mṛgān hatvā kriyārhaṇān
śrānto bubhukṣito vīraḥ
śaśaṁ cādad apasmṛtiḥ
It is evident that kṣatriyas killed animals in the forest because the flesh of the animals was suitable to be offered at a particular type of yajña. Offering oblations to the forefathers in the ceremony known as śrāddha is also a kind of yajña. In this yajña, flesh obtained from the forest by hunting could be offered. However, in the present age, Kali-yuga, this kind of offering is forbidden. Quoting from the Brahma-vaivarta Purāṇa, Śrī Caitanya Mahāprabhu said:
kalau pañca vivarjayet
“In this Age of Kali, five acts are forbidden: the offering of a horse in sacrifice, the offering of a cow in sacrifice, the acceptance of the order of sannyāsa, the offering of oblations of flesh to the forefathers, and a man’s begetting children in his brother’s wife.” The word pala-paitṛkam refers to an offering of flesh in oblations to forefathers. Formerly, such an offering was allowed, but in this age it is forbidden. In this age, Kali-yuga, everyone is expert in hunting animals, but most of the people are śūdras, not kṣatriyas. According to Vedic injunctions, however, only kṣatriyas are allowed to hunt, whereas śūdras are allowed to eat flesh after offering goats or other insignificant animals before the deity of goddess Kālī or similar demigods. On the whole, meat-eating is not completely forbidden; a particular class of men is allowed to eat meat according to various circumstances and injunctions. As far as eating beef is concerned, however, it is strictly prohibited to everyone. Thus in Bhagavad-gītā Kṛṣṇa personally speaks of go-rakṣyam, cow protection. Meat-eaters, according to their different positions and the directions of the śāstra, are allowed to eat flesh, but never the flesh of cows. Cows must be given all protection.