18 August 2014 Society Mind your body

Nobody Beats Indian Cows

The Indian cow has an intestine that’s unique in the animal world, more like the human intestine...
Illustration by Saahil

Cow milk, one of the panchamrits, celebrated in India until recently, is now a topic of debate. Do we really need to drink milk? The answer is easy—yes, if you like it and no, if you don’t. And know that I am only talking about milk from shudh desi cows.

The Indian cow has an intestine that’s unique in the animal world, more like the human intestine—one of the reasons it enjoys divine status. Also, her hump naturally equips her to pump more Vit D in her milk. The milk is also rich in antioxidants, Vit B12, amino acids (building blocks of protein), good carbs and essential fatty acids. Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani medicines have sung glories of Indian cow milk and milk products—as a dietary supplement, cure for distending abdomen, replacement for mother’s milk, medicine for strong bones, memory....

Today, this valuable breed is threatened because the commercial varieties, Jersey and Holstein, are excellent milk-producing machines. Marketers have figured that labels of ‘Vit­amin-enriched’, ‘organic’, ‘free grazing’ etc can bring in Rs 80 upwards for a litre. This milk, however, lacks any of the health benefits listed above. I hope that the government plan to prot­ect the Indian cow addresses not just health concerns cau­sed by milk from commercial varieties—antibiotic resista­nce, early puberty etc—but will also stop other countries from claiming patents on indigenous varieties of cows. Case in point—the famous Ongole bull.

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