India has 304 million dairy cows and produces about 17 percent of global milk. Traditionally, they are referred to in ‘Hinduism’ as ‘beings carriers of 33 crore gods’. They have been known to perform amazing feats, such as leaping over a 6-foot fence to escape from a slaughterhouse! We can even see Indians protesting against the people who eat beef.
But if one scratches beneath the hype over the cow, one will find an unpalatable reality: the recent move towards intensive factory farming practices, lead to them being treated like inanimate machines in cruel tabelas, which are just profit-making places without animals’ welfare.
It is estimated that there are thousands of illegal dairies, each of which has anywhere from 50 to 3,000 cows; each is forced to produce up to approximately 14 litres of milk per day. Millions of cows are forced into yearly pregnancies. They are milked even when pregnant. The machines tend to take more milk out of the cows than the amount they would yield naturally, as demand for production of milk is more than cows’ bodies can give, causing them a lot of pain.
They are given large doses of hormones that cause them to produce unnaturally large quantities of milk. Oxytocin, a Schedule H drug, is widely used today, even though its use is illegal under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960 (L3), and Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.
These cows are tied up in a narrow stall usually wallowing in their own excrement. They get mastitis and rumen acidosis from bad food and lameness and because the hands that milk them are rough and unclean. They are treated by ‘barefoot healers’, who neglect even the most basic of minimum standards. These cows are violently inseminated with the bull’s semen by inexperienced persons, leading to vaginal infections.
The calves meet an even worse fate. Male calves are tied up with ropes so short that they cannot lift their heads and often strangulate to death, which is even better as they were given to the meat or calf leather markets at higher rates. Other male calves are abandoned on the roads to fend for themselves. In fact, sometimes, dairy owners allow babies to suckle for just a minute or two so milk from the mother cows can start flowing, and then the babies are taken away and dairy staff steals the milk.
This leads to the fact that the consumption of milk produced by such cattles could be making you even more vulnerable to hormonal imbalance, antibiotic resistance, toxicity, cancer, and so on. The First National Survey on Milk Adulteration by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India revealed that most urban Indians drink contaminated milk, with 70 percent of samples containing anything from starch to detergents and bleaching agents to fertilizers.
Officials recently took some steps to curb impure milk and stipulate harsher punishment, even life imprisonment, if necessary against such cruelty, and in order to slaughter an animal, the veterinary official is ordered to issue a ‘Fit for slaughter’ certificate considering all rules of slaughter. But this was blatantly violated as the workers themselves mark the cows for slaughter and even the cows mostly are conscious when they are slaughtered.
However, replacing dairy products with vegan dairy products, such as soya, rice, oat, and almond milk is easier than ever. This ‘veganism’ is needed due to the fact that unhealthy hormones get injected into the animals along with brutal deaths leading to contaminated dairy products and meat stocks. Not collecting your kitchen waste in plastic bags, protesting against open garbage disposal, and reconsidering your food choices is a boon for this campaign to protect dairy cows.