The Amul-PETA controversy

Acharya Prashant
7 min readAug 8, 2021

Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): Talking about this recent controversy between PETA and a dairy producer, people are saying that lakhs of people are going to lose their employment if they switched to plant-based milk. So, what do you have to say about this?

Acharya Prashant (AP): See the employment argument, I appreciate it but it is not absolute in itself. In fact, the employment argument can be extended to absurd extremes, I could say pickpockets are employed in their own industry — the pickpocketing industry. So, why are you arresting them? It’s an industry, why are you arresting them? You are making several hundred if not thousands or lakhs of them lose employment.

By no means, I am saying that a dairy farmer is a pickpocket, don’t take it to that level. But what I am saying is — Are all means of employment really permissible legally, ethically, whichever way you want to look at it?

If the employment argument is absolute in itself, then anything that helps a man to earn money should be permissible. Then why do we, for example, punish tax defaulters? He is just trying to make some money for himself, just as the butcher is trying to make money for himself.

So, just because something, some activity yields money to somebody, that does not mean that that activity is okay. Otherwise, there are thousands of debauched ways of earning and making money, we would have to allow each one of them. Because you see, whenever you want to take a corrective step, there is always this argument that is thrown that — this would lead to loss of livelihood.

If you want to switch to greener technology — not much to do with veganism here — but let’s say if you want to switch to a greener technology then people will say, “The old technology was manpower intensive. There were so many who were earning bread from it. Now you have switched to an automated technology, so loss of livelihood! loss of livelihood!” This kind of thing.

You do anything progressive, it is generally believed that it leads to loss of livelihood. And prima facie it does. But when you look at the complete picture, when you zoom out a little, you find that it is not leading to a loss of employment. Because it is a new…