Original article and illustrations by Madhava Priya dasi, text revised and updated by ISCOWP.
Original in PDF Pamphlet Form
Hearing the term ‘Cow Protection,’ people typically react in two ways. Some think protection is for endangered species, and since there are billions of cows, it’s better to concentrate on whales or the African elephant. Others think it may be some pagan worship of animals – the ‘sacred cow’ image.
The actual philosophical reason for cow protection is very simple; all living entities deserve protection from slaughter and other violence at the hands of humans. Not only cows, all animals have souls the same as we do. They are all children of Krsna, all dear to Him.
With this view in mind, it can be seen that slaughter is a form of MURDER.
The cow, however, is our MOTHER. Vedic philosophy teaches there are seven mothers:
- the birth mother
- the nurse
- the wife of the brahmin (if she is not the birth mother)
- the wife of the king
- the wife of the spiritual master
- the earth
- and the cow.
You may wonder why the cow is one of the seven mothers. It is because she gives her milk to nourish us.
All mothers should hold a position of respect, and since one does not kill and eat one’s mother, the cow should not be killed and eaten. Likewise, the bull is our father because he can plow the earth to produce food grains. One does not kill and eat one’s father and mother – not even when they are old and less economically useful.
5000 years ago, Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, appeared on earth to protect His devotees and to demonstrate His pastimes. Among those pastimes was his childhood role as a cowherd boy. The cows were very dear to Him because of their affectionate and gentle nature as well as their contributions to human society, and He was kind to them in return and protected them. We should follow His example.
In practice the first principle of cow protection, surprisingly, is OX EMPLOYMENT.
There is a mistake made when only the cow is considered, because typically, her main usefulness is seen as milk production, and she will not give milk unless she first has a calf. Half of all calves are bulls who will never produce milk. The expense of feeding the bulls will be a deficit to the farmer unless he realizes their potential for alternative energy by employing them in tilling the fields and hauling. Otherwise, the farmer, in most countries throughout the world, acquires his economic profit by selling them for meat either directly to the slaughterhouse, the meat industry’s feedlots, or to the veal industry where he lives a short life crammed into a small crate not much bigger than him.
The cow is also sold for meat when she cannot produce the required quantity of milk. Regardless of milk production, the dung and urine of a cow or bull is valuable. Instead of slaughtering all bovines who do not produce milk, why not utilize their dung and urine in fertilizers, compost, pest repellent, medicines, cleaning products, pancagavya, and biogas fuel to name a few useful and saleable items?
“Now, practically, in India they accept it, and it has been found by chemical examination that the cow dung contains all antiseptic properties. That is a fact. One Dr. Goshal, he analyzed in his laboratory, “Why this Vedic injunction is the stool of cow or cow dung is pure?”So he analyzed, and he found it that the stool of cow, cow dung, is full of antiseptic properties.”-Lectures Srimad-Bhägavatam 7.9.10 July 9, 1968 Montreal
The modern system of agriculture does not realize the alternative energy potential of the bull calf nor the variety of useful bovine dung and urine products. Therefore, slaughtering becomes the only economically viable means of management. Most people, accustomed to this viewpoint and seeing no alternative, will throw up their hands and agree, even if they prefer a less violent solution. This is only because they don’t have the facts. They don’t know that the overall value of the ox is greater when he is utilized for work than when he’s slaughtered for meat, and even when not productive a cow or ox produces useful urine and dung.
The present system is full of ironies and very wasteful. Everyone laments the loss of the small family farm. But economic forces today require quantity control – which is dependent on expensive tractors, polluting fossil fuels, chemical fertilizers, and heavy mortgages – and the small farmer is driven out of business.
Yet, beef production is subsidized in countries like USA and India. To produce beef there is a disproportionate expenditure of the Earth’s resources. In a world with increasing population and mass starvation, producing one calorie of flesh (beef, pork, or chicken) requires 11-17 calories of feed. 78 calories of fossil fuel are needed to produce 1 calorie of protein from beef. Two-thirds of Central America’s rainforest have been destroyed to supply beef. *
A BETTER SYSTEM would be rearranging the components. First, breed cows not to provide milk with calves as the by-product, but to provide a team of oxen for every family farm with milk as the by-product. There will be neither excess milk nor excess calves. The oxen will be out in the pastures eating simply, and naturally fertilizing the soil, saving the farmer the cost of the tractor, fuel, and fertilizer. The oxen will be quite content to use their big muscles in such wholesome work, and the humans can become healthy vegetarians. As for the government, if it wants to subsidize something, why not the small family farm instead of the beef industry? The beef industry may have a powerful lobby, but who wants all that heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, not to mention all that bad karma from killing innocent animals!
Don’t we all hanker for a simpler, cleaner, more wholesome, less violent Earth?
THE OX IS THE BACKBONE OF THE FARM, NOT THE SOUP BONE.
* worldwatch.org, madcowboy.com