From the Archives: A 1995 ISKCON GBC (Governing Body Commission) Resolution on Environmental Sustainability
20 1995: Fostering a more simple and natural way of life is one of the founding principles of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The members of the Society are therefore committed to helping solve the planet’s environmental problems. These include water pollution, air pollution, toxic waste, nuclear and chemical accidents, destruction of wildlife, and desertification. While appreciating the good intentions of those working to solve these problems by individual and group efforts of a material nature, we believe the environmental crisis is ultimately a spiritual one requiring a spiritual solution.
The environmental crisis is a product of a society that has become overly dependent upon destructive industrial technology. This dependency is rooted in reductionist science, which has removed God and the soul from the forefront of human concern. When people forget that nature is the propriety of God, they are driven to exploit it unlimitedly for their own material gratification.
Scholars of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness are therefore introducing an alternative culture based on the Vedic teachings of ancient India. This philosophical system acknowledges the fundamental reality of a nonmaterial conscious self, or soul, present in each individual. All souls have their source in a Supreme Conscious Self, God. Nature also emanates from God as a perfectly balanced system capable of sustaining all living things. When humans fail to properly understand their total identity as body-mind-soul and the connect of nature with God, the system becomes unbalanced . . . .
To reduce the urge to excessively exploit and consume material resources, ISKCON teaches people methods for experiencing nonmaterial happiness from the soul. Chief among these is the time-honored practice of Hare Krishna mantra meditation. Without elevating desires from material to spiritual, the basic impetus to environmentally destructive behavior will remain intact. We recognize the major detrimental effect of the meat industry, particularly the cattle industry, has on the environment. ISKCON’s model programs for protecting cows and using bulls for transport and agriculture, based on the Vedic spiritual teachings, are thus environmentally beneficial. Such programs are now operating in ISKCON rural communities around the world. The spiritual vegetarian diet followed by ISKCON members saves scarce resources and has a far less negative impact on the environment than a meat-based diet. Since its founding in 1966, ISKCON has provided over 900 million vegetarian meals through its restaurants, temples, and Food for Life program (for the homeless, hungry, or disadvantaged). The Society has also sold over 10 million vegetarian cookbooks. While working to make this world a better place, ISKCON also encourages people to understand their identity as spirit souls and return to the spiritual world, which is the natural environment of the soul.