Recently a person asked about the controversy regarding the law banning beef in India. Here is my reply. I thought more people might be interested in it.
Hinduism is a very dynamic religion. It is not frozen in the past. Customs and laws will change with time. It is allowed and this flexibility is the speciality of Hinduism.
For example, in olden days wars were very common and ordinary people were often called to fight. So the number of males in the society was less. So polygamy was the norm. Today there are regular armies and not much wars. So there are more men and so the Hindu society switched to monogamy and even passed law that polygamy is illegal. Similarly with corporeal punishments. In olden days punishments like cutting of hands, giving lashes, etc. were there. As the over all violence in the society reduced, people became more and more sensitive to less violent punishments. So simple imprisonment itself had the deterrent effect. So the laws became less violent.
Coming to beef eating, it is true that Vedic society ate beef. The sages, rishis, Rama, Krishna, etc. were all non-vegetarians and beef-eaters too. Over a period of time, the Hindu society became less non-vegetarian. Today, a sizable population is vegetarian and even among the non-vegetarian Hindus, the consumption of meat is very less.
Over a period of time, the Hindu society has picked up a sentiment for cows because of its giving milk, peaceful nature, sensitivity, utility of bulls in various ways, etc. etc. It is true that the sentiment is a bit eccentric. But this is the way the society has developed.
Vegetarian diet is prescribed for people who want to practice Yoga asanas, pranayama, meditation, etc. A vegetarian diet is more conducive to a calm and devoted mind. This concept is there in many religious and spiritual traditions, not only in Hinduism.
Now, should there be a law to ban beef is still debatable. However, just because the Vedic society ate beef does not mean that Hindus should eat beef today. That would be going back. Then by the same argument we will have to accept polygamy, corporeal punishment, etc. That is not the direction we want to take.