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Professor Gary Francione Keynote Speaker at JAINA Convention

July 26, 2009 – 
Gary Francione, Distinguished Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. Katzenbach Scholar of Law & Philosophy, delivered the opening keynote address on July 3 at the 15th biennial convention of JAINA, the Federation of Jain Associations in North America. More than 2,000 people attended the convention, held at the Jain Center of Southern California. Jainism is one of the oldest religions in the world. There is historical evidence that Jainism existed before Buddhism and Hinduism, making it the pre-Aryan indigenous spiritual tradition of India. The religion’s most important principle is Ahimsa, or the doctrine of non-violence.

The theme of the convention was “Ecology: The Jain Way.” In his well-received address, Professor Francione spoke about how the ecological crisis was related to materialism and to animal agriculture and how the doctrine of Ahimsa required a serious reevaluation of our materialistic lifestyle and an acceptance of strict vegetarianism.

“I was deeply honored to have been invited to give the opening address at the JAINA convention,” said Professor Francione. “I have been a vegan for almost 30 years now based on my acceptance of the principle of Ahimsa or non-violence. I am convinced that Jain principles can help us to find solutions to the escalating violence in the world. Most religious traditions endorse some version of non-violence. It is our challenge to bring that concept to life as a functioning guiding principle and not merely as an aspiration.”

Professor Francione is the author of numerous books and articles on animal rights theory and animals and the law. His most recent book is Animals as Persons: Essays on the Abolition of Animal Exploitation (Columbia University Press, 2008).