Author Archives: drjina

Dallas teenagers articulate connections between veganism, reduction of methane and conservation of water

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VEGANISM

Not only does the dairy industry cause immense pain to the tortured animals like cows and chickens, but it also leads to a large amount of water consumption, land degradation, climate alterations, and gas emissions. While it only takes one acre of land to produce 40,000 lbs of cherries, potatoes, and other fruits and veggies, one acre of land can only produce 250 lbs of beef. At the same time, there is more land necessary to maintains animals rather than planting fruits and vegetables. 70% of water is used on farming and of that, the water that is used to clean waste is dumped into the ocean which pollutes the water and kills many sea creatures. From a Jain standpoint, the cows and chickens which produce milk or eggs receive horrible treatment and are forced to live in confined areas where they can’t even move. Most of the time these animals are beaten by the farmers and the cows are continuously kept pregnant to maintain milk production. The calves are then sent to slaughter houses. While many Indians may question the health aspect of becoming a vegan, it is proven that dairy products are not necessary for the survival of a human after the stage of a baby. There are many alternatives to dairy such as soy and almond milk, soy cheese, and various other products from whole foods or central market. By converting to veganism, you would be saving the environment as well as  shedding the karma that each soul acquires by encouraging the dairy industry.
- Shivani Daftary

METHANE
Methane is an odorless and colorless gas made by anaerobic bacteria on land and deep in the ocean. It is the 2nd most abundant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere second to CO2. Natural gas and petroleum systems are the largest source of CH4 emissions from industry in the United States. Domestic livestock such as cattle, sheep, and goats produce large amounts of CH4 as part of their normal digestive process. Methane is generated in landfills as waste decomposes and in the treatment of wastewater. Upgrading the equipment used to produce, store, and transport oil and gas can reduce many of the leaks that contribute to CH4 emissions. Methane can be reduced and captured by altering manure management strategies at livestock operations or animal feeding practices. Not eating foods that promote this industry to grow will also help. Emission controls that capture landfill CH4 are an effective reduction strategy. Also, reducing the amount of waste that you produce can decrease the size of landfills over the years.

- Reena Maheshwari

WATER

Even though 75% of the earth’s surface is covered in water, only 2.5% of it is fresh and 2/3 of that it frozen. This makes water an extremely precious resource, something that many people fail to understand. A huge number of large rivers including the Colorado, Rio Grande, Ganges, and Nile are no so over tapped by humans that they discharge little to no water into the sea for months. In addition globally our water use has been growing at twice the rate of population growth in the last century and here in the United States, twice the global average is used. Over tapping also causes countless freshwater species to die and they are becoming extinct at twice the rate of saltwater species. Clearly, over using water is a huge crisis and measures must be taken in order conserve water. Vegetarianism is actually very beneficial in conserving water; livestock accounts for more than half of all the water consumed in the United States.

- Prachi Shah

Dallas Jain pathshala students shine a Jain lens on Veganism, Energy, Water and other Environmental Issues

Environmental Fair PosterThe Jain Society of North Texas’ (JSNT) high school  age youth (Pathshala Group 6), with the help of  Joseph R. Otterbine,an  M.S. Applied Environmental Anthropology Candidate  from the University of North Texas, recently held  the JSNT Environmental  Fair. The Fair  brought a Jain lens to bear on  energy and electricity, veganism,  transportation, water usage, and methane production. The youth decided on these topics and researched them thoroughly.  They split into five groups and prepared presentations, visuals, and takeaways (e.g. vegan brownies [yummy!] , pamphlets, fact  sheets, water usage calculator, etc.) for their booths at the fair.
The Fair started with time for the community to walk around and see the booths, followed by a  presentation from Dr. Pankaj Jain (University of North Texas) on the topic of Dharma and  Ecology.

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After his short lecture the community members were urged to visit the five different presentations at the booths set up around the hall. The community was extremely receptive to the
youth’s efforts and proud of all the work that they had done in putting together all the intricacies of the Fair. When it came to the scheduled end of the Fair, some community membewer asked for more time to explore all the work that the youth had done! 

This event was successful because the youth wanted to do it,  and OWNED it!
This enthusiasm was palpable in their presentations, their attitudes, and interactions with the  community. The Fair got the Jain Society of North Texas to look at environmental issues and  how they, as Jains, are poised as natural environmentalists.
For a slide show of the event please see http://www.dfwjains.org/
and  keep reading this post to hear more about about environmentalism and energy use in a state traditionally known for its economic dependence on oil from these amazing Jain students. And for more on veganism, methane and water use, see the next post… Continue reading

Toronto Seniors Enjoy Health and Compassion based event: Towards Ahimsa

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Madhu, Monty and Dr. Tushar write:

Working collaboratively with the help of the Jain Society of Toronto (JSOT), the non-profit group Towards Ahimsa Inc. (based out of Toronto, Canada) co-hosted a special event  last month to celebrate the health and wellbeing of a plant based diet.Through a series of interactive activities and thought-provoking discussions a group of 70 senior community members learnt first hand the philosophical definition of ahimsa in Jainism in its relationship to diet.

