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Question 1: What is Veganism?

Veganism (pronounced vee-gun-ism) is a lifestyle which seeks to abstain (to the extent possible) from the use of any product or habit or behavior that might, at any stage of its development, have involved any harm upon any sentient creature. Such harm might be in the form of deliberately inflicted fear, discomfort, injury, or death; or even the unfairness of depriving others of what is rightfully theirs. The vegan philosophy
(a) extends ahimsa to aspects of our lives besides just food (for example, clothing),
(b) recognises other forms of harm besides death, such as deprivation, mental torture, physical abuse, (for example, use of products tested on animals), and
(c) recognises indirect as well as direct responsibility (for example, use of by-products). It does not consider the deprivation of a calf from its mother's milk as trivial; it views it with as much seriousness as depriving a human child of it's mother's milk. It considers the use of any product of slaughter, like leather, as wrong as the so-called primary product, namely, meat, because by sharing in the spoils of the condemned act, the wrongful act of slaughter is encouraged Humans cause harm to animals is many ways: killing, injuring, or breeding them for obtaining their body parts of use to us; using them as subjects to experiment upon; using them as objects of our entertainment and curiosity, etc. The vegan seeks to eschew all items, edible or otherwise, that have any animal ingredients or are in any way associated with ill-treatment to animals, e.g., milk and milk products, leather, wool, honey, etc

Question 2: I understand about meat, leather, honey and others but Milk is considered amrut (Nectar) why should veganism oppose use of milk?

The fact that humans do not need (cow's or any other animal's) milk. Our consumption of it is therefore a luxury (actually a health hazard). B. the fact that there is someone-the calf-who does need the milk. It's life depends upon it. C. the fact that there isn't enough milk to provide to both man and calf. The supply of milk is limited by nature's program for mammalian animals to produce only as much milk as is needed by the infant. D. the stand that it is wrong to tamper with nature's program and obtain excess production of milk (for example, by genetically altering the structure of the animal or by stimulating it pharmaceutically to do so) or force upon it excessively frequent conditions of pregnancy by artificial means. E. the conclusion that therefore it is an act of both theft and murder to take away for our pleasure something that belongs to someone else to the extent that it costs the other its life. The practices that are adopted in the dairy business bear out the motivation for the above beliefs: ~ MURDER of male calves. Deliberate infliction of death upon the calves, qualifying for no weaker a term than 'murder', is a universal practice in dairies. ~ Physical abuse of the dairy animal (cow/buffalo) in the form of injections to stimulate milk production and to induce a continual round of pregnancies, ~ Denial to the dairy animals of their mating instincts by the increasing practice of artificial insemination. ~ In most cases, lifelong imprisonment of the cattle by being tied to stalls. Deprivation to the calves (those allowed to live) of their mother's milk, by diverted it to consumption by humans.

Question 3: By consuming milk, how am I responsible for killing of male calves?

Killing of calves happens all over India, from rural cooperatives to urban dairies that supply milk to customers. People unwilling to believe this fact are referred to a 1987 report produced by the government itself, in which is admitted on page 30 that "Rearing male buffalo calves, and calves born in dairies, now being killed off soon after birth ...", and on page 100 that "...5 to 8 million buffalo calves are done to death immediately after birth." These figures are for 1987. With the Jersey cow population explosion nowadays, the number of 'worthless' calves produced and killed has increased manyfold. There is even a morbid term, kaTra, (kTra) now, coined for the unwanted male calf condemned to be 'cut up' by the butcher. The killing is done by a host of methods such as Starvation (being "allowed to die") crude methods like burying the calves in a dung heap (reported in a buffalo dairy outside Pune) Feeding them contaminated water after one week's starvation following birth Most commonly, by selling them off to the butcher.
And why does it happen? Because we compete with the calf for its mother's milk. We, who do not need the milk of cows, get to drink it for our taste and our mistaken beliefs of its necessity for our health. And the calves, for which the milk was made and intended by nature, are starved of it! Male calves of buffaloes and Jersey cows, in particular, are uniformly condemned to death since they are not useful later for either tilling the soil, drawing loads, or milking, and therefore represent only a drain on the dairyman's wealth if raised and looked after. Feeding milk to the male calf doesn't fetch any return. He becomes a kTra. Such are the shocking realities of our culture of ahimsa: to call the cow our gomata and consider her body to be the abode of 33 crore gods but to simultaneously feel nothing in doing her children-our foster siblings, the calves-to death by fighting over her milk.

