our intellect, we are products of our factories. And our problems too are problems arising from the human intellect. And that has become our center. We will operate from our center. Wouldn’t we?
Intellect is the center of today’s man.
If that be so, why not use the same intellect in a godly way?
If intellect is what we are identified with, why not surrender this same intellect to the service of God?
Why not, for example, use the intellect to create sources of vitamin B-12 and proteins, and many other vitamins and minerals that are not exploitative towards animals?
If you say that you must provide your daughter with a protein-rich diet, why does the protein have to come from dairy? When everything in your life is anyway factory produced, why not use factory-produced protein as well? People say, “But that would be unnatural.” So if you want to be fully natural, then live on the trees.
Is it natural to live in houses? Is it natural to wear clothes? Is it natural to go to schools? By nature you mean prakriti, right? Do all these things happen in the jungle? But when you live in the house, then you do not say, “It is unnatural.” When you live in the house, do you say, “It is unnatural. I will not do it.”?
Now man has come out of the jungle, he is anyway no more prakritik. His center is not prakriti, neither is his center Atman. His center is Buddhi (intellect). It’s a very strange situation that man is in.
What is the center of the animal?
Questioner: Prakriti (nature).
Acharya Prashant Ji: What is the center of the Saint?
Acharya Prashant Ji: What is the center of today’s man?
Questioner: Buddhi (intellect).
Acharya Prashant Ji: So use this same Buddhi in the service of Truth. You live in an industrialised, heavily industrialised western country Ilmari (the questioner). How is it not possible to have artificial sources of Vitamin A, C, D, B, B-12? How is it not possible to manufacture proteins just as you manufacture everything else? Why is it necessary that the protein molecule must come from an animal’s body? Why is it necessary?
On one hand we pride ourselves in the factory producing everything. Can’t we factory produce protein? Must you kill to have protein? Some people say that Veganism is unnatural, and their biggest argument is Vitamin B-12. They say this Vitamin can come only from an animal source, and human body requires this. So this is the proof that Veganism is unnatural, they mean it is aprakritik (unnatural).
I agree that Veganism is aprakritik. Why must it be prakritik? Is man prakritik anymore? If man wants to be prakritik, then I say, “Go back and live in the jungle.” You have come out of the jungle? Is marriage prakritik? Are their marriages in the jungle? So marriage is the first thing that is unnatural. Is language prakritik? Are there languages in the jungle? Are there clothes in the jungle? Are there constitutions in the jungle? Are there vehicles in the jungle?
But to all these things you do not say, “O, they are unnatural.” To all these things you are happily amenable, but the moment it is discovered that Vitamin B-12 cannot be found accept in an animal source, you rejoice and say, “You see that now Veganism is ticked-off because it is proven that Veganism is unnatural.”
Yes of course Veganism is unnatural.
And just as you choose so many things that are unnatural, choose Veganism as well.
Do not choose it because it is natural, choose it because it is coming from Compassion.
Do not choose it because of prakriti (nature), choose it because of karuna (compassion).
And these are two very-very different arguments.
There are the naturalists who say, “You should choose what is there in prakriti.” I strongly deny that. I am not a naturalist. I do not say that you should live as prakriti lives. In prakriti all creatures, or rather most creatures, except the nocturnal ones, sleep at night. I conduct my session after midnight. Am I prakritik? Am I?
So I am not at all a supporter of prakriti (nature).
In fact all Spirituality is about transcending prakriti, so I am not a naturalist.
I stand for transcendence of physical nature, which you call as ‘prakriti’.
But in transcending prakriti, I do not want to stop at buddhi or intellect.
In transcending prakriti I want to reach the Atma or Truth, where Compassion resides.
Get the difference please.
Usually people think that Spirituality and Naturalism go together. They think that if you are a spiritual man then you would love fruits and all kinds of animal products. And these two often are seen together. The moment a person picks up some spiritual text, he also starts eating more raw food. It is often a combination. It is often seen that spiritual people go to the jungle.
So somehow a correlation has been established in the mind that Spirituality and prakriti go together. No, that’s wrong. Spirituality is transcendence of prakriti. And when you transcend prakriti, then you can really love prakriti. It is a thing that you have to appreciate.
Those who do not transcend prakriti, remain attached with prakriti. And if you remain attached to prakriti, you consume prakriti. For example, if you remain attached to your own body then you will kill somebody’s body to feed your own body. If you are attached to prakriti you will rape prakriti.
But the Saint goes beyond prakriti. From there he can just lovingly witness and watch prakriti. Then he does not interfere prakriti, or consume it, or rape it.
Are you getting it?
In fact a lot of damage to prakriti is being brought about by prakriti-lovers as well. So when they would say, “We require a particular type of fruit,” so for that particular type of fruit to be grown, all other species are being cut-off.
If you standing at the intellect, as you are, use the intellect. Find out from where in the world can you get all nutrients that are not animal-sourced. Let industries come up.
If it is required that artificial meat be made in order to satisfy people who necessarily want to have meat, I am all in favour of more technological research, to produce more artificial meat that closely resembles animal meat. This is Compassion because this is going to save billions of animals everyday.
Let technological prowess be used to produce artificial meat. Because the fellow is now addicted to meat, he will eat meat. And if you will not give him meat now, he will slaughter the animal.
So use intellect, use research, use technology. What is all your scientific knowledge for? You can’t even produce a protein molecule in the factory, and we sing so much about the scientific advancements.
Are you getting it?
Man cannot go back to the jungle. So even if you want to protect the jungle now, intellect is the answer. Man can neither go back to the jungle, nor can man give up the intellect. But the jungle has to be protected. So intellect is the answer.
Use the mind.
Use the mind in service to the Truth.
If intellect is what you have, devote the intellect to the service of the Truth, to the service of Compassion.
Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.
Watch the session video: Why must kids turn vegan? || Acharya Prashant (2019)
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