Presenters included medical doctors & professional educators who started by defining the nature of a Plant Based or Vegan diet. They presented medical evidence regarding benefits to vascular disease, cancers, diabetes, blood pressure, weight control, and overall benefits to quality-of-life and mortality.  They also discussed ways to optimize the vegan diet and how to easily obtain nutrients like vitamin B12, calcium and iron, and protein.

The talk was extremely well received with great questions and enthusiasm on the part of the seniors. One attendee even claimed she would become vegan from this point forward!

Continue reading

Jivdaya Committee Series: Why Ahimsa is Paramount in Jainism

Why does Jainism strongly promote the principle of Ahimsa?

Jains believe in the existence of soul; and that each living being has a soul.  Jains also show logically that the nature of the soul is that of non-harming.  It is due to the soul being bound by Karmic particles that keep us humans in these material bodies that need to eat.

As a person lives a life that reduces the influence of the Karmic particles, the person’s non-harming character naturally will become stronger; and manifest itself in such activities as trying to watch out very carefully, and avoid doing even the slightest possible harm to any living being.  In other words, Jains maintain that if we want to experience the full potential of the nature of our soul, that is non-harmingness, we should try to duplicate it in all our actions.

Balabhadraji

 

In Jainism, Ahimsa means non‑hurting as described above.  Therefore, whenever our actions cause himsa (hurting), not only does our soul accumulate karmas but even the souls on the other side accumulate karma if they have minds (e.g., souls of animals, birds, fish, etc.).

Those karmas could be any of eight karmas, but we would discuss three of them over here which are Antaraya, Vedniya, and Ayushya Karmas.

When we deprive any living being of its livelihood, or its vital capabilities, it will come and hound us sometimes.  The story of Lord Rushabhdev is very well-known for this.  During his last life, while he was a king one day he advised his fellow farmer citizens to cover the mouths of the oxen so that they would not eat the grains they were working around.  But, he forgot to tell them that they should remove the mouth cover as soon as the work was over.  Those ignorant people kept on that mouth cover, and after some time they started wondering when to feed them.  So they went back and asked King Rushabh about when they were suppose to feed them.  The King realized his mistake and explained to those workers that they should have taken off the mouth cover as soon their work was over and feed them.  But because oxen suffered hunger due to King Rushabh’s oversight, he accumulated Antaraya Karma.  When this karma matured, it caused him to go without any food (starvation) for a little over eleven months when he became a monk in a later part of the same life.  So can you imagine if we starve or deprive someone of their vitality, through cruel means, what would happen to us?

The same way, when we cause suffering to others, we accumulate Ashata Vedniya karma and when that matures, it would bring us sufferings and unhappiness.  Look at the slaughterhouses, laboratories, cosmetic manufacturing, or any use of animals, and you will see nothing but tortures, and even death.  Why any sensible person of their right mind, and particularly a Jain, would do, or encourage, such activities even though he or she would have to suffer later on?  Therefore, Jains would not participate in any activity which would cause any harm to others and would not also ask, or encourage, anyone else to do it either.  Now, you should understand that suffering in this world is generated from own selves.  It is never late to turn back the clock to the right path by paying respect to other living beings as a whole rather than just to humans only.

Similarly, when we take away someone’s life, we must realize, what would be coming to us.  We would accumulate such an Ayushya karma, that it would make our life short, or end it  prematurely.  Why would we put ourselves in such a situation?  What happens if that life happens to be a human life, then we would miss an opportunity for spiritual pursuit. Therefore, we need to protect other lives, so that our lives are protected and we can be happy and without obstacles.

So in short by observing Ahimsa, not only we are protecting the vitality of other living beings, but in reality we are helping ourselves the most.  That is why Jains say “Ahimsa Parmo Dharma,” because by observing Ahimsa, everyone is able to stop his/her own decline and put him/herself forward to the higher spiritual pursuit.

Prem Gada

 

THe New Incarnation of Jivdaya: The Ahimsak Eco Vegan Committee of JAINA

In the late 1990s, the Jivdaya committee actively promoted veganism. It was clear that animal sanctuaries, the traditional institutions for Jains to give money in India to express their ahimsa, was not addressing the root of the problem of animal suffering and slaughter. I have posted some of the material from this era on this site.

