The cow is a mother to mankind whom we should love,respect and protect. Her milk is the life blood for many species, including humans. Her dung provides fuel and bricks for millions of rural families across Asia . Her urine is medicine for the sick. When she dies her skin provides us warmth and protection through clothing.
In Astrology, the cow or bull is the symbol of the sign Taurus, a sign representing earth, nature and all its bounties. In Vedic Astrology, the cow's many wonderful qualities are emphasized through the various nakshatras. She is one of the universal mothers represented by the constellation Krittika. Her unlimited resourcefulness is associated with the constellation Rohini, whose symbol, 'an oxen cart pulling a fresh harvest' highlights the fertility aspect of both the earth and the cow. ‘Bhooma Devi’ or ‘Mother Earth’ is symbolised as a cow in the Vedic tradition, as just like the earth, the cow is an endless giver of resources and nourishment. The cow's nourishing aspect is associated with the constellation Pushya, which has a cow's ‘milk giving udder’ as its main symbol and is a constellation related to motherhood and dependability. The cow's patient and gentle nature is associated with the constellation Uttara bhadrapada,which has cow as its sexual animal.
In the Vedic pantheon of gods, the bull or cow is the vehicle of Lord Siva, and a symbol of strength and endurance. Vishnu's avatar form of Krishna, took the incarnation of a cowherd who enchanted cows and other living beings with his flute playing. His association with cows highlighted the importance of protecting and respecting the earth and its creatures. In the Vedas, one can find the story of the divine cow Kamadhenu, "the wish fulfilling cow" who is the dear treasure of the seven celestial sages. She emerged from the churning of the celestial ocean, along with many other treasures including the divine nectar of immortality, amrita ". As she is greatly desired for her endless gifts and bounty she remains under the care and protection of the sages. In all ancient cultures cows have played an important role in helping man understand his duty and relationship to the natural environment.
It is a great tragedy that in today's world, cows and other highly sentient beings, are the undeserving victim of barbarous tortures and all manner of atrocities in the name of satisfying man's palate and greedy nature. It is a reflection of the current world cycle Kali Yuga (an age where ignorance and darkness reign), that the most gentlest and innocent of creatures are put through the worst treatment imagineable in the most mindless manner. This sort of ignorance breeds more ignorance and creates much negative karma for the individual and collective.
The darker forces controlling the planet have deliberately conditioned humans into believing that meat is an essential part of dietary survival, and by over breeding cows in large numbers, have succeeded in destroying much of the earth's fertile land in order to feed these genetically & hormonally tampered creatures; land which could otherwise be used to grow crops that increase the world’s food supply a thousand fold.
There is no good reason why humans should eat meat. The physical constitution of humans is much more similar to herbivore mammals than carnivores. Eating meat produces a whole range of detrimental effects. At the most basic level it harms our physical health, but much more complex and subtle damage happens on the mental, emotional and subtle planes. There is enough information and proof on the subject, if one takes the time to look.
With today's high tech global transatlantic communications, vegetarian food sources of every type are available to anyone just about anywhere on the planet. There is enough agricultural knowledge and technology to grow crops in areas that suffer from extreme climates or other hazardous conditions.
Humans have ability to access a basic level of compassion inside themselves, which they clearly express in regard to their household pets, but not to cows, pigs, sheep, chicken etc. who are equally sensitive and feel the same levels of pain and fear as the domestic dog or cat.
No great feats of heroism or sacrifice are required to contribute to the enlightenment of the planet. Just by making simple changes in our every day living routine like discriminating what / what not to eat, can have significant and far reaching impact on the future destiny and wellbeing of all.
Here are excerpts from articles on the net:-
"Why Hindus Don't Eat Meat" by Jai Maharaj
In the past fifty years, millions of meat-eaters -- Hindus and non-Hindus -- have made the personal decision to stop eating the flesh of other creatures. There are five major motivations for such a decision:
1. The Dharmic Law Reason
Ahinsa, the law of noninjury, is the Hindu's first duty in fulfilling religious obligations to God and God's creation as defined by Vedic scripture.
2. The Karmic Consequences Reason
All of our actions, including our choice of food, have Karmic consequences. By involving oneself in the cycle of inflicting injury, pain and death, even indirectly by eating other creatures, one must in the future experience in equal measure the suffering caused.
