February 22, 2020
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This Cow Has To Come Home

As a diabetic population, with rising childhood obesity, India can’t quite ignore the desi cow.

This Cow Has To Come Home
Illustration by Saahil
This Cow Has To Come Home

This is about the elephant in the room—the cow—especially the soon to be extinct desi cow.

The hump, the long ears, the loose hanging skin under the neck are just some of the features of the indigenous breed of cow that make her stand apart from the exotic crossbreeds of Jersey and Holstein. From the nutritional point of view, the indigenous breeds offer milk with A2 protein (found naturally in milk) that reduces risk of diabetes. Now as a diabetic population, with rising childhood obesity, India can’t quite ignore that. Especially given the fact that milk, ghee, butter and curd is daily consumed by children.

The commercial varieties of milk, on the other hand, are high in the A1 type of protein. And however low fat or flavoured a version they may sell you, the A1 type is linked to a risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, irritable bowel syndrome and even plain bloating. How does this affect you? The same reason the dwindling population of the tiger affects you. The desi cow and the tiger are all a part of the same ecological system. The desi cow may disappear from India in about 10 years, forcing all of us, especially our poor, to buy commercial varieties of milk at exorbitant prices and with known health risks.

Saving the Indian cow has both economic and ecological advantages. What is required is that food and nutrition research reaches the keepers of the cow, who can then value the animal and demand a price higher than Rs 20 per litre and not feel that the only way to make money is to put the cow to slaughter.

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