One of the main principals of Jainism is nonviolence, and all forms of life, whether human, animal, insect or plant, are considered sacred. In the Jainist view, the slaughter of animals for food is tantamount to murder. The harvesting of some plants is also seen as an infliction of needless harm upon a living thing. Although most Americans share a commitment to nonviolence, it does not extend to all forms of life. Cruelty to humans and animals is not tolerated under American law, but the slaughter of livestock and the harvesting of food plants is an integral part of American life.
The Jainist principle of asceticism presents a sharp contrast to the pursuit of personal pleasure which occupies many Americans. Jainism's objection to materialism offers an equally striking contrast to America's consumer-driven society.