Jain nuns and monks from a variety of sects address the violence in dairy products in the video, and then there is an extended discussion between three principled vegans about the overlap between Jain ahimsak practice and veganism. It is in Hindi with English subtitles.
This photo shows Acharya Chandanaji from Veerayatan showing compassion for animals, however, she is not one of the ascetics in the video voicing support for veganism.
On Nov 27, drJina and Sunny spoke with Mihika and Mansi, two pre-medical college students who found new friends in residents of Luvin Arms, learned about veganism as they dove head first into vegan advocacy, and are navigating their college life after this transformative experience! A lively discussion followed with tips about transitioning to veganism, veganism in India, and health benefits of a whole foods healthy vegan diet.
Here are some of the segments of the webinar, if you want to skip to topics of particular interst.
For the first 10 minutes, we have the opening, introduction of the hosts, speakers and their immersion into advocacy
(10: 41) hear the stories linked to pictures of the animals they grew to know and love at Luvin Arms
So many Jains in so many places have started to recognize the violence inherent in dairy and are incorporating this information into their practices for Paryushan, our most important community observance. A new group on Clubhouse called the Jain Vegan Initiative has brought new energy to the cause. There is a daily paryushan support group. Also, members compiled a Jain vegan cookbook in record speed, which may be updated.
And pinkispalate.com has some advice for paryushan and a dosa recipe for those who are not fasting.
Caution: If you are fasting, the resources above may tempt you to eat!
Today a special English pratrikraman for kids included a recognition that consuming dairy and other animal products constitute himsa, and they also included a vow related to decreasing their carbon footprint.
The Applied Jainism group has a climate initiative oriented app that includes using only vegan and eco friendly cosmetics, not wearing silk and not wearing leather. My suggested next step– add eating only vegan food!
More images from the Jain vegan initiative are available, if you keep reading. Thumbnails are first and then a slide show with larger images follows.
Svetambar sadhu Padmasagar Maharaj talks to the community about the blood and pus consumed in drinking milk and encourages his followers to give up milk, too. He reminds them that mung beans and other legumes are very nutritious and a staple of the Jain diet.
At the last JAINA convention in 2019, I had the great honor of meeting and interviewing Shree Charukeerthi Bhattarak Panditacharyavarya Swami about ahimsa as the guidine principle for Jains to should consider veganism. He explains the lineage of other monks and teachers such as Chitrabhanuji that have inspired him. His gentle style “No force”, is a beautiful example of how we can encourage each other.
Vegan Jains went to India in November 2019 for a trip that combined medical care volunteering near Hyderabad, visiting a palliative care organization in Trivandram, visiting tourist sites up the Kerala coast, including the Mata Amritamaya Ashram, and then visiting family in Mumbai. From the traditional vegetarian food which had plenty of vegan options to unique vegan restaurants, to hotel breakfasts and specialties made by family, we found that those who catered to travelers had all heard of the word vegan, family was accustomed to preparing food vegan, and the level of spice and oil, as well as food safety when eating out were bigger concerns than veganism.
We flew Air India on the way and were pretty disappointed by the bland food on the long transpacific flight. However, I was delighted when upgraded to first class on the Delhi-Hyd leg AND, they had extra vegan meals so i could eat a nice Indian dinner. Arriving at the Novotel airport hotel, the breakfast buffet offered temptations that flew right in the face of eating with restraint! Made to order split mung crepes, called pesarattu, as well as the more usual south Indian specialities of idli and dosa, as well as North indian breads such as cauliflower parathas along with fruit and nut loaded oatmeal, toast with vegan bread, soymilk and juice and all manner of international dishes left me full for the day.
Eating with our fellow volunteers in rural districts around Hyderabad, we were able to avoid the yogurt (curd in India) ladled up by our colleague in the photo at the top, and still enjoy the dal, squash,mixed veg curry, chappati, rice and peeled cucumbers. There was a whole article on how Hyderabad was voted the most vegan friendly city in India and at the end of the trip we got to go to Smar Alec’s, an all vegan restaurant.
This is a guest post by Sunny Jain an MBA Candidate who is a leader in US Young Jain Professionals
I’ve heard the story one too many times of my vegan friends
abandoning their diet while visiting India either due to misinformation or
perceived difficulty. Some would say it’s too difficult and would rather just
enjoy food there, and others falsely believe that the dairy industry in India
is humane (would be interested in educating you if you’re one of those people
spreading fake news).
Before my trip to India, I decided that I would be the one to
break this mold and wouldn’t give in like everyone else does, and I readied my
battle armor as I boarded my flight.
10 days in, I found being vegan in India extremely reasonable
and not as awful as I originally thought it would be. In addition to eating
lavishly and trying almost any and every street food I laid my eyes on, I had
the opportunity to attend Mumbai’s first and largest vegan food festival.
Here are a few tips I want to share with those who plan to remain vegan while in India:
Dealing with Aunties and Uncles
Don’t hesitate to speak up and tell them in advance what you can
and can’t eat. To them, it’s like some unusual variation of the Jain diet
that they may not entirely comprehend
Aunties are notorious for being pushy and persistent when it comes
to eating home-cooked food, but they’ll respect your dietary restrictions
without question (at the end of the day, you’re the guest and they want to
cater to you!)
