Holistic Jain Diet –
Holistic Approach to Ahimsa, Environment,
Health and Spirituality
Pravin K. Shah
JAINA Education Committee
509 Carriage Woods Circle
Raleigh NC 27607-3969
Web - www.jainelibrary.org
Email - [email protected]
Tele - 919-859-4994
Holistic Jain Diet –
Holistic Approach to Ahimsa Environment
Health and Spirituality
Holistic Approach
Holistic means analyzing the whole system of
our Jain beliefs with respect to Diet rather
than simply its individual components.
• Ahimsa (Compassion)
• Environment
• Health
• Spirituality
Spiritual Aspect of Jain Diet
Goal of Jainism
 Total Liberation from Karma / from Mithayatva
(Ignorance) and Kshaya (Anger, Ego, Deceit, and
• Samvar – Stoppage of New Karma
Right Conduct
Ahimsa, Aparigraha, Anekantvad, etc..
5 Samitis, 3 Guptis, 10 Yati Dharma, 12
Reflections, 22 Parishaha, 5 Conducts
• Nirjarä – Exhaustion of karma already acquired via
6 External and 6 Internal Penances
Samvar – Jain Conduct
Guide Line of Practicing of Ahimsa
for Laypeople
Nonviolence is the highest principle of Jain
However, life can not exist without violence
Hence, for our existence (food) we must
follow the path of minimum violence
Jain Diet – Follow the Path of
Minimum Violence (Samvar)
Basic Jain Principle for Minimum Violence
• The degree Violence inflicted is proportional to the
number of senses a living being possesses….
• Violence to a living being which has more senses (Five,
Four, Three, etc.. in these order) is more sinful act than
thousands of One Sense living beings. It also creates a
greater impact on the Environment
• Order of Violence: Human, Animal, Insects, Bacteria, One
sense being (Vegetables, Water, Air, Earth, and Fire)
• Hence Jainism believes in Vegetarianism even though
Vegetables have innumerable/infinite living beings which
are being killed for our Diet and Existence (survival).
Jain Diet – Follow the Path of
Minimum Violence (Samvar)
Order of Degree of Violence (highest to lowest)
1. Violence to oneself (Highest Sin) – from spiritual
point of view, consuming food that degrades our
health and awareness
2. Violence or Exploitation of other Human Beings (2nd
Highest Sin) - food, clothes, and shelters prepared by
child labor, or by exploiting other human beings
3. Violence to five sensed Animals (3rd Highest Sin) food prepared by exploiting and killing animals
Jain Diet –
Follow the Path of Minimum Violence
Order of Degree of Violence (highest to lowest)
4. Violence to four and three sensed movable beings such as
flies, bees, insects (4th Highest Sin)
5. Violence to two sensed beings such as Bacteria etc..
6. Violence to One Sensed Beings (use minimum for healthy
Water, fire, air, earth, and not root vegetables have
innumerable souls
Root vegetables have infinite souls
Holistic Jain Diet –
Food Criteria
• Jain Food must be conducive to the Ahimsa,
Environment, Health and Spiritual upliftment.
• One should not consume any food that can create the
violence (Kashaya) within or degrades awareness
• One should not eat any food that involves violence to
Movable beings (Human, Animals, Birds, Insects etc..)
• Not to Consume Anishta Food and Anupsevya Food
 Food which have no or very minimum nutrition
• Eat little less than your hunger and early in the day for
good Health and for proper practice of Meditation.
Holistic Jain Diet –
Food Criteria
Consume Only “Healthy Strict” Vegetarian (Vegan) Food
• Food should be obtained with Minimum Destruction of
Environment which is plants, water, fire, air, and earth
Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Beans.. etc
Consume Minimum for Healthy Survival. Waste is
• Two Classifications of Vegetarian Foods
Pratyek-käya - Vegetables has Innumerable Souls
Anant-käya - Vegetables with Infinite Souls (avoid
this if alternates are available)
Anishta Food Anishta and Anupsevya Food –
Any food which is not good for our health or spiritual
upliftment and yet we consume it only due to our intense
attachment (taste) towards that food.
• Liquor, Drugs, Tobacco etc..
• Fried Food
• Stale Food - Fruits, Vegetables, and other Food that
has developed fungus
Anupsevya Food –
Improper Food which contains no nutrition and hence
should not to be consumed - Coal, Clay, etc.
