FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What are the community benefits of FFLK
A: Food for Life Kitchen provides a non-threatening, non-institutional, support option for homeless, vulnerable and other displaced individuals in need, while giving volunteers and supporters the chance to “think globally and act locally” through a variety of programs. The Food for Life Kitchen helps broaden the social horizons of persons who might otherwise have little exposure to Indian culture or community members. As a grass-roots volunteer service provider, Food for Life Kitchen helps build community resilience and networks, by creating positive relationships between a broad spectrum of community stake holders.
Q: What are the social benefits of FFLK
A: Food for Life Kitchen provides meals for those with financial difficulties in a dignified way that crosses cultural and economic divides. These meals are nutritious, tasty and variegated (unlike other low cost “fast food” options), educating and broadening culinary horizons, and helping to break generational cycles of poor diet. Eating options are culturally diverse and accessible to groups with various dietary restrictions (vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free/Hallal/Kosher/Ahimsa/Suci).
Q: What are the ethical and environmental aspects of FFLK
A: Food for Life Kitchen produces sustainable and eco-friendly vegan/vegetarian meals. The food is cooked fresh daily using predominantly locally grown, seasonal vegetables. This results in low “food miles” meals that reduce the need for refrigeration and help to sustain local food security. The factory farming of livestock is cruel and exploitative towards animals and produces high levels of pollution. Vegan/vegetarian food is a kinder option and is a more efficient use of land and water resources.
Q: When will the kitchen be completed?
A: Construction of the project infrastructure has already commenced, and construction of the building will begin in January 2016. Completion is scheduled for around October 2016.
Q: Are there further stages after the kitchen is built?
A: This kitchen will provide life changing help for all, it will enable us to significantly increase Food for Life’s output in Melbourne. Our vision and strategy over the next five years includes expanding our free food relief programs, opening more Crossways and Gopals style outlets and developing collaborative outlets in Melbourne’s outlying suburbs. These plans also include expanding our educational facilities and programs as well as integrating existing rural projects with the broader community. All these projects have a positive impact on their communities and Australian society in general.
Q: To what extent is this a religious cause?
A: The Food for Life Kitchen is a wonderful cause, it ticks a variety of boxes for a variety of people. It is a socially responsible approach to fighting poverty, a local way of building cultural bridges and community resilience, it supports local business, and helps local people. It is based on an ethic of compassion towards animals, and sustainability in terms of the environment. Religious people can easily identify with this cause since it crosses all denominational borders and delivers food without prejudice to those who need it.
Q: Where does the money go, and how do I know it will be used correctly?
A: Charitable institutions and causes are highly regulated and systematically audited within Australia. Especially those with tax exempt status. We also consult closely with regulatory authorities to ensure ongoing compliance. The benefit to you as a donor is that A) you are ensured that your funds are being used as they should be, and B) All donations are 100% tax deductable. So give to keep the meals coming. For a breakdown of expenditure, see “where does the money go”
Q: What is ISKCON?
A: The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), otherwise known as the Hare Krishna movement, includes five hundred major centers, temples and rural communities, nearly one hundred affiliated vegetarian restaurants, thousands of local meeting groups, a wide variety of community projects, and millions of congregational members worldwide. Although less than fifty years on the global stage, ISKCON has expanded widely since its founding by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda in New York City in 1966.
ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiya-Vaishnava sampradāya, a monotheistic tradition within the Vedic or Hindu culture. Philosophically it is based on the Sanskrit texts Bhagavad-gītā and the Bhagavat Purana, or Srimad Bhagavatam. These are the historic texts of the devotional bhakti yoga tradition, which teaches that the ultimate goal for all living beings is to reawaken their love for God, or Lord Krishna, the “all-attractive one”.
Members of ISKCON practice bhakti-yoga in their homes and also worship in temples. They also promote bhakti-yoga, or Krishna Consciousness, through festivals, the performing arts, yoga seminars, public chanting, and the distribution of the society’s literatures. ISKCON members have also opened hospitals, schools, colleges, eco-villages, free food distribution projects, and other institutions as a practical application of the path of devotional yoga.
Q: Who is Srila Prabhupada?
