Wait… the cow? For most Western people, when we think of the cow we think of her as dinner, as the skin behind a slick new coat or a sturdy new pair of shoes. We see her as a mute and dumb part of the classical American rural landscape, or we see her as an archetypal symbol of the inscrutable horde of Hindu cosmologies and theologies. Yet the physical and metaphysical reality of the cow as she actually is, beyond our romanticization and depersonalization, defines our own physical and metaphysical reality. That is why the protection of mother cow is so essential in our efforts towards creating an ecologically-sound present and future.
The Independent recently posited that 2014 will be the year that being a vegan will become a mainstream thing. Some of our most affluential and eminent cultural and political figures, such as Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jay-Z and Beyonce have experimented with a vegan diet in order to enhance their personal health. The long shadow of the livestock industry has long been established as being one of the main causes of our collective existential ecological crisis. Many diverse peoples around the planet are beginning to recognize that living beings like the cow need to be seen as more than mere commodity, more than a machine to satisfy our tastes, and they are adjusting their lifestyles gradually and accordingly. Then there are those sagely souls who take it to a deeper level, giving a physical and metaphysical example of culture and theology based around the protection of the cow. It is these souls who in so many ways are at the vanguard of our ecological movement.
One such example of those in the vanguard is the International Society for Cow Protection (ISCOWP). Incorporated in 1990 as a non-profit, tax-exempt organization by disciples of A.C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada named William and Irene Dove (who are commonly known in the bhakti-yoga community by their respective spiritual initiate names Balabhadra Dasa and Chayadevi Dasi), the ISCOWP project is currently located on 165 acres of land in the foothills of the West Virginia panhandle near Wheeling. A herd of twenty protected cows and bulls make up the beloved inhabitants of the community. Most of the cows and bulls are older and are considered retired from any kind of active plowing or dairy production, having been donated to the project in order to allow them to live out their natural life peacefully and to provide a living example of the proper relationship between cow and human.