3. The Spiritual Reason
Food is the source of the body's chemistry, and what we ingest affects our consciousness, emotions and experiential patterns. If one wants to live in higher consciousness, in peace and happiness and love for all creatures, then he cannot eat meat, fish, shellfish, fowl or eggs. By ingesting the grosser chemistries of animal foods, one introduces into the body and mind anger, jealousy, anxiety, suspicion and a terrible fear of death, all of which are locked into the the flesh of the butchered creatures. For these reasons, vegetarians live in higher consciousness and meat-eaters abide in lower consciousness.
4. The Health Reason
Medical studies prove that a vegetarian diet is easier to digest, provides a wider ranger of nutrients and imposes fewer burdens and impurities on the body. Vegetarians are less susceptible to all the major diseases that afflict contemporary humanity, and thus live longer, healthier, more productive lives. They have fewer physical complaints, less frequent visits to the doctor, fewer dental problems and smaller medical bills. Their immune system is stronger, their bodies are purer, more refined and skin more beautiful.
5. The Ecological Reason
Planet Earth is suffering. In large measure, the escalating loss of species, destruction of ancient rainforests to create pasture lands for live stock, loss of topsoils and the consequent increase of water impurities and air pollution have all been traced to the single fact of meat in the human diet. No decision that we can make as individuals or as a race can have such a dramatic effect on the improvement of our planetary ecology as the decision not to eat meat.
Quotes from Scriptures
"These scriptures unambiguously support the meatless way of life. In the Mahabharat, for instance, the great warrior Bheeshm explains to Yuddhishtira, eldest of the Paandav princes, that the meat of animals is like the flesh of one's own son. Similarly, the Manusmriti declares that one should `refrain from eating all kinds of meat,' for such eating involves killing and and leads to Karmic bondage (Bandh) [5.49]. Elsewhere in the Vedic literature, the last of the great Vedic kings, Maharaja Parikshit, is quoted as saying that `only the animal-killer cannot relish the message of the Absolute Truth [Shrimad Bhagvatam 10.1.4].'"
He who desires to augment his own flesh by eating the flesh of other creatures lives in misery in whatever species he may take his birth. Mahabharat 115.47
Those high-souled persons who desire beauty, faultlessness of limbs, long life, understanding, mental and physical strength and memory should abstain fromacts of injury. Mahabharat 18.115.8
The very name of cow is Aghnya ["not to be killed"], indicating that they should never be slaughtered. Who, then could slay them? Surely, one who kills a cow or abull commits a heinous crime. Mahabharat Shantiparv 262.47
The purchaser of flesh performs Hinsa (violence) by his wealth; he who eats flesh does so by enjoying its taste; the killer does Hinsa by actually tying and killing the animal. Thus, there are three forms of killing: he who brings flesh or sends for it, he who cuts off the limbs of an animal, and he who purchases, sells or cooks flesh and eats it -- all of these are to be considered meat-eaters. Mahabharat Anu 115.40
He who sees that the Lord of all is ever the same in all that is -- immortal in the field of mortality -- he sees the truth. And when a man sees that the God in himself is the same God in all that is, he hurts not himself by hurting others. Then he goes, indeed, to the highest path. Bhagavad Geeta 13.27-28
Ahinsa is the highest Dharm. Ahinsa is the best Tapas. Ahinsa is the greatest gift. Ahinsa is the highest self-control. Ahinsa is the highest sacrifice. Ahinsa is the highest power. Ahinsa is the highest friend. Ahinsa is the highest truth. Ahinsa is the highest teaching. Mahabharat 18.116.37-41
What is the good way? It is the path that reflects on how it may avoid killing any creature. Tirukural 324
All that lives will press palms together in prayerful adoration of those who refuse to slaughter and savor meat. Tirukural 260
What is virtuous conduct? It is never destroying life, for killing leads to every other sin. Tirukural 312, 321
Goodness is never one with the minds of these two: one who wields a weapon and one who feasts on a creature's flesh. Tirukural 253
Excerpts from "101 Reasons go go Vegetarian" from the ARC Website
Every year in the UK we feed our livestock enough food to feed 250,000,000 people while in the world 30,000,000 people die of starvation
20 vegetarians can live off the land required by one meat eater
If Americans reduced their meat consumption by 10% it would free 12,000,000 tons of grain - enough to feed 60,000,00 people (the population of Great Britain)
If all Americans became vegetarian, it would free enough grain to feed 600,000,000 people (the population of India)
Intensification in animal farming has displaced 1,000,000's of people from their traditional lands - eg. indigenous people in south & central america, native americans in north america & crofters in Great Britain - this is continuing today
People displaced from their lands into cities succumb to dietary deficiency, diseases, parasites & opportunistic diseases
The UK imports £46,000,000 worth of grain from third world countries to feed our livestock
Due to overgrazing 850,000,000 people live on land threatened by desertification & over 230,000,000 already live on land so severely desertified that they are unable to sustain their existence & face imminent starvation
If they continue to clear American forests to raise cattle at the present rate, in 50 years there will be none left
1 acre yields 165 lbs of beef or 20,000 lbs of potatoes
8/10 of cultivated land in the UK is used to grow food for animals (14,732,000 hectares)
It takes 16lbs of high protein soya to produce 1 lb of beef
Since 1945 in the UK we have lost 95% of flower meadows, 50% of ancient woodlands, 40% of heathlands, 50% of wet lands & 224,000 km of hedgerows all due to animal farming
Pressure on land due to meat farming leads to soil erosion 6billion tons/year in the USA
If everyone went vegetarian upto 90% of land used for animal farming could be taken out of production & used to replant woodlands, leisure activities etc.
