For the Digambar Jain festival of Das Laxan, my parents have been going to the temple and listening to lectures on the qualities of forgiveness, humility, straighforwardness, contentment, truth, self-restraint, penance, renunciation, non-attachment and brahmacharya. How wonderful, that in keeping with the spirit of Das Laxan, my dad has gone vegan! How wonderful to allow the cows some peace of mind and freedom from artifical insemination and how wonderful that he practiced self-restraint, straightforwardness, non-attachment, and renunciation in keeping away from some of the foods he habitually eats. He had already been avoiding many fatty dairy containing foods such as butter, ghee and buttermilk, and the traditional Gujarati food that my parents enjoy at home is largely vegan. Continue reading
How can people fast for weeks and months without food, and only water? Jains have a tradition of fasting, from the one day fast that I observed yesterday, to the 8 day fasts that many are doing during paryushan, to the 32 day fast that one high-powered business person is doing in Boston, to the many months that some extraordinary sadhus and sadvhis and exceptional laypersons fast. Since modern medicine doesn’t have an answer to how people can fast for long periods of time, we are left to conclude that the body must have some adaptive processes of which we are not aware. Still, at some point, we all need to eat. If we can learn, from fasts or otherwise, to control our cravings and get away from a deficiency mentality, it may be easier to transform our usual diet, avoid dairy productsand eggs, and go vegan to more fully realize our ideal of ahimsa.
Oh no, I’m losing weight! Not a common worry, and a problem that many people in the affluent sections of the world wish they had. With record levels of obesity and related diseases (diabetes and heart disease, to name a couple), the US population and middle/upper class India could benefit from losing weight. In the Indian community, we have a heightened risk of heart disease and tend to put our weight on in our mid-sections, the worst place in terms of disease risk. Changing to a vegan diet may result in weight loss…. so what if you are one of the folks for whom this is a problem? Continue reading
A lot of people have been concerned with negative publicity about the health effects of soy products,. First, I want to emphasize that veganism does not mean you eat a soy-based diet, but rather a plant based diet. Get plenty of variety. As Jains with an Indian cultural background, we have many lentils, dals and other sources of protein, for which others may rely on soy. There may be some theoretical concerns with certain types of breast cancer and thyroid disorders, however, most of the health risks have been overblown.
This article provides an overview of many important health issues that have raised in relation to soy intake. One of the takeaway messages is: for thyroid disorders, get enough iodine. Of course each person has to consider what other options they have. Dairy and meat are certainly much worse in terms of cancer risk, heart disease and other health problems.
Another piece of the nutrition puzzle is that processed soy is less healthy than cooked soybeans, tofu or soymilk.