Is Ahimsa Dairy really non-violent?

A while back I was alerted to the fact that the standards of the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation in the United Kingdom was far from non-violent and in fact was supporting practices that were very much violent towards innocent cows.

I, like many consumers in the UK, were under the impression that Ahimsa milk was produced with the highest integrity and that the cows involved in providing the milk were respected and never caused any harm, which is exactly what the word “ahimsa” means (no violence). However, a close look at the standards of the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation revealed that they had been misleading the public all along and that the cows they are using to provide their milk are being violated. They clearly reveal this inside information on a new IndieGoGo campaign they just launched.

“When we began, in order to start with minimum capital, we partnered with an established organic dairy. They have been managing the breeding of our cows, and while we are very grateful to them, they have not been able to fully facilitate our calves with ongoing access to their mothers (beyond the basic organic standard of just five days together). Also they require that our cows give birth annually, rather than every two plus years, which we would prefer.”

Forced pregnancy is rape

Even though it is honourable that the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation now strives to reach a much higher standard, the fact is forced pregnancy, even if it is just every 2 – 4 years is essentially rape. Furthermore, for all the mothers reading this post, how would you feel if I told you that you had to get pregnant to produce milk to satisfy our consumer demand and that we will take your child away after 6 months? Does that sound non-violent to you? Of course not, but that is the “highest possible welfare standards” the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation is striving for!

The note from their campaign page continues…

“We have decided to go it alone: to run our own dairy completely to the highest possible welfare standards. This will mean that we can ensure a calf will have ongoing access to its mother for a minimum of six months.  Under our system, cows will only become pregnant every two to four years. We also want to primarily milk by hand.  We aim to manage the size of our herd very carefully. ensuring that we know every cow’s name and their character. In essence, we are aiming for nothing less than an ideal compassionate dairy, a model to hold up to the world.”

I know I am not going to be popular with them after writing this post, but this just goes to show that commercial interest and milk will never work as a non-violent (ahimsa) business model. 

The bottom line is as long as their is commercial interest at stake there will always been some kind of compromise present and when it comes to innocent animals that have no way to communicate their feelings to humans, this inevitably leads to some kind of exploitation.

 Love milk hate slaughter campaign

Love milk hate slaughter” is the Ahimsa Dairy Foundation’s main marketing message, but what does this statement hide? While they claim no slaughter, they DO NOT claim complete non-violence to the cows involved in this project, which is the very meaning of ahimsa. The cows in this project do not have a choice, nor a voice to express their approval or disapproval for how they are being treated, so in effect their rights have been violated. Moreover, their current standards allow that calves can be forcibly taken away from their mother after only 5 days! How on earth is this NON VIOLENT? And to now claim that the “highest possible welfare standard” is that calves can remain with their mothers for 6 months is again misleading. Mothers and their children should never be separated. 

What kind of milk is really ahimsa?

The only milk that could ever be considered truly non-violent is milk offered with love by a protected family-owned cow that is never forcibly impregnated, or milked by a machine. In other words, milk from a cow that is loved and respected like any other member of a family as an equal. This ideal is rare indeed but possible and I have seen examples of it. I have been calling this standard “Krishna-dairy,” which of course is a shoutout to Lord Krishna and the pure standards that existed during His advent over 5000 years ago. Back then a cow was never considered a commodity to be exploited for selfish human interest. Cows were respected as “mothers” and the extra milk they lovingly offered to humans was revered as “liquid religion”. I am certainly not using this label as a vote of confidence for ISKCON’s controversial use of commercial dairy or any kind of support for commercializing this very intimate and sacred exchange between cows and humans. To be a “Krishna-dairyan” means that you only consume milk that is offered with love by a protected family-owned cow. With no tinge of selfish interest and the cow’s offering totally under HER control. That is the ONLY kind of milk that can truly be considered “ahimsa”.

So, let’s get one thing straight here: Where business profits are at the forefront of dairy production there can never be non-violent milk, because in some way the cows will be inconvenienced or exploited to maintain profit margins. If however the cow’s personal care and happiness is the primary motive, then ahimsa milk seems feasible, as evidenced by the Gita Nagari Yoga Farm in Pennsylvania, USA.

The Ahimsa Dairy Foundation has already openly admitted that they misled the public in the past with their claim of non-violence and now even their “highest possible welfare standards” for cows falls way short of the mark, so I say they should stop using the word “ahimsa” simply to take advantage of well-meaning consumers. Their product is certainly a higher standard than your typical commercial dairy operation but it is NOT ahimsa. Let’s call a spade a spade.

Just tell it how it is: We use cows to make money. Our dairy products are not ahimsa but our cows are treated better than what you’ll find at other commercial dairy farms. That at least is more honest.

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