"I could dance with you until the cows come home. On second thought, I'd rather
dance with the cows until you come home."- Groucho Marx
The term "beef" refers to dairy cattle's meat, particularly skeletal muscle.
People have been eating beef since the beginning of time, humans who from the
ages lived in the forest so beef was a common source of food since then. The
nutrients, proteins, and carbs are abundant in beef. India consumes the third
most meat globally and contributes 25% to the global output.
Beef generally cow which is considered a sacred animal by Hindus is often
against beef selling, other religions like Muslims differ in their view from the
Hindus. With the help of this article, I will try to cover a detailed analysis
of beef in India along with its religious implications.
History Of Cow Protection;
Indian people and lawmakers have made regular efforts from the time being to
make cow slaughter illegal in the country. Even before the time of India's
independence, the advocates tried to make beef and cow slaughtering illegal, but
all their efforts have near zero effects due to the presence of the colonial
government. The colonial government has an ideology that all religions are equal
and they do not want any chaos between various religions over beef-selling
issues, so they decided to keep things as if they are going till then.
After the formation of the constituent assembly of India in the year 1946 this
dream of making beef and cow slaughtering illegal have taken a breath as the
colonial rule come to an end the constituent assembly wants to remove their laws
When the constitution start its journey people started sending messages through
telegraph to mahatma Gandhi to persuade Jawaharlal Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel
to enact laws banning beef and cow slaughtering. Gandhi ji asked people not to
send telegrams as he thinks it a waste of time and money because the country is
recently gone through partitions and religious violence, he wrote that the
sacred belief of the cows is in current time prevailing in only a few states.
After the independence Hindus wants the system tilted towards them, but seeing
the recent tensions Gandhi ji decided to keep things as it is and not create a
situation giving rise to communal violence.
During the debates of the constituent assembly, Vishwambar Dayal Tripathi,
congressman, urged the assembly that cow protection is to be made a part of
Fundamental rights, taking into consideration its religious and financial
Seth Govind das, another congressman demanded that cow slaughter should be made
an offense under the law just as untouchability, and should be punished if the
same is breached.
Rajendra Prasad the president of the constituent assembly told Jawaharlal Nehru
that he is receiving several requests and letters from people on banning cow
slaughtering, and congress should take a serious stand on the issue soon.
Issues With Beef;
Hygiene issues; Poor hygiene and the prevalence of the meat-borne disease have
been reported in the studies of Indian cattle slaughterhouses. Due to ignorance
of safety and cleaning the germs and other harmful particles spread from the
cattle body and affect human health also.
A 2001 study by Sumanth and other scholars on cattle slaughter in Karnataka
reported more than 60% of the carcasses were infected with Schistosoma eggs and
worms. A 2007 report by Ravindran said that over 50% of cattle surveyed were
affected and are a source of danger to the health of humans.
Illegal Slaughterhouses And Cattle Theft;
As per the media reports India has a large number of illegal slaughterhouses.
Traditionally cattle are left to freely roam and graze in India. These are easy
prey for thieves and are sold in illegal slaughterhouses. According to the New
York times the organized mafia gangs pick up whichever cattle they found so that
they could sell it in illegal slaughterhouses. Reports say that increasing
consumption of meat especially in the last couple of decades has made cattle
endangered to illegal killing and hunting at a rapid pace.
The theft of cattle and illegally selling them is economically very beneficial
for the mafias in India. According to a Bangladeshi newspaper, a huge number of
cattle is transported between India and Bangladesh regularly, they also stated
that cattle theft and selling is a major crime across borders between the two
nations. Cattle from India are smuggled illegally into Bangladesh especially
during festive seasons as most of the population in Bangladesh consumes meat and
a festival is an occasion that requires it in large quantity.
Caste And Religion:
Some scholars state that the Hindu views on cattle slaughter and beef eating are
caste-based, while others disagree. Dalit Hindus who eat beef state the former,
while those who don't state that the position of Dalit Hindus on cattle
slaughter is ambiguous.
Cattle are considered very sacred for the Hindu community as they associate cows
with their lord Krishna, the Jain community also follows the same thinking of
preventing animal cruelty and is totally against killing and selling cattle.
On the other hand, other communities like the Islam and Dalits prefer to eat
meat as they have different ideologies concerning cattle and beef eating. There
are a lot of conflicts due to differences in these ideologies between the
communities following different beliefs and faiths. Some Dalit student
associations in the Hyderabad region state that beef preparations, such as beef
biryani, are the traditional food of low castes.
According to studies, the value of cattle to Hindus and other religions goes
beyond the religious aspect. From traditionally till now India has been an
economy dependent majorly on agriculture and its output. For a family engaged in
agriculture, cattle is their biggest asset, the cattle owner considers them as a
part of their family as the cattle provide them with milk which is sold in the
market and also from which they produce different dairy products also, the cow
dung which when gets dry serve as a major cooking fuel.
The cattle help the
farmers in their agriculture fields and their homes. On the untimely death of
their cattle, the owner and their family cry like they lost one of their family
members. Cattle are a livelihood for the farmers as it's their major source of
income for them. So just think of a family who cries for the death of their
cattle on thinking about it being sold and cut into pieces for others to eat, As
apart from just economic benefit cattle become an emotional part of life for the
people who own them.
