Dr. Will Tuttle writes here about why so few spiritual teachers are vegan and mentions the two that have influenced us, as the hosts of this blog, the most: Chitrabhanuji, our foremost teacher of Jainism in the US and Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk teaching mindfulness with Westerners, Vietnamese and others around the globe. See our other posts for more about both of these revered teachers and we would like to acknowledge, too, the teaching of Pramodaben Chitrabhanu, who continues spreading the message of veganism among Jains.
We know of the other vegan spiritual teachers that Dr. Tuttle mentions as well: we’ve eaten at the Loving Hut restaurants that Master Ching Hai inspires. We’ve also been amazed by the videos produced in multiple languages with vegan cooking lessons. And Dr. Gabriel Cousens has inspired friends to run a program to reverse diabetes based on a raw vegan diet based on their experiences at his healing center.
Dr. Tuttle’s description of the way that major religions justify non-vegetarianism, however does not include Jainism. He would have had to detail the peculiarities of Jainism, in which meat is expressly and uncompromisingly prohibited, and yet dairy has traditionally been permitted. There are a few discussions of dairy being a vidai food, one of the rich foods that should be given up to encourage tyag or renunciation. But most Jains somehow believe that Mahavir and other teachers consumed dairy and therefore it must be OK> but the question that could be asked like the WWJD question asked by Christians, is what would Mahavir do, now, in today’s world? We are certain that he would choose to avoid all dairy products in addition to other forms of dietary ahimsa.