Indians consume milk on a daily basis, and the
cow as a provider of milk, is equated to one's mother
(hence the expression Gomäta = mother cow)
Traditionally, Indians had cows in every
household. They were part of the family, with names and
personalities. Just like one would not hurt/eat their pets, the
Indians did not hurt the cows and respected them.
The cow has a special role in the Hindu mythologies; Kamadhenu is a wish-fulfilling cow. A cow is
also depicted as vehicle of several deities.
Many social reform movements in India (Jainism,
Buddhism, the Bhakti Movement, Gandhi's non-violent
movement) advocated non-violence, and no cruelty to animals. So
in India, other animals also (like elephants, mice, monkeys) are
That said, many ethnic communities do eat beef in India.
The cow meat is consumed by Roman Catholics, Anglo-Indians, and
several other non-Brahmin Hindu communities.
Slaughter of the cows is banned in several states, as it is
offensive to some Hindus.