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Press Release: Pioneering Book on Cow Care in India

6th February 2020

Centre Fellow, Dr Kenneth Valpey, publishes a pioneering book on the history, philosophy, and ethical status of the cow in India.

Factory farming – specifically the beef industry – is considered one of the main contributors to climate change, prompting many activists and conscientious citizens to rethink their consumption of beef and dairy entirely. But what if there was a more considerate way to interact with cows – one that met the needs of both humans and the planet? Kenneth Valpey’s Cow Care in Hindu Animal Ethics examines how the welfare of human civilization is inextricably linked to the care and protection of the cow.

The book begins with a fascinating journey through India’s oldest texts in search of early references to the cow and its relation to human society – from the Rigveda to the Bhagavata Purana to medieval bhakti poetry. From there, Valpey reviews ideas of prominent modern Indian thinkers, providing a penetrating glimpse into the country’s current cow care practices.

In the book’s most philosophical chapter, Valpey proposes an animal ethic that combines Western ethics-of-care and environmental thinking with India’s traditions of: dharma (the sense of duty toward all living beings), yoga (the fostering of virtues such as non-violence, culminating in liberation), and bhakti (the channelling of one’s devotion toward the supreme, leading to a deep sense of relationality with all creatures).

Drawing upon a rich blend of cultural studies, intellectual history, and original fieldwork, Valpey suggests the need for practical action to develop models of sustainable cow care communities – action energized by knowledge, inspiration, and the vision of a future society in which cows are protected, not slain.

Dr Kenneth R. Valpey is a research fellow of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and a fellow of the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics, UK. Besides Hindu animal ethics, he has published on Vaishnava Hindu temple worship traditions and on India’s enduring favourite of bhakti literature, the Bhāgavata Purāṇa.

To purchase a hard copy or download the book for free through Open Access, see here. Also available at other online book outlets.

Contact: Divya Alter, +1 313-909-2800
Series: The Palgrave Macmillan Animal Ethics Series