The Hare Krishnas serve the student body and mind

    What do Plato, Leonardo da Vinci, Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein and Pamela Anderson all have in common? These famous personalities all chose to be vegetarians, and joining their ranks are many students who are involved in the Vegetarian Club on campus.

    David Safford
    Guardian

    The club’s main purpose is to provide healthy vegetarian food and a place for students to meet the diverse assortment of people who share their choice. Of course, not everyone involved has to be a strict vegetarian or vegan; they merely have to have an interest in healthy alternatives to the fast food culture that surrounds us all.

    The acting president, Eleanor Roosevelt College senior Ben Winkler-McCue, who is not a vegetarian, was introduced to the club by a teaching assistant and has found it to be a beneficial organization.

    “”It is neat that they do this service,”” Winkler-McCue said. “”A lot of people appreciate it. This school doesn’t have a lot of options for people who want to eat healthy.””

    David Safford
    Guardian

    Although the student-run Food Co-Op and the Che Cafe offer vegetarian menus, the club provides a unique opportunity to try home-cooked vegetarian dishes at their all-you-care-to-eat buffets each Wednesday. On the second floor of the Student Center, during lunch, students can sample as much of the cuisine as they desire for a small donation. The dishes are mainly Indian style, and always include a dessert and drink.

    “”I think it is the best deal for quality and price,”” said Laura Archer, an assistant at Geisel Library. “”I think anyone would like it, whether vegetarian or not. I love that the food changes each time. The variety makes it interesting.””

    For many years, the Vegetarian Club has worked closely with the Hare Krishna temple in Pacific Beach to bring this interesting buffet of vegetarian food to campus each week. A vegetarian diet is an integral part of their religion, which is an expression of the ancient Vaishnava tradition, a monotheistic faith within Hindu culture.

    “”It just feels good to eat food people care about when they make it, rather than the Price Center where people are just being paid minimum wage to do it,”” Winkler-McCue said.

    The Hare Krishna movement, well known for seeking donations in airports, was started in 1965 when Srila Prabhupada arrived in New York City from India to spread Krishna consciousness in America. Lord Krishna is the supreme deity they worship and the name means “”all attractive.”” He began to draw followers in Tompkins Square Park while he chanted “”Hare Krishna,”” which is a mantra to call on Krishna’s divine energy.

    The elderly Prabhupada worked day and night translating ancient holy texts into English and taught classes out of a small storefront. From there he sent his followers throughout the world to open Krishna-conscious centers, and currently there are about 50 Hare Krishna temples and 75,000 members in North America.

    All initiated members of the movement vow to follow four rules to attain a pure life: no gambling, no intoxicants (including drugs, liquor, coffee, tea and cigarettes), no illicit sex and no meat.

    Kevin Smith, the college program director from the Pacific Beach temple, got involved with the Hare Krishnas while attending San Diego State University in the late ’80s. He has been overseeing the activities at UCSD for 10 years.

    “”I started adopting the principles like vegetarianism and then the chant, and after seeing the positive effect they had, I joined the temple,”” Smith said.

    The diet adopted by the Hare Krishnas incorporates wholesome foods like fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products into a wide variety of meals. They feel that such a diet respects the earth and keeps them free from the bad karma created by hurting other creatures.

    According to the Bhaktivedanta Book Trust’s Web site, “”Devotees of Krishna avoid needless violence. They see other creatures as spiritual living beings. Though these creatures may be less intelligent than we, they are also God’s children, our brothers and sisters. So why should we kill them? If a child were to kill a less intelligent brother, do you think the father would be pleased?””

    For Hare Krishnas, the act of cooking itself is part of their worship since they cook for Krishna’s enjoyment first. At their temples, Sunday evening feasts are the culmination of their holy day. Such feasts were initiated by Prabhupada. Although it is affiliated with a religious organization, the group does not push their beliefs in exchange for food.

    “”I know I was put off initially,”” Archer said. “”I thought, ‘It’s the Krishnas, they might make me shave my head!’ But it is nothing to be afraid of, just good food.””

    The Vegetarian Club, in connection with the Hare Krishnas, set up booths on Library Walk for Earth Day and offered food to taste and explanations of the Vedic lifestyle. There are also tentative plans to bring some traditional Indian cultural events to campus.

    “”There are several famous dancers in the area who perform at the temple who would probably be willing to come. And some of the kids are great musicians,”” Smith said. “”But that may be kind of ambitious. I just need to keep everyone in rice and vegetables.””

    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $5000
    Contributed
    Our Goal

    Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

    More to Discover
    Donate to The UCSD Guardian
    $2505
    $5000
    Contributed
    Our Goal