It has recently come to my attention that Hare Krishna centers in New Zealand have stopped offering milk products to Krishna because they don’t have any protected cows giving milk. Of course we know we must do our best to protect cows and that much more should be done, but I don’t believe stopping milk offerings is a step in that direction.
As I recall, most of the time when Srila Prabhupada gave a reason for protecting cows, it was that we take her milk and therefore the cow is our mother. That argument is weakened when we renounce milk.
The material condition is suffering a variety of pains and anxieties with repeated birth, disease, old age, and death (though unprotected cows rarely get to experience old age), and the body cannot be protected beyond what the individual karma affords, except through mercy connected with devotional service. Real protection is to engage someone in Krishna’s service.
So here is a situation where devotees apparently have bowed to the social influence of overwhelmingly atheistic vegan animal rights activists (I was one of those before finding Srila Prabhupada’s books) and stopped offering milk to Krishna. Devotees have thereby stopped connecting suffering dairy cows with Krishna through devotional service.
Now Krishna will apparently have no reason to think, “Since I have taken this cow’s milk, I should save the soul from this unfortunate condition and place her in a family of My devotees.”
I’m not aware that Srila Prabhupada ever said to only offer milk to Krishna if it can be obtained from protected cows. If there a written analysis of Srila Prabhupada’s teachings on this subject that prompted this decision, I’d like to see it.