Project Conversion

Project Conversion

Fasting for Thanksgiving. A Jain Perspective

Once upon a time, Thanksgiving was my favorite holiday. It wasn’t because of how grateful I was or that I could spend time with family. I loved Thanksgiving because it’s one of those times of year many Americans gorge themselves without remorse.

And if that isn’t enough, we wake up early the next day (Black Friday) and drive ourselves into a savage frenzy with yet another type of ravenous consumerism.


If Jainism has taught me anything this month, it’s how to do more and be happy with less. According to this article, the average American will consume about 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving day. That’s over twice the daily recommended amount. What’s more is that we consume most of these calories while sitting around watching football games and parades on television. But it’s okay, we need our rest for the impending 24 melee of shopping waiting for us the next day.

Gobble, gobble…

I thought about these traditions yesterday and was utterly disgusted and saddened. I thought about the over 600,000 homeless individuals who had nowhere to celebrate these days of plenty. Then I thought about the 20.5 million people who are in extreme poverty. There’s also the enormous amount of food we waste in this country alone–about 30 million freaking tons of it a year. Even with all of this, our United States of America still boasts an over 60% overweight and obesity rate.


On Black Friday, Americans spend about 45 billion dollars over the weekend. That’s about 400 bucks per spender.

Reading this, I lost my appetite. Imagine if we took half of those Thanksgiving calories and gave them to those who won’t eat on Thursday. Imagine if we took just half of that 45 billion dollar shopping spree and used it to clothe and feed those in morbid poverty.

We should be ashamed of ourselves. We have no right to complain about anything. There is no reason a single person should go hungry or sleep cold on the streets tonight when we go to such lengths on ourselves. I’m ashamed.


I’m fasting for two days in recognition of this reality and in remembrance of those who won’t eat this Thanksgiving. Will it make a difference for them? No, but it makes their plight my reality. Project Conversion is about becoming someone else, putting yourself in their shoes, so that you might better understand another’s point of view. I’m fasting by choice to honor those who have no choice.

I’m also exploring ways I can volunteer on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday to help alleviate the suffering of those not able to stuff themselves on food or the latest gadget…those who have little to be thankful for. Sure, it might be a little late, but I’ll sure try. I recommend you do the same. And if you can’t volunteer somewhere, why not spend less of Thanksgiving dinner, or take what money you save and donate the funds? Instead of spending all that money on Black Friday, help clothe a child.


One of the most important Jain contemplations is compassion. Mine will increase because through fasting, through conquering my desire to fill myself to overflowing with food and things, I become closer to my less fortunate brothers and sisters. The irony is, they are closer to what joy really is in their position of less.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”
–Mahatma Gandhi, a fan of Jainism


Comments read comments(4)
post a comment
A Californian

posted November 30, 2014 at 12:52 am

To me, our country’s Thanksgiving gluttony is obscene. We can do better as a nation. So I fasted on Thanksgiving. When I mentioned that, the next day, at the grocery store, several cashiers and customers gasped – then looked very moved. One cashier congratulated me and expressed amazement. I hope this becomes a new American tradition.

report abuse

Sir Jed Eno

posted November 27, 2014 at 5:32 pm

A-menagerie to that my friend, I too will be fasting thru “Quirky Day” this year & every remaining year to follow. Seasons greetings : P

report abuse

Pingback: Conflicted feelings about Thanksgiving « Temple of Athena the Savior

Editor B

posted November 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm

I’m with you 100%. Well, you know, theoretically. I’m not fasting. But we will be doing some volunteer work. I share your feelings of distress over our national festival of consumption. Thanksgiving is a tough one. I think some do experience it as a day of gratitude, but for many excessive consumption is the rule.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

Another Blog To Enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Project Conversion. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Religion 101 Happy Reading! ...

posted 2:34:58pm Aug. 02, 2012 | read full post »

Is God an Immersionist?
In the world of faith, folks often point out the obvious fact that God does not belong to a particular creed, religion, race, or school of philosophy. This sentiment establishes the divine as one which transcends divisive terms of ...

posted 7:00:59am Jul. 12, 2012 | read full post »

Immersion in Relationships: Five Ways to Bring your Relationships to Life
I did something last night with my wife that we haven't done in a very long time... Okay, not from that far back, but it ...

posted 10:58:33am Jul. 10, 2012 | read full post »

The Path of Immersion: An Introduction and How Entering the Path Leads to a Deeper Sense of Self
Today marks my official declaration of fidelity and discipleship to the Path of Immersion. Along with that declaration, I also invite you to join me in whatever capacity feels the most suitable. The Path of Immersion is not one which demands ...

posted 6:00:19am Jul. 09, 2012 | read full post »

Farewell, Project Conversion: The End of an Adventure
When I converted to Christianity at the age of 15, I assumed the faith with a passionate resolve. Despite the positive instruction from my pastor and others, I (for reasons I cannot explain) transformed into a fiery evangelist, launching ...

posted 12:49:25pm Jul. 05, 2012 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.