On April 2‑3, 1994, we hosted a JAINA meeting at Los Angeles. At that time we held this seminar at the Jain Bhavan in Buena Park. 15 young/teenage Jains participated in it, under the auspices of Jiv Daya and Vegetarianism Committee of JAINA.
Here are their views on various themes, such as controlling our thoughts, the Jain scriptures, foods, cosmetics, use of animals in medical world, entertainment, other industries, etc.
AHIMSA IN THOUGHTS ..................Megha Shah
JAIN SCRIPTURES ......................Samir Vora
VEGETARIANISM IN DORM ...............Anita Vasa
EFFECTS ON ECOLOGY ..................Neilay Dedhia
EGGS ..................................Rikim Shah
DAIRY PRODUCTS .......................Biren Mehta
15 FORBIDDEN TRADES .................Karishma Shah
ANIMAL INGREDIENTS IN COSMETICS ....Miku Shah
ANIMAL TESTING FOR COSMETICS .......Mona Vadecha
CRUELTY‑FREE SHOPPING & LOGOS ......Payal Sheth
SILK & LEATHER ......................Mansi Shah
DISSECTION IN CLASSROOMS ............Maulin Shah
ANIMALS IN MEDICAL WORLD ...........Suketu Khandhar
ANIMALS IN OTHER INDUSTRIES ........Niraj Shah
ANIMALS IN ENTERTAINMENT ............Amita Sheth
The Jain Creed
The animals are not for ours to eat, wear,
experiment on, or for our entertainment.
Gih's;; p;rm;;e Q;m;*
Harmlessness is the Supreme Religion
We, most of the Jains, define Ahimsa as not eating meat. It is true, because there is a lot of Himsa in eating meat. But, does Ahimsa stop there? No, Ahimsa also includes control over passions such as anger, greed, pride, jealousy, etc. And then it also includes how to live carefully and diligently with animals and other lives. For example, we are vegetarians. We also take time to learn about what we eat, and read labels, when we buy food items. We also try to be compassionate, when it comes to the fashions, science, and entertainment. But, are we well informed? Do we know all the foods and fashions? Let us focus on some subjects, such as, how can we avoid dissection in high schools? What about animal testing for cosmetics? Or animal ingredients in soaps, shampoos, and lipsticks? Where can we find cruelty‑free products, and how do we identify them?
We will explore these questions here in this discussion. We will also recognize, that it is not easy, especially in this country, it is not easy at all to follow the Jain guidelines perfectly. However, that does not mean, that we are hopeless. With certain determination, and certain education, may be, we can make ourselves better Jains. Many of us, even some Jains, have considered eggs acceptable. And almost every Jain will argue why dairy products should be considered vegetarian. But today we will present our views on these items also.
Here we have got a very unique panel to address to all these issues. These are all young Jains from Los Angeles community. Even though no one claims to be a perfect model, we do all believe here, and our motto is, that "Animals are not for ours to eat, wear, or to experiment on, or for our entertainment."
(Himsa starts in thoughts, then it gets expressed in speech, and ultimately results in action.)
I was thinking about how to approach the problem of explaining why it is important to maintain the principles of Ahimsa in all facets of life. I couldn't explain it in terms of the creation of the world or the destruction of it. The only way I could explain the importance of the principle of Ahimsa is through the continuation of life. Although we do not know for certain the origin of life or the end of it, we know, and see, and witness that it is a continuation of all things. Anything which interferes or prevents this continuation of life, works against the basic principle of its own creation. The principle of non‑violence upholds this idea of continuation. It preserves it. The nature of Ahimsa is one of control and refrain. It doesn't ask that we commit any given act but that we refrain from it. Ahimsa asks that the only action we take is a mental awareness and consciousness of the preservation of the natural continuation of life. This is the importance of the mental practice of Ahimsa.
The process of your thought will help you to be happy because you'll appreciate and view very clearly what is beautiful in our lives. Thinking through Ahimsa will show us the line of stepping stones from soul to soul. It is this quality which brings us closer to understanding the soul; it brings us closer to knowledge, and ultimately the thorough practice of Ahimsa by thought will bring us closer to Moksha. It may seem that controlling one's mind by practicing Ahimsa is the most difficult aspect of Jainism to practice. We often think that the human mind is an entirely separate entity from the body, because the body we can physically control, while controlling the mind... we regard it as a much more complex issue. Ahimsa is usually thought of in a physical sense. Fasting, for example, is an observation of Ahimsa which rests solely on control. However, there comes the time, when we question ‑ why fast, when all we think about is food? How can I control my mind to set aside desires so that this physical practice of non‑violence becomes a mental one too? When you are able to ask a question such as this one, you'll be able to teach your own mind the process of thought which is Ahimsa.
Much of this mental observation of non‑violent thought is learned through upbringing and maturity ‑ but it is an "individual" issue. The mind which observes this principle of Ahimsa by thought is the appreciative element of life. They gain the most knowledge of all, due to their objectives, clear vision.
As Jains we must teach ourselves to think non‑violently. At first it may be a conscious effort, but with time, patience, practice, and love for the soul, it can become a subconscious automatic thought process. It will leave us happier, more insightful, and closer to the liberation of the soul.
The mental practice of Ahimsa is a major aspect of Jainism which is often a personal realization. It was for me. My efforts to think through Ahimsa in all aspects of life have made me happier, more observant, more compassionate, and more insightful about my life. Although I have failed at times to turn around my way of thinking, I have succeeded at others; and I have succeeded in making my mind a more peaceful, knowledgeable place.
