Jain Vegan Lifestyle in USA

What is Jainism?

Jainism is an ancient religion with roots in pre-Vedic India. Jains believe that all living beings – including animals, plants and microbes – have a soul, and that all souls are equal. The Jain path is one of spiritual purification and one of the key practices towards that aim is that of non-violence (ahimsa) towards oneself and other Souls. Jains therefore take non-violence very seriously, and avoid participating in activities which cause needless harm to living beings or the environment.

Why is diet so relevant to Jains?

Diet is a key way in which Jains practice non-violence. Nearly all Jains practice strict vegetarianism, and many Jains also avoid fruits and vegetables which are considered to cause more harm than others. For example, some Jains avoid eating figs due to the amount of seeds within them. Also, there are seasonal practices, such as, green leafy vegetables are usually avoided during the Indian rainy season due to the high degree of insect infestation. Jains also fast on a regular basis which helps develop self-control and reduce harm by reducing the quantity of food consumed.

Was consuming dairy ever condoned?

For much of history, dairy products were considered acceptable for Jains to consume, provided certain requirements were adhered to. For example, recognising that milk is produced by a mother for her offspring; it was only considered acceptable to take milk once the young calves had finished suckling. Traditionally, it was always possible for Jain households to observe these requirements because the heat in India and perishable nature of milk, meant that a Jain household consuming dairy could not live far from the cow that produced it.

Changes to production methods, distribution technology and lifestyles in the 19th and 20th Century has resulted in it becoming harder for Jains to observe how the dairy they consume is produced. The introduction of pasteurisation and refrigeration techniques mean dairy products can be consumed hundreds of miles from where they are produced. In addition to this, Jains began to move into urban areas, far from where milk production takes place. This added to the difficulty of knowing how the milk was produced and whether calves were allowed to suckle first etc.

Consuming dairy now

Towards the end of the 20th century, a number of Jains who were brought up as lacto-vegetarians were exposed to the reality of contemporary dairy production and began to question whether it was acceptable for Jains to consume dairy. Some of the points that motivated a shift were:-

  • discovering the range of plant-based alternatives to dairy,
  • the compelling scientific evidence demonstrating that it is not necessary for vegetarians to consume dairy to be healthy
  • the realisation that much harm was inflicted on cows, buffaloes, goats and sheep through dairy production
  • the understanding that using animals for food, clothing or entertainment did not fit in with the Jain way of living
  • the conclusion that a vegan lifestyle was necessary to adhere to the Jain principle of ahimsa.

Unfortunately, many of the first vegan Jains were spread across different cities and countries and were largely unconnected with one another. Meanwhile, the majority of Jains continued the social norm of consuming dairy products. They did not and do not know about how contemporary dairy production abuses and mistreats cows. Most were, and continue to be unaware that:-

  • cows are forcefully made pregnant through artificial insemination
  • that male calves are routinely killed at birth
  • that older cows are killed once their milk production levels begin to drop

Some Jains who recognized the mistreatment of cows actively promoted organic milk, unaware that cows on organic dairy farms are artificially inseminated and killed just like cows on conventional farms.

The growth of the internet widened access to information about the treatment of animals in food production. It also enabled vegan Jains around the world to connect with one another, and to help educate the wider Jain community about the inherent problems with dairy products, whilst sharing the positivity around the many plant-based alternatives that exist and can be used instead.

Used content from http://www.jainvegans.org/

Does Jainism have mention of leaving dairy in our Aagam: Big Yes

Watch the two videos below by Labdhi sagar maharajsaheb and Vaibhavshreeji maharajsaheb

Jain Vegan Grocery List 


A huge range of alternatives to dairy milk are now available across the world.  Varieties include oat, soy, rice, oat, almond, hemp, coconut, hazelnut and quinoa milk. Oat milk is the most popular and can easily be substituted for dairy milk in most circumstances.

For many vegans, fortified plant-based milks are an important source of nutrients such as B12, calcium and vitamin D.   This vitamin D fortification in Plant based milk is not animal-sourced

Stores: Sprouts & whole foods has a maximum variety of plant-based milks, but you will find few in all American-grocery stores. 






Butter and ghee

Plant-based margarine are  a versatile substitute for butter and are widely available across the USA 

Stores: Sprouts & whole foods has a maximum variety of plant-based butter, but you will find few in all American-grocery stores






Vegan Ghee is readily available in many (Indian) supermarkets and some in USA too 









There are now more vegan alternatives to dairy cheese than ever before.  Popular brands available in the USA are listed below, since many contain potato starch, I will only list the ones that don’t contain potato ingredient.

