Vinod K. Jose, who watched cows in his upper-caste neighbour’s house in Manipal being looked after by a servant belonging to the Koraga tribal tribe who ate beef, on why “Prevention of Slaughter and Preservation of Cattle Bill 2010” is fraught, in Caravan:
1) People who coexist with cattle—the ones who get their hands dirty looking after the animals— should not be left out of the debate against those who make higher moral claims of militant vegetarianism, those who preach the doctrine of the sacrosanct bovine, yet watch the animals eat plastic and urban waste and return no physical care to the animals.
2) Cows were not ‘sacred’ during the Vedic and post-Vedic periods. Indra had a weakness for bull meat, and Agni for bull as well as cow, the texts say. Taittiriya Brahman says: atho annam via gauh (verily the cow is food). And in Charak Samhita, the Ayurvedic medical text, cow’s flesh is prescribed as a medicine for various diseases.
3) Beef contains 22.5 proteins while rice has only 6 to 8 percent and wheat only 10 to 12 percent. Also for its essential amino acids, animal proteins are qualitatively better than vegetable proteins. This is also a reason lower-caste Hindus continue to eat beef in spite of ritualistic Hindus making it a taboo.
The right to one’s food preference has to be respected just as much as another’s right to avoid a particular food.
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