Paryushanand Das Lakshanparva are just around the corner. Starting on Friday, September 6th, Jains all over the world will increase their level of spiritual intensity.
My childhood Jain Centers included Norwood, Massachusetts and Houston, Texas. I now live in Massachusetts with my husband and four children and have been practicing veganism (food, clothing, even my car is leather-free) for 2 years. Last year, I attended a lecture in Mumbai where a Jain marajsaheb spoke to us about the dairy industry as it applies to Jainism. It inspired me to reach out to all of you.
As you may know, the Jain Center of Southern California decided this year not to allow dairy in the temple due to the incredible suffering animals go through in order to produce ghee/milk, etc. They made an inspirational video which is worth watching;
Unfortunately, many other Jain centers today still use dairy products (whether it is ghee in pooja or food served). In our private homes we must respect a person’s wish to do as he/she pleases. However, our Jain center is shared by a community of people seeking to observe and follow Jainism, and more specifically ahimsa. In order to follow ahimsa to the highest level, I ask that you observe a non-dairy practicefor 18 days (September 6 – September 23). In addition to your individual practice, please sign a petition to end the use of dairy products in our Jain temples. This will magnify your good personal choices so that we can do better as a community.
I recently participated in a very interesting conference call organized by a Buddhist organization, Dharma Voice for Animals, featuring Bruce Friedrich as a speaker on how to be an effective advocate for animals. For me the most valuable his points was that by being effective advocates, we multiply the effect we have in the world. As individual vegans, we save many animals, and the more we persuade others, the more we may influence policies and markets that have the potential to save many more animals. This is a link to his talk: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9HcKdrP4xcPZ1NSWWRLaGVxczg/view?ts=5999fb11
How to make the biggest impact in conversations? He recommended to have a truly interactive engagement by asking questions and staying empathetic when talking with non-vegans, using the Socratic method. Another participant shared this YouTube video by another activist on using the Socratic method.
Vandhana gave three thoroughly researched and well delivered talks at JAINA 2017, of which we are posting two. The first talk was regarding the suffering of farmed animals with an emphasis on dairy and egg production. The second talk, for a Women’s Forum program, connected the exploitation of female animals in milk and egg production with the moral choices Jain women can make to avoid the violence.
Jain Society of Toronto celebrated Jeevdaya day on June 29. The event was organized by the Jeevdaya group an informal group set up to educate and involve Jain Community in compassion activities. There are several words to describe “compassion” in our tradition(Jeevdaya,Karuna,Pranatipat virman). This is fundamental to Jainism.
It was a whole day event. Dr. Tushar Mehta was the Master of Ceremonies for the event.It started with a presentation by Dr. Tushar Mehta on the health benefits of a plant based(vegan) diet.
Next, Sanjay Jain made an excellent presentation on Jeevdaya describing how his convictions grew over the years as he was confronted with choices. These choices led him to abstain from pearls, silk, leather, wool and eventually dairy. At every stage he was enthusiastically supported by his wife Prachi.Sanjay also arranged a display with ten posters and several models which described how current practices in food industry involve extreme cruelty. This was very well received.
Below are some articles written by the pathshala students on veganism and related topics
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 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
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.
The 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.
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 →
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.
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.
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.
Based on the combined work of 15 Jain Center of Greater Boston volunteers and his own personal stories, Sanjay provides a compelling case for Jains to become vegan as the true expression of vegetarianism based on ahimsa.