(Our Pratikraman emphasizes very strongly on the degree of carefulness that we should exercise, even to the smallest insects. Ahimsa ‑ harmlessness and protection to all living beings ‑ is the very first vow for all the Jain householders and monks.)
Today, I will explain the point of non‑violence beyond vegetarianism. It's not just being a vegetarian that assures you to be a true Jain. You also have to be aware of the world and the organisms around you. It is of great importance to be a vegetarian, but you still have to contemplate on not inflicting pain to the organisms that have shared our earth beautifully for billions of years. We need to explain a fact that it is important for us to support other organisms' needs, the way they support ours.
The first Anuvrat displays countless ideas that are of most prominent importance. It states that you should refrain from violence towards all living creatures, whether the organism be of one, two, three, four, or five senses. You should not commit the act of violence in three ways, 1 personally, 2 asking, or 3 encouraging others to do so. And by three means, which are, 1 mental, 2 verbal, and 3 physical. Until we make a point to abide by these rules, living creatures will never be safe from human beings.
Five of the most immoral acts that must be eluded are as follows: never refrain animals from their most deserved freedom by tying strong cords, or putting them in cages. Never inflict pain upon an animal by attacking with sticks or hitting by any other means. Another painful act which is to be avoided is the act of piercing the nose, the ear, or any other limb. Your should also never overlay an animal with any kind of unbearable weight. Finally, you should never deprive an animal of it's food or water with evil intention.
While walking, we may have pained or separated from life a wide variety of lives. We should realize that when we kill live earth, seeds, plants, or live water, even if not intentional, this act is completely wrong. But it is O.K. if you walk with the state of mind that you should feel sorry towards the organisms that you may be hurting. It is not wrong to walk, but accept the fact, that you may be, even if not intentionally, hurting other beings. If you have inflicted pain upon, crushed, tortured, attacked, or killed an organism, it would be wise to ask for your sins' forgiveness. It's up to us to respect all life in this world.
(We often say, that a vegetarian has a tough time in this society, when eating at a restaurant. How if you have to eat outside for days, or weeks, or months? Let us hear from her how to manage life at the dorm.)
Everyone knows that college caters to the meat eaters, and tends to neglect the needs of the vegetarians. For example, when there are tacos, there's beef, cheese, tomatoes, etc. But, what about "real" beans? How many times have you been somewhere to eat, and you have discovered that there's only beef and some kidney beans? Well, kidney beans are not catering to all our needs. It's as if they want to seem like they are understanding our situation, but in the true sense, they're trying to just give us something so that we are so‑called happy. This makes it seem as if it's terrible to be a vegetarian.
When you go to the pizza line, what kinds of pizza do you see being served? Well, there's pepperoni, sausage, ham, and then cheese. O.K., it is obvious whose needs are reflected in college? Is it the meat eaters or the vegetarians? I, personally, know friends who have changed from Vegetarian to Non‑Vegetarian because they didn't feel that an adequate diet was provided for the Vegetarians. But, in reality, when your beliefs are strong and firm, you can make the best out of any situation. I used to eat salad everyday. I would also make a Veggie Burger which consists of everything except the meat. You could eat sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, etc. And, besides eating at the dorm, a stove is provided in every single room so that you can make your own food if you want. Sometimes, I got so sick of dorm food that I ate out also a lot. There are of course many struggles, but one can easily overcome the obstacles if one has the desire to stick to their beliefs.
When I was young, maybe about 16 or 17, people used to criticize that "Why don't you eat meat? Don't you miss it?" As a joke, they'd try to even tempt you to eat meat. But, as you get older and more mature, in college people really respect that you don't eat meat. Many even try to emulate your good example. In my Social Environment class, you learn that meat is unhealthy, and you live longer when you are vegetarian. And, they teach you about Animal Cruelty, and how they kill animals just for your food. These animals don't die naturally, but they die to put food on the table of many people in the world. Vegetarianism is something all my friends respect, and even though the world is catered to meat eaters, we can continue not to eat meat because it is the right thing to do. We have to make sure that we aren't influenced in a negative way about our way of life, because it is something that everyone would like to do, but can't because they're already used to meat.
Vegetarianism has become a trend for many people. Many are cutting out meat such as beef because they understand the value of being vegetarian, and being vegetarian sustains better health, and the more vegetarians there are, the better the selection in the dorm will have to be since vegetarianism is a growing trend, and colleges are going to have to address our needs for good vegetarian food so that we don't have this problem any longer. If we stick to our beliefs, we can overcome.
(Strictly speaking for numbers, for every single animal used in entertainment, or testing, there are at least one hundred more killed for food alone, in this country. This calls for factory farming system, that takes a very big toll on the environment and ecological systems.) I will share with you how non‑vegetarianism affects the ecological system of our Planet Earth.
As Jains, the primary reason for us being vegetarians is our compassion for all living creatures, or, AHIMSA. Health, and ecology are secondary reasons. But it is very helpful for us to know how vegetarianism is an ecology friendly practice, and how the non‑vegetarianism is ecologically destructive. Many non‑Jains also become vegetarians for various reasons. If we know the multiple benefits of vegetarianism, then we are in a better position to convince our non‑Jain friends of becoming vegetarians. Our primary objective is to spare the lives of animals. It is not most important to us what kind of reasoning that a non‑vegetarian uses to become a vegetarian. A few weeks back, one of my friends was giving a talk to a group of Americans about life in India. At the end of the talk, one of the Americans asked my friend: "We have heard that people in India suffer from so much hunger. Why don't they eat meat? This will solve all the hunger problems in India."