A: Abhay Charanaravinda Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (known to his followers as Srila Prabhupada) was a spiritual teacher (guru) within the ancient Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition. He was the founder and preceptor of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), commonly known as the “Hare Krishna Movement“. At the age of 69 he left India to teach the timeless message of bhakti-yoga, or connecting to God through devotion. Prabhupada founded ISKCON in 1966 in New York City, and in the eleven years before his passing away in November, 1977 travelled the world to establish over 100 ISKCON temples. He also translated, with elaborate commentary, several dozen books on the Vaishnava tradition, or Krishna Consciousness, which are highly esteemed by scholars and have been translated into more than 70 languages.
Q: How did Food for Life begin?
A: Food for Life as a project was inspired in 1974 when ISKCON founder, Srila Prabhupada saw a group of village children fighting with dogs over scraps of food. Being very upset by what he witnessed, he and told his students, “No one within ten miles of a temple should go hungry… I want you to immediately begin serving food.” In response to his plea, members of ISKCON and volunteers around the world were inspired to expand that original effort into a global network of kitchens, cafes, vans, and mobile services, all providing sanctified vegetarian food in a diversity of locations around the world. Since that day, Food for Life has grown into the world’s largest vegan/vegetarian food relief program.
Q: Is ISKCON Hindu?
A: ISKCON belongs to the Gaudiaya Vaishnava sampradaya (denomination or tradition), a monotheistic tradition within Vedic or Hindu culture.
The word “Hindu” is not found in the ancient texts of India. The word originated as a designation for the people living in the vast regions east of the Sindhu River. Today, Hinduism has evolved into an umbrella term that refers to the “family of religions” based on the Vedic writings, including the major traditions Shaivism, Shaktism and Vaishnavism. Together, they make up the world’s third largest religion—today called Hinduism.
Q: Besides Crossways, what other food relief activities are carried out by FFL in Melbourne?
A: FFLK works in conjunction with several government bodies to help provide food for the needy. At ISKCON Melbourne Temple in Albert Park, free meals are served 3 times daily to a variety of recipients. This happens 7 days a week.
Crossways and FFLK regularly partner with several other volunteer organisations in Melbourne.
Q: Does Crossways do anything else apart from feeding people delicious meals.
A: Yes, much, much more. The upper level of Crossways hosts regular Urban Yoga activities. These activities include yoga classes, vegetarian cooking classes, philosophy discourses, kirtan (yogic musical chanting) sessions, lessons in Bhagavad Gita and other ancient Vedic texts, access to weekend yoga and meditation retreats, talks from visiting Sadhus (devout ascetic scholars), opportunities to volunteer.
Hare Krishna Practices
Q: What is Hare Krishna?
A: The Hare Krishna movement is a branch of Hinduism, formally known as Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Its name comes from its chant — Hare Krishna — which devotees chant as a meditative prayer, or sing as a celebratory hymn. It was started in the 16th century by Sri Chaitanya of Bengal (1486-1533). He emphasized the worship of Krishna and taught that chanting the names of God was so powerful that these names should be chanted publically for the benefit, as well as used in meditative prayer.
Srila Prabhupada brought the movement — formally called the International Society of Krishna Consciousness — to the U.S. in 1966. Public dancing and chanting became its trademark.
Q: Why don’t we see the Hare Krishna’s chanting in the city anymore?
A: If you think that Hare Krishnas disappeared when the Age of Aquarius ended, look in the next cubicle– they may be working in your office, wearing a suit, with a full head of hair. Next year the ISKCON celebrates its 50th anniversary, and Krishna devotees are generally now a part of mainstream Australian life.
In the movement’s early days, the majority of adherents lived within a somewhat closed temple or community environment. With the maturation of the movement, there has been a change in its demographic – as devotees have aged and married, they have taken what they have learned within the temple, and applied it to living within secular society. Most Hare Krishna devotees today live what they call “Krishna conscious” lifestyles, adhering to Hare Krishna rules and beliefs while living what would appear externally to be a fairly average Australian existence (if such a thing exists). At the same time, much of what made the Hare Krishnas stand out as unusual in the ’60s and ’70s has become a familiar part of contemporary spiritual practices, such as yoga, vegetarianism, chanting, and concepts like karma and reincarnation.
Q: Where is the Melbourne Hare Krishna temple located?
A: ISKCON Melbourne (Melbourne Mahaprabhu Mandir) is located at:
197 Danks Street, Albert Park, Victoria 3206
Tel +61 (03) 9699-5122
There are regular classes and discussions on yoga, Vedic philosophy
Q: What is all the chanting about?
