Last week, my husband “surprised” me by taking me to a local dairy farm. I had only gone to a farm once before as a child (school field trip, obviously. I’m Indian, so my parents didn’t really get the whole idea of taking their kids to see animals they grew up seeing on the street). But I had never been to a dairy farm before! As a cow lover, I couldn’t ask for anything sweeter. Well, maybe some chocolate cake! Hehe.
You have to understand that for a husband to surprise his new wife with a trip to a dairy farm, you know you got a freakazoid on your hands. Flowers? Jewelry? A trip to Paris? Nah. I wanna see cows!
People usually come to know of my love for cows when we’re gathered around for a meal, if they notice that I have chosen to not take the beef dish(es)… or more overtly, when I’m doing my best to deflect a very loving relative of mine informing me that eating beef will give me strength or whatever.
To which I then almost reflexively respond: “I don’t eat beef because I like cows.”
I’ve been 99% beef-free for a few years now. I did eat some talava gosht (fried beef) my mom made at the behest of my father about two years ago, but it just tasted nasty to me. Or maybe I told myself it tasted nasty. But at least that got my dad to stop “informing” me. To eat beef now would almost be tantamount to betraying my Rafianess.
But that leaves the question: why do I like cows so much?
I can’t exactly pinpoint a reason. I didn’t always love cows. I actually preferred bunnies when I was a little (I never ate bunnies either). But a lot of it has to do with what cows represent to me today.
As you may or may not know, I used to be severely overweight and was so for most of my life. Growing up as an Indian girl, surrounded by extremely thin Indian girls my age, I was reminded of this fact every single day. I guess after a certain point (i.e. high school) instead of apologizing for it, I embraced who I was… at least as a way to deflect people who made me feel awful for looking the way I did. I was like, “You gonna make fun of me? Nah. I like cows! Think of a better insult, lady!”
So, in a weird Batman-esque inspired turn, cows became my spirit animal or something like that. Okay, okay, I know that Batman embraced his fear. But I will never embrace fish. Never!!!!!! (I am afraid fish, for those of you who don’t know).
Funnily enough, I think my cow fetish became even more pronounced after my weight loss. That’s when I decided to stop eating beef. It just seemed to go hand-in-hand, you know? Jillian Michaels once said that stretch marks are like battle wounds. They provide a physical reminder of your struggle and overcoming it. Don’t be ashamed of them, own them, she says. I’m still working on accepting my stretch marks. But cows represent this sentiment in a more palatable (LOL at my word choice) way.
Also, cows are cute. Just look at my new friend 41!
Don’t tell me she’s not precious!
Update on December 30, 2016: I ate beef for the first time in years. I had a very difficult time with this, but MAN, was it delicious (Lahore Tikka House in Toronto). Because I had opened up a Pandora’s box of sorts with this moment, I decided to give into a craving I had been suppressing for years: a good old-fashioned burger. So I went to this one halal place that people have raved about. Well, apparently, I do not know how to order a burger. It was the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had. All that fat. Yuck! I knew I was being punished for going against my solemn oath. Since then, I have decided that I will only eat beef that is lean and prepared by my mother. So I guess I’m 90% beef-free? FORGIVE ME, 41!!!
Update on April 16, 2017: I went to this same dairy farm last weekend. Though I didn’t get to see 41 again, I did learn that her name is Lily and she is a mother now! Her calf’s name is Daisy. Isn’t that the cutest thing ever?