The truth is that if all the present number of 5.3 billion people in the world ate as much meat as Americans do presently, it will require two and a half times as much grain than all the world's farmers produce; and more energy, water and land than the world can supply. Imagine how many planets it will take to feed the world's future population of 10 billion people!
If you are concerned about world hunger, consider these comparisons, that twenty vegetarians can be fed on the land needed to feed one person consuming a meat‑based diet. If the Americans reduce their meat intake by only 10%, 60 million people (the actual number of people who will starve to death each year) would be adequately fed by the grain saved, because out of the feed fed for getting one 8 oz. steak, 45 to 50 people could have a full cup of cooked cereal grains.
Modern meat production involves intensive use and misuse of grain crops, water resources, energy, and grazing area. In addition, animal agriculture produces surprisingly large amounts of air and water pollution. Taken as a whole, livestock rearing is the most ecologically damaging part of American agriculture. Animal farms use mountains of grains. More than 70% of the US production of grains, and 40% of the world's total is fed to livestock. Were all of that grain consumed directly by humans, it would have nourished five times as many people.
American feed takes so much energy to grow, that it may as well be called a petroleum by‑product. Almost half of the energy used in American agriculture goes into livestock production, the majority of it for meat. Supplying vegetarians with nourishment requires one‑third less energy on the farm than supplying meat‑eaters. Per pound, pork involves more than 15 times as much energy as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Feed grain guzzles water, too. To produce one pound of protein, it takes 1000 gallons of water for soybeans, 1500 gallons for corn and a whopping 5000 gallons for meat. In California, livestock agriculture takes nearly a third of irrigation water. Remember that, when the next drought hits California, and you are forced to cut down your water intake.
The livestock industry uses half of the territory of the continental US for feed crops, pasture, and range. On these farms, soil continues eroding at a frightful pace.
Fertilizers and agricultural chemicals running off feed crop and pasture fields pollute the rivers, lakes, and streams. Livestock agriculture probably accounts for 40 percent of nitrogen and 35 percent of phosphorous released into American rivers, lakes, and streams.
The first line of defense against animal agriculture's ecological side‑effects is individual action: eating less meat or no meat. But personal decisions to eat no meat will not suffice without corresponding changes in governmental codes that allow the livestock industry to deplete and pollute resources without bearing the costs. What's needed is enough citizens demanding that lawmakers take aim at the ecological side‑effects of meat production. If such efforts succeed, the full ecological cost of meat and egg production will show up clearly in the price of a pork chop or a chicken breast. Then people's pocketbooks will guide them to a meatless diet.
You already know that eating meat harms body, mind, and soul. Meat eaters suffer from more heart diseases, strokes and cancer. Therefore the body is harmed. The mind of a meat‑eater is likely to be more excited than that of a vegetarian's mind. Therefore the mind is harmed. Eating meat sullies our soul's natural compassion for all living things. Therefore the soul is made impure. I hope I have educated you, on how meat‑eating harms our wonderful and precious planet Earth!
(There is a widespread misconception, that there is no life in an unfertilized egg, and so it is comparable to the milk. However, let us understand that an egg is only a commercialized menstrual by‑product of the hen!)
I will explain how eating eggs commits an act of violence. First, I'd like to explain to you what an egg is. An egg ovum is the female reproductive cell in sexually reproducing organisms. In sexual reproduction, the egg unites with it's male counterpart, the sperm cell, in the process of fertilization. Unless female meets male, the egg will not get completely fertilized. This is the cause of the egg production. In other words, purposely killing it. Many people think that the eggs they traditionally buy are natural, so they eat them feeling that no killing or human involvement caused it. Certainly not. The principle of Ahimsa was still completely defied.
Over 90% of all egg factories have inhumane ways of treating these living and feeling animals. Female hens' lives are terrible. Her entire life is restricted to a small cage with 4 or 5 other hens. They can hardly stand and stretch their wings. The hens are severely smashed against the cages. For their skin starts to bleed and in many occasions their feet are convoluted in the cage wire and gradually starve to death. With space problems and ill treated sicknesses, hens tend to kill one another. Therefore, the factory owners try to prevent this by debeaking the hens, the process in which they slice off their beak. In many cases the hens will die from this shock.
When male chickens come out of egg cells, they are useless to the factory owners. So they are thrown into a plastic bag to suffocate over many others, to die.
Even by (medical) fact, eggs are high in cholesterol, and high in fat. There are also many chemicals used on eggs to turn their egg yolk yellow.
If we eat these eggs which indirectly have been coming from violence and bloodshed, how are we supposed to induce thoughts which are pure and noble? Here non‑Ahimsa has been construed in the physical form along with two others: speech and mind. Consequent to my experience after this research is that I finally realized what it took for the egg to come in that carton at the grocery store and I hope you do too.
(We have grown up with a notion, that cow's milk is as innocent as mother's milk. However, that was true only in India. Not here in America, and let us learn why.)
Dairy products are considered by many to be a dietary staple, yet they are neither a necessary nor a desirable part of a healthy human diet. First, I will prove that a mature human body dislikes dairy products, and second, I will prove that the production of these products causes great harm to the animals that produce them. Isn't it a little weird, that humans are the only species that drink the milk of other animals after infancy? No other species on this planet continues to drink milk during its mature stage. All our lives we've heard clever slogans like, "Milk, it does a body good", but that was all advertising by the milk industry. In fact, milk and other dairy products are unhealthy, and by no means do they do a body good. Dairy products are rich in fat and cholesterol, which contribute to the development of heart attacks, certain cancers, osteoporosis, and strokes.