This year was have a newly approved JAINA committee to represent these views and link them with our growing awareness of environmental choices that we make that can hurt or help animals and other living beings. Dubbed the Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee, our objective and goals follow.

 

Objective

The Ahimsak Eco- Vegan committee, as an expression of ahimsa, support veganism which we understand to mean not eating, wearing, or using animal products, because we object to both animal suffering and animal killing. We do not support animal use that is supposedly “humane” and we do not support the marketing of animal products labeled as “humane”.

The  Ahimsak Eco- Vegan committee, as an expression of ahimsa,  supports the reduction and elimination of activities contributing to harm of all life, global climate change and destruction of the planet.

Goals:

  • Promote local education and implementation of initiatives in support of ahimsak diet (veganism) and lifestyles (eco-friendly and non-use of animal items in clothing or other use)
  • Move towards fully vegan and eco-friendly YJA and JAINA conventions  events
  • Publicize activities and provide global leadership for the Jain lay, scholar and ascetic community toward an ahimsak diet and lifestyle
  • Provide health related education to the community on a plant based diet and conduct research benefitting our community and contributing to scientific knowledge on benefits, risks and risk mitigation of the modern vegetarian and vegan diet as consumed by Jains in North America. 

Why vegan? Health and ethical reasons for the UK Jain community by dr Jina

Rajesh and I gave a talk in English and Gujarati concerning the ethical and health reasons for Jains to go vegan among the Kanji Swami community in London and later I gave a  powerpoint presentation in English. Click here for the audio and video files.

Vegan Jain profiles: Pravin uncle, JAINA education committee speaks in the UK

Pravin uncle of the JAINA education committee in the US gave compelling talks in the UK this Paryushan about the hinsa involved in dairy production, among many other topics. See the audio and video files put together by Rajesh and Jyoti, of the Kanji Swami Jain community in their encyclopedic site here 

There are also YouTube videos:

2. Profile (English): http://youtu.be/sEgBMc9-9QM

Following Sagar and the Jain Vegans Working Group Vegan for Paryushan Campaign, there seems to be a growing awareness of veganism among Jains in the UK and the Jain Vegans blog  chronicles encouraging recent developments!

More pre-Jivdaya day activities: a skit, a lecture and another vegan meal for the homeless

Besides the Berkeley meal that we served, other members of our committee engaged in a variety of activities consistent with our compassion challenge, in advance of the actual challenge.

Sanjay wrote and directed a skit leading the audience through the ideas that ahimsa means no leather, wool, silk, violent video games, and no dairy.  Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9I6cFs5dHlg

Ritaben of the Jivdaya committee delivered vegan meals to homeless people in Ohio.

And Dr. Tushar delivered a lecture in Mexico to 500 nutritionists earlier in the year.DSC01174DSC01177

Pre-Jivdaya Day activities initatiated by membes the new Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee

It was a beautiful Thanksgiving Holiday weekend here in the Bay area, with a lot to be thankful for. This year the JAINA Executive Committee approved our new committee, the Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee. Many of us who have been vegan for a long time now have a formal structure supporting our initiatives. We just kicked off Jivdaya Day, as we’ve named Thanksgiving in our community with a campaign for a 30 day compassion challenge and are hoping centers around the US and Canada will initiate activities.  A lot of activities have already occurred!

Here in Berkeley, we offered Beyond Meat as a vegan option to a homeless shelter serving homeless teenagers on Nov 26. While the main cook, our friend who is vegetarian,  thought she should serve chicken, as she found that in the past they didn’t like tofu, she was open to trying something different.  We found that the kids were willing to try to Beyond Meat even though they did not care for the simply prepared tofu. The three local college students who served the food also discovered that the kids liked the veggie meat and when dishing out the late night plates for teenagers that came in late, put some of it on each of the plates.   Our friend the chef, the volunteers and I are pictured here in the opening of the kitchen where the kids were served.  Next Sunday we’ll cook a fully vegan meal  with chili, cornbread and gingerbread! YEAHpic

Vegan Jain Profiles: Shilpa, Keyur and family

As part of the paryushan program at JCNC, Shilpa and Keyur discuss their journey to veganism during paryushan for reasons of nonviolence  and elaborate the benefits to their health and those of their children. Keyur lost weight, Shilpa reversed an early tendency to diabetes, and the children have avoided ear infections. They’re clearly full of energy, growing and thriving on a fully vegan diet. Keyur makes the point that the very same approaches they use to explain to the   children why they vegan are important for those parents raising their children vegan.