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.
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.
Dr. Nandita Shah from Sharan gives a great introduction to veganism in this video
and this NYT article discusses the increased risk of heart disease in South Asian, linked both to those that eat a very traditional diet with lots of refined grains and saturated fat, and also a too Western diet with high fat meat and dairy. The type of whole foods, plant based diet that I, and Dr. Nandita and other vegan nutritionists and doctors recommend fit the recommendations to incorporate whole grains, vegetables and legumes into a mixed diet.
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.
In the past, we posted a Youtube Video of a Digambar muni who recognized the violence in dairy production and consumption. Now the Svetamabar tradition is represented! This maharaj saheb gives a very inspiring talk about how our Tirthankars and disciples did drink milk in small quantities as medicine and even broke fasts with kheer, but how our current consumption of milk by the glassful is cruel and unhealthy. He encourages the audience to go vegan for 3 months, no excuses, no substitues, and to include non dietary aspects too. He has been vegan for 6 years and has noticed a difference in his way of thinking.
Please click the continue reading button to read the full English translation, thanks to Pranav Mehta. Labdhi Sagar Maharaj Saheb has quite a charismatic speaking style, and those of you that understand Gujarati can enjoy it!
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.