Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

what if plants have secret lives? December 22, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Royce @ 6:30 pm
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There was a NYT article, online yesterday, in the paper today (I think), entitled: Sorry Vegans, Brussels Sprouts Want to Live Too. An intellectually lazy title and any parts about veganism are superfluous, because really this is an article about how plants respond to stimuli, and protect themselves from being eaten. You know, high school bio if your teacher could have bothered to make plants more interesting.

So I discovered this article yesterday while skimming the PPK forums. Interesting stuff to be certain. Some of the comments mirrored the arguments of omnivores when presented that eating aimals is murder:

—Oh, it is tasty murder!

—How ridiculous plants can’t feel pain.

—I have to draw the line somewhere.

I’m sure many of these were in jest, but not all of them, I’m sure. There was a lot of anger about this article being published, and giving fodder to anti-vegans— as if they need fodder! The anti-vegans are going to believe what they will, and use any justification they want.

So my question is what if plants were found to have some form of sentience. Of course some people already think they do: fans of The Secret Life of Plants, some fruitarians, and a lot of neo-animists. Some of us generally judge these folks as sort of out of it (because they aren’t following the same mythologies that a lot of us do). As much as I trash-talk science it is still a large part of the backdrop of my worldview.

We know plants can’t feel because they lack the sort of nerves we have, they don’t have a CNS like us. We may recognize that some invertebrates feel in a different way, but they are still in our kingdom. We won’t eat animals because we are fairly certain that most if not all other animals can suffer because they can feel pain, because they need it to survive and get away from whatever dangerous stimuli there are. Pain is our basis for judging suffering.

We’ve even gotten to the point where we can judge “non-physical,” psychic pain. We recognize verbal and psychological abuse as suffering. We know stress and other psychological factors cause another type of pain, of suffering.

And so we assume that if other animals feel pain then they can also suffer.

A plant responds to stimuli to protect itself. Being mostly sedentary (from our perspective), it responds in a different way from animals. Pain as we know it wouldn’t make sense for a plant. But they must have some way of responding to the world around them, and dangerous stimuli for them may create a response that is unpleasant, for the plant.

You may be thinking I’m bonkers, but to be honest it must have sounded insane at points to propose that animals could have feelings (still does for some people). Likewise for some people it must sound nuts to assume that plants don’t have some sense of what unpleasantness is.

And really what is pain but an unpleasantness resulting from a stimulus.

Is it really any crazier to think that a plant can feel, than that an ant or a worm or a sponge can as well?

So: What if plants can suffer, or if some plants are sentient?

As a person committed to trying to end suffering and oppression what could I do.

Obviously I could draw a line, remain vegan, say, “Too bad plants. There is nothing we can do about this. I must eat.”

I could explore other modes of getting my food. Fruitarianism, necrophagia, coprophagia (shudder), detritivorianism.

Coprophagia

And perhaps this is why it is upsetting to think of plants as possible of suffering. Because then veganism would become the moral equivalent of  pescatarianism, and there wouldn’t be as much space to maneuver ethically. You can’t feed many people on naturally dead things and fallen fruit.

If plants can feel it requires a rethinking of what an ethical diet, ethical living in general, means for all of us.

But of course it would never be fodder for an anti-vegan. Even if plants can feel it doesn’t excuse the horribleness that we direct towards animals.

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43 Responses to “what if plants have secret lives?”

  1. walkabout Says:

    Don’t a lot of plants want to be eaten, though? Fruits need to be eaten by animals to have their seeds scattered, and I’m told that wheat stimulates opioid receptors in the human brain. A survival strategy, the plant species encouraging cultivation?

    Animals suffer not just because they can feel, but because they have self-interest, which is a whole nother category from reaction to stimuli. I can’t see that a plant would have an ego.

    It’s unfortunate that some deep ecologists would want to erase the plant/animal distinction wholly or partly to feel good about eating animals (not saying this is what you’re doing). Those attitudes burned me early on and made me wary of an interesting philosophical movement.

    • Royce Says:

      I thought about the fruit thing as I read the comments on the nyt article, but a fruit isn’t a plant, it is only a part of it. My questioning would be directed more towards plants that must be killed for consumption, or even the removal of parts that harm the plant.

      Wouldn’t there be a difference between possession of an ego and self-interest? Self-interest, I’m assuming requires an awareness of self, and then a need to protect the self. As far as we know individual bees wouldn’t have that self-interest because they have a group-interest in protecting the hive. A soldier in a foxhole who jumps on a grenade also seems to lack self-interest. A plant that makes itself more toxic, to avoid dying from animals foraging on its leaves seems to have more self-interest than a bee or a soldier that sacrifices for the group.

