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Milk Controversy : Amul v/s PETA

The ongoing dispute between Amul and PETA has become fiercer as Valmaji Humbal, the Vice-chairman of Gujrat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) urges PM Modi to ban PETA. The federation is work to sell Amul-based products has alleged that the said NGO has wanted to tarnish the image of India's dairy industry and is cohorts with foreign companies. PETA wants to snatch the livelihood of many dairy farmers across India. He named the PETA as an ‘opportunistic element by spreading misinformation.' 


In response, PETA India’s CEO and a veterinarian Dr. Manilal Valliyate branded Amul as a bully and unappreciative towards public concerns for animals. They cannot change the fact that vegan eating is taking the world by storm. 


The feud between NGO and Amul started in November 2020, when Amul petitioned in Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) to disallow the term ‘Milk’ for non-dairy products like Almond, soya, rice beverages, and oats. FSSAI drafted the document which makes companies stop labeling 'Milk' in plant-based products, but the verdict on this matter is still yet to arrive. 


In March of this year, Amul rolled out the campaign. Through advertisements in the newspaper and on social media, the company talked about the difference between milk and plant-based products. In these, they talk about the myths regarding ‘Plant-based beverages are rich in nutrients,' ‘Plant-based beverages are milk’, and ‘Plant-based beverages are a sustainable food system’, etc. They claimed the fact that milk is a complete food, full of nutrients, and vegetarian.  


When NGOs like PETA, Beauty with Cruelty (BWC), and Sharan India filed a case against Amul’s claims in Advertising Standards Council in India (ASCI). But the council had dismissed their plea as they found Amul's claims right. They observed that it proved through science that milk is nutritious and a rich source of fat, protein, calcium, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.  


After the ASCI verdict, on May 28, PETA writes a letter to Amul to shift to making vegan products. In a letter to Amul MD RS Sodhi, they said that Amul should get the benefits of booming vegan culture in India, and other companies have already made the changes so, they should also do the same. They also wanted Amul to stop “wasting resources to fight the demand of Plant-based products”. In turn, Sodhi responded through Twitter that PETA wants to snatch the livelihood of 100 million dairy farmers. Most dairy farmers are landless than who would pay for their children's school fees and how many people could afford these products. 


The tweet soon becomes an intense debate topic as many people found PETA’s demands were inappropriate and did not want Amul to approach these practices. Both Amul and people have pointed the core problem of vegan products is their pricing. They highlighted the fact about those households who could not afford milk regularly, then how could they afford overly priced vegan milk daily basis. In this point, PETA had tweeted that nobody needs milk after infancy, and if they do want the taste of creamy flavor in their food, then they should consume plant-based milk. PETA also stated that “would you drink dog’s milk? No. Why? As nature made dog’s milk for puppies, cat’s milk for kittens, rat’s milk for their babies, cow’s milk for calves, and human milk for our babies. Nobody needs milk after infancy or milk of another species.” 


These ongoing tweets have intensified the feud, then Amul wrote to the PM for banning the PETA.


Milk farming in India is a family-oriented business where the farmer sold their extra produce in the market. It had noted that 30 percent of farmer’s income attributed due to dairy. Over 71% of women in rural are employing in dairy industries. India’s dairy industry has gained the rural economy and households of many people.  


As of late both, beef and dairy industries had come under the scrutiny of the impact of climate change. Deterioration of soil, reservoir and increasing emissions of greenhouse gases give bad aspects to nature. So, the food system needed a reboot to help the environment. And vegan is known to be an eco-friendly option worldwide. But the vegan industry is still in the early stages in India. While India's dairy industry is around over 140 billion dollars but the vegan-based industry is at 25 million dollars only. 


Companies like Sofit, Epigamia, The Hershey Company, Raw Pressery, Urban Platter, and Goodmylk provide vegan alternatives for dairy products. It is growing due to the increasing number of lactose-intolerant people found in the area. But the question remains the same, vegan options are not pocket-friendly. A 1 liter of tetra pack Amul milk is priced around Rs.51 while sofit provides soya milk over Rs. 123.   


If India indeed shifts to vegan-based products, then the unemployment crisis is largely looming in society. All the development and economic stability of every sector had derailed. Accepting the industry is still needs more time, and more factors had to keep in mind. But basically, it has to become a financially viable option for people to buy.   


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Tags: Amul PETA Vegan dairy products Milk farmers Plant-based products


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