Veganism is the latest concept that has caught the world’s imagination. But is it just another passing trend?
The UN has attributed cattle based food – beef and dairy – as leading global warming contributors. Countries like China, Denmark have placed emphasis on sustainable food habits and lesser consumption of red meat like beef to enhance food security. The Vegan Saudi Prince Khaled Bin Alwaleed plans to “relegate animal factory farming to the dustbin of history” because cows raised for commercial meat and dairy release more greenhouse gases than all of the transportation combined.
Does this mean that Indians who derived their protein from milk all through the ages were not living sustainably? Before we jump to any conclusions, let us distinguish between the desi cow (BosIndicus) and videshi cow (Bos Taurus).
Bos Indicus cattle, which originated and evolved in India are adapted to tropical climate, hardy and disease resistant. Bos Taurus, on the other hand, is not suited to Indian climate, is prone to diseases like mastitis and need antibiotics for survival. Many diseases in humans have been linked to dairy because of high-level of antibiotics, hormones in milk. Pus cells are not uncommon in ‘homogenised’ commercial dairy. Desi cows were unable to cope with the growing demand for milk and hence were replaced with Bos Taurus during the white revolution. The White Revolution was celebrated as a success in terms of quantum of milk – cheeses, ice creams, Bengali sweets became abundantly available. Behind the scenes, however, cancer has been on the rise as Bos Taurus is not able to fit into the symbiotic farm animal husbandry equation.
Padmashree Subhash Palekar, who is propagating pesticide and chemical fertilizer free, natural farming emphasizes the need for desi cow in farming. Bos Taurus does not match up to the requirement. As a matter of fact, male calves born to Bos Taurus cows have absolutely no use for pulling loads and are hence weaned out of the system as soon as born. Bos Taurus cows give a high quantum of milk in shorter time span, whereas desi cows give limited milk for over 15 years. In commercial dairy industry, the quantum and quick turnaround matters.
The Final Say
Veganism is the new vegetarianism and health mantra. However, ahimsak (cruelty-free) milk and ghee, obtained from naturally grazing desi cows needs to be promoted where it cannot be avoided or is an essential part of the diet/medicine. Opt for safer chemical-free food grown in farms with desi cows. At the end of the day, what you chose on your plate and in your glass will decide the fate of the world.
We are carrying series of informative articles on cows and the entire ecosystem around them, just in time when cows have been made a political bait. You could also join us at National Conference on The Glorious Indian Cow being held at Bombay Stock Exchange on 18th June. Details for which can be found by registering here.
Note: Holy Cow! is a campaign sponsored by VHS, an independent organization that works with grassroots communities to promote sustainable dairy ecosystem. Chaaipani has full editorial discretion on the content and has no political association.
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