Click here for Kurma's website, Cooking With Kurma, featuring tons of great and transcendentally delicious recipes.
Claudette Vaughan recently interviewed me for the excellent website Abolitionist-Online - a Voice for Animal Rights
Here's the interview, serialised.
Transcendental Higher Life: Kurma Dasa from the Hare Krishna’s Interviewed on animal rights, vegetarianism and karma-free living
Kurma Dasa is one of the world’s leading proponents of pure vegetarian cuisine. Dubbed “Australia’s Vegetarian Guru,” Kurma has been writing cookbooks, teaching students and hosting internationally broadcast TV shows for over thirty-five years. Kurma’s innovative cooking continues to shake off the outdated notion that vegetarian food is lackluster.
We at the Abolitionist are great fans of his because every recipe book works – like magic! Even some of the supposedly complicated recipes like breads are easy to follow with Kurma’s recipes and every recipe is a success.
All Kurma’s dishes are consistent with the concept of Indian Ayurveda – this means no meat derived products, no fish, eggs, garlic, onions or mushrooms. Vegan soy milk can easily be substituted when required by a recipe. His cookbooks won’t let you down!
Claudette: "What is the Hare Krishna’s contribution to animal rights?"
The Hare Krishnas have contributed enormously to the rights of animals ever since the inception of the Krishna Consciousness Movement over 40 years ago, specifically in the following ways: distributing literally millions of books in over 38 languages, encouraging people to become vegetarians; establishing farming communities all over the world where animals are allowed to peacefully live out their natural lives; and cooking and distributing tens of millions of plates of pure vegetarian food in all our restaurants, temples and festivals.
Claudette: "We fight for one right for God’s animals and that is: Animals have a natural lifespan that should not be truncated by humans and they have a right to live. What’s a Hare Krishna’s understanding Kurma das?"
We agree. All creatures are sons and daughters of God. So the animals are our brothers and sisters. We have no right to kill and eat our brothers and sisters.
Claudette: "I think a Hare Krishna devotee believes fully that animals have souls. There’s no argument there – is that correct?"
Correct. All living things that exhibit the six symptoms of life - birth, growth, development, reproduction, dwindling and death - are alive. Life is the symptom that the soul, the living force, is present, in all these varieties of life. It is more accurate to say they ARE souls, living out their lifespan in the dress of whatever body they may inhabite this time around, whether it be plant, insect, bird, aquatic, beast or human form.
Claudette: "Tell us about your cooking books because they are all veg, very easily adaptable to vegan, no eggs etc."
I have written four cookbooks. My first, Great Vegetarian Dishes, was written in 1989 and is a bit of a classic, having been re-printed seven times, and still in the shops. My next book was Cooking with Kurma, then came Quick Vegetarian Dishes, and lastly (for now) Vegetarian World Food. The recipes are all strictly vegetarian. There are now close to 1 million of my books in print.
Vegans, who don't indulge in any dairy or animal-origin food find the recipes very easy to adapt, almost without exception.
Claudette: "Did your cooking talents emerge out of all those wonderful Hare Krishna Sunday feasts?"
Yes, and also my 10-year stint in the kitchen at Gopal's Restaurant in Swanston Street, Melbourne, where I started cooking seriously for 500 patrons a day throughout the 1980's.
Claudette: "What’s your latest work called and how did it come about?"
My latest work is a new version of a classic Hare Krishna Cookbook and guide to Karma-free living entitled "The Higher Taste".We distributed over 3.7 million copies of the first edition. The new version not only has over 50 of my recipes, but also has the latest information on important subjects as health and a meatless diet, the hidden cost of meat on the environment, factory farming and compassion.
Claudette: "What animals are you particularly close to?"
I am particularly fond of cows. I regard the cow as my mother, and feel very blessed when I can have her company.
Claudette: "Tell us about your Vegi-Cards".
The Vegi-Cards are two sets of 52 gorgeous, laminated recipe cards with full-colour photos in sturdy boxes. One set is a selection of quick recipes, and the other is a selection from my second book 'Cooking with Kurma'
Claudette: "Many animal rights people eat at the Hare Krishnas ‘Food For Life’ van especially here in Sydney where the devotees are sensitive and cook with vegetable oil for us to eat. What’s the philosophy behind feeding humans veg food."
'Food' infers vegetarian food. Partaking of body parts and organs hardly qualifies as food for humans. Specifically, non-vegetarian animals like dogs and cats and tigers are equipped physiologically to eat meat, they require it, and they accrue no karma in eating it.
Humans, however, are designed to be vegetarian. We can live long, natural healthy lifes eating vegetarian food. Eating animal food leads to disease, shortens our life and pollutes our bodies. As a direct result it dulls our finer perceptions and leads to a cruel mentality. Furthermore, eating animals is bad karma. Those that regularly eat animals will have to become animals in future lives and be eaten themselves.