Many people wonder what would happen by a lack of calcium, but it has been proven that calcium deficiency is not known to occur in humans after infancy. Many people aren't completely satisfied by that point, because the milk industry has you completely fooled by telling you that dairy products are the only source of calcium. In fact, the leafy green vegetables are excellent source of calcium, and easily supplement the United States Recommended Daily Allowance. It has also been proven that dairy products are leading cause of many food allergies and have been implicated in congestive heart failure, tonsil enlargement, Hodgkin's disease, and many respiratory problems.
When you picture a dairy cow farm, you probably picture a bunch of cows grazing in the open green field playing with one another. That visualization is completely wrong. Dairy cows are crowded into concrete floored milking pens or barns, where they are milked two or three times a day by machines. Milking machines often cause cuts and injuries that would not occur if a person did the milking. These cuts can easily cause bacterial infections, which often lead to death. In many cases, milking machines give cows repeated electric shocks, causing them considerable discomfort, fear, and impairment of their immune systems, sometimes leading to death. The population of dairy cows in America is decreasing, yet the amount of milk production is increasing, which means that each cow is producing more milk. This is done by giving cows artificial hormones. Recently there has been a lot of controversy over the hormone BGH (Bovine Growth Hormone), which forces a cow to produce even more milk than ever before. All this high production of milk is taking a big toll on the cows. A cow's natural life span is about 20‑25 years, but in the 1980's the average dairy cow lived only 4‑5 years. When a dairy cow does not produce a sufficient amount of milk, she is brutally slaughtered. Perhaps the greatest pain suffered by cows of the dairy industry is the repeated loss of their young ones. Female calves are separated from their mother and are fed milk substitutes while male calves are quickly sent off to be fattened, so that four months later they can be slaughtered for veal. A female cow is kept artificially pregnant for nine months out of a year and for six of those months the milk that she produces is taken away so that we may drink it.
It may be very difficult to eliminate milk and dairy products from your diet, but your effort should be to minimize the amount you take. Before you drink another glass of milk or eat a bowl of yogurt, you should ask yourself, "Is it necessary that I have this?", and then ask yourself another question, "What are the consequences if I do or do not take this?"
(Many of our folks die of heart attacks. Our diet is very rich in dairy products, such as ghee, butter, cheese, and sweets, especially in the affluent Indian society. We need to consider very seriously this link of high cholesterol and heart problems, and drastically cut down, and ultimately eliminate these dairy products, even for the sake of our own health. But let us rise, and uphold true Jain AHIMSA above all!)
(Everybody needs to earn some money, in some way. All the businesses involve some, more or less, violence. However, certain businesses involve so much violence, that they are outright forbidden for Jains, as listed in the Pratikraman.)
As it is obvious, that it is not just personal consumption of the animal products which matters. All the activities which incorporate direct or indirect violence, should be questioned. Therefore while being vegetarian is good, but one must also ask "are we involved in any other such activities which cause violence?"
There are many trades, businesses, etc., which are the root cause of the violence as appropriately mentioned in our Jain Granthas under the phrase of "Karvun Karavavun and Anumodavun". Dealing in such trades, manufacturing promotions, etc, also must be a cause of concern to a person following non‑violence. This is particularly important when in current modern society, as well as in this country, where we are not fully aware of the contents and origins of the products.
There are several trades and activities identified in our Jain doctrine, which result into violence.
Any activity which requires large furnaces, such as steel making, oil refineries, bakery products, ceramic making, in which lots of living Jivs are burned. Also same is said about the controlled fires in forests and fields.
Trades in which trees are cut. Here is a classic example of timber trade and farming which has been the root cause of destruction to our planet Earth, "Our only home". The rainforests cover only 2% of our earth, yet they support half the species of wild plants and trees, and they are home to half of the world's wildlife.
Let's take the trade of fermented goods. Numerous germs are formed and they multiply since they are left to ferment, to make liquor and also tapioca.
Toxic substances such as drugs and opium ultimately lead to the downfall of human being.
We are also familiar with the result of trades in ivory, bones, horns, and fur, which have brought us the extinction of many species. Trades in meat products, honey, sealing wax, butter, fat, etc., are forbidden. In all these cases, the merchant is indirectly responsible for the slaughter of animals. In the making of honey and sealing wax, the bees are forced out of their homes by lighting fires under their honeycombs. During the process, all the bees' eggs are still in the honeycombs, which are destroyed, as well as sick and disabled honeybees.
Trades in poisonous substances, such as pesticides, are forbidden, as they mean nothing but painful death.
Any kind of earth digging or emptying of lakes, wells, ponds, etc., cause destruction of many lives.
Earning by way of renting horses or breeding good race horses, etc. would mean captivity of the animals.
Trades in which slavery, wicked men, or carnivorous animals are supported. A fine example would be the circus which also brings us to another forbidden trade, where animals are tortured by bringing them from their natural habitat to a zoo, and we take away all their freedom. For the safety of the trainers, the tails of elephants and claws of the bears are cut, and the wings of the birds are clipped so they can't fly away.
Beside these trades we have five acts or deeds which should be known and avoided. They are: Eating animate things such as meat. Consuming something that is partially cooked such as sprouted pulses. Consuming something that is cooked in a cruel way such as roasted corn. Consuming something where there is less to eat and more to discard, such as sugarcane. Using inanimate things, but which are adherent to other animate things, such as cosmetics, which are tested on animals to be safe on humans. These things are part of our daily life over here but with knowledge we can minimize Himsa. The trade which we discussed, are the most serious issues as the earnings through them results into ever multiplying and increasing violence.
