Category Archives: Environmental

Slides for Parliament of World Religions Session Ahimsa and Veganism in Jainism

Climate-Focused English Pratikraman

With inspiration from our traditional ritual and stories, (the elephant Meruprabha showing compassion in the midst of a forest fire above) and the undeniable science of the climate crisis, drJina wrote a non traditional climate focused pratikraman for adults. Below is a link to the pdf for the text of the pratikraman. drJina read from this version on Clubhouse on Sept 11, 2021. Here is the audio recording of the Clubhouse event.

Please read the Jain Declaration on the Climate Crisis, and endose and enter your pledge(s) there.

Vegan Paryushan Cookbook and more….

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.

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Animal Agriculture and the Pandemic: Jain scholar sees beyond our cultural blind spot

Dr. Brianne Donaldson, scholar of Jainism, recently wrote an article about the cultural blindness of our response to slaughterhouse workers. In the Covid19 pandemic, the mental health of farmers was deemed worthy to support. However, “essential” slaughterhouse workers are traumatized every day.

As she says, ” If killing animals is this traumatic, why have anyone do it? Far from “essential” business, slaughterhouse work destroys animals and corrodes the well-being of people. Since nearly all humans living in the industrialized world can live well and healthy without animal flesh, the time has come to transition away from a practice widely acknowledged to be a source of personal trauma and social harm.”

She also gave an engaging 40 minute interview the role of animal agriculture in the Covid19 pandemic.

As Dr. Donaldson describes, it is often immigrants and refugees that work in slaughterhouses. Back when I worked on refugee health, I, too found that the resettlement agencies in NC had placed the refugees from Asia into slaughterhouse jobs.

So what do I mean by cultural blindspot?

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Climate Quiz

I try to eliminate both plastic packaging and eat local and vegan. This quiz tells us that it would take 11 years of minimizing plastic to achieve the same climate benefiting effects as going vegetarian. We know that going vegan is even better! Here’s the reference

The article accompanying the quiz makes the important point that we can choose to prioritize those actions that make the most impact on the climate; in addition to choosing a vegetarian diet, limiting airplane trips, having less children. They also note that those in the US and Canada contribute far more to climate change than those in India. However, authors of the Lancet article cited in this NY Times piece suggest that poor people in countries such as India NEED animal protein. Iron deficiency anemia is an example of a micro-nutrient deficiency that people recommend meat eating to address; however that can create iron overload in a way that plant iron in green leafy vegetables and nuts do not. While Jains will not make these arguments for eating meat, we do the same regarding milk. It is the type of argument that a Jain sadhvi made about why she does not recommend veganism to the community. “They don’t have access to green smoothies”, was her variation on the theme.

This is our cultural blind spots at work. We can summon the will to transform our agricultural system to cultivate a greater variety of plants, and to reform our economic system to ensure that people have access to enough quantity and variety of food, including a variety of sources of plant proteins and sufficient micro-nutrients, including iron. Let’s not fall into the trap of assuming that traditions of cruelty and convenience are the only way to meet human needs.

Consider how to help the earth this Paryushan

Earth pledge

 

We have just posted the Jain declaration on the climate crisis as a new page. Please read and consider it and on this day of Samvatsari for Svetambar Jains, consider if you’d like to endorse it and make any commitments. There is an endorse button at the top of the page. Above for illustrative purposes only. This is not the pledge associated with the Jain declaration.

Sailesh Rao of Climate Healers places our going vegan as the #1 thing we can do for the plant.

The book Drawdown and its associated website gives details of solutions in all different sectors.

My co-author, Sudhanshu, also describes the top 8 items you can do to address the climate crisis. Continue reading

Climate Change and our Lifestyles

This year at the JAINA convention, I spoke about having Ahimsak lifestyles for health. Not only does that mean vegan, but also climate friendly. I found a couple of articles today that draws a parallel between individual prevention of disease and prevention of climate catastrophe. It’s always harder for people to act to prevent harm than to react to harm that occurs. However, on this eve of Paryushan, it’s time for us to reflect and act in order to prevent widesspread himsa. Here is the article about prevention and another, associated with the picture, is about what we can do on a broader scale.

 

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Happy Earth Day and Special Call out to Southern California!

Big news in our community: The Jain Center of Southern California (JSSC) has decided to serve all vegan meals starting next year, with a transition period this year.  Pravin uncle of the JAINA Education Committee  gives us the inside story here .

As nicely described by Sagar of Young Jains here, the JSSC is the third Jain organization, after the Sri Digambar Jain Association in 2016 and Young Jains UK in 2017 to go vegan.

This is the first one in North America to go vegan. Fellow Jains have called on Northern California, Houston, Chicago and others to follow. Let’s hope they do. And with the JSSC hosting the next JAINA convention, we can hope that the biennial convention of North American Jains just might make a bold step that’s been a long time coming.

We Jains have a deep caring for all living beings and it’s an easy argument to eliminate dairy because we are saving the lives of dairy cows and their calves, egg laying hens and their chicks.

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If we reflect on Earth Day, and the myriad ways that farming animals contributes to climate change, pollutes the water and air, uses inordinate amounts of water and land, we can see the less direct but still important benefits of going vegan. Books like  Drawdown list plant rich diets as #4 in the list of most impactful steps to save the planet and all the living beings on it.

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Sagar Shah from UK Jain Vegans at JAINA 2017

Sagar Shah gave a number of presentations at JAINA 2017 in New Jersey. Here is one on environmental an ethical issues in modern food production that we recorded . In this talk Sagar presents a compelling comparison of the killing of dairy cows and male calves in meat, milk and cheese, namely that 6 pints of milk = 350 g cheese = 1/4 lb steak (the numbers in the talk below are slightly outdated).  A few people commented on how powerful this was, since Jains would never consider eating steak moral. Subsequent to the presentation, he has updated the slides ( 2017.07.03 – Environmental and ethical issues in modern food – how Jainism helps (11 Aug update)) and here are the detailed calculations (Data and methodology – equivalence of beef and dairy in killing cows ) and (Data and calcs on equivalence of eggs and chickens).

Here are some additional references Continue reading

Dallas teenagers articulate connections between veganism, reduction of methane and conservation of water

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Below are some articles written by the pathshala students on veganism and related topics

VEGANISM

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
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

WATER

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.

– Prachi Shah