Origins & Information - Jain Vegetarianism

A few days ago when I was working, my boss was speaking with a client about the food for an event they wanted to have; the term "Jain" came up in their conversation and they were trying to make sure some of the catering would accommodate "the Jain people." Curious, I figured I had to look it up to see what sort of special rules had to be followed in order to appease/work with the dietary restrictions of these type of people. Wikipedia was certainly my friend.

So it looks like Jain vegetarianism is the strictest dietary following in India based on the religion of Jainism. The overall summation of the religion is the adherence to nonviolence ("ahimsa") due to an imbalance of karma; this adherence is also applicable towards food. Naturally, any meat cannot be consumed then because it is a product of violence. Here are some other dietary rules:
  • Foods produced by animals such as dairy products and honey cannot be consumed because they are results of violence towards the animals. 
  • Unfiltered water is a no-no as it contains organisms which should remain in the water. 
  • Yogurt must be eaten on the same day it is made to reduce as many living organisms in it as possible; the same goes for any food which cannot be set overnight (the longer it is out, the more microorganisms that live on it). 
  • Fermented food and drink is avoided because of the organisms killed during fermentation.
  • Root vegetables are not eaten by the strictest of Jainism followers as it is considered a living organism for its ability to sprout. Additionally, pulling it up from the ground destroys the entire plant and displaces all organisms living/depending on it.
  • Meals are not had after sunset because cooking by light attracts bugs.
Though some of these practices seem very intense, I don't think they're necessarily unfounded in terms of scientific reasons. I mean, I'm all for things being eaten fresh of course! Anyhow, these aren't the only beliefs of Jainism, just the items concerning food that I'm curious about. You can definitely read more about the history and justifications here.