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Third Jain organisation pledges to go vegan

A third Jain organisation has pledged to serve only dairy-free vegan meals at events it organises and hosts.

At its Mahavir Janma Kalyanak celebrations in April 2018, the President of the Jain Center of Southern California (JCSC) announced that, starting from January 2019, JCSC would serve only dairy-free vegan foods at all organised events.

In making this pledge, JCSC joins UK Jain organisations Sri Digambar Jain Association and Young Jains UK who made formal commitments in favour of vegan catering in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

We are delighted with the decision taken by JCSC and its committee, and hope other Jain organisations around the world can follow their lead.

For further information about the announcement, please see this post by Pravin K Shah, Chair of the JAINA Education Committee.

Vijay

Vegan Jain comes top on fitness test on UK National Television

Vijay Shah, a vegan from the UK Jain community, has been a participant on a UK television show called “Astronauts: Do you have what it takes?”

The show takes aspiring astronauts through the rigorous tests conducted as part of the astronaut selection process.  Vijay was selected out of thousands of people, and has made it into the final five candidates of the show.

Vijay has also demonstrated that both vegans and Jains can excel athletically.  Despite stiff competition, he came out top on the bleep test in the first episode, beating GB bobsleigh athlete James Hedger.  Vijay has consistently been among the strongest performing candidates in all exercises requiring fitness and stamina.

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The next episode will be broadcast on Sunday 24 September 2017 at 8pm on BBC Two.  You can also view previous episodes on BBC Iplayer.

Vijay is an aeronautical engineer, a trained expedition guide and a film-maker.  He has helped design space planes, travelled to the remotest corners of the earth, and has also produced short films documenting his adventures.

He also comes from an inspiring family of vegan Jains.  His first cousin was one of the first vegan Jains in the UK, and his late maternal grandmother switched to a vegan diet when in her 80s.

You can read more about Vijay and his adventures across the globe on this website: http://www.vijayshah.info/.

And you can read an inspiring biography of his grandparents and their journey from India to London via East Africa in this e-book (read review).

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A. Temples - Potters Bar, London - 1

Two UK Jain organisations vote for vegan catering in less than 12 months

Jain Vegans is delighted to announce that two prominent UK Jain organisations have voted in favour of vegan catering in less than 12 months.

In October 2016, members of the Shree Digambar Jain Association (SDJA) voted in favour of a motion proposing that all catering is both suitable for vegans and excludes ingredients traditionally considered unsuitable for Jains, such as root vegetables. Young Jains UK passed a similar motion in April 2017.

Both organisations had been serving exclusively Jain and vegan food for some time. Nevertheless, the passing of formal motions at their respective AGMs demonstrates that their members recognise that using dairy products is inconsistent with the Jain principle of Ahimsa (non-violence).

The decisions by these organisations reflects a broader shift in the UK Jain community towards a vegan lifestyle.  We very much hope that other religous and community organisations follow suit.

The Jain Vegans Working Group has sought to recognise the non-violent catering stance of these Jain organisations by presenting them with the “Ahimsa in Action” award. Young Jains was presented the award in April 2013, while the award was presented to the Shree Digambar Jain Assocation in April 2017.

 

D - Ahimsa in Action Award - to Young Jains - 2013Young Jains receiving the Ahimsa in Action Award in 2013

“Given the violence and killing of cows in milk production, the majority of our members recognise that the use of dairy products is not consistent with the Jain principle of Ahimsa. Young Jains UK has sought to provide vegan catering at all its events over the past few years, and we are pleased our members have formalised this commitment through a vote at the recent AGM”

Dr Anuja Shah, President of Young Jains UK from 2016-17

D - Ahimsa in Action Award - to SDJA - 2016Mr Jyotindra Dhanani accepting the award on behalf of the SDJA Executive Committee in April 2013

“Three years back when SDJA started serving Jain vegan meals at their events, it was really hard to find caterers who could meet the requirement. Over time the caterers have understood the Jain vegan concept and now offer a wider menu options”

Mr Jyotindra Dhanani, member of the SDJA Executive Committee, on accepting “Ahimsa in action” award in 2017.

Talk on the Science of animal experimentation by Andre Menache

On Sunday 31 May 2015, over 35 members of the London Jain and vegan communities came together to listen to fact filled talk on the science of animal experimentation. The talk was delivered by Andre Menache, a retired veterinary surgeon with expertise in animal experimentation and regulatory toxicology.

Andre articulated the need for both a scientific and an ethical argument on the subject of animal experimentation, but underscored the importance of the scientific argument in winning over the hearts and minds of political and scientific communities, as well as the general public.

In his talk, Andre described the UK regulations and international guidelines making animal experimentation a necessity in pharmaceutical drug development. He presented evidence on how animal models are not good models for the study of human disease, discussed how alternatives methods could be used in drug development, and highlighted the need for laws to catch up with science and technology.

Andre also described the differences between industries most commonly associated with animal experimentation.   He articulated how the public in the western world are largely against animal testing for cosmetics, and that industry had managed to develop alternative methods for safety testing response.   He noted how the incentive for profit and cost reduction in the pharmaceutical drug development was driving the industry in the right direction. In what came as a surprise to many members of the audience, Andre discussed how poor public awareness and industry and regulatory dynamics meant that the chemicals industry probably posed the biggest challenge to those wishing to bring an end to animal experimentation.

Andre’s talk was followed by a lively question and answer session, and a short commentary from Sagar Kirit Shah of the Jain Vegans Working Group on attitudes towards animal experimentation within the Jain community.

