What’s Behind the Glass of Milk?

dairycowBy Anusha Narain

You know that child who throws a terrible tantrum over a glass of milk. How he kicks and screams and refuses to touch the stuff? Haven’t you wondered what the fuss is all about? After all, it’s just a glass of milk.

It turns out the child may just have the right idea. The business of producing milk — indeed, the multi-crore rupee cattle industry it’s a part of — is sustained by a process of relentless cruelty towards animals, from birth till death, with little letup. Cruelty compounded by poorly defined, poorly implemented methods and gross violations.

In 1998, India, hitherto a milk-deficient nation, surpassed the U.S. as the highest milk-producing nation, a position it holds till date. According to the Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries, the government has invested Rs. 2242 crore to help meet a national demand of 150 million tonnes of milk by 2016-17. Millions of cattle will be produced (mainly through artificial insemination) for this purpose.

This will be done through “productivity enhancement, strengthening and expanding village-level infrastructure for milk procurement and providing producers with greater access to markets. The strategy involves improving genetic potential of bovines, producing required number of quality bulls, and superior quality frozen semen and adopting adequate bio-security measures etc.” Today India is home to the world’s largest cattle herd, with 324 million head.

The government is positioning this as a food security measure for the future. From the point of view of the animals, though, unthinkable cruelty lies ahead.

That image of tender care and worship that we are raised with, the image that is propagated in films and integrated with our cultural values — that’s a myth. In reality, the life of a cow in India is a horror show.

The first three stages of life — birth, maturity, and motherhood — happen with inhuman haste. The female calf is born. She reaches puberty somewhere between 15 months and three years of age, depending on the breed, and is then impregnated, increasingly through artificial insemination.

Arpan Sharma, external relations in-charge at the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisations, builds partnerships for better protection of animals by bringing together various stakeholders such as industry, government, and regulators. He says, “Due to poor equipment and a lack of proper training, artificially inseminated cows sometimes become infertile and develop infections with few to care for them.”

Soon, the calf is born. While the cow is seen as a metaphor for motherhood, she is rarely given a chance to experience its joys for very long. Calves are separated from their mothers soon after they are born so that they don’t drink up all the milk. Just what does this do to these docile creatures?

The American physician Dr. Michael Klaper, the author of books such as Vegan Nutrition: Pure and Simple and Pregnancy, Children, and the Vegan Diet, provides an insight. “On the second day after birth, my uncle took the calf from the mother and placed him in the veal pen in the barn — only 10 yards away, in plain view of the mother. The mother cow could see her infant, smell him, hear him, but could not touch him, comfort him, or nurse him. The heartrending bellows that she poured forth — minute after minute, hour after hour, for five long days — were excruciating to listen to. They are the most poignant and painful auditory memories I carry in my brain,” he said in a 2010 interview with the Northwest Veg, a non-profit organization based in Portland, Oregon.

Eileen Weintraub of Help Animals India and Vishakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals, Vishakhapatnam, takes this fact to its logical extreme. She states firmly, “With 1.2 billion people and 400 million vegetarians, anyone who does not have a vegan diet contributes to the suffering of cows.”

Read the entire article, here.

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6 Responses to What’s Behind the Glass of Milk?

  1. Be a part of the GRASS roots movement to end the ills of dairies. Support “vegan” milk – cruelty free, the way it is supposed to be. http://www.payitsquare.com/collect-page/9673

  2. Hare Kṛṣṇa!

    Please accept my respectful obeisances. All glories to Guru and Gaurāṅga! All glories to Śrīla Prabhupāda!

    There is much that can be said in the way of cruelty to animals. I am appalled by that fact that there is so much cow slaughter, chicken killing and pork butchery going on in order to satisfy the tongue of so many so called civil human beings.

    I also do not buy into the “veganism” idea that everybody should stop eating ALL (cow) milk products. A few Vaiṣṇava personalities are strongly pushing the idea that someone who does not immediately stop eating any and all milk products is no better than a flesh eater. At times I find that angle extreme and unreasonable.

    Statements like, “With 1.2 billion people and 400 million vegetarians, anyone who does not have a vegan diet contributes to the suffering of cows” are very narrow and one sided.

    Yes, most devotee do not protect their own cows or support local organic dairy farmers and so I request that we, as Kṛṣṇa bhaktas, should focus more on developing and supporting devotee dairy farmers and other ahiṁsa dairy farmers. There is a more progressive manner to improve the situation for our beloved Go-matas. Support Vaiṣṇavas who want that service!

    I am not against anybody’s ideals when it comes to being a vegan. I support local organic dairy farmers from whom I receive milk and also can help hand milk the cows. In the near future our devotee community in Veracruz, México, is aspiring to get Gir breed cows to protect and serve Lord Śri Kṛṣṇa with.

    This seems to be a hot topic nowadays and I desire to inspire more innovative cow protection projects with a more sanguine discussion.

  3. Yajnavalkya dasa

    Organic dairy farms are a long way from ahimsa dairy farms. Don’t fool yourself, thinking that by buying organic milk, the cows are treated humanely.

    In the United States, organic dairy farms are just a little less cruel than standard dairy farms. Read the USDA standards on organic certification. They are only concerned that non-organic (i.e., synthetic chemicals) are not introduced into the food supply. Humane treatment is completely irrelevant. Basically, the only difference between organic dairy farms and non-organic farms is that the cows are not injected with chemicals or fed chemical-laden food. The cows are still slaughtered when their production drops, their calves are still taken away for veal production.

  4. Jnana-sakti das

    In any commercial dairy, the bottom line is this: the cow that produces the least milk is the cow who gets on the truck.

    -Jnana-sakti das 🙏🏻

  5. Still no talk of the spiritual aspect of cow’s milk? None of those who preach against cows will end the slaughterhouse dairies by their ‘vegan’ preaching. They do not have the fire or the authority. But if pretenders in saffron preach against milk to the same people they wish to engage in the process of bhakti yoga, (and so therefor the offering of foodstuffs,) who then shall save poor go-mata?

    By gathering up and collectively offering the milk/ghee of the cows caught up in the nightmarish modern milk supply line, we do the greatest service for their sweet souls. In their modern condition, the cows have almost no hope of ever experiencing the transcendental love of the Supreme Lord Krsna. But one can engage them in His service, nevertheless.

    If one lovingly gathers samples from each and every dairy that they may find, and with reverence and cleanliness they make ghee, then give this ghee to devotees for offering, (or if qualified, they may offer,) then all of the cows will have been engaged in the service of Govinda, who will be pleased, it is very clear.

    It is not necessary that one partake in such products, but to forget go-mata simply because one has begun to feel guilty about how much was enjoyed at her expense in the past, is to reveal just how material has the view of cows become, in the modern ‘devotional community’.

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