PETA—People for Ethical Treatment of Animals are active in India. They want to interfere in Indian cow politics. They are against the idea of non-vegetarianism. They are against people eating chicken, mutton, pork, and beef. While making their presence felt, they go on nude protests, wherein women disrobed in public raise the banner of PETA. They are a bunch of freethinking minds that do not care for the civic decorum of society. On the surface, it seems to be a noble organisation. However, if one gets into basic research on them, the shallowness of their principles will surface to the researcher. In the US, they have a centre to provide shelter to diseased and impaired animals. However, over some time, the management of PETA either lets the animals die of starvation or kills them in the name of euthanasia. The animals are killed through mercy killing. Millions of animals have died at the hands of PETA. It exposes their paradox.
The People for the ethical treatment of Animals (PETA) also exposes hypocrisy by pointing out that cows are confined to tiny stalls, crudely inseminated and forced to stand on piles of their faeces. They are injected with the drug oxytocin, which gives them stomach cramps. It is done to increase the milk yield. Recently, several cows died in a badly managed official cow shelter in Rajasthan (Sharma).
In India, other animal rights activists want to ban the slaughtering of animals during festivals. They are the people who do not consider the animals as gods but consider killing animals for food as himsa—violence. Moreover, they proclaim ahimsa—non-violence against all animals. They even went to court to stop slaughtering cattle and sheep during the Bakrid—Eid-Ul-Ad’haa, the Muslim festival where animals are slaughtered as part of the religious ritual. However, the court ruled in favour of the Muslims while considering the slaughtering of animals as their religious right. The arguments forwarded by the Muslims can be stated thus: Animals have to be ethically treated with care. However, when it comes to eating meat for a living, god has permitted us to eat it.
India has the label of being a vegetarian nation from its well off class. According to sociological studies, these affiliations to the cult of vegetarianism date back to the rise of Jainism and Buddhism. Following these two religious teachings, many elite Indians have changed their food choices. Thus began the cultural hype of India being a vegetarian nation. But, till date, most Indians, especially those belonging to lower strata of society continue to enjoy meat either at home or outside. According to a survey conducted by IndiaSpend, around 80 per cent of Indian men and 70 per cent of women consume meat weekly (Najooka Javier).
The Vegans are against eating the meat of animals since they consider killing living things as himsa. They should also be against eating vegetables, as it is a scientific fact that they have life and can feel pain. In that case, why do vegans eat plants that have life? Moreover, no vegan can remain a vegan without killing living things to eat vegetables and fruits. Farmers use insecticides and pesticides to kill the insects and rodents that spoil the crop. If one were to count the number of organisms that die while spraying insecticides and pesticides, he would be dumbstruck for eternity. The numbers do not run in millions; but in trillions. Billions of living things die to save the crops of the farmers. If the farmers do not use them, then the crops will die.
Moreover, the people would have to starve. What will the members of PETA and the Go-Vegan movement do to deal with this crucial issue of killing pests and insects? A life is a life. Even a sheep has a life. Even a rat has a life. Even an insect has a life. Why are those special considerations shown to certain species? The world is both for carnivorous and herbivorous animals. It is part of the larger ecosystem. It is a part of the law of nature. Cats eat rats, and rodents eat insects and feed on smaller organisms. Moreover, the chain keeps on going.
The animal rights activists who champion the cause of ahimsa need to be consistent with their philosophy. Even the morning coffee they drink is made after killing millions of germs through pasteurisation. It is the process of heating and cooling milk and other liquids to kill germs. Even the toothpaste and mouthwash that one uses kill germs. They contain antimicrobials in them. Also, while humans breathe in and out, we kill many microorganisms. Should we breathe at all?
In this context, many people find reason behind columnist Haresh Jagtiani’s argument,
I would be perfectly willing to match wits and join issues with a vegetarian or a vegan who questions my desire to eat beef. I might even be convinced if he proved that a single malt tastes better with vegan ham (made out of coconut) or dhokla. But if a law is enacted that bans beef eating in my own home because the state believes it has the right to tell me what my diet should be, I would challenge it.
- Shariff, Umar. In the Name of Cow: An Indian Narrative. Karnataka, Eight Angels Publication, 2021. Kindle Edition.
- Sharma, L. K. India’s Soul Possessed. (Chapter 20: Of Sacred Cows and Profane Men). Medial and. Kindle Edition.
- Jagtiani, Haresh. “Beef and the Constitution.” EPW, 14 May, 2016 (Vol. 51, Issue No. 20).
- Javier, Najooka. “The politics of vegetarianism in India and the rise of mock meat.” The Bridge Chronicle, 10 Jan. 2021, available at: https://www.thebridgechronicle.com/knowledge/the-politics-of-vegetarianism-in-india-and-the-rise-of-mock-meat , accessed 14 Aug. 2023.
Abu Siddik teaches at Plassey College, West Bengal, India. He is a bilingual author and has been published in India and abroad. He has three critical books— Representation of the Marginalized in Indian Writings in English (Falakata College Cell, 2015), Misfit Parents in Faulkner’s Select Texts (Authorspress, 2015), Banglar Musolman (Sopan, 2018); two poetry books and a short story, published by Authorspress in 2020 —Rugged Terrain, Whispering Echoes, A Birdwatcher and Other Stories. Website: www.abusiddik.com