By His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedānta Swami Prabhupāda
Sometimes I am questioned in European countries that “What is the difference between patram pushpam (leaves and flowers)? That is also eatables. They are also vegetables. They have got life. Why do you ask us not to eat meat because they are living beings?”
So answer is that it is not the question of living being. Every living being has to eat another living being. That is the law of nature. Jivo jivasya jivanam [SB 1.13.47]. Those who have got hands, they are eating the legless. Just like cows, goats, or other animals, they are eating grass. The grass is also a living entity, but it has no legs. It is being eaten up by another animal which has got legs. Similarly, we are also a kind of animal with hands. We are eating another animal which has no hands. Similarly, those who are strong – even in animal kingdom or vegetable kingdom – they are eating the less strong.
In this way the whole world is maintained where one animal is eating another animal or one living entity is eating another living entity. That is the law of nature. Jivo jivasya jivanam.
So we are not interfering with the right of the living entities. A tiger has got the right to eat another animal. So we are not going to preach amongst the tigers that “You become vegetarian” or “You become Krishna conscious.” That is not our business.
Our business is that we are inducing, we are entreating, we are requesting people that “You take Krishna prasāda.” That is our business. To become vegetarian or non-vegetarian is not a very big business. We do not claim that vegetarians are very much pious and non-vegetarians are not pious. No. Not like that. We say that everyone is impious who is not taking foodstuff offered to Krishna. That is our view. That is stated by Krishna.
Yajna-sistāsinah santo mucyante sarva-kilbisaih [Bg 3.13]: “Anyone who is eating foodstuff offered to Yajna, to Vishnu or Krishna, he is diminishing his volumes of sinful life.” Bhunjate te tv agham pāpā ye pacanty ātma-kāranāt: [Bg. 3.13] “And anyone who is cooking for himself, not for Krishna, then he is simply eating a lump of sinful life.” It doesn’t matter whether he is vegetarian or non-vegetarian. This is the philosophy of Krishna consciousness. We have to eat what is offered to Krishna.
[An excerpt from a Pandal lecture delivered at Cross Maidan in Bombay, March 26, 1971]ALSO READ: “THEY WILL FORGET MEAT EATING…” SHOULD WE EAT IN FRONT OF THE DEITIES? RULES TO BE FOLLOWED WHILE OFFERING FOOD TO KRISHNA