In June 2017 the documentary film Hare Krishna! premiered in the USA. It is about an unassuming 70 year old Swami who went to America with no money or support. He found himself in the turbulent 1960's and he ignited the worldwide cultural revolution of spiritual consciousness known as the Hare Krishna movement.
"His teachings on caring for the earth, of respect, of compassion, of living a life without greed or exploitation are exactly the messages that the world needs to hear today."
At his teacher's request Prabhupada offered spiritual wisdom to the people of the world. He spoke of the world's real need, which is not necessarily satisfied by political or social revolutions, but by a revolution of consciousness. According to the film's website he shared the idea that the way to find real happiness, love and freedom is to search within and connect to the true self. This message resonated with people at the time who were already diverging from the status quo. Not everyone was enthusiastic about the fervor of his young followers instead seeing the spiritual revolution as dangerous.
Lead guitarist George Harrison from the Beatles became a lifelong devotee and helped establish Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada and the movement in Britain. In 1973 he bequeathed a mansion in Watford, Hertfordshire which was converted into a temple and renamed Bhaktivedanta Manor. The Mantra and The Movement are still with us today. It is portrayed in the beautiful, spiritually uplifting video about the Manor below and others at the bottom of this page:
Ahimsa dairy hails from a culture that reveres the cow as sacred.
AHIMSA milk has been around for many decades. It is not a new concept. It was popularised by Hare Krishna communities in western countries.
Ahimsa milk means milk produced without harm to any living being. It has become a real ethical choice for dairy outside of milking your own cow. Ahimsa dairying is very different to the conventional model. It may also have been the precursor to some of the more ethical, organic and high animal welfare micro-dairies now popular. Milking is usually done by hand.
Ahimsa milk is a unique experiment into what happens when dairy cows and their offspring are allowed to live productive lives. The Ahimsa way may be hard for westerners to understand but when you watch the videos provided at the bottom of this page it becomes apparent that it is achievable and compatible within the Hindu community's way of life and beliefs.
Bhaktivedanta Manor, now a Hare Krishna farm setup as well, was in the news for producing Britain's most expensive milk in 2010. The pasteurised milk sold for £3 a litre in shops around Harrow, London, where there is a large Hindu community (source).
More recently, the
Ahimsa Dairy Foundation
started their own dairy after drawing inspiration from the Bhaktivedanta Manor. They say they are Britain's first slaughter-free dairy farm run to revolutionary welfare standards. Their mission is to make slaughter-free milk a reality and establish sustainable dairy farms across Britain. It is an extraordinary ambitious project.
Aims of Ahimsa Dairy Foundation:
- To establish slaughter free dairies with the following Key Objectives:
- No slaughter of cows/calves or bulls
- Protected herd for life
- Pension scheme & hospice for non-productive cows and bulls
- Open grazing policy
- To educate and campaign for slaughter free milk and better care of cows
- To establish an ‘Ahimsa’ label certifying slaughter free milk
- To pilot, model and replicate sustainable Ahimsa dairies
- To support the establishment of Ahimsa dairies and ox-working farms
- To further sustainable farming and support biodiversity and the environment
- To explore innovative ways of working with bulls
AHIMSA milk becomes viable with the production of raw milk for human consumption. It enables true appreciation for the value of milk and the ethics behind it. The Ahimsa Dairy Foundation started selling raw, unpasteurised milk in October 2016.
In May this year the Queen's Park Farmers' Market in London welcomed Ahimsa Dairy Foundation with enthusiasm. The milk sells for £4.50 a litre at a farmers' market, or £3.50 for members. Nicola Pazdzierska say that while their milk is more expensive, many people are willing to spend the extra (source). "We charge a lot more for the product but part of that money is going into our cows' pension fund, and at the same time, we don't think milk should be a cheap product."
The following is written on a stall sign:
Passion for compassion
"The Ahimsa Dairy Foundation is Britain's only completely slaughter-free farm. All of our cows, calves and bulls enjoy their full lifespan until they pass away naturally."
Patrick Holden who is the director of Sustainable Food Trust, a prominent organisation in the UK, is very supportive of the revolutionary dairy model. He says:
"This wonderful initiative represents the pinnacle of animal welfare and a shift towards recognising the importance of being non-violent to nature and to animals in the production of food".
Ahimsa Dairy Foundation, known as Ahimsa - Happy Healthy Cows on their Facebook Page, is currently selling 23,000 litres of milk a year and they have 30 animals on the newly purchased farm in Manton, Rutland. They also aim to create a visitor centre and their own cheese.
Support for this kind of dairy is surprisingly high if you consider an Indigogo crowd fund campaign that successfully raised the £30,000 GBP for Phase One of their campaign. In a February 2016 interview Ruth Sanderson from the BBC spoke with co-directors Nicola Pazdzierska and Sanjay Tanna as they prepared to move their herd from Kent to the previous site near Groby. The pair faced many challenges to get their new project off the ground but they were determined to see their pioneering plan through.
In the interview Ruth voiced her concern about what the pair would say to conventional dairy farmers listening to the interview who became defensive. Sanjay said that they are not saying that farmers don't look after their livestock or don't care about them. He said it is the culture that we've developed around industry that is causing dairy farmers to move back towards small farms, in greater numbers. Click on the following link to listen to the interview:
Ahimsa dairy have been produced in other countries like the USA for many years too. Gita Nagari Creamery in Pennsylvania was the very first US certified slaughter-free RAW dairy.
Countryfile story on Ahimsa Dairy Foundation 13 Aug 2017 (Not available to watch from Aus)
YouTube: The Hare Krishna Bhaktivedanda Manor
Hare Krishna community farms 'non-violent' milk in Australia
UK requirements for raw milk and cream - Food Standards Agency regulations