Question 4. I still don't understand what the killing of calves in dairies has to do with our drinking milk?

To understand that, imagine that the demanded commodity was not milk but cow dung (for our fuel or fertiliser needs, say), something that was not demanded simultaneously by the calf. Would the dairyman then deny the calf its milk? No. If anything, he would make it drink all it wanted, when it wanted, etc., so that it would grow up strong and healthy and be producing more of the demanded commodity. So it is only because we demand a share in the mother cow's milk-a share that is just not there-that a conflict arises and the calf is done to death.

Question 5. How do I know that the calf isn't getting the milk it should?

Refer to the following sights:
S1 On dairies, the calves are always tied away from their mothers.
S2 When the calf is untied, it runs to its mother and immediately starts feeding from her.
S3 The mouths of calves are often tied with rope netting when they are being taken around with the cows.
S4 The udders of goats are often covered with a bag and made inaccessible to their calves.
These are sights to ponder. Why should the calf be tied away from its mother? Why should its mouth sometimes have to be forced shut? Or the udders of the goat be made inaccessible to its calf? The answer to all these is that if these steps are not taken, the calf will drink its mother's milk leaving nothing for the gwaala to sell.

Question 6. But the calf is given some milk during the day?

The calf that is allowed to live is, yes. Otherwise it would die, and not grow up to be a cow to be further exploited for its milk. However, two feedings a day, that too, only long enough to get the milk to start flowing so that the milkman can continue milking it with his hands, is all they are allowed. The calf is then forced away and tied once again away from its mother. This sight can be seen in any dairy. Clearly, the small amount of milk the calf is allowed to have is not enough. Drs. Gokhale and Gangwal (page 114,) say that the calf needs to feed sixteen times a day. How can one feeding for a few minutes be considered all right just because the calf doesn't die?

Question 7. But won't it cause the cow pain if she isn't milked?

Sure it will, if nobody milks her. But, nature intended the calf, not human beings, to 'milk' its mother. If the calf is allowed to drink its mother's milk unhindered, then it will empty the udders sufficiently to not cause pain. It is only when the calf is prevented from drinking its mother's milk and we do not milk the cow too that it might create discomfort for her. Human mothers too will feel the pain if they do not feed their child. But, they do not go around feeding every tom, dick and harry around just because their child has not been fed. Why should the cow?

Question 8. Man has been drinking milk throughout history. Why is it objectionable now?

Drinking milk is a cultural habit; we have no biological need for it, no ecological dependence upon it, nor a genetic capacity to digest it.

Question 9. Isn't milk essential for our good health?

No. Milk is not good for us. All current research and experimentation by nutritionists is pointing to milk as a big culprit in health problems for its high saturated fat and cholesterol contents, its excessive protein-to-calcium ratio, its indigestibility for some people. People can at best cope with it. But even if it was good in some ways, that doesn't give us any right to steal it from other animals in the quantities we do. Most of us would agree that more and more money is good for us, but would that give us a right to steal it from others?

Question 10. Don't we need milk to grow?

The only milk we ever really need-during our infancy, when our teeth and digestive systems are not developed enough for us to eat solid food-is our own mother's milk. Not cow's (or any other animal's) milk. Cow's milk is for cows, buffaloes milk is for buffaloes, and Humans milk is for humans. Man is the only animal that drinks the milk of other species and that too beyond infancy. We don't find dogs drinking horses' milk, or tigers drinking elephants' milk. In fact, no species has the need to live off another species' infant food. Once we grow up, the requirement for our mother's milk declines, as does her body's production of milk, maintaining nature's balance.

Question 11. Isn't animal protein necessary for humans? Vegetarians have no other source of it but milk?

No nutrition text can be quoted as saying that animal proteins are necessary for the human body. The best of nutritionists do say, on the other hand, that the quality of protein from plant sources is superior.

Question 12. Lord Krishna used to consume butter and milk products. Doesn't that make it all right for us to take it also?