(Here in America, we face a pestering problem, when we read the ingredients' lists for the cosmetic items. An innocent looking pretty lipstick may not necessarily be innocent. It may list so many long winded chemical names, in such a small print, that it becomes just impossible to know what you are getting!)
Cruelty to animals manifests itself in all forms of entertainment, in clothing, research, and product testing. But for no other reason are such a variety of animals slaughtered each day than to be used as ingredients in all types of cosmetic products.
Animal ingredients used in cosmetics are not easily recognized by the average consumer because of their nomenclature. An example of an animal ingredient that has a highly specialized name is carminic acid. Carminic acid is a red pigment that is extracted from the crushed female cochineal insect. Reportedly, to produce one pound of this dye, 70,000 insects are crushed. However, fortunately, there is a growing trend among the cosmetic companies to use alternatives such as beet and alkanet root.
An example of another "hidden" animal ingredient, that occurs in higher priced cosmetics is "elastin". Elastin is obtained from neck ligaments and aorta of cattle. Alternatives include synthetics and plant tissue.
Perhaps even more inhumane than above, is the ever increasing off‑shore harpooning of sperm whales for Cetyl Palmitate, commonly known as sperm oil. The process in extracting the oil is disrespectful because immediately after the whale is harpooned, the body is cut open, the oil is extracted, and the carcass is discarded into sea. Perhaps even more disturbing than the process in which the oil is derived is that the whale is a highly intelligent mammal.
Another horrendous example of unnecessary cruelty is the process of deriving musk oil. It is painfully obtained from musk dears, beavers, civet cats, and otter genitals. These animals, captive in unsanitary cages, undergo the excruciating pain of starvation. Moreover, the beavers are trapped, the deers are shot, and cats are whipped about their genitalia to produce the scented oil. Even knowing that these animals suffer immense pain, many companies continue to use them despite the fact that more than eighty synthetic alternatives are available. As a caring consumer, one must never stop searching for ways to lead a cruelty‑free lifestyle. One must read every ingredient of every product, write to companies, and never give up their passion to protect animals and practice "Ahimsa."
(Animal ingredients are one part of the problem with cosmetics. The other part is their testing animals. These tests are too cruel, even for escribing! ‑ but we will, for the sake of our own knowledge, so that we do not forget them, when we go for shopping.)
Each year in the United States alone, an estimated 14 million small animals die in unnecessary and unreliable tests that are used to provide the semblance of product safety. The 2 most common product tests are poisoning and blinding. In poisoning tests, products such as toothpaste, shampoo, and shaving cream are force‑fed by mouth or tube to rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, dogs, and monkeys for sometimes as long as 2 years. The LD50 is an example of a poisoning test. The LD50 is used to determine the amount of a substance necessary to kill half of a group of test animals. Typical symptoms of this test include convulsions, vomiting, paralysis, and bleeding from the eyes, nose, and mouth. Even animals lucky enough to survive this test are later killed.
In the blinding tests, such as the Draize eye test, usually six to nine Albino rabbits are strapped down while products such as mascara, eye shadow, contact lenssolution, and shampoo are dripped into the rabbits' eyes to measure the irritancy over periods of several days and sometimes even several weeks. Rabbits are most commonly used in this type of testing because they lack tear ducts and so they can't flush out the substance nor even dilute it. Also, their corneas are thinner and more sensitive than ours. Common eye reactions include swelling of lids, inflammation of the iris, ulceration, bleeding, massive destruction, and blindness. With caustic substances, the rabbits often scream out in pain. No treatment is even given to the rabbits after the eye tests.
Another less common test is the skin irritancy test, in which products such as sunscreen, soap, and foundation are smeared on the shaved skin of rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, and mice. It is ironic then, that for the millions of animals that endure such suffering each year, there is nothing in our country that mandates animal testing. The Food and Drug Administration only requires that each ingredient in a cosmetic be "adequately substantiated for safety" prior to marketing. It doesn't say by what means a product's safety is to be measured. In addition, the results obtained through laboratory tests are completely unreliable. Results vary from laboratory to laboratory and from animal to animal. So now the question is ‑ Why do companies test their products on animals? The answer is ‑ for protection. They like to, so that if and when they get sued by someone who has gotten injured by their products, they can go back and use the results from their animal testing to defend themselves in court. In reality, the animal tests in no way protect consumers from hazardous products. Animal tests only record the amount necessary to harm or kill a certain number of animals in a test group. They never propose a treatment. A rabbit's suffering in a laboratory will in no way help a child who accidentally swallows bleach at home.
There are many alternatives to animal testing. One example is test skin, an artificial human skin grown outside of the body, which can measure skin irritancy levels. Also Eytex and Skintex, made from jack beans and pumpkin seeds, can test the toxicity of 5000 substances in vitro. These tests not only spare the lives of millions of animals, but their costs are only a quarter of that of the Draize eye and skin irritancy tests, and they are also much more accurate.
Hopefully, by learning of the suffering that is caused by many of the products we use daily, and by learning how to identify these products, we can begin to do our part in ending the cruelty.
(Back in 1971, someone coined a word "Cruelty‑Free", for the items which are made without animal ingredients, and are not tested on them either. Recently some of you may have become aware about them, because of publicity in the media, about what these tests are, and that many big companies are under pressure to abandon them. Now there is a whole industry, that engages in manufacturing cruelty‑free products. But how do we identify these products? This is a very delicate task.)