The slaughterhouses in India have been accused of cruelty against animals by
PETA and other humane treatment of animals-groups. According to PETA and other
groups, the slaughterhouse members slit animal throats with blades and leave
them to die with heavy blood flowing from their bodies. The animal is not
considered a living being and is treated very rashly and this all happens even
when the animal is alive and tolerates all the cruelty in front of all the other
The Supreme Court of India, in February 2017, ordered state governments to stop
the illegal slaughterhouses and set up enforcement committees to monitor the
treatment of animals used for meat and leather.
Due to the strict legal regulation on killing cattle and the punishment if done
the same according to legislation, the trade of cattle and their illegal
slaughtering has been reduced to some extent.
But once the cattle or the cow stop giving milk and other benefits they become a
burden on the farmer who is unable to keep them as it is costing them
financially, so they just simply abandon the cattle in the streets. India has
over 5 million stray cattle according to the livestock census data released in
Views Of Different Religions On The Issue:
According to some authors, the Hindu religious text support sacrifice of animals
and they consider it as a part of a ritual and an offering to their god as a
gift and sacrifice.
On the other hand, some have contradictory views on this as they say that the
religious text only permits the sacrifice of cattle for a good cause and not
killing a cattle and eating it just for your hunger and enjoyment.
The conclusion of the Hindu religious text contradict each other opinions but
what I read and know is that the Hindu religion forbids the eating and killing
of cattle as they worship it and consider cow as their mother (GAU MATA).
The Jain texts tell us that they also forbid killing and consumption of beef, as
they consider each living being equal and fond of life on the earth. They
believe that killing another living being before the god decides their death
creates an ecological imbalance in the environment.
The Jain community believes in the principle of ahimsa as their superior
principle (AHIMSA PARMO DHARMA).
According to the Jain tradition, eating plants give the right amount of
nutrition to human beings and they should not make the animals suffer pain due
to their selfish motives.
According to Buddhism views on cattle slaughter, they consider it a very
inhumane practice. They consider cattle as a rebirth of human beings and say
that if one wants a good rebirth after death one should protect and respect all
living being including cattle and other animals.
But according to some scholars, some Buddhists regularly consume beef and
support cattle killing, contradicting their own religious text and disrespecting
With the arrival of Islamic rule as the Delhi Sultanate in the 12th century,
Islamic dietary practices entered India. According to the verses of the Quran,
such as 16:5�8 and 23:21�23, God created cattle to benefit man and recommends
Muslims eat cattle meat, but forbids pork. Cattle slaughter had been and
continued to be a religiously approved practice among Muslim rulers and the
followers of Islam, particularly on festive occasions such as the Bakri-Id.
Prevelent Question Related To Beef Consumption?
Q-Does Banning Beef Takes Away The Food Rights Of People?
~ Every human has the right to eat every kind of feed he wishes to eat. Banning
beef by the government according to me does not solve a problem rather creates
Beef is consumed by Muslims and Christian minorities as the meat is much more
affordable and cheaper rather than other expensive foods.
India is a secular country, our constitution prohibits discrimination based on
religion, caste, and various other aspects.
Banning a source of food in one community because it is considered immoral by
the other community is morally wrong and also a violation of the constitutional
rights of other communities.
This issue relating to the food rights of the people and the banning of beef is
taken up as a topic of discussion by the author Kancha Ilaiah in the article
published by the Economic and Political Weekly, Volume 31 pages 144-145. The
author is completely against banning beef in India as it is a source of
livelihood for many.
The author states that the SCs, STs, and OBCs are the ones
who depend on the less expensive beef for their consumption. According to the
author, it would be morally incorrect to ban beef which is eaten by Muslims and
the Christian community and also by many other people. It would also be against
the fundamental right to equality and would also result in the infringement of
the right to food of their choice to the people.
Legislation On Cattle Protection:
The "Preservation, protection and improvement of stock and prevention of animal
diseases, veterinary training and practice" is Entry 15 of the State List of the
Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, meaning that State Legislatures have
exclusive powers to legislate the prevention of slaughter and preservation of
The prohibition of cow slaughter is also one of the Directive Principles of
State Policy contained in Article 48 of the Constitution. It reads, "The State
shall endeavor to organize agriculture and animal husbandry on modern and
scientific lines and shall, in particular, take steps for preserving and
improving the breeds, and prohibiting the slaughter of cows and calves and other
milch and draught cattle.
Beef is a controversial subject, especially in a country like India which is a
hub for people with multiple ideologies and religious beliefs. Beef along with a
religious issue is also an issue of food which is a commodity for survival. The
government of India before deciding anything upon this issue should be very
careful as just one wrong decision by the court or the government will lead to
chaos all over the country between different communities.
Consumption of beef is not considered to be good practice in the Hindu religion
while Muslims and Christian minorities are often seen eating beef on festivals
and special occasions
Different religious texts have different perspectives related to this issue and
hence this has been a hot topic for debate amongst many scholars. The government
cannot take out any baseless rule against any particular section of society
relating to this issue as it would result in bloodshed and violence.
Written By: Aryan Trivedi
- Beef Ban in India
- Cattle slaughter in India - Wikipedia
- Is beef banned in India? Finology legal
- India's Supreme Court Suspends Ban on Sale of Cows for Slaughter - The
New York Times
, Law Student