This article was pretty moo-ving, is it time to find a cow?

Cow hugging or ‘koe knuffelen’ is becoming the latest wellness craze to take over. It is being offered as a form of therapy to farm visitors in countries across the world, including the United States. But there’s a bit of controversy surrounding this latest form of self care.  

Cow Hugging

As any animal lover will tell you, being around animals can have stress relieving benefits. Koe knuffelen originated in Reuver, a village in the Netherlands, and has now caught on to farmers around the world, including the United States, who now offer it as a therapy to visitors. Cow hugging is known to reduce stress and increase positivity through the cow’s warmer body temperature and slow heartbeat. 

Insider reports that José van Stralen, a farmer in the Netherland, has offered cow hugging sessions for six years at his farm after hearing about it from other farmers. Stralen explains that it is a “positive energy exchange. The person cuddling the cow becomes relaxed by being next to the cow’s warmer body  and sometimes even manages to follow their heartbeat. It’s a win-win situation and great experience for both.” At his farm, you can sit with and cuddle a cow for two hours for almost 38 euros, or 45 USD. This potentially costs less than a one hour visit with a licensed therapist, without health insurance in America, how wild. 


Stralen also mentions that people often tell him that the experience meant more to them than they expected it to after leaving a cow hugging session. “Being outdoor in the green fields surrounded by cows under the blue sky, it doesn’t get any better than that.” 

In a 2007 study conducted by French and Austrian scientists, it was concluded that cows show signs of relaxation when people rub or pet them. It was found that humans also have a more relaxed heart rate when petting a cow. No wonder we have dogs and cats in our homes! But an External Advisor at World Animal Protection, Philip Wilson, told Insider that “the main beneficiary seems to be the person doing the hugging,” despite some reported benefits for cows. So don’t get too ahead of yourself, this is still primarily more for humans’ benefit than it is for the cows. But now that cow hugging is becoming widespread, people seem to be very open to the idea. 

And honestly, from the year we’ve had with COVID-19, everyone could probably benefit from a cow hug or two. 

And not to mention the stress from the Black Lives Matter Movement. Oh boy, what a year it’s been. At least animals aren’t racist. 

And to all you pilates loving Karens out there, forget goat yoga, cow hugging is in!

But not everyone is happy that cow hugging is becoming ‘mainstream.’

Backlash From Hindu Community

The sudden popularity and commercializing of cow hugging as a form of self care is being criticized by Hindu-practicing Indians. Cows are considered sacred in the Hindu religion and now that Western culture is deeming ‘cow hugging’ more mainstream and as a form of therapy, Hindus are upset. Often Hindus have been discriminated against for their unfamiliar rituals by Westerners. It is not sitting well that cow hugging is being claimed as a form of therapy by Western culture, something from Hindu religion that has been misunderstood in the past. 

This Twitter user blatantly explains that the benefits of hugging a cow is not new news, nor is it the world’s latest wellness trend. Infact, Hindus have been doing it for centuries. 

It seems that most of the outrage from Hindus was sparked on Twitter after BBC posted an article about cow hugging being the latest “wellness trend.” Another user, enraged, retweeted the article and asked, “why when Hindus do it, it’s backwards and superstitious? NOW they themselves are doing it,” pointing out the unfairness of how everything becomes “acceptable” once it is normalized by Western society.  

This is starting to sound a little like gaslighting. Telling someone they are crazy for their religious rituals and then rebranding the same thing as a “wellness” session to relaxation doesn’t really sound good when you write it out explicitly like that. No wonder people are taking offense. 

This user replied and explained the lose-lose situation that the normalization of Western culture being “right” has placed on everyone else.

But why not get right to the point of how you really feel about your religion being appropriated?

While the commercializing of cow hugging by Western farmers has offended Hindus for religious appropriation, at the end of the day, a good cuddle with a cow sounds lovely. Now you know the origins of where cow hugging comes from, so whether you want to deem it a therapy session or a form of religious practice, will be up to you. 



Feature Image Photo by omar calderone on Unsplash and lou lou on Unsplash