Jainism, traditionally known as Jain Dharma, is an ancient Indian religion. For Jains, vegetarianism is mandatory. Food is restricted to that originating from plants, since plants have only one sense (‘ekindriya’) and are the least developed form of life, and dairy products. Food that contains even the smallest particles of the bodies of dead animals or eggs is unacceptable. It is one of the most rigorous forms of spiritually motivated diet on the Indian subcontinent and beyond. The Jain cuisine also excludes underground vegetables such as potato, garlic, onion, etc., to prevent injuring small insects and microorganisms; and to also prevent the entire plant getting uprooted and killed.
Jains do not eat root vegetables as they are considered ‘ananthkay’. Ananthkay means one body but containing infinite lives. A root vegetable such as potato, from the looks of it is one article, but is said to contain infinite lives in it. Also, tiny life forms are injured when the plant is pulled up and because the bulb is seen as a living being, as it is able to sprout. Also, consumption of most root vegetables involves uprooting and killing the entire plant, whereas consumption of most terrestrial vegetables does not kill the plant (it lives on after plucking the vegetables or it was seasonally supposed to wither away anyway). Green vegetables and fruits contain uncountable, but not infinite, lives. Dry beans, lentils, cereals, nuts and seeds contain a countable number of lives and their consumption results in the least destruction of life.
Jains go out of their way so as not to hurt even small insects and other tiny animals, because they believe that harm caused by carelessness is as reprehensible as harm caused by deliberate action. Hence, they take great pains to make sure that no minuscule animals are injured by the preparation of their meals and in the process of eating and drinking. Jains make considerable efforts not to injure plants in everyday life as far as possible. Jains only accept such violence in as much as it is indispensable for human survival, and there are special instructions for preventing unnecessary violence against plants.