For those of you concerned with products, such as cosmetics, which involve animal testing or byproducts of animal slaughter, shopping for products without any of these aspects may not be as hard as you think. Every year, more and more stores begin to sell cosmetic items and detergents that have guaranteed no animal cruelty nor animal testing.
As Miku presented before, many cosmetic items such as hair products, skin products, and shaving creams, have slaughterhouse byproducts, such as gelatin, carmine, silk powder, and tallow. And as Mona discussed, many companies still test their products on animals. However, there are many companies, manufacturers, and retail stores, which make an extra effort to sell cruelty‑free products.
Due to endless efforts of many organizations, now identifying these products does not require that much analyzing. There are a couple of logos which come up most often when looking for cruelty‑free items. The first one is this logo, which reads, "Beauty Without Cruelty ‑ Seal of Approval", whose organization has its base in New York. A product with this logo is guaranteed not to have undergone animal testing. However, not all of these products are free of animal ingredients. In this case, it would be wise to check the ingredients yourself for further assurance. Companies who have animal‑free ingredients, legally test their products on humans, because the ingredients are safe and harmless. The second logo reads "Not Tested on Animals", and "No Animal Ingredients." In such cases, no further reading is required.
(Sometimes there is no logo printed on a product, but it does say the same in words. See three samples.)
One can look for these items in drug stores, health shops, beauty shops, and supermarkets. Of course, not all stores carry them, but simply asking the sales clerk at the local store would be worthwhile. Some stores such as the Body Shop sell nothing but cruelty‑free items, and offer wider varieties of products. Bigger drug stores such as Longs Drugs and Thriftys may also carry cosmetics of this type. A few of the several famous brands which have already stopped animal testing include Avon, Benetton, Este Lauder, Liz Claiborne, Neutrogena, and Revlon. However, these companies do still use many animal ingredients. Also, none of these companies have any logo on their products, but they have been recognized by the Beauty Without Cruelty Organization. For the most part, the price ranges are reasonable, but few products may seem out of budget, simply because the ingredients come from some rare plant sources, making them more costly to manufacture.
Switching to another product may be a difficult task to many of us, but supporting the companies who make an effort to stop animal cruelty, and also represent our Jain belief of non‑violence could be a worthwhile task. If you call me at (714) 521‑4072, I have a list of companies which have stopped animal testing, and an updated list of stores which sell cruelty free products.
(What applies to silk and leather, also applies to pearls, ivory, and many other showoff items. It is a good question, how can a compassionate Jain use them?)
Whose wardrobe doesn't have at least one silk dressing article? Silk is very popular these days because it is elegant, innocent, decent looking and appealing because of its smoothness and texture. But is it really innocent? How many of us even think before wearing such dress that how silk is made? Our instinct may be that it is manufactured in some factory synthetically. Lets take our curious minds through the process in which silk is produced.
A filament of silk is spun by silkworm to protect itself from enemies during the cycle of growth from caterpillar to chrysalis to moth. These poor chrysalis are either immersed in boiling water, or exposed to heat (in oven) to get the filament from cocoons as long strands which can be reeled.
To produce 100 grams of pure silk, approximately 1500 chrysalis have to be killed. Certain chrysalis are chosen and kept aside to allow the moths to emerge and mate. After the moth lays eggs, she is checked for disease, and if she has disease the eggs layed are destroyed.
Do we really have to have silk material for our dresses and the dresses we use even for Poojas? No.... The other materials that look somewhat like silk, artificial silk, rayon (vegetation product), nylon and polyester (petroleum products), would be similar in look. Why don't we consider using these alternative materials?
How compassionate is your closet? Is your old leather jacket you bought in high school languishing on a hanger? What about those slip‑on leather shoes your mom bought you a year ago; and how about your many different colored leather hand bags? What about that rich looking leather interior in your car, or expensive household leather furniture? Are we trying to make a fashion statement or show off our success at the expense of animals?
Where does all this leather come from? Most leather in the U.S. comes from the skins of cattle slaughtered for meat, and cows no longer able to produce milk profitably. Skins of pigs, horses, and goats are killed for meat, and are also made into leather. Buying leather goods supports the cruel treatment of these animals as mush as eating meat does.
With these facts I could say that the killing an animal for meat is the same as using it as clothing, for it is a matter of life and death. Back in the Stone Age, people did not have many options when it came to covering their bodies. Today's choices are nearly unlimited. Natural and manufactured materials like cotton, ramie, rayon, vinyl and new "microfibers" make you look good, and the animals also feel good, therefore, to not cause cruelty or death to a helpless animal, use a similar alternative.
(All the high school students taking biology, go through this very traumatic experience. We normally take it for granted, that it is the only way of learning what is inside the body. But it is not so. Here is a personal experience.)
I am a junior at Diamond Bar High School. I have experienced the traumatic feeling of dissecting a frog. A frog is not the only thing that is on a teacher's agenda to dissect during the whole school year. The students and teachers at my school have also dissected a worm, a cow's eye, and a pig's brain. The brain, however, was only dissected by the teacher and observed by students.
My feelings towards this issue are fairly mixed. In one way I think it is a very educational process. But in another way it is also very cruel and inhumane. The human society today is very dependent on exact information. A lot of the schools prefer that the students get to dissect the frog because it supposedly teaches them some moral values of life.
Many students like myself do not know that they have rights against dissecting a frog. If I had known about these rights I might have not done what I did. I got lucky, because my eighth grade Biology teacher respected me for my religion and let me partner up with another person. My partner did all of the dissecting and I did all the identifying. However, some schools even let you bring a letter from a parent or guardian saying they do not want their child to dissect a frog or another animal and the teacher will give the student another assignment to work on.
