Of Bos, Sus, Capra, Gallus and more

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To eat or not eat beef, should not be the question. The question should be – to eat or not eat any animal, says G. Venkatesh, who is convinced vegetarianism in toto is the best policy per se, leave religion aside.

They call me stupid,
some of God’s sons and daughters.
Yet, I nourish them,
with beef on their platters.
Stupid yes, and thereby easy meat,
you can finish your meal and say it to my daughter.
No qualms at all, for I am born to serve,
and I obey the will of my heavenly Father.
With milk and butter and beef and hides,
urine and dung and curds and ghee.
With my sons pulling your ploughs and carts,
…verily, it is every part of me.
Many of God’s children serve like I do,
enduring, sacrificing silently.
‘Stupid’ is what the beneficiaries come up with,
so, Lord God, I pray earnestly to Thee,
to support and protect Your benign flock,
for if they lose faith in Your care, and on your door, cease to knock,
these ‘stupid’ people will go away,
your world will be rent asunder one day.

IThe cow – Bos Taurus – is the most common type of large domesticated ungulate in the world. Bred for its milk, meat, hides, and byproducts – dung for biogas and urine for medicine. In India, 80 million people (about 12.5 million of them Hindus) consume beef. In all, that makes it one beef-eater for every 13 Indians. Globally, the cow is slaughtered and eaten by the platefuls, with Uruguay and Argentina in South America (neighbours both of them), liking their ‘carne’ mucho! The per-capita consumption is around 124 pounds per year in Uruguay (2016 data), while the Argentines are not far behind, with 120 pounds. In all, in year 2016, about 129 billion pounds of beef went down the alimentary canals of Homo Sapiens the world-over. India accounted for about 5 billion pounds of these (a meagre 4% of the global total), and had a very low per-capita consumption value of about 4 pounds per capita per year. The State of Meghalaya topped the list with a per-capita of around 10 pounds. The low per-capita number can be explained by the fact that only 8% of Indians consume beef.


With all this brouhaha about cow and beef raging, I suddenly recalled a movie I had watched in 2010 – Quick Gun Murugan. The protagonist in this movie is a vegetarian cowboy who reincarnates to stop his arch rival – one ‘Rice Plate Reddy’ from starting a chain of restaurants selling beef. Hilarious and intended to be a comedy, it tackled the idea of vegetarianism, and abstinence from eating beef, on a lighter note. And it follows that it did not stir any hornet’s nest, as a result. Vegetarianism is the need of the hour, believed the protagonist in the movie. (Now, I do not know if the protagonist is a vegetarian in real life). I agree. In toto. Having been a ‘congenital vegetarian’ and certain to continue to be one till my dying day, I think I can support this cause, without any double standards or hypocrisy. Wait a minute….vegetarianism and not eating beef are not synonymous…readers who may have supported this writer till this point, may now start having divergent views. And some may not wish to read on. You may be one of them.

And what about the pig and the goat?
Bos Taurus, yes. What about Sus and Capra Aegagrus Hircus? In other words, the pig (pork, ham, salami?), and goat (mutton)? Holy Cow yes, I agree. But why confer pariah status on the pig and goat? The affluent spend thousands on their pet canines and felines. But they would not care a damn for the pain which cows, goats and pigs face, when the scimitar of whatever it is, strikes them dead? They would not want to watch animals being slaughtered on television? Some even retch and switch off the TV, lest they would somehow start finding eating animal flesh repulsive! No trips to the meat shops with their children, lest they start developing sympathy for the quadrupeds and start abstaining from eating meat, which happens to be indispensable for the parents! Come on, who are you trying to fool? Your affected compassion for dogs and cats and cows (those who do not eat beef for supposed religious reasons) seems like a charade. But surely, vegetarianism cannot be imposed on people. It must be a voluntary, conscious and purposeful choice…not one to fit in or ‘keep up with the Joshis’. It is a good thing, health-wise, economically and environmentally. It is one of the necessaries for sustainable development. How and why, is beyond the scope of this article…the Internet is a repository of several scholarly articles on this topic. Now, I leave out the Gallus Gallus Domesticus (chicken) here, as I do not wish to be labelled as an extremist (note that Hitler was a vegetarian…but does that make vegetarianism evil?)

Well, the return of Quick Gun Murugan – a sequel or a handful of sequels – must address the needs of the other creations of God which are considered inferior to the Holy Cow – the goat and the pig. And maybe, in the longer run, even the chicken. Sadly, ‘fish’ has been redefined as a vegetable by many people….for the convenience of Bengali Brahmins?

Sample this. Location: Trondheim, Norway. Sometime in 2013.

Writer: Well, I am a vegetarian.
Norwegian lady: Oh okay, so you eat fish, I suppose?
Hopefully, reclassifications will not occur in the years to come…who knows, someone may come along – a Carl Linne of modern times – and decide to classify the chicken, goat, pig and cow as ‘winged and quadruped vegetables’. I am sure I would have made many enemies with this piece…but who cares? On a closing note, a poem….

I am the King of the jungle,
fierce, feared, brave and strong.
But my subjects do not assemble,
they have not done that for long.
I thought that fear evokes respect,
but perhaps I was always wrong.

If a King preys on his subjects,
what respect does he expect?
My father, his own, and every lion before them,
were all actually so abject!
I need to bring about a revolution,
have a lot of things to correct.

First of all, to start this year afresh,
I vow to give up eating flesh!


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G. Venkatesh

G. Venkatesh is Senior Lecturer, Department of Engineering and Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Health, Science and Technology, Karlstad University, Sweden. He is also a freelance writer for several magazines around the world.

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