Monday, June 08, 2009

The Vegan Wagon

Last week I came across an article on milk, called the milk letter, written by a doctor, Robert M. Kradjian. This well written article tries to claim why cow's milk is not at all necessary for humans, and also about the ill effects of consuming dairy milk. The article is long, but worth a read.

Apart from the health reasons and justifications, I was more struck by the ethical part of it.
A cow's milk is for its calf, as much a human mother's milk is for her baby. How about depriving a baby of his/her mother's milk and using that milk to feed kittens and puppies?
Milk has been an important part of the diet all over the world for a long time. I heard some African tribes do not consume milk.

In India, or rather in India-of-the-olden-days, cattle were treated as a part of the family. While bulls worked in the agricultural fields, cows gave milk, after the calves had their share. Cows were revered as "Gomatha" or the 'mother cow'. The idea was that, after a baby weans from mother's milk, he/she starts drinking cow's milk, and this habit is to stay for life. So in this sense, the cow that provides milk becomes a mother of sorts, for life. The cattle were always treated respectfully, festivals were held in their honor, so on and so forth. You can still find this reverence and culture in rural parts of India.

Sadly, none of this is true in the modern dairy industry. The cows are continuously and artificially impregnated, they are injected with Bovine growth hormones(traces of which are excreted in the milk), if the calves are male, they are sent to slaughter houses, and when the cows had had their time in producing milk, and are no more useful, they are queued up to the slaughterhouse.

I have been a vegetarian for 9 years now. Getting educated on all this, it doesn't feel adequate at all.
Switching from vegetarianism to vegan-ism does not sound easy. "I wanna be a vegetarian" - many people understand that, but if you say, "I wanna become a vegan" - I doubt it.

I love butter, cheese, panneer, ghee, curd, ice creams, pizza, pasta, Gulab Jamun, Pal Payasam and many more food items that contain dairy products. I don't particularly like drinking milk or milk-coffee/tea, and I don't drink these regularly either.

Mayo Clinic has an article on its portal which discusses the vegetarian and vegan diets, and how to make up the diet to have required nutrients, et al. Thats one up in the hope ladder.

If the primary reason to give up dairy products is the cruelty meted out to the animals in the name of human consumption, I guess leather, silk and wool also will have to go.

Hmm, Sounds like a big social exercise. But I am ready for it. I am waiting to see how it goes.


khushi said...

i agree, its hard to be a true vegan(that includes not using animal products too) and it is easier to be on the other end of the spectrum. I mean, common, cannibals exist too. But, if we go a little deeper and extend this idea, killing any form of life is practically unethical like plants, various micro-organisms that we kill even while breathing, walking and during our mundane activities.So, even if we become a true vegan how ethical are we and suppose, if we do renounce everything, would nt it be a suicide(unethical again)? Infact, i think most of the ethical discussions/propositions lead to some sort of ethical dilemma(s). So, the smartest move seems to be, to be as harmless as possible, be aware and be sensitive but not so much that you drive yourself to the point of me, i have been there and back :)

ramya said...

good that u started blogging regularly :)

Divya said...

Khushi>> The way you put it: "So, the smartest move seems to be, to be as harmless as possible, be aware and be sensitive but not so much that you drive yourself to the point of insanity." is spot on. Its just impossible to take care not to harm any being.. talk about beings in nano scale or even lesser! So, "do your best and forget about it" is good enough, what say?

Ramya>> :)