Do Not Touch: Forbidden Foods
In India, it’s a crime to injure or kill a cow, so Hindus don’t eat beef. “Why the cow was selected for apotheosis is obvious to me,” Mohandas Gandhi said 2,500 years after the Buddha made it sacred. “The cow was … the best companion. She was the giver of plenty.” The native bovine pulls a metal plow too heavy for humans, and gives dung to fertilize both fields and fuel cook stoves. It also magically transforms scrubby weed into milk used by vegetarians to make protein-rich yogurt and cheese, butter and ghee. And despite all this, the docile creature subsists, even half-starved, on shockingly small amounts of scrub and no attention. In 1947 when India became independent, the cow was still pulling plows through mud that mired costly tractors and providing fuel, so its Constitution specifically prohibits “the slaughter of all cows and calves and other milk and draft animals.”
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