Professor Gary Francione is undertaking a fast from July 4-7, 2013 to express his conviction that consumption of dairy and is incompatible with our Jain ideal of ahimsa and distress that the JAINA convention will serve dairy products. He explains below:
I will not be attending the JAINA convention this year. But I will be fasting for the entire four days of the Convention to express my concern that the Convention will be serving food that involves himsa, such as milk, ghee, paneer, and ice cream. It is clear that the intentional infliction of suffering and death on mobile, multi-sensed beings is a violation of the principle of ahimsa, and it cannot be doubted that, as a matter of simple fact, there is a great deal of suffering and death involved in the production of these foods. Animal foods also involve stealing from animals and the rape of female animals.
Please understand that my fast is not an act of protest. It is an expression of profound sadness that at the largest gathering of Jains in North America, there will be himsa as part of the celebration. And for what? For nothing more compelling than palate pleasure.
I have spoken with the incoming leadership of JAINA and I have been assured that this issue will receive great scrutiny in the coming years. I look forward to that and I will assist in any way that I can.
I know that the Jain community loves Gurudev Chitrabhanu. It is my hope that Gurudev lives to see the organization he helped to create embrace a principle that he holds close to him as an integral and necessary part of ahimsa. During the fast, I will meditate for at least two hours per day on the wise words of Gurudev Chitrabhanu in his plea for Jains to reject all animal animal foods.
I invite any of you who are interested to read this short essay that I wrote several years ago on this topic and that was published in the Jain Digest. It can be found here: http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/media/pdf/Ahimsa.pdf
For more on Prof. Francione’s thoughts about Jainism and Veganism, you can hear an interview we did in his office in Newark, NJ in June 2013 for the Eco-Vegan Booth at the JAINA conference.