Green Jainism! Taking inspiration from our sister traditions…

At the JCNC 10th Anniversary celebrations a couple of Jain leaders expressed their intention to change the food served at the next JAINA convention to become vegan. They didn’t addressing the styrofoam issue. Both aspects would enable us to realize our practice of ahimsa. Communities from our sister traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism provide some inspiration.

As posted recently on the Jain vegan list-serv, a Hare Krishna in the UK wrote that dairy food is an unfit offering to God. In a Sivananda yoga retreat I attended recently, the food was not vegan, but the chef acknowledged the violence involved in dairy production.  After a connecting with him in the style of Marshall Rosenburg’s non-violent communication, I perceived the major hurdle to serving vegan food there to be the hardships of living and changing the habits of people in an ashram community, rather than any a priori reason to serve dairy.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Nobel peace prize nominated Vietnamese monk and much loved dharma teacher, has written to meditation practitioners about the violence involved in dairy production. Letter From Thich Nhat Hanh

Included in the beautiful five contemplations recited before eating, there is a recognition of global warming. Not all of the monks and nuns in his tradition are vegan, let alone lay followers, but his retreat centers all serve vegan food. As well, they don’t use styrofoam trays. Pictured is a set-up of the dishwashing done by the community. Elegant and simple, producing very little waste.

At the Berkeley Buddhist Monastary, Reverend Heng Sure not only eloquently describes the reasons a vegan diet is part of our practice of compassion but he composes wonderful music and performs it with many audiences. A diverse community supports the Berkeley Buddhist monastary, with many community members identifying as Chinese American, as this monastery’s lineage is dervied from China. They use non-disposable plates for smaller functions and compostable products for large ones. They do not use styrofoam.

Here is a presentation that I had prepared a few years ago on Green Jainism, including why veganism is important and showing the local consequences of styrofoam use for our local landfill.

We Jains take great pride in our practice of ahimsa, thinking it is more detailed than any other tradition, even our sister traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism. We can do better than we are doing now!

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