A: Chanting is a practice found in practically all religious traditions. Within the Hare Krishna tradition it is considered a transcendental sound vibration that connects with the spirit soul; the soul is beyond man-given designations, it is neither black or white, man or woman, Muslim, Hindu, Christian or Jew; the soul is simply what it is – pure spirit.
According to Vaishnava tradition (which includes devotees of Krishna), these spiritual sound vibrations, especially the Hare Krishna Maha mantra, connects with who you really are (the soul) and revives our dormant spiritual consciousness. It is a chant of names of God and can be chanted by anyone.
The word “mantra” means to deliver or free the mind. The word “Hare” refers to the divine feminine potency of God. “Krishna” means the all-attractive one, and “Rama” is the reservoir of all pleasure.
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
Q: Are all Hare Krishna’s vegetarian?
A: Hare Krishna devotees believe the art of cooking is a sacred experience based on principles of compassion, non-violence and balanced living. Krishna devotees abstain from eating meat, fish and eggs in the understanding that being vegetarian sustains the environment (internally and externally). The meat industry contributes largely to deforestation, desertification, water pollution, water shortages, air pollution, soil erosion and global warming. Meat eating contributes to global poverty; all the soybean and grain fed to US livestock in a year could feed 1.3 billion people.
Q: Is a vegetarian diet healthy?
A: In general, vegetarian diets are lower in saturated fats, cholesterol and animal protein, and higher in fibre and folate than non-vegetarian diets. Consequently, vegetarians tend to have substantially reduced risks for obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer – particularly lung cancer and colon cancer. In western countries, vegetarians generally live longer, on average, than non-vegetarians.
Q: What is the difference between a vegan diet and a vegetarian diet?
A: Vegetarians do not eat any animals. This includes pigs, chickens, cows, sea animals, and every other animal. In addition to not consuming any animal flesh, a vegan (strict vegetarian) also doesn’t eat dairy products, eggs, or any other product derived from an animal. Vegans also avoid using products that have been tested on animals or made from animal skins.
Q: Does a vegetarian diet provide enough protein?
A: Protein is not a major concern for a vegetarian who’s eating a wide diversity of food. Proteins are chains of amino acids, some of which the body can’t make and must get from food. These are called “essential” amino acids. Protein is found in almost every food we eat, including plant foods like beans, grains, seeds and nuts and vegetables. Although most plant proteins are “incomplete” proteins, meaning that they contain some, but not all, of these essential amino acids in adequate amounts; eating a variety of plant foods usually ensures all essential proteins are consumed. Soybeans, on the other hand, contain all the essential amino acids at high levels.
Q: Does a vegetarian diet provide enough iron?
A: A varied, healthy plant-based diet that includes a balance of grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables provides sufficient iron for your recommended daily intake. The body assimilates animal based iron more easily, and tends to store it in greater quantities. That said, while vegetarians have lower stores of iron than omnivores, they do not have higher rates of anaemia. Medical research shows that, many vegetarians’ stores are “low-normal,” but this does not mean less than ideal. Some evidence suggests that low-normal iron stores are beneficial: improved insulin function and lower rates of heart disease and cancer.
Q: Is vegetarianism better for the environment?
A: There are a variety of reasons why choosing a vegetarian diet is better for the environment, here is a brief summary.
- Low “food miles” product = low carbon footprint
- Reduce methane/nitrous oxide production
- Save large amounts of water
- Avoid further pollution of our streams/rivers/oceans
- Reduce destruction of topsoil & tropical rainforest
- Reduce destruction of wildlife habitats & endangered species
- Reduce use of antibiotics, growth hormones, and chemicals
- Help ensure environmental sustainability
- Greater level of sustainability increases local food security
Q: Is there an ethical reason to be vegetarian?
A: Ethics or moral philosophy is the branch of philosophy that involves systematising, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. Ethics are a very personal thing, and if you are asking this question then you probably already know the answer. The production of meat is intrinsically cruel and exploitative, and has many other negative health, social and environmental impacts. From Plato to Einstein, from Gandhi to Edison, there have been many famous vegetarians, and many have had something to say, let them convince you:
“The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”
Leonardo Da Vinci
“Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages”
“I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man”
“For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.”
“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.”
George Bernard Shaw
“To become vegetarian is to step into the stream which leads to nirvana.”
“The Gods created certain kinds of beings to replenish our bodies; they are the trees and the plants and the seeds.”
” It ill becomes us to invoke in our daily prayers the blessings of God, the Compassionate, if we in turn will not practice elementary compassion towards our fellow creatures.”