What is karma-free food?

The Sanskrit word karma means "action", or more specifically, any material action that brings a reaction that binds us to the material world. Although the idea of karma is generally associated with eastern philosophy, many people in the West are also coming to understand that karma is a natural principle, like time or gravity and no less inescapable. For every action there is a reaction. According to the law of karma, if we cause pain and suffering to other living beings, we must endure pain and suffering in return, both individually and collectively. We reap what we sow, in this life and the next.

The person who eats an animal may say that he hasn´t killed anything, but when he buys his neatly packaged meat at the supermarket he is paying someone else to kill for him, and both of them bring upon themselves reactions of karma. Can it be anything but hypocritical to march for peace and then go to McDonald´s for a hamburger or go home to grill a steak? This is the very duplicity that George Bernard Shaw condemned:

We pray on Sundays that we may have light
To guide our footsteps on the path we tread;
We are sick of war, we don´t want to fight,
And yet we gorge ourselves upon the dead.

Srimad A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami says in his explanations of Bhagavad-gita, "Those who kill animals and give them unnecessary pain — as people do slaughterhouses — will be killed in the same way in the next life and in many lives to come... In the Judeo-Christian scriptures, it is stated clearly ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ Nonetheless, giving all kinds of excuses, even the heads of religion indulge in killing animals and, at the same time, try to pass as saintly persons. This mockery and hypocrisy in human society brings about unlimited calamities such as great wars, where masses of people go out onto the battlefields and kill each other.

One of the most common objections non-vegetarians raise against vegetarianism is that vegetarians still have to kill plants, and this is also violence. In response it may be ointed out that vegetarian foods such as ripe fruits and many vegetables, nuts, grains and milk do not require any killing. But even those cases where a plant´s life is taken, because plants have less evolved consciousness than animals, we can presume that the pain involvedis much less then when an animal is slaughtered, what to speak of the suffering a food-animal experience throughout its life.

It´true vegetarians have to kill some plants, and that is also violence, but we do have to eat something and the Vedas say, jivo jivasya jivanam: one living entity is food for enother in the struggle for existence. So the problem is not how to avoid killing altogether—but how to cause the least suffering to otherceatures whle meeting the nutritional needs of the body.


ovinda's is part of a worldwide chain of Resturants opened by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON). Popularly known as the Hare Krishna movement, ISKCON is a cultural movement dedicated to the respiritualisation of society. An important part of this misison is the distribution of sanctified foodstuffs, known as "Krishna-prasad", which is pure vegetarian food nicely prepared and offered in devotion to Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By this process the food is sanctified and one who eats it becomes spiritually benefited. By regularly taking Krishna-prasad one will feel an upliftment of spirit and a diminishing material anxiety. Govindas vegetarian restaurants serve only Krishna-prasad, expertly prepared with love for the pleasure of Sri Krishna. We hope you enjoy your meal and also appreciate the unique spiritual experience of eating Krishna-prasad.

His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada
Founder of ISKCON and Govindas

The taking of any life, even that of a plant, is certainly sinful, but Krishna, the supreme controller, frees us from sin by accepting what we offer. Eating food first offered to the Lord is something like a soldier´s killing during wartime. In a war, when the commander orders a man to attack, the obedient soldier who kills the enemy will get a medal. VBut if the soldier kills someone on his own, he will be punished. Simelarly, when we eat only prasada, we do not commit any sin. This confirmed in the Bhagavad-gita (3.13) "The devotees of the Lord are released from all kind of sins because they eat food which is offered first for sacrifice. Others, who prepare food for personal sense enjoyment, eat only sin."