Jain vegetarian diet is practiced by the followers of Jain culture and philosophy. It is considered to be one of the most rigorous form of spiritually-motivated diet on the Indian subcontinent and beyond. The Jain cuisine is completely vegetarian and it also excludes onions and garlic, similarly like the shojin-ryori cuisine of Japan. The strictest forms of Jain diet is practiced by the monastic ascetics, it may additionally exclude potatoes and other root vegetables. This food is called in Sanskrit a 'sattvic' food, which means that it is based on the qualities of goodness, lightness and happiness. On the other hand, onions and garlic are regarded to be 'tamasic', as they tend to have a quality of darkness, lethargy and indeed a putrid smell.
Jain objections to the eating of meat, fish and eggs are based on the principle of nonviolence (ahimsa, literally "non-injuring"). Every act by which a person directly or indirectly supports killing or injury is seen as act of violence (himsa), which creates harmful reaction karma. The aim of ahimsa is to prevent the accumulation of such karma. The extent to which this intention is put into effect varies greatly among Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Jains consider nonviolence to be the most essential religious duty for everyone (ahinsā paramo dharmaḥ, a statement often inscribed on Jain temples). It is an indispensable condition for liberation from the cycle of reincarnation, which is the ultimate goal of all Jain activities. Jains share this goal with Hindus and Buddhists, but their approach is particularly rigorous and comprehensive. Their scrupulous and thorough way of applying nonviolence to everyday activities, and especially to food, shapes their entire lives and is the most significant hallmark of Jain identity. A side effect of this strict discipline is the exercise of asceticism, which is strongly encouraged in Jainism for lay people as well as for monks and nuns.
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