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Jain declaration on Climate Change

Our Jain religion emphasizes ahimsa and we care for all living beings. Given today’s challenges, it is time for us to take a position on climate change. We invite comments to this position! (The picture below is not ours, we like it but it is just for illustration. Our position is in the text .)

Earth pledge

 

A Call to Action for Jains on Climate Change

 Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee of JAINA

Climate change threatens to harm all living beings on an unprecedented scale. Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims and others have all published their statements on climate change and make specific commitments to mitigate further damage. Our principles of ahimsa and aparigraha make Jainism a religion of environmental protection. The Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee of JAINA has drafted a position on climate change to translate our principles into actions.

We will hold a session on Sunday afternoon, July 5 from 4-5 pm at the JAINA convention  and invite you to participate in this session to discuss the right approach to present this position to the world.

Jain Declaration on Climate Change

In 1990, L. M. Singhvi wrote the Jain Declaration on Nature which described a Jain commitment to preserving nature. Almost 30 years later, there is an urgent need for action on climate change.

Jainism is one of the world’s oldest religions, having originated in Northern India well before 500 BCE and, as underscored by The Jain Declaration on Nature, is an ecological religion whose philosophies and codes of conduct inherently provide solutions to address our current crisis of climate change.  The principal tenet of conduct followed by Jains is that of Ahimsa or non-violence to any living being. As a result, practicing Jains are vegetarians.  We also have a long history of building sanctuaries for wounded animals. Jains refrain from the use of pesticides and herbicides, and the teachings prohibit Jains from engaging in professions that harm plants, animals and the earth. Another key tenet followed by Jains is Aparigraha (non-possessiveness). Ahimsa and Aparigraha as taught and traditionally practiced have great relevance to the climate crisis.  We also encourage our community and the world community to embrace new practices based on our fundamental Jain philosophy.

While there is no central authority that speaks on behalf of all Jains, the Federation of Jain Associations in North America (JAINA) is a well-established organization with an evolving agenda proposed by a number of committees. JAINA organizes conferences, activities and an education curriculum for Jains in North America. The Ahimsak Eco-Vegan Committee of JAINA affirms the consensus position of scientists that human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels and animal agriculture,  are the main cause of global warming. JAINA recognizes the extreme threat that climate change poses to all life on Earth.  We ask Jain individuals and communities to sign on to this Position on Climate change in order to make a public commitment to action.

Climate change in 2019

Burning massive quantities of fossil fuels to build and run modern society has increased the concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere from pre-industrial levels of 280 parts per million (PPM) to over 410 PPM. The CO2 molecules in the atmosphere trap heat from the sun. To date the average temperature of the Earth’s surface has increased by 1 degree Celsius due to warming by greenhouse gases released through human activities. Most of the extra CO2 and heat has been absorbed by the oceans, creating stress and dangerous living conditions for marine animals.

Higher temperatures have made life very difficult for many animal and plant species. In fact, tens of thousands of plant and animal species are going extinct every year due to habitat loss and changing climate. Hundreds of humans also die every year due to hotter conditions and from extreme heat events cause by climate change. Disease patterns are changing, with the most vulnerable animals and humans getting even sicker. Changes in the climate have already changed the geographic distribution of pathogen carrying mosquitoes and increased the risk of diseases such as Zika virus.

We see that sea levels are rising due to melting glaciers and hotter ocean temperatures. Low lying areas are flooding, causing people and animals to be displaced. Warmer ocean temperatures are also adding extra energy to hurricanes making them ever more destructive, again causing much loss of life and suffering.

We also see that forests are getting drier and wildfires are becoming increasingly more prevalent and destructive. All of this causes incredible suffering and loss of life – plant, animal and human. This is an unacceptable situation for Jains who hold that all life is sacred.

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A whole food plant based diet to address heart disease risk in South Asians (Indians)

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.

Vegan Chai at JCNC’s anniversary celebration and food: Great reviews!

