On the Plight of Cows in India- our fond memories of the Indian family cow are outdated

My friend Dr. Tushar, a family doctor in Canada,  organizes a wonderful volunteer opportunity to teach school children about health issues in rural Gujarat, as part of the Bidada health camp. He recently reached out with an email regarding the plight of Indian cows.
I volunteered with him in 2008 and remember visiting a panjra-pol at that time, and talked with the caretaker who informed me sadly that the capacity of the panjra-pol was limited, and that ultimately many of the cows had to be sold to slaughter.
Dr. Tushar’s post  follows:
Here is an excellent article about the plight of cows in India, and about the plight that they suffer while most people remain blissfully ignorant about of the situation.
 India has the highest population of cows in the world, over 280 million (or 28 crores).  This is a massive number.  Now here are a few facts.  A cow in India can live for around 23 years.  She starts producing milk at the age of around 4, and milk production lowers down at the age of around 12.  Each year, as our slave, she must be forced to become pregnant and have a baby, which is taken away by force.  Most cows are now brought up in very crowded conditions, and the percentage in humane conditions is becoming the exception rather than the norm.  These cramped places are out of the public eye, because businesses do not want people to see what goes on there.


So if a cow is made pregnant yearly to get milk, then it stands that 50% of the babies are going to be male.  Most farms in India no longer need bulls, because even in villages they are using more and more tractors and machines.  Now, there if every cow was kept alive even past the time when it did not supply milk, and if every bull was kept alive, then there could be more than half a billion of these animals, and to grow food to feed these animals would consume many tones of fossil fuels, and would require us to cut down every last forest to turn it into pasture of farmland for these animals.  The numbers are already devastating to the environment as it is.  Animal agriculture is perhaps the most devastating ecological force on earth (see the link to the UN report below, and at least read the executive summary).
The solution for these excess non producing cows and bulls is that most of them are slaughtered.  Only a small percentage that are put in panjrapurs or kept alive on a farm till their natural life end.  Most of the cow end up as part of the animal flesh trade in India, and somehow in India it is very cool and glamorous to eat meat, as opposed to the west where it is cool to be veg, or at least eat almost veg).
The important point that we must realize is … that if 1.2 billion people are going to use dairy and milk to high levels- then the result is going to be intensive and cruel farming practices, and a massive number of bulls older cows that are only extra mouths to feed …. they will be slaughtered for a profit rather than kept alive at an expense.  India needs to find discover VEGANISM which means the purest type of vegetarianism.  This is when we do not eat meat, use dairy, leather, wool, or other products that are derived from animals, and mostly result in their exploitation though human dominance.  We may think that the animals don’t suffer, but that is OUR PSYCHOLOGY,  which does not want to see things that go against our self interest.
Being Vegan or PURE VEG is actually more difficult in India than it is in Canada. Here we have great soy milk and even soy yogurt (curd).  Here are the things that a vegan MUST EAT in order to be healthy!
-vitamin B12 – THIS IS MOST CRITICAL
-protien (get this from thick daal, chaana, all kinds of beans/rajma etc, SOY and soy milk,   Whole grains, brown rice (the whole rice),
-Iron, calcium etc
-omega 3 is less important, but consuming canola oil and flax oil can be a good source, algae derived stuff may be hard to find in india.
-ALL OF THESE ARE available from plant based souces if you eat the right things.  See the link below
Note that a poor vegan diet can be bad for your health, but a optimized vegan diet can be excellent for your health.  Indians suffer from the most heart attacks in the world, and have hight rates of diabetes and some cancers.  These can be reduced or eliminated with a proper vegan diet (I.e. no fried foods!) Bill Clinton, Mike Tyson, Georeges Laraques (the toughest hockey player in Canadian/NHL history) have all become vegans.
India needs to develop this consciousness, and so does the whole world.  India may be one of the most compassionate countries in the world, but the compassion to animals may be fading as we falsely believe that most of the cows, goats, buffalo, chickens etc are being treated in nice ways.  India also needs a good industry that provides B12 suppliments at low cost, or adds them to foods, for example, but the production of good quality soy milk with B12 and Calcium added.
Please be thoughtful and open your heart.  But also use your mind to do it in the best healthy way.
http://nutritionfacts.org/ - one of the best websites about vegetarian nutrition www.pcrm.org is another excellent one
http://www.fao.org/docrep/010/a0701e/a0701e00.HTM - the EXCELLENT United Nations report about the damage caused by animal farming.
Additional References
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-Unn7LjFkI  – Bill Clinton is a Vegan now!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle - stats on cattle in the world
AND DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH … I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU GO TO A SLAUGHTER HOUSE AND SEE HOW MANY BULLS AND OLDER MILK COWS (who no longer can provide milk) are meeting their final destination.  There are also lots of good web sources and books and medical articles.  And do note that I do not intend to tell people what to do, but only give my opinion after all I have learned.  Please to reputed sources and keep learning more for yourselves as you make future decisions.
Peace and best wishes to all of you!
Dr. Tushar  MD CCFP  from Toronto Canada


2 responses to “On the Plight of Cows in India- our fond memories of the Indian family cow are outdated

  1. i was looking at the entry for “dairy cattle” on wikipedia.org
    it seems to contrast with your article which states:
    “She starts producing milk at the age of around 4, and milk production lowers down at the age of around 12.”

    wikipedias entry for “dairy cattle”:
    “Dairy farmers usually begin breeding or artificially inseminating heifers around 13 months of age.[7] A cow’s gestation period is approximately nine months.[8] Newborn calves are removed from their mothers quickly, usually within three days, as the mother/calf bond intensifies over time and delayed separation can cause extreme stress on the calf.[9]
    Domestic cows can live to 20 years, however those raised for dairy rarely live that long, as the average cow is removed from the dairy herd around age four and marketed for beef

    why do indian cows not produce milk till 4 years of age,
    an age at which according to the wikipedia entry
    the average dairy cow is marketed as beef

  2. That is a great point. There may be some discrepancy or variation in the age info I provided, but i think that the main point is that cows are made pregnant at a very early age. Also they are kept pregnant year after year etc. The information I got was from local people who owned cows in the Kutch area of India. Perhaps this is only the local practice in the area where I was working. People there may not be as aggressive with their animals. There is a high proportion of vegetarians there among hindus, and a greater consciousness (though not as stringent as our modern AR philosophies). Most animals there are on local family plots, or with family homes, and are sent to panjrapurs towards the end of their lives. Perhaps there are different genetics of the indian cows, or the people are not getting them pregnant at the youngest age. Surely, the conditions for cows in most places are going to be worse than the area where i was (Kutch, Gujarat). Cheers.

    Tushar Mehta

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