Gandhi once wrote:
“Cow protection takes the human being beyond this species. The cow to me means the entire sub-human world. Man through the cow is enjoined to realise his identity with all that lives. Why the cow was selected for apotheosis is obvious to me. She was the giver of plenty. Not only did she give milk, but she also made agriculture possible”
These words are an inspiration to us at the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation. Not only do we seek the highest standards of welfare for our own cows and young bulls and are committed to enabling them to live out the entirety of their lives before they pass away naturally, but we also care passionately about the environment.
We do not see ourselves or a cow in isolation from the wider environment. When we look after our cattle, we also think about the health of the soil and the grass, about wild flowers and the bees and other insects that benefit from them, indeed the entire web of life. We believe all is interconnected in this and if one species suffers adversity then there will be an effect on all others.
Modern farming methods have wreaked much harm and violence on nature and again as Gandhi said – there is enough for everyone’s need, but not everyone’s greed. Eventually the earth may grow tired and withdraw her resources from us.
Chemical fertilisers and pesticides damage the earth and poison pollinators such as bees and other beneficial insects. Farmers are caught in a cycle of hell having to pay more and more for agrochemicals to keep the land productive, whilst all of the time it and the life it supports is dying. Meanwhile the multinational input suppliers grow ever richer.
Instead of being out in the meadows grazing as nature intended, improving the quality of the grassland with their activities and encouraging wild plants to grow, so many cows, along with other animals are imprisoned in hothouses. They rarely if ever see the fields; they are fed unnatural diets, and suffer the brutality of the abattoir at the end of often very short lives.
In urban environments there are adults and children who have never even seen a real live cow. Their knowledge of the animal that made human civilisation possible is confined to picture books and the abstracted lump of meat wrapped in plastic on the supermarket shelves, together with the carton of milk disingenuously labelled fresh, but hiding an industry largely based on cruelty and slaughter.
When we respect the cow the world is in order. We don’t want to do harm to her or any other living creature. We want our fields to be teeming with life and our hedgerows to provide a habitat for a rich diversity of creatures. We care about the rivers and the trees and the quality of the air we breathe.