When I tell people about my Jain diet, the reaction I almost always get is:
“Well what in the world do you eat!?”
That is why, my friends, I have this blog. The Jain diet, while initially can be surprisingly limited, is actually not at all. In fact, I believe that dietary restrictions–whether it be due to religion, allergies, or preferences–force you to be creative. Combining ingredients you never thought would work can end up creating a savory solution.
To give you a brief summary about the Jain diet in tweetable characters:
The Jain vegetarian diet is based on nonviolence. We don’t eat meat, fish, eggs, root vegetables, or animal ingredients.
To start, Jainism is based on the principle of ahimsa, or non-violence. This principle applies to our mental, physical, and verbal actions towards all living things. Thus, Jains are strict vegetarians.
Well, you might ask, “Why vegetarian? Don’t plants have life too?”
While we obviously can’t be 100% non-violent as humans. If we ate no plants, then that would be a unhealthy diet not providing for our sustenance. It is our goal to limit violence as much as possible. The extent of this limitation of violence in dietary practices includes that Jains avoid consuming root vegetables. This is because root vegetables tend to have many more microorganisms which are killed when the plant is consumed. Also, consuming root vegetables involves killing an entire plant, not just taking one of its’ fruits or letting it naturally wither (like squash or pumpkin plants would). Root vegetable restrictions include potatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, beets, radish, leeks, mushrooms, etc.
Jains do not consume animal ingredients which involve the killing of a life–for example, we do not eat honey since many bees are killed in the process of honey farming. Neither do we consume eggs, since the egg had the potential to become a life. Gelatin and other animal byproducts are also strictly prohibited since they are not vegetarian.
The modern argument today has turned to dairy industries, with more and more people choosing to go vegan for similar principles. Jainism by tradition does not limit dairy products because back in the day, cows were treated in a much more humane manner on family farms, and it did not harm the animal. With the dairy industry having “industrialized” milk production more than ever, many Jains have opted to the vegan diet as well. While this seems even more restrictive, the amount of dairy-alternative products there are on shelves today, it is hard to deny the decadence of vanilla almond milk or a slice of vegan cheesecake.
(Tweetable characters again)
The goal: limit violence towards all living things, incl. plants. Root veg. have many microorganisms that die when uprooted.
Jain dietary practices also include the practice of choviar, or eating before sunset. In fact, this practice of eating an early dinner has also been shown scientifically to be better for your digestion, metabolism, and overall health. In addition to health reasons, Jains practice this because once the sun sets, more bugs have awaken and well, can end up falling into your soup.
Overall, the Jain diet aims to minimize violence towards living creatures while still maintaining a healthy, sustainable diet. This blog is here to show you that these dietary restrictions by no means results in poor cuisine or lack of variety. There are so many food products out there that are peacefully produced and infinite combinations of recipes. Still not convinced? Check out the Jain pantry and produce staples I recommend here.
I sincerely hope that with this blog, you carry away a bowl full of inspiration and a soupçon of culinary instruction to guide your creative, compassionate cooking.