An Introduction to Jain Food

By Nitin Mehta

Which ingredients are forbidden?
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Honey
  • Figs

Strict Jains do not eat root vegetables, garlic, onions

All foods that might have meat, fish and eggs.

What are the main laws or beliefs relating to food?
As Jitubhai Shah, director of the L.D. Institute of Indology in Ahmedabad, India, says: "The Jain lifestyle is a perfect enunciation of ahimsa… The reason Jains don't normally eat or drink anything after sundown is because it is believed that doing so would cause the death of minute microorganisms that emerge in the dark. The entire lifestyle is geared towards causing least harm to other creatures and the environment…”

Apart from not eating meat, fish and eggs, strict Jains do not eat onions and garlic because they increase sexual desires. Strict Jains also do not eat any root vegetables like potatoes because smaller insects are killed in their harvest and the vegetable itself will have millions of bacteria.

Is there a link with vegetarianism?
The emblem of the Jain religion, symbolizes its main tenet, the doctrine of Ahimsa, nonviolence. The practice of Jain asceticism, the avoidance of harm to any living creature, is central to the Jain practise of vegetarianism.

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