Secondly, you want to know my view on cow slaughter.
I am against all kinds of slaughter, so the question of my favouring cow slaughter does not arise. But whether I am for or against it, cow slaughter is not going to stop. The conditions of our life are such that the cow will continue to be killed. I am against meat eating, but it is not going to make a difference. Under the present conditions meat eating cannot go. We are not yet in a position to provide the entire population of the world with an adequate amount of vegetarian food. Let alone the world, even a single country cannot afford to be vegetarian at the moment. It will simply die of starvation if it decides to go vegetarian. Unless we have enough food grains and vegetables and milk to feed the whole world, non-vegetarianism will continue to predominate. There is no way out at the moment. It is a necessary evil. So is cow slaughter.
It is ironic that people who are anxious to ban cow slaughter are doing nothing to create the necessary conditions to make the society vegetarian. So cow slaughter is not going to end because of these people. If it ends someday, it will end because of the efforts of those who are not at all anxious to do away with cow slaughter. Slogan mongering and agitation are not going to end it, nor is it going to end through legislation. Though we have the largest number of cows, they are the most uncared for; they are as good as dead and useless. On the other hand, beef eating countries have the best kinds of cows, healthy and strong. While a single cow in the West yields forty to fifty kilos of milk per day, it would be too much for an Indian cow to give half a kilo. We have only skeletons in the name of cows, and we make such a hullabaloo about them.
The cow is
The production of vegetarian food, of nutritive and health-giving vegetarian food, is the first imperative if you want to abolish cow slaughter. Supporters of vegetarianism have yet to meet the argument of the non-vegetarians that the world is much too short of vegetarian food to provide nutrition and health to mankind. There is logic in their argument.
It is very interesting that both cow and monkey are vegetarians. Man inherits his body and soul from vegetarian sources. It is another thing that a monkey sometimes swallows a few ants, but by and large he is a vegetarian. The cow is wholly vegetarian; it will eat meat only when it is forced to. Under the circumstances it is strange how man has turned non-vegetarian, because his whole physical and psychic system is derived from vegetarian sources. The structure of his stomach is such as only vegetarian animals have, and so is his mental makeup. Obviously man must have been forced by circumstances to become non-vegetarian. And even today he cannot do without animal food.
It seems to me that cow slaughter will continue in spite of all our good intentions to stop it. In my view, it will only stop when we make provisions for adequate synthetic food for all. And then people have to be persuaded to take to synthetic food on a large scale. Synthetic food is the only alternative to non-vegetarianism. The day man accepts living on scientific food, meat eating will disappear, not before.
So I am not interested in the agitation for banning cow slaughter by law; it is absurd and stupid. It is a sheer waste of time and energy. I am interested in something else: I want science to put its energy into the creation of synthetic food so that man is freed from meat eating. There is no other way except this. Food derived from the earth will not do; food will have to be produced in factories in the form of pills. The population of the world today ranges between three and a half to four billion, and this goes on increasing. In spite of what we do to control population, it is going to increase in an unprecedented manner.
The day is not distant
when man will eat man
The day is not far off when we will leave behind this agitation against cow slaughter and will instead be agitating for a large scale slaughter of men. The day is not distant when man will eat man, because you cannot argue with hunger. As we now ask a dying man to donate his eyes or kidneys, we will soon ask him to donate his flesh for the hungry. And we will honour him who donates his flesh, as today we honour one who donates his heart or lungs. There is going to be such a population explosion on the earth.
Very soon we will begin to think it is unjust to cremate dead bodies, they should be saved for food – and it will not be something new and extraordinary; cannibalism has been known to man since ancient times. There have been tribes where man ate man to satiate his hunger. Once again we are coming close to that situation when cannibalism will be revived. In view of it, it is just stupid to agitate for a ban on cow slaughter. It is utterly unscientific to do so.
I don’t suggest that cow slaughter should not and cannot go. It can go. Not only the killing of cows, all kinds of killing can go. But then we will have to take a revolutionary step in the direction of our food and food habits. I am not in favour of cow slaughter, but I am also not in favour of those who shout out against it. All their talk is sheer nonsense. They don’t have a correct perspective and a right plan to stop cow slaughter. But it must stop; the cow should be the last animal to be killed. She is the highest in animal evolution; she is the connecting link between man and animal. She deserves all our care and compassion; we are connected with her in an innate and intimate manner. We have to take every care for her.
She [the cow]
is the highest
in animal evolution
But remember, caring is possible only when you are in a position to take care. Without the facilities and the wherewithal, caring is impossible. We have to be pragmatic; it is no use being sentimental.
[…] Life is lived according to its needs and exigencies, not according to ideas and theories. The cow cannot be saved when man himself is facing death. To save the cow it is necessary for man to become so affluent that he can afford it. Then, along with the cow, other animals will be saved too. The cow is, of course, nearest to us as an animal, but other animals are not that distant. Even the fish is our kin, although a distant kin. Life really began with the fish. So, as man grows affluent he will not only save the cow, he will save the fish too.
We have to be clear in our view that the cow and, for that matter, all other animals have to be saved. But it is sheer stupidity to insist on saving them even when the conditions necessary to do so are lacking.
Osho, Krishna: The Man and his Philosophy, Ch 9, Q 5 (excerpt)