Cow Urine to Usurp American Cola?
Imagine that you are in charge of protecting and promoting India's cows. Since a large portion of the population is Hindu, and doesn't eat beef, the protection part should be relatively easy. The promotion could be more of a challenge. You may need to think of something new, something that will get peoples' attention... And it hits you - cow urine soda! Bovine waste is already used in manufacturing cleaning, skin care, and scented products. Why not beverages? The Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is in the final stage of developing a drink called gau jal (cow water). The Hindu nationalist group is supporting the campaign with claims that the drink has extraordinary health benefits.
"It has been established that cow urine is capable of curing even cancer, so imagine a drink which would not only be tasty but also healthy," said RSS leader Om Prakesh. "The acceptance of cow urine as a potent medicine is increasing day by day and once it comes as a cold drink, its demand will definitely increase."
Health experts are not falling all over themselves to agree. "I think I'm perfectly comfortable in saying that I'm aware of no data that cow's urine - or any other species' urine - holds any promise...in treating or preventing cancer," declared Dr. Donald Hensrud, Division of Preventive Medicine chairman at the Rochester, MN Mayo Clinic.
Either way, the RSS is going forward with the idea, confident that cow water will be a hit. Once the process of testing the herb and urine concoction is complete, the department will begin working on packaging and marketing the beverage. They are hoping to receive help from the government in appealing to a culture that already reveres the cow. Of course, the urine-based drink is going to have to taste good if it wants to enjoy any success.
The RSS is not giving out any details of what the exact ingredients are, but Prakesh assures that it will taste good. "Don't worry, it won't smell like urine and will be tasty too. Its USP will be that it's going to be very healthy. It won't be like carbonated drinks and would be devoid of any toxins," he said.
Keith-Thomas Ayoob, a nutritionist from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, is less enthusiastic. "This drink really will require flavoring. If they use sugar or a caloric sweetener, then the world probably doesn't need another drink that's just a source of sugar calories," he said.
How would gau jal compete with names like Coke and Pepsi? The Indian beverage has a fraction of the advertising budget of the large American companies. But Prakesh believes that the fact of cow water's health benefits will make it a worthy contender. In addition, the product itself will be inexpensive to purchase. "It won't be possible to make any guess or give you a rough idea about the price, but it will be cheap," Prakesh said. "We're going to give them good competition as our drink is good for mankind. We may also think of exporting it." So if you're feeling particularly adventurous, keep an eye out for cow water. It may be on the shelves by the end of this year. Here's to your health!