PETA India v/s Indian Dairy giant AMUL

Comparing dog milk to cow milk is way beyond absurdity. Peta has long been advocating that dairy milk is meant for animal consumption, not for humans. And they have often claimed that plant-based milk has more health benefits than dairy milk. Moreover, they advocate that dairy milk is not healthy for humans. They also state that these animals have to deal with cruelty for dairy production and are often injected with steroids to increase milk production. What is Amul’s take on it?

R S Sodhi, Managing director of Amul, replied to this statement of Peta by tweeting”PETA wants to snatch livelihood of hundred million poor farmers and handover its all resources built in last 75 years with farmers money to market genetically modified soya of rich MNC at exorbitant which the lower middle class can’t afford”.

Let us try to understand both sides and then everyone can come to their conclusion.

AMUL, Dairy farmers in India & Animal welfare organization

Amul is an Indian dairy giant which has an annual turnover of $5.5 billion. Now, to understand how farmer-centric the organization Amul is, you need to know certain facts. Not even a single international company has been able to survive in the dairy business in India. This is mainly because of the low-profit margin that is there to capitalize on, in the dairy market. Even a company like Danone, which is deep-pocketed, had to face a failure trying to establish itself in the Indian dairy market. Further, dairy farmers (16.6 million dairy farmers are associated with AMUL) in India are generally poor, so their livelihood revolves around these animals.

The way these animals are kept in other nations is totally different from how they are nurtured in India. Most of these animals are kept inside the houses of the dairy farmers and these animals go on a walk for grazing. Leave using steroids on cattle, in India, there is a culture of feeding the first cooked bread to cows. I’m not denying that some farmers might be using steroids on animals, but those cases may be mainly in towns, not in villages where poor farmers reside. Cows are worshipped in India and everyone might have heard about beef production being banned in several states.

But the question is, should we make stringent rules to treat animals fairly or we should get to an extreme level where we subside the idea of coexisting with animals. It will be better if the meat industry (What are meat substitutes?)and leather industry(read plant-based leather industry) are targeted as these industries involve brutally killing animals. Further, even the newborn cattle are killed for their delicate skin and meat. That to me is not sustainable living.

Moreover, one can find an article against KFC with the heading “As Chicken-Meat Sales Plummet, Will KFC Add Vegan Chicken to Its Menu?“. For Amul, it shows its love with the heading “PETA India Advises Panicked Amul to Ditch Dairy“.

What about reducing forest cover around the world to increase agricultural land?

India is already facing the issue of accommodating and providing for the huge population that it has. The green cover of India is already low and we have often seen this news in media outlets that many herbivorous animals and farmers often confront each other as herbivorous animals come out of forests in search of food and destroy farmers’ harvest. The scarcity of forest cover and the absence of infrastructure to accommodate these cattle leaves us with a potent question: if people switch to plant-based milk, how will these animals survive?

To me, PETA seems to be doing less and speaking a lot. I don’t how much forest cover PETA India has grown to build a sustainable ecosystem for animals to live in. I am sure that millions of  Indians would love to volunteer to grow a forest if PETA India comes with a plan to create a forest cover for animals. It is the land of Chipko movement, it is the land where people worship animals. Moreover, we have been sustainably living with animals for ages.

A great organization has always been a problem solver, not a problem creator

PETA advocates that to feed a vegan for one year, it needs only one-sixth of an acre whereas to feed a vegetarian for a  year, it needs half-acre of agricultural land. Now, what assumptions they have made, is not clear to me but I do not see it feasible for India. Most of the cattle feed in India is the by-product of agriculture that humans can’t consume.

Switching to plant-based milk means either we need more agricultural land to increase production or we heavily use inorganic fertilizers and genetically modified seeds to increase yield. Most of the farmers in India still use cattle dung as manures and many have set up gobar gas plants to fulfill their day-to-day energy demands. We already know the consequences of using inorganic fertilizers, insecticides, and pesticides. Further, we are also aware of the potential benefits of using organic fertilizers and how it helps in improving the soil health.

Why switching to vegan milk not feasible in India?

Let us find out if it is even viable in a country like India to opt for plant-based milk, that too where almost every house consumes milk. Plant-based milk is costlier than dairy milk. For instance, let us have a look at almond milk, how many households in India consume almonds. Plant-based milk is way more costly than dairy milk and a major portion of the Indian population will be deprived of milk if asked to switch to plant-based milk. Tea, for instance, is a beverage that people of India consume regardless of financial status as a cup of tea made of dairy milk costs merely 1/14 of a dollar. Switching to plant-based milk will make it a beverage reserved only for the elite class.

So what should be the solution? 

I think it should be a personal preference whether you want dairy milk or plant-based milk. Globally, lactose intolerance is already on the rise. Many people across the globe are turning to plant-based milk. This can be concluded from the fact that Oatly, an oat-based milk brand, is ready to launch its IPO at a valuation of $10 billion. To our surprise, the acceptance of plant-based milk in the US is so high that Oatly was out of stock during March 2020. Read more on how to start a Plant-based milk manufacturing business.

So, what should animal welfare organizations do?

Creating a natural habitat for animals

As animal lovers, these organizations should look for creating natural habitats for animals, which can only be done by increasing forest cover. Instead of targeting sustainable organizations and criticizing them, they should find out a way to raise funds from organizations that are earning from animals based products. And further, deploy those funds to create a natural habitat for animals. They should strictly look at the water quality of rivers as rivers will fulfill the water demand for animals when they develop this ecosystem(forest having sufficient food) for animals to live in.

Promote Sustainable living

They should raise their voice and gather more and more volunteers to stop the use of any kind of plastics. They should talk about banning any packaged food that comes in plastics. As way more animals, birds, fish, and other creatures die because of consuming plastics. Moreover, it also degrades soil quality as these are not easily decomposed into the soil. They should opt for funding research organizations for creating an ecosystem for research of alternative materials that can replace plastics and are eco-friendly.

They should further talk about the depleting underground water level due to heavy concretization in the name of urbanization. They should educate and propagate the technologies that can be deployed to maintain the groundwater level such as building roads with materials that can allow water to sip in, rain harvesting, construction of recharge pit, etc. These measures will not only ensure the availability of water for farming but also ensure adequate groundwater levels to support the growth of trees.

Final words

To sum it all, you must raise your voice for animals’ welfare but at the same time work with organizations producing dairy to check the quality of milk (if it is mixed with antibiotics or steroids) and develop a framework to punish the farmers using unethical practices. Raise your voice to build a natural infrastructure(habitat)  for animals. Fight, persuade, educate, raise funds, or whatever it takes to support animal welfare by creating an ecosystem for them.

Sustainable living should be the way ahead! Win the world with love, not criticism.

##Tags- Peta v/s amul, Amul, PETA, Indian Dairy farmers, Amul vegan controversy, vegan milk, dairy cow, dairy milk v/s cow milk

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