AhimsaZone for Ahimsak Lifestyle
May 6, 2018
In the last few decades, the world has been taken over by consumerism. The theory of consumerism is based on “maximum utilisation and utmost consumption of available resources”.
Human vanity rather than actual consumer need has given rise to whole segment of personal care products. In the race to capture market share and launch new products within a short time frame, companies have been indiscriminate in their usage of animals as part of their testing processes. Many welfare organizations and activists have highlighted the unethical use of animals in cruel and painful manner. However, more and more people and companies are finally getting the message and adopting to more humane forms of testing.
Bowing to public pressure few countries have implemented a mechanism to highlight whether a product contains ingredients of animal origin. In India, in 2001 the Government of India made it mandatory for all packaged foods to carry the vegetarian(Green dot)/non-vegetarian(Brown/Red dot) symbol. And in year 2014, this was further extended to cover cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, toothpastes and toiletries.
While, the awareness is increasing, the problem is far from addressed. There are still several challenges for those wanting to follow truly Ahimsak lifestyle.
1. The market place is now flooded with products claiming to be vegetarian, pure (shudh) or free of animal ingredients. However, not everything vegetarian is Ahimsak, even some of the most indianised or swadeshi products are not exactly based on principles of Ahimsa. There are cases wherein product companies have actually mislead the consumers about the ingredients and / or manufacturing process. For example, additives used in the food are hardly ever described properly as part of ingredients. Many countries use “E numbers” to describe these additives, which hardly makes describes what actually it is made of. Significant number of such food additives are actually made from animal or insects origins. Many such additives are even harmful to health and are banned in certain countries. Entities like PETA and BWC India have taken much effort to investigate such issues and highlighted the same. We suggest you to refer these web-sites separately for more information.
2. Cosmetic, clothing, and accessories products may not directly contain animal ingredients, but may use products of animal origin as part of the manufacturing process. Such information is never really highlighted or is known to common people. For example, many people may not know that while raw cotton is a plant product, the cotton cloth produced by industrialized power looms is not Ahimsak. Cotton yarn manufacturing using power looms involves a process known as “sizing”, this process makes use of softeners and lubricants like “tallow”, tallow is basically animal fat. As part of the sizing process every thread is coated with animal fat, apart from lubricating the thread it also imparts flexibility and smoothness. Not many people understand the origins of the underlying component that imparts the smoothness and softness to power loom produced cotton clothes they wear. This animal fat – tallow is the same animal fat which triggered the mutiny of 1857 – the Indian war of independence. Beyond cotton clothes, the use of tallow is so widespread in various other products that it very difficult for any Bharatiya to claim he/she is truly vegetarian.
3. The consumerism has brought in mass production using machinery and uncontrolled, indiscriminate use of technology, where-in human emotions and sensitivity towards other living beings is largely absent. Unfettered industrialization and mass production not only result in over exploitation of natural resources but also changes the demographic setup due displacement of labour/people, which in turn leads to internal strife. This can be witnessed in many places. The most recent example being traders boycotting Pepsi and Coca-cola in Tamil Nadu. Mahatma Gandhi considered this to be deviation from core values of Ahimsa. Gandhiji once quoted that the production should be by masses and not mass production. Gandhiji’s vision of Hand-loom / Hathkargha based clothes was actually to empower the masses to earn living in a simple and honest manner.
4. In Bharatiya ancient tradition (associated with Jains and Hindus), the meaning and application of Ahimsa is very deep. For most products we have hardly scratched the surface while validating Ahimsak principles. For example, for several food products, water happens to be the key cooking or process ingredient. It is stated in Bharatiya shastras as well as proven scientifically that, every single drop of water contains countless life forms. What water treatment is done by these companies while processing food items is mostly left to assumption. Since Ancient days, in Bharat people practiced process of filtering water for drinking or food using think or multi-layered cotton cloth. This was not done just for nothing. The process is not only about filtering of water but also how you save significant invisible living beings in the process. Many sects in Hinduism as well most of the Jain communities practice this even today. Thus, for many communities, how water is used makes a fundamental part of Ahimsak life-style. Similarly there are many items like Sugar and Salt too – how these are obtained and processed matters.
5. There are several places where genuine attempts are made to create truly Ahimsak products. Though, the challenge remains in bringing awareness and making it accessible to interested consumers. In many cases the efforts are fragmented, highly localised and suppliers are in remote locations. Many times even if the products are available within reach, the consumers just do not make an effort given that we are living in the on-line and e-commerce era where everything is expected to be available at door step.
The above points outline the broad challenges when trying to follow a Ahimsak lifestyle. AhimsaZone is an attempt to address these challenges and take it to the next level by focusing on following:
• Awareness of Ahimsak products and sources
• Qualification of Ahimsak products through highest standards
• Access to such products in various geographies
• Convenience (Bring such products at door step, for those unwilling to spend time or effort )
On AhimsaZone, we are determined to address these challenges in a gradual but resolute manner. The bar we have set for a product to be Ahimsak is much deeper and not limited to it just being a so called “vegeterian”. We intend to evolve in a phased manner where-in we will gradually build and publish several sources of Ahimsak products across variety of categories. Each product will go through a strict validation of fundamental criteria of Ahimsa. Gradually, we will make these validated products accessible through off-line and / or on-line mode.
You can help us by informing us about any truly Ahimsak products and it’s suppliers. We will talk to these suppliers, validate, and on-board them to AhimsaZone with their consent. You can write to us at info (at) ahimsazone.in