Lord Krishna in his childhood is described in the Mahabharata to have admonished the milkwomen of Braj who made a good business supplying milk to the city of Mathura, saying "Just because the cows can't speak, does it mean that you should deprive their calves of their milk? First the calves will drink to their fill, and only then will the remaining milk be distributed among the Brajwaasis." Thus we can see that although Lord Krishna was an ardent lover of milk products, he never lost concern for the cow, and could be said to possess the spirit of what is today advocated by veganism.

Question 13. Gandhiji used to take goat's milk. Doesn't proves that some milk is necessary?

Quite aside from the fact that Gandhiji's opinions on the matter need not drive ours, his opposition to all milk was well known. One should not forget that he had taken a vow never to consume cow's milk, because of the mistreatment of the animal all over India (page 203) : "...Doctors advised milk. But the cruel manner of milking cows and buffaloes had impelled Gandhi to abjure milk forever"). Till the end he admitted that in spirit his vow should have included the milk of all species (refer pages 196, 201). To make up for the inconsistency in his principle of ahimsa as applied to milk, he would only drink the milk of his own goat that he personally took great care of.

Question 14. How could drinking milk be wrong? Our shastras recommend it!

Our shastras also recommend the caste system, differential treatment of women, widows, etc. Does that sanctify these practices? The letter of the scriptures should not substitute our applying our own minds to the subject.

Question 15. If we don't drink the milk of cows, won't they be sent off to slaughter?

By drinking milk, the calf is being sent off to slaughter. So is there a difference? If, on the other hand, everyone turned vegan, no animal calf or cow or bull would die at our hands, because no-one would want their meat or leather or milk.

Question 16. Shouldn't we worry about the livelihood of the milkmen?

Certainly we should, but to support them in an exploitative livelihood is not the answer. Exploiting one to provide for the other is not good justice. Campaign against smoking or liquor or gutkha or child labour are not seen to concern themselves with alternative sources of livelihood for the displaced segments of those industries.

Question 17. I just cannot give up milk immediately, how do I start?

1. Stop eating kharvas. This is the Hindi name for the sweet that is made from the colostrum or the thick, sticky milk called cheek of the newly-calved cow. This is the sole food of the new-born calf. Don't take even that away from it. Avoid this food like meat.
2. Avoid distributing-or accepting-mitthai and other milk sweets to celebrate. Celebration should not be at another's cost. The amount of milk needed to make sweets is not ignorable and certainly not what a cow can spare after its calf has consumed its fill.
3. Avoid eating "pleasure-foods" made of milk, e.g., ice-cream, milk-shake, etc. Remember, our pleasure is at the cost of the calves' survival.
4. For the sake of your own health, avoid eating unhealthy milk products like ghee, paneer, butter, cheese.
5. One can decide to spend one day a week without consuming any milk products. The frequency of abstinence can slowly be increased as one grows more convinced of the idea and as one's will power improves. If you must drink milk drink cow's milk, not buffalo's. Preferably that which comes from villages. In Indian villages, if the animal is a cow, the offspring has a slightly better chance of surviving, since the cow fortunately enjoys a special position in the hearts of Hindus, and Hindus mostly do farming (livestock and agriculture) in India. Therefore they would not usually kill the calf of a cow unless under life-and-death economic compulsion. Unfortunately the buffalo enjoys no such privilege and is invariably condemned to death.

Question 18. Why wool? How do we survive cold without it?

How you expect a sheep that has given its wool to survive the cold along with the deep gashing cuts and wounds on its body after wool has been sheared off. Wool shearing is very cruel act. There are lots of alternatives today, we have acrylic blankets which look better than wool, then we have cotton jackets lined with Polyurethane (PU) insulation, synthetic ( polyviscose, polyester, polyviscosecotton, denim, terecot, terelene/cotton shirting, trousers and dress materials. There is absolutely no need for using wool.

Question 19. What is so cruel about honey?

Imagine collecting food for you and your family for the whole day and losing it to a thief, going hungry with your house and children either burnt alive or thrown out with house destroyed. If it happens for a whole month, what will be your situation? Do not rob the bee of the honey, which it collects for itself and its family for a rough weather ahead. Honey is just not required for humans.
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