Namaste! I’m Namrata 🙂
Glad to see you here at my little blog Of Donkeys & Dhokla which is all about living a happy & fulfilling life as a middle-class vegan in India.
Here you will find easy recipes and useful DIYs made with ingredients that are affordable and readily available.
It’s a late autumn evening and I’m absent-mindedly scrolling through my Facebook feed. Suddenly I stop and stare at the image on the screen in shock.
A big buffalo sprawled on the ground, her stomach bloated. Her mouth wide open, white froth trickling out. Her glazed unblinking eyes—frozen open in death—stare blankly into space.
And the caption reads: She died because YOU consume milk, curd, and cheese!
The image is horrific, but the caption disturbs me more. While I pride myself on being a “vegetarian for ethical reasons,” I do consume dairy. In fact, vast amounts of it! Now, I won’t lie—it isn’t like I’m not aware that dairy is a cruel industry. Growing up in a city famous for its dairy-rich cuisine which includes a sweet dish made of cow/buffalo’s colostrum, I am pretty much aware that male baby calves and elderly cows are routinely abandoned as I often see them rummaging in the garbage dumps for food (now that I think of it, I wonder what happens to male buffalo calves and old buffalos, given that most of the milk in my hometown comes from buffalos. I have never seen abandoned buffalos roaming around, rummaging for food in the dumps!)
But yeah, I still don’t understand how my consuming dairy causes buffalos to die!
The unseeing eyes of the dead buffalo continue to stare at me…
Finally, I type “But how?” in the comment section. The person who had shared the image—a vegan lady named Sanghamitra—replies, starting off what would become a life-changing conversation for me. Fifteen minutes later, I shut down my laptop, numb. I wish I could somehow unlearn all the horrific facts I had learned in the past few minutes. My mind is still processing all the newly-gained information, trying to look for loopholes to justify the consumption of dairy. My head comes up with a plethora of excuses…
“What about tea, N? How will you live without chai?”
“From where will you get calcium and vitamins?”
“Chocolate! You will die without your “Dairy Milk” bar!”
“How will your parents react?”
“Who will marry you if you go vegan?”
“Are you serious? Will you give up kadhi forever? And dahi bhalla too! And kheer, ras malai, gajrela, kulfi…”
“Hmm, wait,” pips up another voice inside me, in a gentle yet firm tone. “What if you were a buffalo? Can you imagine going through all that she’s forced to endure?”
I’m a buffalo. I’m tied up inside a dairy farm. I’m restrained by a thick rope around my neck. I’m uncomfortable and want to move, but I can’t; the noose tightens every time I try. So I just stand there. Now I see the dairy farmer and his helpers approaching me. The farmer is wearing a glove on one hand, and holding a long stick-like thing in the other. The humans come nearer; I feel my heart racing, panic rising with each step they take. They reach me. The farmer grabs my tail and pulls it sideward. I scream! And then he…
No…no… no… I break down in loud sobs. I can’t imagine any further! My heart is beating like crazy and I’m trembling… with fear, sadness, and utter helplessness. The moment strikes me in its poignancy: what is even too painful for me to imagine is what a dairy animal is actually forced to go through. Repeatedly!
I am crying uncontrollably now. And that’s it! I have reached the point of no return. No excuses matter now. I’m totally shocked, sad, guilty, and anxious. But the answer is clear. Taking a couple of days to do some basic research on veganism and dairy-alternatives, I officially go vegan on 27 October 2014. And the only regret is—why didn’t I do it sooner!