Violence to Oneself
(Highest Sinful Act)
 Violence to oneself is considered highest sinful
act because it affects our Awareness (state of
mind) and our Spirituality (which is Samyakva).
 Hence the consumption of any intoxication
should be avoided first for our spiritual growth.
 Intoxication
• Liquor, Beer, Opium, Bhang (Snuff), Drugs
Food Related to Animal Cruelty
• Meat, Chicken, Fish, Eggs
• Dairy Products
Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Butter, Ice-cream,
Ghee, Sweets
• Eggs – Fertilized or Non-fertilized (highest
cruelty to birds in factory farming)
• Honey (Bees are produced and raised)
• Jello made from fish Gelatin
• Varakh (Silver Foil) made using cow’s intestine.
Cruelty to Animals
American Culture (Psychology)
“Most people care about animals and do not want to see them harmed,
but engage in a diet that requires them to be killed or suffer”
Classification of Animals –
Pets, Wild Animals, and Farm Animals
Treatment of farm animals can not be applied toward pets
One can not crammed dogs in a cage similar to chicken, which
deprives fresh air, sunlight, and movement.
America - Dogs are Pet, Cows are Farm Animals
Other culture - Dogs for food, Cows are sacred
we’ve become so accustomed to (and often attached to) our
forms of exploitation, often intertwining them deeply into
our culture, religion, and way of life.
Cruelty to Animals
Animals Killed per Day in USA
–Cattle - 130,000
–Calves - 7,000
–Hogs - 360,000
–Chickens - 24,000,000
Cruelty in Dairy Industry
Cows are kept pregnant continually
Slaughtering 70% to 80% of baby calves
slaughtered within six months by the Veal
industry or within five years by the beef
Slaughtering the mother cow after five years
of their fertile life while the life expectancy is
15 to 20 years
Everyday, hormones or drugs are injected to
increase the milk yield.
Impact on Environment
Greenhouse effect
World's 1.3 billion cows annually produce
100 million tons of methane a powerful
greenhouse gas which traps 25 times as
much solar heat as CO2
Water Consumption
Livestock (Cattle, Calves, Hogs, Pigs)
production accounts for more than half of
all the water consumed in USA.
Impact on Environment
Land Usage
• A third of the surface of North America is
devoted to grazing
• Half of American croplands grow livestock
feed for meat and dairy products
• 220 million acres of land in the USA have
been deforested for livestock production
• 25 million acres in Brazil, and half the
forests in Central America
Impact on Environment (continued)
To produce 1 lb. of Meat, an average of 40 lbs. of
vegetation is used.
• This calculation takes into consideration, the land clearing, as
well as food for the live-stock until slaughter –
Food cattle are generally slaughtered prior to 2-years-old Dairy
cattle may live 4 years before being turned into burgers.
To produce 1 lb. of Meat, an average of 2500
gallons of water is used.
• 1 lb. of wheat requires 108 gallons of water
1 lb. of rice needs 229 gallons of water
1 lb. of potatoes require just 60 gallons of water
*Source: USDA 2001.
Impact on Environment (continued)
Waste released in the Environment by
American Meat and Dairy Industry:
230,000 pounds per second, polluting
our land, air and water systems.
*Source: USDA 2001.
Impact on Health
Impact on Health – Meat and Dairy Products
 High Cholesterol
 High Saturated Fats
 High incidence of Prostate Cancer
 Calcium Deficiency (recent study)
 Less Hygienic
Cruelty in Egg Production
Poultry Farms –
Hens / Chicken are considered Egg producing Machines
Confined to Narrow Space
Attack One Another
Food Given
Bone meal, Blood meal, Excreta food, Meat meal, Fish meal,
Unfertilized Egg
It is the Result of Biological Cycle of a Hen but they go through
the same cruelty
Usage of Byproducts
Cosmetics, Cakes, Cookies, Candies, Wine "clearing" agent,
Shampoos, Skin Care Products
Cruelty in Varakh (Silver Foil)
• Manufactured using Cow's Intestine (Ox-gut)
obtained from slaughterhouses
• Thin strips of Silver placed between intestine
and manually hammered to create Silver Foil.
• Used to decorate sweets, betel nut, paan,
Temple idols etc..
• Annually 255,000 Kgms used ($40 Million)
Nirjarä – Jain Penance
Nirjarä is the process of exhaustion of karma already
• The karma exhaust themselves by producing the
results (creating environment) when it is time for
them to do so.