There are, however, several alternatives to dissecting a frog. These alternatives would be a video made by Instructavision called The Frog Inside‑Out which shows the external and internal structures of the frog and compares them with human structures. Other videos would be the Frog Dissection Explained, and Dissection of the Frog which show an anatomical model of the frog where the frog can be taken apart or put back together. Schools also have the choice of using computer simulations such as Operation Frog from Scholastic Software.
In 1989, the State of California passed the CA AB 2507, which allows students to choose whether they want to participate in the dissecting of animals in science classes. California was the first state to pass such a law. There is also a Student Hotline to help students, teachers, and school officials, to understand and respect the students' rights. The toll free phone number to this hotline is 1‑800‑922‑FROG. There are a substantial number of frogs being killed for their use in science classes. In my school district, there are only two high schools. In each high school, there are about five teachers that teach about five classes each day. With about thirty students in each class, you get 1,500 students. The teachers usually partner students up now because of the budget cuts. If you do all of that number crunching, you would get about 750 frogs. This is only in my district. There are over 700 such districts in the State of California. If you look in this way at each district, the total number frogs killed would come out to 525,000 frogs a semester in California. However, this number is low, because some districts have up to five high schools, so the actual number of frogs killed is even higher.
When you are refusing to dissect an animal, you should know how far you are willing to go, and accept your limitations. You should also ask your teacher before the school year starts whether you will be required to dissect. If your teacher does expect you to dissect, tell him or her right away that you do not want to do it. Be ready to tell your teacher the reason why do not want to dissect and when you do tell your teacher, be sure to be kind to him or her. Some teachers do not know any other way of teaching science because that's how they were taught. If you respect your teacher's beliefs, they will respect yours. Always be ready to face arguments against your beliefs. Always keep notes about who you talked to and what you said to that person. Put dates on your notes just in case you need to use them at a later time. And if you need help or advice, feel free to call the Student Hotline. The number again is, 1‑800‑922‑FROG.
(The medical science has glorified many of the recent advances, such as transplants, genetics, etc., and we have felt mesmerized at that. But, have we ever considered, at whose cost all this is happening? Let us learn these issues from a medical student. We recognize that there are many doctors in Jain community. However, the question remains, in Mahavir Bhagwan's Jainism, can one specie inflict pain on another, simply for its own gain?)
BASICS & OVERVIEW: Biogenetics, or Genetic Engineering, refers to any artificial process that alters the genetic make‑up of an organism or its offspring. Such an alteration can be caused by chemicals, X‑rays, and even by selective breeding. Specific genes can be added or removed from an organism.
Genes are the hereditary material of cells which are the building blocks of the human body, and other living organisms. The genes, carried by the chemical compound DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, control many of the characteristics of an organism.
By changing the genetic make‑up of an organism, scientists can provide it with many traits. The offspring of the altered organism will also bear the traits since genes are passed generation to generation. However, this is a direct conflict with natural law, and evolution. Altering the genetic make‑up of an individual ARTIFICIALLY is not normal or natural.
This may seem like a benefit to medicine and medical related research, that defective genes can be deleted from the gene one and replaced with recombinant genes that are no longer defective. The non‑defective gene is taken out of a healthy person, incorporated into bacteria, which would reproduce the gene, and that new gene would be incorporated into a sickly person with a hope of spontaneous recovery. This was the case with administering genes for insulin to those who have diabetes.
DANGERS: The scientific dangers of genetic engineering are that unintentionally we could develop bacteria and viruses that can cause disease and resist drugs, antibiotics, and medicines that are given to kill them.
JAIN MORALITY AND ETHICS: This is for our own selfish purposes to better the human body. But that is NOT the goal of Jainism. The goal of Jainism is to liberate the soul from going through all these bodies.
Another problem is that we have to test these gene transplants on laboratory animals, like pigs, dogs, cats, rabbits, and what not, using cruel means that Mona went over with.
The other thing that the medical students have to go through, is surgery. You do this in medical schools on dogs, cats, and these are freshly killed animals. They are not frozen, not killed for anything else, they even have parts still moving inside. This is done by premed students, to see just where everything is inside the body. Being a medical student, I am in a kind of dilemma right here. I can't get a note from my mom, saying that "I am sorry, I can not perform surgery. I am a Jain, I can not do that." I am not telling all the medical students here to go to law, or to take engineering, or something else like that. But we should do whatever we can do. Such as, may be, not go under certain type of research opportunities that involve these type of cruelties to animals. That's what I am talking about.
There are many universities now, that do not use animal labs any more. Some of these are:
New York University, New York, NY
Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
University of Washington, Seattle, WA
State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY
Louisiana State University, Shreveport, LA
Howard University, Washington, DC
University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD.
(The main product of slaughterhouses is meat. However, the industry also makes a tremendous profit from leftovers, such as bones, skins, intestines, etc.)
Himsa in American industry is among the most difficult to detect. Hiding behind patents and sheltered by a multitude of copyright laws, the secrecy involved among American businesses makes it next to impossible to discover and expose Himsa.
In addition to the slaughtering of cows to produce leather goods, the boiling of silk worms to produce silk apparel, the consumption of biological elements in cosmetics, and animal testing in pharmaceutical and cosmetics, many less apparent forms of Himsa exist in American industries.
