The Jain diet is a very strict form of vegan diet. Jains are the followers of Mahaveer Jain. They believe in an extreme form of non-violence. Not only do they reject any animal products but they also reject any product, eating which can potentially hurt a living being. A strict Jain diet would exclude common vegetables like potatoes, onions and carrots because these are root vegetables.
Any vegetable that grows under the earth has to be completely uprooted before eating. Thus if we are to eat carrots, the carrot plant must be uprooted completely and die. This is unacceptable to the Jains. Can such a strict vegetarian diet be healthy? Let us see if a Jain diet can be made healthy by adding the right replacements.
Soyabean For Milk & Milk Products: Many stringent Jains refuse milk due to the inhuman way in which it is extracted from the animals. So how do you get the calcium and proteins that the body requires. Soyabean is the only way to replace milk in the diet of vegans. There are various soy products that can add variety to your diet. You can have soy milk instead of cow's milk and tofu instead of paneer.
Pulses For Meat: Jains do not touch meat or fish. They even denounce eggs as non-vegetarian because there is life inside an egg. So how about the muscle building proteins that the body requires. Various kinds of pulses like rajma (red kidney beans), lentils and grams can be added in combination with dals to fulfil the protein requirements in a Jain diet.
Lots Of Wholesome Cereals: Most non-vegetarians do not explore the option of eating cereals sufficiently. But if you are on a vegan diet and looking out for options, then cereals provide many such meal options. Apart from getting some dietary fibres and carbohydrates, you will also get loads of vitamins.
Seeds: Seeds are the next superfoods. There are many seeds like chia seeds, flaxseed etc that are extremely healthy. Jains can compensate for the vitamins and minerals they lose out from meat and fish by having seeds. Flax seeds for example are the only known vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Eating In The Right Combination: When you eat foods in the right combination then your body can absorb much more nutrients. For example, eating grams with legumes (dals, beans, peas) help your body get 50 per cent more proteins than you get when you eat these foods in isolation.
Jain diet too can be healthy if it is planned out in the right way. There are many Indian vegetarian foods that can help Jains be healthy and also maintain their faith.