I had an interesting evening yesterday and met a gentleman who is a leader in a local HSS (Hindu Swayamsevak Sangha) chapter (shakha).
After I mentioned that I am involved with World Vegan Vision, we started discussing the issue of dairy and vegetarian Indians. He said that in India, it is an ancient tradition to treat the cow as a motherly animal and the cow provided milk as part of her position in the household, etc. I replied that there is no need to have a second mother in a normal household. To me, it simply looked like a purely economics based arrangement, use the female cows for milk and the male cows for farming and transportation. He said that the cow provided emotional support and that even US doctors recommend pets for the same, too.
It is sad that people go to great lengths to justify to their own sonscience the continued use of dairy in the Indian diet and lifestyle. It may have been justified a few hundred years ago when there was no refrigeration and no transportation to make food available year round and a cow maybe a local resource for food and there was no knowledge about cholesterol, either. However, considering the fact that not a single species in the animal kingdom drinks the milk of its own mother beyond the first few weeks/months of life itself raises a big question about the place of dairy in a human diet. And, if the special symbiotic and love filled motherly relationship with the cow created by Indian Gods for Indians, led by Lord Krishna himself, is really a genuine relationship, then the question still remains for domesticating and milking goat, sheep, buffalos, camels, yaks and a few other such docile animals. Also, the cow as a motherly member of the household argument does not hold water when today, practically no household ever sees a live cow and the holy mother’s loving gifts are extracted round the clock on a milking carousel in a filthy dairy farm somewhere in the countryside where no one can visit the mother even if they traveled that far.
The good news is that Hindus are waking up. The same gentleman informed me that his daughter and other children wrote a letter to the Balaji temple in Bridgewater, NJ to stop the weekly bathing (Abhishek) of the deities in the temple using hundreds of gallons of milk and the temple complied by cutting it down to a few gallons. That is very encouraging on 2 fronts. First, that the temple listened which is a big accomlishment in itself and even more importantly, that the children did not find the practice of consigning hundreds of gallons of milk to the sewer justified for any logical reason.
I provided a couple of URLs to the gentleman and urged him to look into encouraging his daughter to start a vegan club at her high school (http://bit.ly/vegclub)and to let her look at the videos on out page at (http://bit.ly/quitmilk) and to be informed about the cruelty involved in the production of the cheese on the pizza and the milk and cream in the ice cream the children like so much. Let us hope that the images of the suffering animals will make the children be vegan someday.