      I’ve never really been into the deep ecology movement, so I don’t know anything about how they erase these distinctions. But I don’t understand how compassionate people (especially those who are, I’m assuming, trying to “save the Earth”) could be ok killing animals (especially if they would then eat factory-farmed animals).

      • adam Says:

        A friend once pointed out during a mentioning of fruitarianism that fruit, seeds, and nuts are the plant equivalent of fetuses and fertilized eggs–so we may be still on shaky ground thinking it’s any better to eat these. Not to mention that we cook, process, and/or digest living vegetables (as if they were lobsters)!

        But even dirt is alive with detrivores and microscopic animals (and they can feel too, right?)… so really we have to become breathatarians.

  2. adam Says:

    And there is also the issue of whether either the a) sentient experience, b) vulnerable life, or c) the autonomy and integrity have priority.

    Which is worse: a) perennial horticultures (in which we perpetually “amputate” plants throughout their lives without deliberately killing them); b) killing a wild plant in one swing (giving it as “humane” of death as possible); or c) bio-engineering plants to drop delicious fruit in giant greenhouse factory farms under strict surveillance (but without them feeling any pain and a premature death)???

  3. Elaine Vigneault Says:

    Royce,
    I like how you think about this topic. You remain agnostic about plant pain, which I think is admirable and what anyone truly interested in science and reality should do.

    That said, I do think it’s reasonable to assume that plants do not feel pain, at least not in any way that’s easily comparable to the kind of pain animals feel.

    And I think that our empathy towards animals is a reflection of this. I truly believe that animal rights are self-evident, that anyone willing to see that animals suffer can see that they suffer. We don’t need special tools or knowledge in order to understand that animals feel pain, we know it intuitively. This is not true for plants.

    I also agree with you 100% that no matter what we learn about plants in the future, none of it will ever be fodder for anti-veganism.

    • Royce Says:

      Elaine,

      For us it is incredibly self-evident, maybe not for others. For centuries people (have) thought that animals couldn’t feel pain, the same for infants for most of the XXth Century.

      They thought that the responses, the wriggling, the attempts to avoid the harm were just automatic, mechanical responses. Just as we view the plant’s response to attacks on itself.

      I think part of my worry is how self-evident these things seem. Everything seems self-evident to ourselves. I can’t really convince someone to become vegan if it is self-evident to them that animals are soulless automatons.

      I wonder what the limits of an AR/AL ethics of empathy are.

      • adam Says:

        Royce,
        Actually, the whole stipulation that Descartes and modern science popularized the idea that animals couldn’t feel pain is false–an over-simplification by scholars more interested in the history of ideas than what common people really thought (see Rod Preece and Erika Fudge).

        The issue is that not until the 1700’s did anyone really consider pain are particularly objectional thing to center ethics around. Concern with pain (and the consciousnesses of others in general) blossomed with the popularization of the novel (catalyst of human rights) and the development of anaesthetics (pain no longer necessary) and materialism (pain wasn’t God’s retribution). More or less, Western people were more concerned with character/virtue ethics before modern times. In other words, it was self-evident that animals suffered, it just wasn’t a moral issue.

        Similarly, many (animist) cultures consider not only plants but rocks, mountains, and rivers sentient. Is this self-evident? I don’t think so; but it is may be to them? Being that children are so drawn to and empathetic with animals, specifically mammals–I’d say it is nearly-universally intuitive that visible animals with faces are sentient.

      • Royce Says:

        I would never claim that everybody thought that animals couldn’t feel pain, but obviously some (perhaps many did). That is like how for most of the XXth C. the official stance was that infants couldn’t feel pain, even if individuals disagreed.

        I’m also curious as to if children are only empathetic to animals. Just myself for example, I had a lot of trees in my front yard. Some of them were friend-trees and others were not, but that isn’t something an adult would notice about me playing in the yard. How often do we see children playing with other things, being drawn to non-animals?

      • mama Says:

        today my two year old said that trees are people and she talks to them. pretty self evident to her.