A note from Pranav:

 

Hi All, I want to sincerely thank the Jcnc kitchen committee and volunteers to prepare vegan foods in sufficient quantity and for allowing the use of separate serving  table on this dhwaja ceremony day (Aug 4, 2018) . This time the volunteers decided to really educate the members on the availability
of vegan alternatives and quite a few people wanted to taste the vegan foods side by side with the dairy based foods. Afterwards, we informally reached out to them on the tables they were eating and they said they found vegan items more flavorful because milk/yogurt was actually diluting the original flavor of chaula sabzi as well as daal. Vegan Gattha was the most popular because people found the dairy version was actually too dull and watery. All in all, we noticed that just like a kid doesn’t like plain milk and want it flavored, Jcnc members realized that milk was working against the flavor of the base food and they would rather enjoy sabzi, daal, legumes etc without dairy. Below are few verbatim feedback from members who aren’t currently vegan themselves.
I sincerely request the food committee to make more menu items vegan as I think community is open to it.
Dhiral —- “vegan chaula sabzi tasted better because it felt more flavorful… if there was only one counter I would have rather enjoyed vegan chaula… “
Krinaben shah —- “loved the vegan version and I would go for it anytime”
Mudit khasgiwala —- “vegan dishes were more delicious and highly recommend to make more of those”
And here are some reviews of the vegan cha:

 

 

Dairy Doubts by Dr. Michael Klaper

Dr. Michael Klaper gave an excellent talk at the Jain Center of Northern California and has made a video specifically on the health and ethical problems with dairy consumption.  Below is a screen shot. You have to click on the hyperlink here to access the talk which leads you to his website, containing all kinds of other excellent content!

Screen Shot 2018-07-03 at 2.37.12 PM

Time Map

Dairy Doubts” (42-minutes)

00:00 : Dr. Klaper’s Introduction

00:44 : What we’re told about dairy products…
01:42 : The purpose of cow’s milk
02:56 : If you’re trying to lose weight…
03:54 : Reality check

04:33 : Estrogens in cow’s milk
12:26 : Dairy and prostate cancer
14:37 : Dairy and ovarian cancer
15:42 : Dairy and acne
17:09 : Plant-based diets in treatment of asthma
18:21 : Dairy and various medical conditions

19:18 : Cheese (congealed, fermented butterfat)
20:04 : “The Cheese Trap” by Neal Barnard, MD

20:27 : Where cow’s milk really comes from…
25:59 : Today’s commercial dairy industry
32:33 : Are you really that hungry?
33:22 : Healthy calcium sources

35:40 : Dairy and environmental pollution

37:00 : Look in the mirror…
37:25 : Delicious alternatives (in moderation)

38:21 : What about your bones?
38:49 : Osteoporosis is NOT primarily a calcium deficiency
39:33 : Healthy Bones

40:08 : Summary and Suggestions
42:31 : End

Thanks to Meredith Scheiner for her Time Map of this presentation

Enjoy!

 

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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Social Validation Bias

Posted on Vegans In India facebook group by Saurabh K.

Are non veg eaters really cruel or just suffering from ‘Social Validation Bias’?

When we first moved to Singapore in 2016, we were looking for a place to rent close to the kids’ school. One such trip took us to a leafy condo block with nice low rise apartments and plenty of greenery.

The Property Agent, a local Chinese in his early 20’s, was quite helpful and showed us around a few apartments.
When we were done, as we were walking towards the exit, he suddenly held my hand and asked me to stop.
Surprised, I looked at him and he pointed me towards a snail just in front, who would have been crushed had I not been careful.
I thanked him for the gesture and bid him goodbye.

While on the way back, I kept on thinking of the incident. Why would a person, who by now might be enjoying a shark fin soup, or the local delicacy of Crispy Crabs where crabs are cruelly tied by legs for days until a patron selects them for meal, following which they are killed for food, be so sensitive towards a snail?

Such behaviour is widespread among us – we cannot see a puppy get hurt for example, and will happily pay for his treatment using a calf leather wallet.

I believe the reason is that we are all inherently non violent, but suffer from what Psychologists call ‘Social Validation Bias’. This is a basic human trait that makes even the most cruel or outlandish thing normal if sufficient number of others also do it.

When non vegetarians look around and see fellow non vegetarians who are doing just fine, not dropping dead due to the hormone filled meat, and not suffering any obvious effects of bad Karma due to their part in animal cruelty, being non vegetarian starts to look normal.

However, this is exactly how one slave trader would have felt seeing another one centuries ago.
And this is exactly how one sexual predator/Wife beater feels when he sees his colleague doing something similar and doing just fine.

However, we all know that some things are just wrong no matter how many people are doing it, and need to be opposed and stopped.

Let us hope that meat eating will start to be seen exactly as slave trading is seen today, and sexual harassment will be seen (hopefully soon) – something that only mentally sick people do who should be either coached or put behind bars

Fasting talk from JAINA 2017, just in time for Paryushan

I gave a 50 minute talk at JAINA on scientific aspects of fasting and Jainism. Rather than have one long video, I’ve divided it into shorter segments below.

Here are the videos in order:






Here are the slides: Water fasting intermittent fasting and Jainism. For further reference, here are some additional links Continue reading