Mohandas Gandhi, India's great apostle of nonviolence, wrote extensively
on cow protection:
"The central fact of Hinduism is cow protection... It takes the human being beyond this species. The cow to me means the entire sub-human world. Man through the cow is enjoined to realize his identity with all that lives.
"Cow protection is the gift of Hinduism to the world. And Hinduism will live so long as there are Hindus to protect the cow... Hindus will be judged not by the correct chanting of mantras, not by their pilgrimages, but their ability to protect the cow.
"The cow is a poem of pity. One reads pity in the gentle animal. She is the mother to millions of Indian mankind. Protection of the cow means protection of the whole dumb creation of God. The ancient seer, whoever he was, began with the cow. The appeal of the lower order of creation is all the more forcible because it is speechless.
"…The cow is the purest type of sub-human life. She pleads before us on behalf of the whole of the sub-human species for justice to it at the hands of man, the first among all that lives. She seems to speak to us through her eyes: ‘you are not appointed over us to kill us and eat our flesh or otherwise ill-treat us, but to be our friend and guardian’...
"I worship it and I shall defend its worship against the whole world.
"My religion teaches me that I should by personal conduct instill into the minds of those who might hold different views, the conviction that cow-killing is a sin and that, therefore, it ought to be abandoned.
"Cow protection to me is not mere protection of the cow. It means protection of what lives and is helpless and weak in the world.
"The reader will observe that behind the foregoing requirements lies one thing and that is ahimsa (nonviolence), otherwise known as universal compassion. If that supreme thing is realized, everything else becomes easy. Where there is ahimsa, there is infinite patience, inner calm, discrimination, self-sacrifice and true knowledge.
"My ambition is to see the principle of cow protection established throughout the world. But that requires that I should set my own house thoroughly in order first.
"When these primary things are done, it will be found that the Muslims will, of their own accord, recognize the necessity, if only for the sake of their Hindus brethren, of not slaughtering cattle for beef or otherwise..."
The fate of the animals and the fate of man are interconnected. (Ecclesiastes 3:19) A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada said in 1974:
"We simply request, 'Don't kill. Don't maintain slaughterhouses.' That is very sinful. It brings a very awkward karmic reaction upon society. Stop these slaughterhouses. We don't say, 'Stop eating meat.' You can eat meat, but don't take it from the slaughterhouse, by killing. Simply wait (until the animal dies of natural causes) and you'll get the carcasses.
"You are killing innocent cows and other animals--nature will take revenge. Just wait. As soon as the time is right, nature will gather all these rascals and slaughter them. Finished. They'll fight among themselves--Protestants and Catholics, Russia and America, this one and that one. It is going on. Why? This is nature's law. Tit for tat. 'You have killed. Now you kill yourselves.'
"They are sending animals to the slaughterhouse, and now they'll create their own slaughterhouse. You see? Just take Belfast. The Roman Catholics are killing the Protestants, and the Protestants are killing the Catholics. This is nature's law. It is not necessary that you be sent to the ordinary slaughterhouse. You'll make a slaughterhouse at home. You'll kill your own child--abortion. This is nature's law.
"Who are these children being killed? They are these meat-eaters. They enjoyed themselves when so many animals were killed and now they're being killed by their own mothers. People do not know how nature is working. If you kill you must be killed. If you kill the cow, who is your mother, then in some future lifetime your mother will kill you. Yes. The mother becomes the child, and the child becomes the mother.
"We don't want to stop trade, or the production of grains and vegetables and fruit. But we want to stop these killing houses. It is very, very sinful. That is why all over the world they have so many wars. Every ten or fifteen years there is a big war -- a wholesale slaughterhouse for humankind. But these rascals--they do not see it, that by the law of karma, every action must have its reaction."
If I demand you cease to kill cows: cease to eat beef, wear leather, etc... that there's heavy karma in cow-killing, that the collective karma for killing cows is abortion and war...
...you'll argue that I'm trying to "convert" you, saying only Hindus believe the cow is sacred. And you might ask, what about the killing of other animals: lambs, chicken, pigs, fish, etc.?
If I say in response that killing any animal is a crime: go vegetarian...
...you might ask, what about the cruelty of modern factory farming and the killing of animals in obtaining animal by-products (dairy, eggs, honey, wool, silk, etc.) ?
But if I take a nonsectarian stand in favor of animal rights: animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for "entertainment," so go vegan, join People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), or any other secular animal rights organization, opt for vegan items on the menu, etc...
You can't make these kind of accusations!