Just say: “no doodh (milk) and no ghee (butter)”
By default, food labeled “vegetarian” in India doesn’t have eggs
in it, so it’s just a matter of avoiding butter and milk
The Plane Ride to India
When purchasing to your flight, you’ll have an option to request a vegan meal. Depending on the airlines, you may have to do some digging and click the “Extras” tab to select a special meal type, ask for VGML, this is an international airline code for vegan meals.
Important: You must request a vegan meal 24 hours in advance before the flight or you will be out of luck
If that happens, just let the flight attendant know (they’re usually super accommodating and will find something for you – even if it’s as little as providing you with snacks and fruits/vegetables during the flight)
The vegan meal I received was delicious: quinoa rice with tofu and red sauce, a fruit cup, salad with vegan ranch dressing, bread, and vegan butter
It was so fire that I took a photo of it just to share on social media
If you’re able to survive the first connecting flight, the airport in Amsterdam has great vegan options
Soy Milk (“Soya Milk” in India)
The first thing you’ll want to do when you reach in India is get a
hold of soy milk wherever you’re staying
This is important because you’re going to be offered chai
multiple times a day so it’s good to let them know in advance to make it with
One option is to either ask your family in India to get some in
advance before you arrive, or you can buy some yourself
Soy milk is very accessible and readily available
Can be found at almost any decently big grocery store. If you
can’t find it at a location, just walk next door because all the grocery stores
tend to be next door to each other
I found regular unsweetened soy milk, chocolate soy milk,
hazelnut milk, and rice milk
When converted to USD, you’ll spend about 6 bucks a box
I would recommend getting a few extra boxes to last your time there. Vegan milk doesn’t spoil so it makes sense to stock up
SoFit Soya Milk is a famous Indian soymilk brand endorsed by John Abraham
Pau Bhaji is a staple street food you’re going to want to indulge
in. However, it’s usually served drowning in butter
I watched in disgust as a street vendor tossed entire slabs of
butter (un-human amounts) into the Pau Bhaji, and used another slab of butter
to wipe down with pau
There’s legit more butter swimming in it than actual bhaji
Fortunately, there’s an easy workaround which will allow you to enjoy street Pau Bhaji without the animal cruelty. It is completely acceptable to demand Pau Bhaji with no butter (remember: they’re catering to you, not vice versa). Tell them what you want, and 9 times out of 10 they’ll deliver
In their continuous process of making and replenishing bhaji, they’ll just serve you bhaji from the batch they cook before adding butter. This goes for pau as well.
Indian McDonald’s and Burger King
Request any veggie burger or wrap and subtract the cheese and mayonnaise
I would choose a food item that comes with other stuff like tomatoes and lettuce so you don’t end up with a plain burger with just the patty and onions (those burgers are already pretty simple as is)
If you’re a daring and adventurous foodie like I am, try out the Maharaja Mac
Ask a nearby Aunty about which desserts have ghee or made with milk. Should knock out about 75 percent of your options, but you’ll always find something worthwhile
For me, it was Kaju Katri and fresh Jalebi cooked in oil
Avoid sweets with Warakh (the silver coating on top) because it’s associated with animal cruelty
Vegan Friendly Indian food
Below are some great food items I tried in India which are vegan
South Indian food
Home Food (Moong, Daal, Sabji)
Burger King Burgers
Pau Bhaji (without Butter)
Feeding Biscuits to Stray Dogs
This is something I wish I realized early in my trip and recommend
to all my friends
Purchase a few packs of biscuits and carry it around wherever you go
Comes at about 10 rupees at any stall or store (converts to mere
pennies in USD)
As you travel and explore the city, hand biscuits to any stray dogs
These poor dogs on the streets are malnourished and hungry/thirsty,
and will gladly accept any food you give them
You can just place them on
the floor and make a kissing sound to get their attention
Jain ascetics are increasingly recognizing the violence inherent in dairy products and speaking out.
In this video, Sadhvi Vaibhavshree discusses the question “Being a Jain and a follower of nonviolence, should I consume milk or not? I am confused as my family and I do want to drink milk and I am not sure what to do.” Her talk is in Hindi. Thanks to Prof. Pankaj Jain for rendering the translation (to which i have made minimal changes, including re-ordering her ideas to emphasize her “big reveal”).
You will be surprised today. I am going to reveal a big truth for the Jain society. In the Jain sutras, dairy products are called vigai and are prohibited in our shastras. Even root vegetables are actually not prohibited in our texts. In the 16th and 17th chapters of Uttaradhyayan, Sthananga Sutra, dairy products are prohibited. It is mentioned that such products cause sexual desires so a spiritual seeker should avoid them. An ascetic consuming milk or yogurt cannot remain an ascetic and will become sinful. However, today, our Jain society does not renounce milk that is a product of five-sensed beings but some of us do renounce root vegetables that are products of one-sensed beings. We should prioritize avoiding the violence to five-sensed beings before worrying about violence to one-sensed beings. We make excuses about nonviolence but refuse to change our habits of consuming dairy products. I am sorry to say this. If one wants to practice nonviolence, start from self, be free from attachments and aversions, and avoid the stress. When we commit violence to ourselves, we also commit violence to the entire universe, according to Lord Mahavira in Acharang Sutra. Violence to one is violence to all.
This short film made in India about milk reminds me a lot of our year in India. We saw cows eating plastic garbage daily, and saw various organizations that considered giving kids a daily glass of milk as a great service. It is great to see Kuntal Joisher, the first vegan to climb Everest who we met at in Milipitas in the movie. Also Nandita Shah from Sharan who we saw speak in Ahmedabad.