25% of Central america's forests have been destroyed for cattle grazing since 1960
Between 1966-1983 38% of the Amazon rain forest was destroyed for cattle grazing
90% of cattle ranches established on cleared forest land go bankrupt in less than 8 years as the land becomes barren due to nutrient loss & overgrazing
Overgrazing by cattle is destroying the land & increasing desertification, nearly 430 million acres in the USA alone has suffered a 25-50% reduction in yield since first grazed
An inch of topsoil takes 200-1000 years to develop - yet in the USA they have lost around 1/3 of their prime topsoil in 200 years (around 7 inches) due to animal farming
The destruction of the rainforest by cattle farmers is destroying the lungs of the planet & reducing the worlds capacity to replenish our oxygen supply
The 1,300,000,000 cattle in the world emit 60,000,000 tons of methane per year (methane is a greenhouse gas & leads to global warming)
Burning of forests, grasslands & agricultural waste associated with animal farming releases 50-100,000,000 tons of methane per year
Combining these figures, 25% of methane emissions are due to animal farming (not including the billions of sheep, pigs & poultry so the real figure is much higher)
Fertilizer used to grow crops to feed to animals releases nitrous oxide - thought to account for 6% of the greenhouse effect
Fertilizer, weedkiller & pesticides sprayed on crops enter the atmosphere creating a noxious carcinogenic cocktail
CFCs are released into the air from refrigeration units used to store decomposing flesh (meat), milk & butter - CFCs are destroy the ozone layer
CO2 is released by burning oil & petrol in lorries, ships, abattoirs, dairies, factories etc. associated with meat & dairy production
Emissions from large chemical plants which produce fertilizer, weedkiller & other agricultural chemicals are also poisoning our air
25 gallons of water to produce 1lb of wheat & 2500 gallons to produce 1lb of meat
Bloody waste water from abattoirs ends up in our rivers
Nitrates & pesticides used on crops grown to feed livestock end up in our rivers
The water used to produce 10 lbs of steak is equivalent to the average consumption of water for an entire household for an entire year
Aquafers (stores of underground water) in the San Joaquin valley in the USA are being drained at the rate of 500,000,000,000 gallons/year to produce meat
Cattle convert only 6% of their energy intake (mainly grains & soya) into flesh, the remaining 94% is wasted as heat, movement (which is why they keep many animals in very close confinement), hair, bones, faeces etc
1lb of beef takes 1 gallon of petrol to produce
70% of all grain is fed to animals
Fishing with drift (and other modern) nets weakens & destroys ecosystems by indiscriminately killing billions of sea creatures & disrupting the sea bed
Fishermen's nets kill 10 times as many other animals as the fish they are hoping to catch
Fish caught in nets die an agonising slow death of suffocation
Each year 15,000,000,000 land animals are slaughtered for food & an unknown but much larger number of sea creatures (including 1000's of dolphins caught accidentally)
Chickens are crammed into battery cages with upto 3 other birds, they are unable to even spread their wings & many can not even stand up
Unwanted male chicks (because they can't lay eggs) are gassed or pulped while their sisters go to the battery sheds
Chicks are debeaked without anaesthetic to prevent them injuring each other in the unnaturally confined conditions they are kept in - this is equivalent to having your fingernails pulled out without anaesthetic
Modern farming methods using growth hormones & artificial lighting mean that many chickens out grow their bones, resulting in fractured & broken legs
Sows are kept tethered in stalls 1.3 x 1 metre on concrete or slatted floors - they can not even turn around
Poultry raised for meat are kept in windowless broiler sheds, with around 20-30,000 in each shed, they live in an area of 10-20 cm square - fighting due to overcrowding is common & like battery hens they commonly suffer from supperating bed sores
Broilersheds are artificially lit 23 hours a day to produce rapid growth
