An initiative by the Federation of Indian Animal Protection Organisation (FIAPO), #DontGetMilked is urging consumers to rethink their dietary habits and go vegan. The focus here is on dairy products and on weaning consumers off them. The campaigners say that they want to protect the rights of dairy animals, and to highlight the adverse implications of utilising mammals for dairy products as well as the impact of factory farming on the environment.

Using the online space as reach out to more and more people, the campaign reveals what it projects as serious flaws in the dairy sector—both its backyard and commercial variants. Artificial insemination, use of illegal drugs such as Oxytocin to stimulate the milk let-down, separation of calves from their mothers, tail docking, holding animals captive, and a lack of medical care are all common practices in the dairy industry, and the campaigners believe that all these issues need urgent addressing.

Dr Nandita Shah, an expert in diabetes reversal on a plant-based diet in Auroville, speaks to Guardian 20 about the campaign. She says, “I believe that everyone can become vegan if they have the opportunity to make an initial connection. Over the years I have seen people go from cynics to passionate vegan advocates once they have made the switch to a vegan diet. I think it’s because just one initial shift can help people go beyond denial and justifications. Veganism aligns us with our true values, which are compassion and oneness. I am more than happy to help FIAPO spread the same message with the #DontGetMilked Campaign.”

The world’s first vegan to climb Mount Everest, Kuntal Joshier, who has also joined the campaign, shares his thoughts with us. “I am a mountaineer by passion and a vegan by compassion. I am delighted to be a part of FIAPO’s #DontGetMilked campaign because I want people to know that physical strength and stamina have nothing to do with the consumption of milk. My diet constitutes of only vegan and cruelty-free food and I have been able to survive and climb mountains based on it.”

Roshni Sanhgvi is a fitness coach based in Bangalore, and runs a number of health centres as well as additionally offering personalised online coaching on physical fitness. Informing us about how dairy products effect the fitness process, she explains, “When you stop taking dairy and meat into your system, your body has less toxins to process and can focus on building and repairing muscle better. By associating with FIAPO on #DontGetMilked, I am looking forward to reach out to as many people as I can with the message of plant-powered fitness.”

“Apathy towards the cruel practices of the dairy sector is what encourages most individuals to continue consuming dairy and other animal products.”

Varda Mehrotra, Director, FIAPO, on the motto of the campaign says, “DITCH DAIRY. GO VEGAN. The motto of the campaign calls for consumers to discontinue the use of dairy products by adopting a plant-based lifestyle to end subjugation of dairy animals.”

Mehrotra adds, “The solution lies with us—with the humankind. We need to realise the power we hold individually as consumers. The decision to consume animal products is subjective and impacts millions of animals. Animals require protection because we repeatedly fail to acknowledge the fact that all sentient beings are equals and continue to subjugate animals to fulfil our ‘needs’. Consuming dairy, or any other animal product, is not a necessity but a choice.

“Apathy towards the cruel practices of the dairy sector is what encourages most individuals to continue consuming dairy and other animal products. Our goal is to sensitise consumers—so that they are aware of the truth, and can distinguish it from the lies fed to them since the White Revolution.”

In a country like India, where vegetarian food is quite popular and easily available, avoiding dairy products in regular meals is not that difficult. Most dishes contain grains and vegetables with the exception of paneer-based dishes. The key dairy product used in most households and eateries is ghee, which most definitely is a luxury and not a necessity and can be easily substituted with cooking oil.

According to the campaigners, milk does not contribute to human health positively. Mehrotra says, “Intensive studies have proven that humans who thrive on dairy products often face health complications. While dairy is prevalent in substantial commercially packaged food, consumer demand and apathy towards the truth are major contributors to this trend. Reduction in demand can surely lead to a decrease in supply. The reality of the dairy industry is not happy cows ruminating in green fields, the reality is—subjugation of innocent sentient beings who are exploited their whole life for human greed. Save animals and go vegan.”

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