• An elephant and an ant are alike souled – living beings.
• They all love life.
• All the beings long to live, no one wants to die.
• Just as I dislike pain, so all other beings dislike pain.
• A Shramana (Jain) is one who considers all living beings equal and alike, and neither kills them nor gets them killed by others.
• He is always ready to help and protect the helpless and those in distress.
• Have compassion for all living beings.
• There is no piety like compassion.
• Active compassion is the differentia of Dharma.
• Self control with respect to all living beings is Ahimsa.
• Ahimsa is the highest religion.
• Without the practice of Ahimsa, all the rules of good cannot come to naught.
• Ahimsa is the very asses pf the s[orot.
Thus Lord Mahavira installed Ahimsa, which patently implies respect for and protection of life in any conceivable form at the top of all religions conduct and called it the noblest piety and the very Deity to be adored. The Ahimsite behaviour prescribed by the Tirthankara should reflect in your kind attitude and sympathy towards all the animals in our daily life. It is why his followers have all along been strict vegetarians and never resorted to killing animals, birds or fishes, wantonly, for pleasure or for profit. Their feeling of compassion for the dumb creatures let them to set up many cow-pens (Goshalas) and feeding sheds for birds ( Pinjarapols). They have also been the pioneers in setting up hospitals for the treatment of ailing or wounded birds and beasts. It is a well known fact that they do not allow the killing of animals and birds near their pilgrimage centres, holy places and temples, whether on mountain tops or in the midst of wild jungles. Even in their rest-houses they do not permit anybody to cook or eat flesh, fish or egg, or too drink spirituous liquors.
In short, Lord Maavira was the greatest exponent of vegetarianism.