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Dairy-Free or Cruelty-Free

Even as I start writing this, I think of the strongly opinionated cults that we all have demarked ourselves into that might be eager to launch their rants on this post! Be it Veganism, Vegetarianism, Pescetarianism, Non-vegetarianism or its kinds. It is important to have an open mind to have a progressive discussion, not a mindless debate to understand and logically deduce the right way forward since we are all ‘sentient’ beings.

Panning India from east to west, north to south every region has different staple foods and ways of cooking. But the one that is an undeniable dietary staple across all regions is dairy, be it in the form of liquid milk, curds, buttermilk, lassi, butter, paneer, ghee, sweets, etc. Not only is it daily consumed, but is recommended in the highly revered ‘Ayurveda’, which by now, the western world is waking up to, after the colossal awakening to ‘Yoga’, ‘Spirituality’.

More that I started knowing dairy to be too close to the Indian culture, I discovered that per capita consumption of dairy is way more in the western countries, compared to India! And then I thought of all the cheese in the world, the ice-cream, the yoghurt, the flavoured milk, the shakes, the smoothies, the bakery products, and the coffee, the tea, consumed all across borders! Now logically thinking, it would be delusional to say that it is possible to totally erase and adapt to a totally new consumption pattern by giving up dairy, as a whole, from our culinary system.

Now the question is- just because it is what’s being consumed since times immemorial, does that justify the cruel patterns of dairy giants? Is their way of unnatural breeding, growth hormone injecting, milk boosters’ injecting, etc. justified? We all know that’s a definite NO.

So how can we make this a cruelty free process? At Vedic Way, a dairy-agro start-up, we believe that small farmers, who have animal husbandry as a subsidiary to their agricultural production, are the best when it comes to knowing how to take care of the very ‘sensitive’ cows and other animals and know how to make them a part of their family with right kind of care and love, since ancient times. And not giving these farmers their due is cruelty too. Instead, accommodating them and their ways of natural breeding, not separating male cows just because they won’t be their milk-yielding money-making machines, and instead keeping them together, for processes of farming, and since they have to be in good health to do these, feeding them first and then extracting the remaining milk only from one or two udders, to keep them in the best of their health. How does this sound as a solution?

Like Rujuta Diwekar says, “let us not turn into a trend-following-herd that views cruelty in milking cows but chomps down quinoa for protein, unaware of quinoa wars and rampant destruction of forests in Amazon. Denying a farmer his/her due income is cruelty too, so is following a trend without checking its significance to the region you live in. To keep farming a viable option for our rural population, we must connect our farmers and farm animals.”

What the world needs is to be cruelty-free, not dairy-free. Embracing companies that are minting money in the name of veganism and encouraging globalisation instead of promoting local buying behaviour by supporting our farmers, is what any MNC would want. But we have to be informed-enough to dissect this propaganda, and avoid general food trends miss the bigger picture. It will take a while before we get there, but we will get there eventually for sure. So when one asks DAIRY FREE or CRUELTY FREE, VEGAN or VEGETARIAN DIET – what’s the way to go, we say it is the kind, compassionate way, the VEDIC WAY. The way were back then, is the way ahead!

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