And Then Came the Vegans…

So there we were, master conductors orchestrating our spiritual revolution through music – “taking straightedge to the next level of purity” – when, suddenly, something unexpected happened. One day we were busy preaching vegetarianism to the straightedge kids. Then the next day we were busy defending against the straightedge kids preaching veganism to us.

It seems straightedge leapfrogged over our heads in a militant stride to an even higher level of purity.

Enter the “Hardline Vegans.”

Our reaction to it frustrated me. If we actually cared about animal rights, why would we get defensive when someone comes along even more into animal rights than us? We weren’t so much into animal rights, it turns out, as we were into being the holiest dudes this side of CBGBs. So when some holier dudes came along who were even more “cruelty free” than us… instead of applauding or supporting them, we tried to shoot them down.

Of course, it wasn’t entirely our fault. For the most part they were a bunch of asswipes even more “holier than thou” than we were.

I wanted a more reasonable reaction to Veganism so, in Enquirer #5 I wrote an article entitled “Mother Cow, Father Bull – Honor Thy Parents.” In it I explained how organic, sustainable agriculture relied on the help of the Bull and Cow. The idea was that a sustainable cruelty free solution wouldn’t exclude animals entirely, but would include them in a respected and protected role.

The article featured “Arguments from the Hard Line” with my replies.

Argument: “It’s cruel to make bulls work.”

My reply: They like it. If you don’t believe me go check out the bulls in India and on Hare Krishna farms. And, agriculture without animal- or machine-power isn’t a large-scale solution because it doesn’t yield enough produce to support a large population or a vegetarian diet.

Argument: “Milk is not for humans.”

My reply: Says who? Scientists? Bah, they change their tune every week. Vedic culture has venerated the effect of milk on human health for centuries, but they do drink a different sort of milk than we have these days, and they drink it under different dietary and living situations that what we have.

Argument: “Milk is for the calves, not you.”

My reply: Apples are for the seeds – not you. This is the wrong way to look at nature. Nature is symbiotic, species are interdependent.

Argument: “Milk from protected cows is ok, but most milk involves cruelty.”

My reply: I agree, but its nothing to get so “hardline” and intense about. Everything involves cruelty. Hardline bands buy bean burritos from Taco Bell. Or we buy broccoli from a grocery store that sells meat. It’s impossible to avoid cruelty entirely, and we should each do the best we can without becoming ridiculously self-righteous about it. We propose that “the best we can” is not just a really zealous and strict boycott, it’s a practical demonstration of a positive alternative: natural, sustainable agriculture like that based on the cow and bull.

Hardliners didn’t disappear after the article, but at least we did have a sensible logical, and not-totally-combative reply from now on. Over the next few years more devotees actually crossed over to the dark side and adopted veganism. I eventually wound up writing a booklet supporting them, without demeaning those who did not adopt veganism – “The Vegan and the Vedas.”

– Excerpt from an early draft of

Train Wrecks and Transcendence:

A Collision of Hardcore and Hare Krishna

By Vraja Kishor []

Categories: Tags: , ,


  1. I’m curious what your take on veganism is now that we have data on what animal agriculture does to the planet. Really like the series of articles I hope you continue to write more.


    1. My take on it now is that if I was a better person I would do it, but it’s a bit beyond me right now. Vegetarianism seems enough of an effort for me, particularly living in Japan.

      What is the data that we have on animal agriculture?


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