Articles From The Writings of Vasu Murti

Sugar Magnolia

Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin was first published in 1972. This book is very highly regarded by Robert H Lustig, M.D., a professor working in the UCSF Division of Endocrinology & Metabolism. 
Lustig is recognized by Dr. Joseph Mercola (famous for his website as being an expert on the subject of sugar (fructose) consumption and the consequences of it. The University of California has released (for educational and noncommercial uses) a video titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth, where Robert Lustig delivers a presentation in which he claims to demonstrate that fructose is a poison. In this presentation, Lustig mentions the book Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin and his appreciation for it. Lustig describes himself as a "Yudkin acolyte" and says that "every single thing this guy (Yudkin) has said has come to pass. It's astounding. I am in awe of this guy."
Sugar Blues by William Dufty was released in 1975 and quickly became a commercial success. According to the publishers, over 1.6 million copies have been sold. William Dufty makes the case that sugar is an addictive drug, that it is extremely harmful to the human body, and that the sugar industry conspires to keep Americans addicted to sugar.
In her 1996 book, Lick the Sugar Habit, Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., shows you how sugar upsets the body chemistry and devastates the endocrine and immune systems, leading to a host of diseases and conditions including hypoglycemia, diabetes, osteoporosis, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, headaches, allergies, asthma, obesity, periodontal disease, tooth decay, and more. A sugarholic since childhood, Dr. Appleton cured herself of chronic illnesses including bronchitis and pneumonia by changing her lifestyle. Hers is a self-help program to help you lick the sugar habit and live a healthier life. She explains how it worked for her... and how it can work for you.
The evidence continues to mount. Vegan author Kris Carr, author of Crazy, Sexy Diet (2011) and Crazy, Sexy Kitchen (2012), an avid animal-lover, practicing yoga and meditation has taken a stand against sugar on her blog... 
"It’s time we talked sugar. White powdered gold. Legal crack. Sugar is one of the most readily available and addictive foods out there—and you don’t have to be a Pixy Stix guzzler to overdo it. I was pretty floored when I began to really understand the abundance of sugars in food—did you know it’s in everything from pancakes to potatoes?
"The average American eats an estimated 130 pounds of sugar per year. You might think “I don’t eat that much sugar,” but this stuff is sneaky. It doesn’t just hang out in the junk food aisle, it’s also in healthy foods (don’t worry, I’m not saying that a sweet potato has as much sugar as a Snickers bar!). Hidden sugar piles up fast, so you may need to budget less sugar in your diet—especially if you’re dealing with a health challenge."
In 1985, there was some discussion among devotees at the San Diego Krishna temple about finding substitutes for white sugar, which many of the guests attending the weekly dinner program (often New Age and/or vegetarian for health reasons), said was unhealthy. (A few of the guests were vegan, and would politely decline the dishes containing dairy.) Fructose and honey were discussed as alternatives to white sugar.
“Who cares what the karmis (nondevotees) think?” commented one female devotee. “We should please the Deities.” (All food in the temple is offered to the Deities before eaten, and — note that plural! — we worship the images and expansions of a plural Godhead, like that of Trinitarian Christianity.)
In 1986, I lived briefly with a group of Jewish students. My roommate John Anklow, a Reform Jew from New York visiting California, asked me if there was an equivalent to the Sabbath in the Hindu religious tradition. (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the days of rest for Muslims, Jews, and Christians respectively.)
I told John that the closest parallel I could think of to the Sabbath is Ekadasi: (Sanskrit: ekādaśī, “Eleven”), the eleventh lunar day (Tithi) of the shukla (bright) or krishna (dark) paksha (fortnight) of every lunar month in the Hindu calendar (Panchang). In Hinduism and Jainism it is considered a spiritual day. Scriptures recommend observing an (ideally waterless) fast from sunrise on the day of Ekadasi to sunrise on the day following Ekadasi.
Two Ekadasis occur in one month according to positions of the moon. The progression of the moon from full moon to new moon is divided into fifteen equal arcs. Each arc measures one lunar day, called “tithi”: The time it takes the moon to traverse that distance is the length of that lunar day. Ekadasi refers to the 11 tithi, or lunar day. The eleventh tithi therefore corresponds to a precise phase of the waxing and waning moon: In the bright half of the lunar month, the moon will appear roughly 3/4 full on Ekadasi, and in the dark half of the lunar month, the moon will be about 3/4 dark on Ekadasi.
But as my buddy Randall (Ratha Yatra dasa), raised Catholic and an initiated (ordained) disciple of A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupda, serving as a lay person or congregational member, later pointed out, the Sabbath is a day of rest, whereas Ekadasi is a day of austerity (asceticism, penance).