Note: Besides potato starch, tapioca starch and arrowroot starch have been used to enhance the performance of vegan and vegetarian cheese in the melting and other functions. If you don’t consume tapioca/arrowroot you may have to skip a few products like cheese from your diet. 






Stores: Sprouts & whole foods has a maximum variety of plant-based cheese, but you will find one in all American-grocery stores


Firm tofu can also be used as an alternative to paneer.

Home-made tofu can be made easily by curdling boiled soy milk using lemon juice (same technique as making home-made paneer from dairy milk).

How to make Tofu taste like paneer? Just toss/marinate tofu with spices in oven or air fryer for 5-7 minutes

Available in Costco, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, all grocery stores very easily








Coconut/Almond/Oat/Soy based alternatives to yogurt (often called yo-fu) are widely available in UK supermarkets.  They taste exactly like regular Dahi. Our favorite brand is So delicious coconut dahi and Forager cashewmilk Dahi

Vegan Lassi is also available in Trader Joe’s


Stores: Sprouts & whole foods has a maximum variety of plant-based yogurts, but you will find few in all American-grocery stores

Ice cream

There are more vegan ice creams than regular milk ones now in the USA and it is only going to get better

Popular ice cream brands include:  So delicious, Halo Top, Talenti, and so many more. Here is a list of all vegan ice-creams: https://urbantastebud.com/vegan-ice-cream-list/

Stores: Sprouts, whole foods, Safeway, trader joe’s has a maximum variety of plant-based ice-cream, but you will find few in all American-grocery stores








Vegan Chai / Tea

I am so glad that there are over 5 companies which make vegan chai and all are incredible in taste. Below is one which is available in many Indian grocery stores in the USA, also available online on the Quick tea website. 








Dark chocolate should generally be suitable for vegans, but many brands unnecessarily add milk powder, whey or butterfat to their recipes (often to make it cheaper to produce). 









Can you imagine starting off a busy day any other way than with a big ol’ bowl of cereal? No? We can’t, either—and thankfully, we don’t have to, since some of the best cereals are “accidentally vegan” (meaning that they don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients). Did your fave brand make the list? Find out!

List here: https://www.petakids.com/food/vegan-cereal/








There are tons of vegan desserts available now

Best vegan Cake in the bay area: Vegan Mango mousse cake from Amia bakery Fremont, they have 10 more flavors, other places for the vegan cake are merit vegan Sunnyvale, whole foods, Safeway, etc. 

Abe’s brand: vegan cupcakes/muffins etc available in whole foods 





Cookies and banana bread: Trader joe’s






Pasta Sauce/Salsa/ Ketchup

Onion garlic is considered to be the root cause of digestive issues in a lot of people, there is an entire diet called LOW FODMAP which is close to Jain Vegan except meat but no onion, no garlic, no dairy products. there is a company called Fody maps which is based on this diet so we have ketchup, pasta sauce, salad dressings, salsa etc. 

Available in sprouts 











Jain-Vegan friendly restaurants in the Bay Area


1) Jay Bharat fremont: About: 100% vegetarian with 40% Jain vegan options. The menu is clearly marked with Jain and vegan items, My favorites: 1) Jain dosa 2) Gujarati thali 3) kachori, dhokla, kaju katri, etc 

2) Blossom vegan – Pleasanton: About: 100% vegan restaurant with 70% menu customizable to Jain. My favorites: 1) hot and sour soup 2) mushu mushu rolls. 

3) Garden fresh (Mountain view & Palo Alto): About: 100% vegan restaurant with 70% menu customizable to Jain. My favorites: 1) Vegetable chow-mein with Tofu 2) Vege Gobo 3) Hot and sour soup 4) Hunan tofu 5) Sweet corn soup

4) veggie garden mountain view: About: 100% vegan restaurant with 70% menu customizable to Jain. my favorites: 1) Thai Green curry 2) Gobi Manchurian 3) hot and sour soup

5) Merit vegetarian Sunnyvale: About: 100% vegan restaurant with 80% menu customizable to Jain, they even have no onion garlic menu separately. My favorites: 1) Tom kha Thai soup 2) pad Thai noodles

7) Ananda Bhavan Sunnyvale: About: 100% vegetarian restaurant with a 20% menu customizable to be Jain Vegan. most Dosa, idli, uttapam are always vegan, unless you order butter/ghee roast.they have Jain sambhar too favorites: 1) veggie uttapam 2) paper dosa 

8) Chaat Bhavan Sunnyvale/Fremont: About: 100% vegetarian restaurant with a 20% menu customizable to be Jain Vegan. clearly-marked Jain vegan items on menu favorites: 1) chole (bhatura not vegan) 2) Gujarati daal rice 

9) veggie Lee Hayward: About: 95% vegan restaurant with 90% menu customizable to Jain, the entire restaurant is no onion no garlic, although the overall taste of food was okayish. 

