CRUEL DAIRY: Hindu Temples to abolish all use of Dairy
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"The principle of ahimsā is Hinduism's greatest gift to the world."
The Śrīmad Bhāgavatam (11.2.41) states, “Ether, air, fire, water, earth, planets, all creatures, directions, trees and plants, rivers and seas, they are all organs of God’s body. Remembering this a devotee respects all species.”
Hindus strive for ahimsā, to minimise the harm we cause through our actions in our ordinary, day-to-day lives. Hindus revere all life, human, non-human, plant, & animal. Hindus are also well known for their respect of the cow, often referring to her as Gaumata (mother cow). The Mahābhārata (109.10) also tells us, “Dharma exists for the welfare of all beings. Hence, that by which the welfare of all living beings is sustained, that for sure is dharma.” To add to this, the Hindu Declaration on Climate Change, signed by 70+ Hindu world leaders, asked Hindus to adopt a plant based diet.
It is therefore absolutely necessary that the use of cow’s milk, ghee and any other form of dairy for personal, religious & spiritual practices within the Hindu temple (and home) should be fully abolished. All Hindu practices, rites & rituals can still continue & should be continued. We just ask for them to be continued with plant based milks or water instead, in light of the realities of the dairy industry in this day & age. Such practices would still be congruent with our main scriptures, for example, "If one offers to me with devotion a leaf, a flower, a fruit, or even water, I delightfully partake of that article offered with love by my devotee in pure consciousness." ~ Bhagawad Gita 9:26.
WHY: Dairy farming is one of the cruellest farming practices that exists, not just to the animals involved but to wildlife & the planet.
The dairy industry amounts to systematic cruelty and in reality, the daily practices of most dairy farms are more distressing than those of even meat production. A mother cow only produces milk when she gets pregnant. She will be made pregnant through artificial insemination at the tender age of 15 months. Farmers mechanically draw semen from a bull, and then force the female cow into a narrow trap, known as a “cattle crush”, where they will impregnate her. This is standard practice & legally compliant.
When she gives birth, her calf will typically be removed within 36 hours, so the farmers can sell the milk that is meant for her baby. Experts say that a strong bond between cow and calf is formed quickly after birth and the cow can often be heard to cry (bellow) for her calf for days if not weeks after this separation.
If the cow gives birth to a male calf, he may either be shot soon after birth or sold to be raised for veal, which delays his death by just a matter of months. But if the calf is female, she will usually be prepared for her own entry into dairy production, where she will face the same cycle of enslavement that her mother is trapped in: forced impregnation, the theft of her baby, and a return to the cattle crush two or three months later. For at least six months of the year, she will often be confined inside dark sheds. But a growing number of dairy farms in Britain use a “zero-grazing system” in which cows spend their entire lives indoors, in increasingly intensive structures. A dairy cow's lifespan is 20-25 years under natural conditions. In today's modern day dairy industry, this is reduced to a mere 5-7 years.
Ahimsa farming: Whilst there are a number of Ahimsa (no slaughter) farms that have opened in the U.K, these farms are neither sustainable nor kind to the environment which again is incongruent with another facet of Hinduism - to be kind to Gaia - or Mother Earth as well as all beings.
Cows are already the nation’s single largest source of methane, a greenhouse gas produced by oil extraction, decomposing trash, and the guts of grazing animals that’s as much as 105 times more potent than carbon dioxide. A single cow releases and belches enough methane to match the carbon equivalent of the average car. According to a 2006 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization report, the world’s 1.4 billion cows produce 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases—more than the entire transportation sector. Since the turn of the 19th century, global methane emissions have increased by more than 150 percent, and cows are largely to blame.
If all dairies became slaughter-free, we’d need three to four times as many dairy cows to produce the same amount of milk, which would mean adding at least 27 million additional cows to our herds. Pasturing all of these cows would displace wildlife or agricultural crops, straining biodiversity and increasing food prices. Rather, it would be far more in alignment with Hindu dharma to relinquish all use of dairy and instead, open animal sanctuaries or Gauraksha projects instead of farms to care for the cows that currently exist.
The most compassionate change that all Hindu temples can make in light of the facts presented above is to move towards plant based milks. Most of the Hindu sweet and savoury dishes can be made with plant based products and ghee from dairy can be replaced with vegetable ghee or coconut oil.
True compassion come from action.
In the Assisi Declarations on nature (1986), Dr. Karan Singh writes, “Hinduism believes in the all encompassing sovereignty of the divine…[humanity] is not seen as something apart from the Earth and its multitudinous life forms… [Man] is there integrally linked to the whole of creation.”
Dina Aherne - Imperfectly Vegan
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