Plants have feelings, too

“Oh, well I don’t eat meat,” was the condescending response when I generously offered my sandwich to a fellow party-goer a few months ago.

Her egotistical thanklessness boggled me. Having faced hunger once before due to economics I know that when starvation is real, you can’t give a rat’s ass about where the food comes from or whether it is meat or not. There are plenty of hungry people even in our own city that would just about kill their own mother for this sandwich. The shocked look on my face must have demanded an explanation, for she felt the need to clarify that she refused to eat anything that involved the torturing or killing of animals. Well, that’s great, maybe even noble without the attitude.

As we both parted away from the uncomfortable situation I caught a glimpse of the self-righteous vegetarian’s shoes and smiled to myself: Nike and probably leather, as well.

A vegetarian diet can be a healthy choice, but the logic behind many vegetarians and vegans decisions is flawed at best.

Why are plants OK to harm? Can we just destroy acres of forest to grow corn? Sure! But don’t you dare eat a cow or pig!

Some say that there is currently no reason to believe that plants experience pain because they lack a central nervous systems. Of course we can deduce that animals we are familiar with can indeed feel pain because they possess these features. Also, some people use the reasoning that since plants cannot move from place to place and do not need to learn to avoid certain things, this sensation of pain would be superfluous. Because many perennial plants, fruits and vegetables can be harvested over and over without dying they are viewed differently than animals. Just because it is thought that animals are able to feel pain gives them certain rights? So since we do not see plants twitch, jump or move it is perfectly OK to dismember them? Lots of mammals, including humans, have had parts removed without dying, plus many marine crustaceans such as crabs and lobsters can have bodily parts removed and then regenerate them.

Plants have a very different time-scale relative to humans. Have you ever seen time-lapsed photography of plants growing? Plants move about. In fact, they rarely stand still. Just because we cannot perceive it normally (it is too slow), does not discount that plants move.

Vines have a system of touch in place to allow them to grow up desired structures and Venus Flytraps move in response to touch. In an article by researchers in Kumamoto, Japan, it was discovered that Cedar trees responded to being inoculated with a wood-boring beetle. If plants are so dumb or primitive, how did they respond? Why did neighboring trees exhibit stress responses, even though they were not being tested? Further research showed that plants can communicate with other organisms by scents.

Chemical emissions such as ethylene gas when a leaf is cut serve a communicative role. Yes, the plant is screaming! We would hear it if we could simply open up our chemically receptive ears and open our sheltered minds. Other plants hear it and react. How egotistical and shallow of us to think that because we do not perceive these movements or pathways of communication, they do not exist.

We see that the dismemberment of plants causes a response. Plants can and do move about. Plants have a system of touch – response, and can communicate with other plants. There is even a “nervous” system that exists, the Plasmodesmata is used to communicate between individual cells of the plant, so the roots know what the leaves are up to. So why chose which organism is worthy of living?

The earth is one massive food web; one organism dies so another may live. Even plants can be parasitic. Therefore, eat what you want. If you are concerned for the animals involved do some research as not all meat is raised in the same manner. There are free-range chicken farms, cattle ranches etc. See how they are raised at your local ranch, see if they are treated humanely. If it seems satisfactory to you, support that method of raising animals by purchasing your meat from them.

If you still cannot bear the thought that you are eating an animal and prefer to kill another organism for your food, don’t be hypocritical and wear leather! Also, please do not even bother trying to influence my choices as it is insulting and it makes you look like an ass.

Seth Lewin can be reached at [email protected]