Cow urine soda



Cow meat might taste good, but cow pee?
Copyright (c) 2005 Wendee Holtcamp

Quirky stories always intrigue me. From a Western point of view, we might think that some of the things non-Westerners eat and drink and otherwise ingest are a bit, um, odd. Take shark fin soup, giant water bugs, scorpions, candied Cordyceps (for you Planet Earth fans, those are the fungi that take over ants and other insects and then emerge from their brains), and of course tiger penises – thought to bring virility. Well this one may take the prize: cow urine soda.

Turns out, some people drink cow urine already. Hindus revere cows and some even drink cow urine in religious festivals. Actually, while trekking through eastern Nepal in search of the red panda, one of my trek mates was a man who drank his own pee for its supposedly nutritional value - every day. I kid you not. But I digress.

The Cow Protection Department of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), aka National Volunteer Corps, is in the final stages of developing the cow urine soda, known as gau jal. Some consider RSS as a hardline group due to their desire to transform India’s secular society to one in which a Hindu supremacy exists. India has banned RSS in India three separate times, once after Ghandi’s assassination, and most recently after a 1992 mob riot at Babri Masjid mosque; however, the organization was acquitted each time and they vehemently deny militancy.

RSS has developed the new soft drink to counteract what they believe to be corrupting influences of foreign corporations, in this case Pepsi and Coca-Cola, on Hindu culture. They will mix the cow urine with flavors such as gooseberry and aloe vera along with some ayurvedic herbs.  RSS spokesman Om Prakash says that cow urine is known to treat up to 80 different incurable diseases, including diabetes.

Treat and cure are quite different, though, and whether cow urine truly has any medicinal properties is anyone’s guess.  They talk about even exporting it.  I for one am very interested in following this product and whether it will be the “next big thing” – you never know.

What’s the weirdest animal product you have eaten?

ADDENDUM: I just learned that urine from female cows contains taurine. This is interesting because that is the same non-essential amino acid you find in energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Rock Star, etc., though that version gets produced synthetically. Maybe the RSS is onto something after all...

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