In the ’80s it was reported that Hindu spiritual master Satsvarupa dasa Goswami made it a point to abstain from sugar on Ekadasi, since white sugar is processed through animal bones and thus isn’t even vegetarian.
In the ’80s, I wondered why the Jains abstain from honey, which I naturally assumed at the time as an animal by-product (like dairy and/or eggs) would be cruelty-free and wouldn’t involve taking the life of a fellow-creature.
One of initiated (ordained) devotees at the San Diego Krishna temple, Yudhistira dasa (Curtis Kribbs), understood the Jains’ rationale as nonviolence toward other living entities, rather than as asceticism. He said bees are often killed in obtaining honey.
In 1987, Krishna devotees were informed about Sucanat, a sugar product which is strictly vegan and differed from white sugar (processed through animal bones, and thus isn’t even vegetarian!). Ads for Sucanat appeared at the time in Clarion Call, a Krishna periodical published by followers of Tripurari Swami, out of the San Francisco Bay Area, and aimed at New Age spiritual seekers.
In the late ’90s, my friend Gopisvara dasa (Tom Dudek), raised Catholic and initiated by Tripurari Swami, made it a point to abstain from sugar. When I brought up the subject of veganism, as opposed to the lacto-vegetarianism of Krishna temples, he was sympathetic, saying he was vegan for a few years himself.
In 2000, Gaverick Matheny of Vegan Action told me that Vegan Action had started a campaign to have products in supermarkets labeled as vegan, but they weren’t sure how to proceed with products containing white sugar, since white sugar is processed through animal bones, and thus isn’t even vegetarian.
Gaverick said there was debate among the vegans as to whether or not honey (even if obtained humanely) could be labeled vegan (as an alternative to products containing white sugar), since honey is derived from insects.
My friend Anantarupa dasa, who took his present birth in Ireland, and came to Krishna Consciousness from an Irish Catholic background, commented, “Honey isn’t vegan. Not by any stretch of the imagination.”
Anantarupa dasa, who had made his own soymilk before and was sympathetic to veganism, said around that time as well that it’s doubtful if Krishna would accept milk or dairy products from factory farmed cows, subject to torture and abuse.
Anantarupa dasa, sympathetic to veganism, still saw veganism in the late ’90s and early ’00s as an extreme form of vegetarianism (like Dick Gregory’s fruitarianism!), rather than just being realistic about nonviolence.
When I told Anantarupa dasa I wanted to sponsor a Sunday Feast at the Berkeley Krishna temple, but insisting it be a strictly vegan Feast, and invite SF Bay Area vegans to attend, so they could be purified…
(we believe anyone taking wait a, food offered to the images of the Supreme Lord and His various incarnations and expansions, is blessed by the Lord with a human birth in his or her next life, and the opportunity to progress further in their relationship with the Lord)
…Anantarupa dasa replied with mild sarcasm:
“Why not sponsor a raw food Sunday Feast, and invite all the raw food faddists, so they can be purified?”
In 2002, a Southern California judge ruled animal activists cannot claim to be exempt on moral grounds for refusing vaccines tested on animals…
(like pacifists or conscientious objectors during wartime, or pro-lifers refusing vaccines containing aborted fetal cells)
…because, the judge ruled, veganism and animal rights are a secular moral philosophy…
(like democracy and representative government in place of monarchy and belief in the divine right of kings; the separation of church and state; the abolition of human slavery; the emancipation of women; birth control; the sexual revolution; LGBT rights, etc.)
…and not a religion!
Wait a minute! Isn’t the United States really a secular society?!
“This country wasn’t founded by Christians,” said Ron McClellan (Sarva Satya dasa), a fallen Prabhupada disciple who really ought to just step down and serve in FOLK (“Friends Of Lord Krishna”), the laity.
The judge’s ruling is another reason animal activists should be courting the religious community for the inspiration, blessings and support of organized religion.
The judge’s ruling has prompted some animal activists to now claim Jainism as their religion!
One animal activist reported that when he visited a Jain temple and was offered herbal tea sweetened milk and honey, he politely declined, explaining that with modern factory farming, even animal byproducts cannot be obtained nonviolently.
The person wanting to serve him tea said, “You are a better Jain than I.”
Sugar might be a health hazard, but so are alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine. And sugar can be obtained nonviolently, whereas meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products cannot be obtained without animal slaughter. Unlike products tested on animals, sugar doesn’t scream in pain if you experiment on it, etc. The vegetarian, vegan, and animal rights community has more pressing concerns.

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