Image copyright AFP Image caption Malhotra prefers to eat cornmeal instead
When Vipin Malhotra bought his first cow six years ago, he came to the decision out of necessity.
Pulses are very high in protein and Malhotra wanted more of them to feed his growing family.
He wasn’t prepared for how much trouble it would be to keep the animals alive.
“What I really want to know is whether the milk of these animals tastes better than the milk of cows bred for beef, or for milk,” he says.
“Is it true that it takes months to get into a cow?” he asks from his home in Bamnur village, just outside the village of Deonar in Mumbai.
Malhotra says he takes great care with his herd of eight Holstein-Friesian cows and that he spends more on their food and milk than he would on beef.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Malhotra says he takes great care with his herd of eight Holstein-Friesian cows
But neighbours warned him he may need to keep them alive longer.
“The cows I buy are older than the one I keep as pets. For six years, I have saved them from goats, guinea pigs and other livestock, but then a demon-possessed farmer offered me Rs25,000 (US$371) to get rid of my cows,” he says.
Malhotra’s kept his animals alive on cornmeal instead.
“The cow has to have hay, cornmeal, and grass,” he says.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Malhotra says he does not want to lose his animals for slaughter.
But after several years he has grown tired of milking and now does it only a few times a week.
“People in the neighbouring village (Patela Morav) start asking me what is my use for such beautiful cows,” he says.
“I am worried they will make me buy cattle or put them down if they are insulted,” he says.
“I ask them (the farmer) to burn down their cows instead. I don’t want them to lose their animals for slaughter. They are very painful to milk, and they make me carry the cow when I pump the milk,” he says.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Malhotra says he believes “the cows must have come from God”
Malhotra does not think his cows will be slaughtered because “the cows must have come from God”.
He says he does not want to lose his animals for slaughter, and would be happy with another source of protein.
But even if the cows are slaughtered, Malhotra says, the incident has only made him more attached to his herd.
“These are not just cows. They are part of my world,” he says.
“I have always seen the cows as human beings. To kill one is to kill me,” he says.