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This year India will become the world's largest exporter of beef.This year India will become the world's largest exporter of beef.

India Set to Become World's Largest Beef Exporter

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Here’s a weird fact: India, a country known for its reverence of cows, is set to become the world’s largest exporter of beef this year.

New data from the USDA shows that by the end of 2012, India will have exported approximately 1.5 million metric tons of beef, placing it ahead of Brazil, Australia and the U.S.

Treehugger is quick to point out how strange that seems: “Yes, a nation in which cow slaughter is officially prohibited and utterly anathema to the majority of the population due to tradition and/or religion, will overtake three icons of cattle ranching and beef eating.”

How? Simple. There’s a loophole.

Or more specifically, a technical distinction. The USDA report doesn’t distinguish between the meat of a cow and that of a water buffalo. While killing cattle in India is prohibited, water buffalo (at least, those not currently producing milk) are fair game for the beef industry.

So all that “beef,” which is being shipped to the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia, is actually water buffalo meat, and according to the Atlantic, it “sell[s] at low cost to the meat-hungry but price-sensitive consumers” in the aforementioned countries.

So it turns out that the highly revered cows of India are actually okay.

Does that make you feel any better? Didn’t think so.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

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