• However at that time, new karma begin to pour
• Hence it becomes difficult to be free of Karma.
Therefore, one should destroy the Karma before they
produce the result. This is real Nirjarä
Nirjarä – Jain Penance
Real Nirjarä - Removal Ghati Karma (Mohaniya
Karma) before Maturity
Nirjarä is done by rigorous penance
Six External Penance:
• Relates to Physical Body (Food and Exercise)
• Pre-requisite to prepare our mind for Internal
Penance which is true Nirjarä
Six Internal Penance:
• Relates to spiritual improvement of Thought
Process – It is a real cause of liberation
Nirjarä – Jain Penance : External Penance
Complete abstinence from eating and drinking
Alpähära or Unodari
Reduce the quantity of food one normally eats
Ichhänirodha or Vrittisamkshepa
Control of desire for food and material things
Give up stimulating or tasty food
–honey, alcohol, butter, milk, tea, sweets, juice etc.
Sanlinatä (Vivikta_shaiyashan)
Stay in a lonely places free from all disturbances.
Withdrawal of senses from external comfort.
Käya klesha
Penance and tolerating physical pain voluntarily
First 4 External Nirjarä relate to healthy diet and the other
two relate to healthy body
Nirjarä – Jain Penance : Internal Penance
Repentance for Bad Deeds with firm determination - not
to do it again
Humility and proper behavior towards all living beings
Vaiyävruttya or Vaiyävachcha
Rendering Selfless service to needy and sufferings
Study of religious literature
Contemplation and Meditation on soul’s true nature
Käyotsarga or Vyutsarga
This is the ultimate internal austerity, where the activities
of the body, speech, and mind are withdrawn and a
person exist with complete awareness and bliss
22 Abhakshya Food
Non-edible Food
Relates to Cruelty to Movable Beings (Trasa Souls) also
known as Vigai
01. Meat
02. Liquor (Madira)
03. Honey (Madha)
04. Butter
Vegetables with Infinite Souls
05. Kandamul or Root Vegetables
–Potato, Onion, Ginger (Aadu), Turmeric (Haldar)
22 Abhakshya Food
Non-edible Food
Dairy product mixed with beans
06. Dvidala
Milk, yogurt, or buttermilk mixed with beans and
human saliva - Trasa souls are borne
Five Udambars
Green Fig
Vada Teta
Pipara Teta
22 Abhakshya Food
Non-consumable Food
Relates to various degrees of Violence
12. Eating at Night (Ratri Bhojan) – Timing of Eating
13. Poison or Madak (Vishaya) Padarth
14. Hail Stones (Kara), Snow
15. Ice (Baraf)
16. Stale Food (Rasa Chalit Food) – Food Quality
17. Eggplant or Aubergine (Brinjal or Ringana)
18. Fruits with large quantity of Seeds (Bahu Bij Fala)
19. Pickles (Bol Athanu – Achar – old Pickles)
• Non-edible after 24 hours
20. Eat Less and Through Away More (Tuchha Fal)
21. Unknown Fruits/Vegetables
22. Raw Clay
Jainism in Action –
Eco friendly Religion
Caring for the Earth and Environment is the way of Life
for the Jain Community by following the two key
principles of Jainism in every day life
• Be Compassionate including to ourselves
• Minimize injury to all forms of life including
Air, Water, Earth, Plants and Animals
• Be Strict Vegetarian / Vegan and avoid the use of Animal
based products
Non-possessiveness / Self-restraint
• Reduce our needs and wants as far as possible
• Reuse / Recycle products, Eliminate Waste
• Share Resources
The Book of Compassion –
List of Articles
The Book has the following Articles:
• Universal Declaration of The Rights of Animals
• My Visit to A Dairy Farm
• Dairy Cows - Life, Usage, and Sufferings (New
York Times)
• Recycling of Slaughterhouse Waste (Rendering
• Milk - Its Impact on Health, Cruelty, and
• Is Nothing Sacred? - Cruelty towards India's Holy
The Book of Compassion –
List of Articles
Vegetarianism - A Compassionate Approach to Life
Varakh (Silver Foil)
Facts about Eggs
Story of Silk
Story of Pearls
The Myth about Milk
Puppy Mills: Breeding Ills
Alternatives to Animal Abuse
How our Diet affects the Environment
Note – All articles are available on Jain eLibrary Website
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