New Delhi: Dairy giant Amul’s advertisement last week telling off non-profits over charges of animal cruelty indicates that the milk cooperative is worried about rising vegan awareness among people, claimed animal rights body, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
In a statement to ThePrint on its report, ‘Amul turns to Lord Krishna, Goumata to counter PETA & hail India’s cultural links with milk’, PETA India’s vegan outreach coordinator Dr Kiran Ahuja said Amul’s “extreme and aggressive” reaction to a “mere” letter about vegan eating indicates that the company is worried.
Ahuja said PETA had simply informed Amul about the rising interest in vegan foods and the lucrative opportunity plant milk provides.
The Amul ad had come nearly a month after PETA India asked the dairy cooperative to switch to producing vegan milk. The US-based animal rights body told the Indian giant in a letter, “If you can’t beat them, join them”, pointing to the rising interest in “vegan milk”.
The ad sought to highlight the cultural and spiritual significance of dairy in India, adding that milk is a completely natural superfood, and vegetarian, while “plant-based beverages” contain additives like stabilisers and thickening agents, and cost six times more.
In her statement, Ahuja denounced Amul’s move, saying that people in India as well as all over the world are going vegan not just over concerns related to animal cruelty but also health and environment.
“In fact, so many people today are vegan, that Amul can’t even seem to avoid using vegans in its topical ads. PETA India has had to tell Amul that tennis champion Novak Djokovic and (Hollywood actor) Joaquin Phoenix are vegan after the company used their likeness in various ads,” she said.
“We approached Amul to consider a shift toward plant-based milk since they already have some vegan products in their portfolio like peanut butter and chocolates. We even approached them to schedule a meeting to find a solution to this problem but we have yet to receive a response from them,” she said.
“We understand if they don’t want to produce plant-based milk but they should at least not denigrate these products by running a campaign against it,” added Ahuja.
Allegations over ‘calves cycle’
PETA India also alleged that there’s nothing holy about the routine dairy industry practices in India, of separating calves from mothers, discarding male calves, and being a key supplier of cattle to the beef and leather industries to kill.
The animal rights body further claimed that today, most cows and buffaloes are reared in larger and crowded farms. Amul too is now reportedly including a larger farm system in its model, including farms with over 100 cattle.
PETA also said that it’s not a coincidence that India is the world’s largest milk producer and fourth-largest beef producer as well as a major leather producer. In India, there is no such thing as cattle reared specifically for beef or leather as those killed are mostly from the dairy sector, it said.
Since male calves are considered of no value by the dairy industry due to their inability to produce milk, they are abandoned and left to starve, or sent to be killed.
“Entire image of Amul procuring milk from small farmers is changing as the organisation is also scouting its milk now from big farms and tabelas. We understand the concerns that small farmer income and nutrition will be threatened with a shift to plant-based milk but since Amul is a big corporation with huge resources we expect it to be possible. We know that this can’t be achieved overnight and will be transitory in nature,” said Ahuja.
“Practically there’s no sustainable solution to the whole male calves being abandoned and then being led to the slaughter problem. We don’t have either resources or a solution for this. The only way to stop this is to stop impregnating cows by artificial insemination to put an end to male calves and female calve cycles. We all must move together to plant-base solutions,” she added.
Other PETA claims
The organisation also claimed that ahimsa (non-violence) is an ancient Indian concept. Today, many Hindus and Jains are vegan because of this tenet, as are people from other religions.
Also, numerous spiritual leaders are vegan as Indians have long influenced westerners to stop consuming animal products, not the other way around.
PETA also alleged that modern meat, egg, and dairy production are both environmentally damaging and cruel and unhealthy as 75 per cent of Indians are lactose intolerant and can’t adequately digest animal milk.
It also claimed that while doctors are also warning about dairy’s contribution to heart disease, various cancers of the reproductive system, obesity, and other ailments, it has been found that methane produced by India’s livestock population, considered to be the world’s largest, can significantly raise global temperatures.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)