The final minutes of the event were focussed on actions those attending could take to address the suffering experienced by living beings used for animal experimentation.   The audience were encouraged to read more about the subject, support individuals and organisations doing work in this area , and to consider joining a research ethics committee.

Thank you to Young Jains, the Animal Interfaith Alliance and Andre to organising a fantastic event.

 

Andre Menache

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Should we campaign against religious animal sacrifice?

On November 28 and 29, Hindus in Nepal are planning to celebrate the festival of Gadhimai. Traditionally, this festival is celebrated with the ritual sacrifice of 1000s of animals. If the event goes ahead as planned, as many as 250,000 animals may be killed.

 

A number of animal welfare organisations, such as Compassion in World Farming, have organised campaigns to encourage the Nepalese Hindus to abandon the practice of animal sacrifice at this festival and/or to encourage the Indian government to ban animals from being sent across to Nepal. We, the Jain Vegans Working Group have been asked to encourage subscribers to sign their petitions and/or join the demonstrations.

 

We have mixed feelings about these kinds of protests and demonstration.

One the one hand, we believe the motivation to stop animals being sacrificed in the name of religion is correct. Animal sacrifice was commonplace in vedic India, and the leaders of the Jain and Buddhist traditions were hugely influential in shifting the Indian mentality towards one where meat consumption and animal sacrifice are considered inconsistent with religion. Indeed, the example shown by past Jain leaders provide inspiration for much of our work to encourage veganism and non-violence in modern society.

On the other hand, we also feel that the protests will do very little to prevent the suffering or killing of animals. A majority of the animals due to be sacrificed were not reared for the purpose of religious sacrifice. Rather, they were reared for the products their bodies produce (their meat, skin and/or reproductive products like milk and eggs). If the protests succeed and the sacrifices are stopped, all of these animals will still be destined for the slaughter house. Accordingly, we believe the most effective way to stop the killing and suffering of animals to encourage others to follow a vegan diet and to support sanctuaries where animals can live out their lives in a safe and caring environment.

We appreciate that our subscribers will hold different positions. Some will support the protests and others will not.

Whatever your position, we encourage you to use the Hindu festival of Gadhimai as an opportunity to reflect.

We encourage you to reflect on whether you believe it is acceptable to use animals in religious rituals, whether in the form of direct sacrifice, or to use products such as milk or ghee which contribute to the killing of cows and calves.

We encourage you to reflect on a vegan lifestyle and supporting animal sanctuaries as a way of reducing suffering of animals.

And we encourage you to reflect on whether it is better to focus efforts on our own actions and our own communities before campaigning against the actions of others.

 

Please let us know what you think. Leave a comment below, tweet us, or post a message on our international e-group.

 

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If you you would like to find out more about the campaigns, you can find an information pack and petition form here and here.

Dhokdi

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Recipe kindly provided by Jaya Ramniklal Shah with minor modifications by Heena Modi

Ingredients

Batter:

  • 125g gram flour
  • 1-2 green chillies + 3cm stem of ginger. (Grind these or chop very finely)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/3 teaspoon citric acid
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 400ml water
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil

Additional ingredients:

  • ‘Eno’
  • sunflower oil
  • pinch of asafoetida
  • a small handful of curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • handful of chopped coriander leaves
  • 1 teaspoon desiccated coconut

 

Method:

  1. Mix all the batter ingredients except the water together.
  2. Add the water a little at a time to avoid lumps of flour forming
  3. Coat a 3 inch deep steaming tray with sunflower oil and set aside
  4. Add 1 heaped teaspoon of ‘Eno’ to the batter and stir vigorously – it will now begin to react and froth slightly
  5. Pour the batter into the steaming tray ensuring there’s at least 1/2 inch gap from the top
  6. Place the steaming tray within a larger vessel (either a large wok or pan) a 1/4 filled with boiled water
  7. Place a lid on top and steam for approx. 20-25 minutes
  8. After steaming allow the dhokri to cool for 15 minutes before cutting into 4cm cubes
  9. In another pan heat 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, add mustard seeds, curry leaves + asafoetida, until seeds pop
  10. Pour this oil mixture over the diced dhokri, then add desiccated coconut + chopped coriander leaves

Khichdi Kadhi

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Khadhi

Recipe kindly provided by Pratibha Mehta

Ingredients:

  • 1 400g tin coconut milk (or soya milk, for a healthier version)
  • 1 tin water
  • 1 tablespoon gram flour (channa no lot / chickpea flour)
  • 1 teaspoon corn flour
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Turmeric
  • Coriander leaves
  • Green chillis, finely chopped
  • Ginger, finely chopped (optional, leave out if Jain)
  • For vaghar:
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil,
    • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
    • Quarter tsp mustard seeds (rai)
    • 1-2 cloves
    • 1 piece of cinnamon
    • Curry leaves (optional)

Method:

  1. Mix together coconut milk, gram flour and corn flour.
  2. Do the vaghar by heating oil in a saucepan and adding other vaghar ingredients.
  3. Add the coconut milk/flour mixture to the pan and all the other ingredients.
  4. Keep stirring and bring to the boil.

Note:  The soya milk version may require a little more gram flour.

 

Khichdi

Recipe kindly provided by Ranjanben Chandaria

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup moong dal
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Half tsp turmeric

Method:

  1. Cook all the ingredients in a pressure cooker.
  2. Serve with kadhi

 

Photo courtesy of http://thespiceycoffee.wordpress.com/