10) curry pizza house Palo Alto/Milpitas/Fremont/Cupertino: About: Non-vegetarian restaurant with just one pizza customizable to be Jain Vegan. only 12″ Gluten Free Crust is Vegan, Jain sauce is vegan, but regular tomato pizza sauce is not vegan, so only order Jain one. Daiya Cheese used is Jain-vegan. 

11) Mint and basil Milpitas: About: 100% vegetarian restaurant with a 40% menu customizable to be Jain Vegan

12) green Barn Milpitas: About: 100% vegetarian restaurant with a 40% menu customizable to be Jain Vegan

13) loving hut Milpitas: About: 100% vegan restaurant with a 40% menu customizable to be Jain.

14) crepes bistro Santa Clara: About: 100% vegan restaurant with 2-3 crepes customizable to be Jain Vegan

15) vegetarian house San Jose: About: 100% vegan restaurant with 40% menu customizable to be Jain. A separate no onion no garlic menu available. favorites: 1) Malaysian style rice noodles (vegetables with healthy Maggi)  

16) Tirupathi bhimas Milpitas: About: 100% vegetarian restaurant with a 20% menu customizable to be Jain Vegan.  most Dosa, idli, uttapam are always vegan, unless you order butter/ghee roast.they have Jain sambhar too

17) Milan Milpitas: About: 100% vegetarian restaurant with a 5% menu customizable to be Jain Vegan. a lot of their Jain items do contain dairy, but if you order for parties, they will definitely make Jain vegan. 

18) Radhe chaat: About: 100% vegetarian restaurant with a 15% menu customizable to be Jain Vegan

19) Thali Indian vegetarian Sunnyvale: About: 100% vegetarian restaurant with a buffet that is only 50% Jain vegan, but 1-2 sabji + daal are okay to have, can’t have sweet/dessert/paneer sabji etc from the buffet. 

20) Red Hot chilli pepper (fremont/ san Mateo/ all locations), About: Non-vegetarian restaurant but all their vegetarian food is 100% vegan, so whatever Jain options you had are vegan. Favorites:  1) veg coins 2) Hakka noodles

21) Veg N Chaat India cuisine: About: 100% vegetarian restaurant with a with a 20% menu customizable to be Jain Vegan, very similar menu to chaat bhavan, so options like Chole, bhindi, pain puri, bhel, indo-chinese, etc are Jain vegan.

22) Green lotus San Jose: About: 100% vegetarian restaurant with a with a 20% menu customizable to be Jain Vegan

San Francisco

  1. Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar and Izakaya (100% vegan and separate no onion no garlic menu available) upscale restaurant- never go without a reservation 
  2. Indochine Vegan: 100% vegan and 60% items can be made Jain on request. My favorites: 1) chow mein 2) sushi 
  3. Golden era vegan restaurant: (100% vegan, with 80% Jain options) very similar menu to Blossom vegan in Pleasanton.
  4.  Ananda fuara: few Jain vegan options available
  5. Thai idea vegetarian: many Jain vegan options available
Dessert places
  1. vegan donut and galeto (san jose/oakland): very good donuts and ice creams – 100% vegan  
  2. Cinnaholic (san jose/oakland)- very good donuts, desserts, muffins 100% vegan 
  3. Frena bakery San Francisco: very good donuts, pastries, etc (vegan options available) 
  4. Salt & straw (Palo Alto/San Francisco) 4-5  vegan ice cream options available 
  5. Creams (san Jose/Palo Alto/San Francisco) soy mint chocolate chip is the best ice cream with vegan cookie sandwich ice cream. 2 other vegan flavors available. 

Vegan-friendly multi-vitamins

We have vast variety of vegan/cruelty free vitamins in the market now, 

Amazon link to all options: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=vegan+multi+vitamin&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

List of vegan-friendly multi-vitamins: https://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/15-vegan-multivitamins-to-supplement-your-plant-based-diet/

Any  Questions? 

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One Comment

  1. Mital Shah June 11, 2020 at 10:38 pm #

    Treasure of information. illustrations are awesome.
    Love your work

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