Jain. Jains or the followers of the ancient Indian religion, Jainism, presumably observe the most stringent diet. The core philosophy of Jainism is to respect all living things—including microorganisms and practice non-violence or “ahimsa.” This limits their dietary options to a strict vegan diet that excludes dairy, meat, seafood, poultry, and vegetables such as onions, potatoes, and garlic as they grow beneath the ground. Followers of this faith also find themselves cooking each meal fresh, as they refrain from consuming food that is a day old or older and may be harboring other living beings such as microbes. Staunch followers don’t eat before sunrise and after sunset to ensure what they eat is “visible” to them. This practice dates to pre-artificial light days when it was difficult to navigate in the dark.
A common predicament most Jains face is the permissible levels of insect fragments or rodent hair, described as insect filth and rodent filth respectively, highlighted by the U.S. FDA and other international food safety agencies. Per FDA an action level is required only if an average of 30 or more insect fragments per 10 grams of food product is detected. In an ideal environment, there ought to be zero presence of any extraneous substances in food products. However, keeping realistic scenarios and risk levels in mind, foreign contaminants such as bug parts and microbes are bound to enter the food system. This explains why devout followers of Jainism find it hard to choose reliable and trustworthy dining options or purchase food and beverage products.
Although there isn’t a formal inspection or certification agency in place to validate food brands that offer Jain-friendly dietary options, a few sectors of the hospitality industry such as the aviation sectors have taken proactive steps to include these options as a part of their in-flight offerings.