The photography industry is one among the violators of our code of Ahimsa. All brands and qualities of films have a fine layer of gelatin in which silver halide particles are held in suspension. The gelatin is processed from byproducts of the beef and pork industry; hence utilization of gelatin in any from or for any purpose is a form of Himsa. To date, there exists no substitute for gelatin based photographic film. The Eastman Kodak company has been researching since the 1950's to find a replacement for silver halide in gelatin suspension, but has failed to discover a feasible alternative. In addition, the paper used to print photographic images is also coated with gelatin, for which no alternative has yet been found. With the advances and the mass availability of technology, now digital still images may be captured and recorded on floppy discs, compact discs, or eight m.m. tapes and viewed on television screens or printed on thermal paper. However, neither of these alternative approaches can fully replace the traditional high resolution photographic image on photographic paper. Digital photography may assimilate into society after a decade, but for the immediate future elimination of Himsa from the photography industry seems bleak.
The ink and printing industries have always been subjects of misconception. Oftentimes Jains request soy ink over conventional ink not realizing what the key differences between the two are. Soy ink, as the name suggests, contains derivatives from the soy bean to give ink its consistency. Conventional ink utilizes processed crude oil, a natural hydrocarbon, to give ink its consistency. Animal oils have been eliminated entirely from the industry because of its instability. If you recall the attention aroused last year when the Los Angeles Times switched from conventional ink to soy ink, the Times was given much acclaim for its efforts to conserve the environment. Soy ink is much more friendly to the environment, but because of the processing of the soy bean involved, it often costs twice as much as conventional ink. Neither of the inks are responsible for Himsa, at least not in the macro sense. The only Himsa that may be involved in the ink and printing industries would be found among the elements composing the ink pigment. It is possible that the ink pigments may consist of biological elements, however, almost a dozen corporations that I contacted refused to disclose an affirmative or negative answer, maintaining that it was their confidential information.
The adhesive industry is another commiter of Himsa. In addition to organic substances derived from plants, the 3M Corporation admitted that some of their adhesives do contain biological compounds derived from animals. 3M, in addition to the Carter's Corporation, refused to disclose which of their adhesives contained elements derived from animals as well as what type of adhesive elements are derived from animals.
Indeed the competition among American businesses and their need to maintain secrecy has erected a large barrier in detecting forms of Himsa within industry. Unlike the food and pharmaceutical industries, most industries are not regulated by commissions such as the FDA, and are not required to disclose the ingredients of their products.
Though the situation may seem hopeless under current circumstances, that hope of exposing all forms of the Himsa in industry should never be released, and the integrity of living a non‑violent life should never be sacrificed.
(We all visit circus, zoo and sea world for fun. We think, that also is educational for our children. Don't we? But have we ever considered, what the animals behind the bars feel like? What if it were you? Would you like a punishment of lifetime confinement, without ever having done any crime? We also buy pets for company. Aren't they cute and beautiful? But again, is it their natural life? Who will advocate for these poor, voiceless animals? We will now present a case, on behalf of all the animals used in our
The other day, I saw a man in the middle of the street with a black copper Spaniard surrounded by a group of people. He was giving the dog commands, such as sit, play dead, chase your tail, bark, and so on. The young children watched intently as the dog easily obeyed the commands for treats. The happy on‑lookers dropped coins into the man's hat for the good show. These shows are the man's way of living and for the dog a source of food for survival. But, is this right? Shouldn't the man set the dog free and find a "real job"? But then again, this has been a form of entertainment and source of employment for centuries, from Romans to the gypsies, to present day.
The Jain religion condemns the idea of using nature's other creatures for personal benefit. This idea is also morally incorrect. Could one abuse another for personal gain? The Jain belief is that we are all souls searching for Nirvana. What causes us to be different is our own Karmas from our past lives. Also what differentiates us is our mind, our conscious, our thought process. Yet we fail to see it. We continue to use and abuse our fellow souls just because they are in a different body. On the other hand, if a human was abused, it's a federal offense!
Different view points on animal's abuse come from different religious background. In the Western philosophy, it states that God had created everything for man to use. Man thought that God meant he could use everything to the extent of abuse. However, God had actually meant for man only to protect all God's creatures, not destroy them! This false understanding of man has caused many animals and plants to be extinct. In Eastern philosophies, they believe that everyone is equal, but that it is only our minds that differentiate us. Because of this strong belief, there has never been, even now, a threat of extinction in the East.
Now, as for entertainment, what is it? It has been popularly defined as an activity that brings one pleasure from performing it. By this definition, this would include ‑ eating, playing with pets, going to circus, or going to Sea World for watching Shamu. These events may sound harmless, but in fact, they are not. Because the animals are locked up, and they are forced to perform these activities against their will. Because in their natural habitat, they are free to move around. Yet here they are kept in a large tank, may be just as big as this room, when they are themselves as big as half the size of this room, such as Shamu. And that would be cruel. How would you like if they put you in a jail, the size of a closet? I am sure, you would not like that, and that's why we should not force such pain on other animals.
Why should we abuse other animals? In this life I may be a human being. But if I abuse an animal, in my next life the animal may abuse me. And the cycle of life and death will continue. In the Jain religion, it is the ultimate goal to reach Nirvana.
According to Jain beliefs, we are to treat others as equal to us. We should treat others the way we like to be treated. That's what Mahavir Bhagwan has taught us. We should not go to Sea World, we should not go to circus. Because they run their business, and they're run by money, and if not enough people support them by buying tickets, they'll shut down, and set these animals free. And that's what we should do.
(The whole movie "Free Willy" was based on this very theme, and all the Jains ‑ adults, as well as children ‑ should see it.)
There is always a room for improvement in our life. It is always possible to live a better Ahimsak life, than what we may be living now. Vegetarianism alone is not enough. Let us go beyond it.