Animals travel between farms & to slaughter in overcrowded transporters with no food or water - resulting in stress, injuries & deaths - legal requirements are widely ignored
95% of poultry suffer injuries before being killed & 30% suffer broken bones
Problems with stunning practices mean that many animals have their throats slit while still conscious (around 6% of cattle or 200,000 per year) & are then dipped in tanks of scalding water (to loosen feathers, bristles etc.) again while fully conscious
4000 animals die spurting their blood out every minute in a British slaughterhouse
Calf leather comes from animals killed at just 2 weeks old
Cows were fed on the ground up remains of other cows & sheep - the result is thought to be BSE (mad cow disease) in the USA cattle are fed partly on recycled plastic pellets
Cows only give milk for 10 months after they have a calf - so they are routinely artificially inseminated (ie. mechanically raped) to keep them pregnant & milking - their calves are taken away (usually at 12 hours old) for meat or export to veal crates
Cows would naturally live upto 20 years but are slaughtered after 5-7 years when their milk production begins to fall
In the UK animals are killed by first being stunned with electricity or a captive bolt gun (ie. a bolt is fired into their heads) before having their throats slit & being plunged into boiling water - all this happens on a production line with the animals being hung upside down from a moving conveyor belt - this is factory farming
"Animals are those unfortunate slaves & victims of the most brutal part of mankind" - John Stewart Mill (philosopher)
Veal calves are confined in stalls in the dark, unable to move & are fed on pigs blood , chocolate & dried milk (we are drinking the rich fresh milk of their mothers)
Cows naturally produce 5 litres of milk per day for their calves - under the intensified systems of modern farming they produce 25-40 litres per day - resulting in swollen & inflamed udders - at this rate they are soon worn out
Large areas of land are under monoculture to grow crops to feed to animals - these areas are wildlife deserts supporting fewer & fewer species.
Vegetarians have a 20% lower rate of mortality from all causes (ie. they live longer & don't get sick as often)
Meat is full of traces of antibiotics, hormones, toxins produced by stress & pesticide residues that become concentrated from all the crops they have eaten
Fish contain heavy metals & other pollutants -many of which originated on farms
The world health organisation recommends a diet low in saturated fat, sugar, salt & with plenty of fibre - exactly what you get on a vegan/vegetarian diet
Vegetarians have 24% reduced risk of getting heart disease & Vegans a 57% reduction (heart disease is the biggest killer in the UK accounting for 50% of deaths)
Obesity is rare in vegetarians, obesity is related to many diseases
Vegans & vegetarians have lower blood pressure & cholesterol levels - high levels are associated with heart disease, strokes & kidney failure
Vegetarians have a 50% reduced risk of dying of diabetes
Vegetarians have a 40% reduced level of cancer than the general population thought to be because they have a higher intake of vitamins A,C & E
Vegetarians have a reduced risk of developing gall & kidney stones.
80% of food poisoning is due to infected meat (faeces, bacteria etc.) after all meat is decomposing flesh - most of the rest is due to salmonella in eggs
Osteoporosis due to calcium loss from bones is mainly due to the sulphur content in meat & protein in milk that cause calcium to be lost in the urine - the countries with the highest meat & dairy consumption are those with the highest levels of brittle bones
Meat eaters have double the rate of Alzheimers disease as Vegans & Vegetarians - some people also think that Parkinsons disease is also linked to meat eating.Meat eaters are two and a half times more likely to get bowel cancer than Vegetarians
The cling film used to wrap meat in supermarkets & butchers contains chemicals linked to falling sperm counts in men.Of 2,100,000 deaths in the USA in 1987, 1,500,000 were related to diet (ie. meat & dairy)