    • C Says:

      I’m certain most folks, if not all, reading this blog see the difference between friend trees and friend animals. I mean, if I was to rip some bark off a friend tree and also rip the skin off of any one of the animals we routinely exploit, most folks, including children, would see a clear distinction there.
      You may have problem with something being self evident, Royce, but what is certainly self evident is that nonhuman animals, as well as human animals, are self aware and are capable of experiencing the world through senses that allow them to feel pleasure and pain and the wide range of emotions and sensations in between. It’s not quite clear that plants have interests, but from what I’ve read and studied, they do not.
      I’m certainly sensitive to causing plants harm if they do have sense of self and can experience distress and pain, but even if that were the case veganism would be the best way to live by minimizing harm to humans, animals, plants, and the environment. Because, shit, we as humans do have to eat to survive.

      • Royce Says:

        You’re right most folks reading this blog would react differently to ripping the bark off of a tree and ripping the skin off of a live animal. Most people would also react differently to ripping the skin off of a mammal as compared to other members of the phylum chordata. Most humans would have more trouble with the skin being ripped off of another human as compared to other mammals. And we’d all probably have a stronger reaction to the skin being ripped off of our family members as compared to a human we didn’t know. And I, at least, would probably have a stronger reaction to my own skin being ripped off compared to my mother or brother.

        I have a problem with things being self-evident because self-evidence is often proven to be wrong.

      • C Says:

        “Most people would also react differently to ripping the skin off of a mammal as compared to other members of the phylum chordata. Most humans would have more trouble with the skin being ripped off of another human as compared to other mammals. And we’d all probably have a stronger reaction to the skin being ripped off of our family members as compared to a human we didn’t know. And I, at least, would probably have a stronger reaction to my own skin being ripped off compared to my mother or brother.”

        This misses the point. All involved in your examples would see these acts as qualitatively different from “harming” plants because plants would not immediately attempt to avoid the pain and react in a way that would indicate that they are feeling anything (distress, pain, fear, etc.). We humans intuitively see the difference.

      • Royce Says:

        We see the difference because it is more like our own response. How does a clam react to harm? A sponge? Coral? A tree? A potato plant?

        I think you missed my point that a qualitative difference is really dependent on an observer. The “higher,” i.e. the more like us, the life form the more we react to their being harmed.

        I do see a qualitative difference between debarking a tree and skinning a cat. I also see a qualitative difference between skinning a cat and skinning another human being.

        We humans intuitively feel a lot of things— how often do they turn out to not be 100%.

      • C Says:

        “I also see a qualitative difference between skinning a cat and skinning another human being.”

        My point still stands: “these acts (are) qualitatively different from “harming” plants because plants would not immediately attempt to avoid the pain and react in a way that would indicate that they are feeling anything (distress, pain, fear, etc.). We humans intuitively see the difference.” Skinning a cat would absolutely be harming that cat. Skinning a human would be harming that human. We don’t know (without antropomorphizing) whether debarking a tree or picking a leaf off a bush is harming those plants.
        As far as clams, sponges, or coral, I admit that I simply don’t know enough about them. That’s my own limited understanding. But I do know certainly that the animals we routinely exploit and kill, including cats, are sentient and do immediately attempt to avoid harm. I cannot say the same for plants.

      • Royce Says:

        I think a plant does immediately attempt to avoid harm: they can become more toxic, call for help from insects, and according to one report I read from 1926 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1709102/?page=2) alter their shape and color to look less appetizing.

        Privileging movement as a basis for moral consideration seems as arbitrary as privileging fur, tool-making, or uprightness.

        Also we know that debarking a tree or picking a leaf harms the plant. What we don’t know is whether or not the plant “knows” what we know, but we know they react to it.

        We all know animals can suffer. No one has tried to deny that. Can we not consider plants without taking it as an attack on animals?

      • C Says:

        “Privileging movement as a basis for moral consideration seems as arbitrary as privileging fur, tool-making, or uprightness.”

        I think these are all very different things for various reasons you fail to acknowledge. And it’s erroneous to sum up my argument as “privileging movement as a basis for moral consideration”. You can be sentient, conscious, aware, and an animal, and not able to move.

        “Can we not consider plants without taking it as an attack on animals?”

        I didn’t say you couldn’t, or that we shouldn’t consider plants.

        And also the idea of plants “calling for help” is merely attributing human and other animals’ characteristics to plants to support your argument.

      • Royce Says:

        When I said privileging movement I meant the fact that you seem to privilege responses that are most like yours: animals attempting to avoid harm was a criteria you used. The fact that we all agree that a being can be sentient without attempting to avoid harm makes it difficult for me to understand why it is impossible to think that plants may be sentient.

        Also I don’t know why you have a problem with the idea of plants “calling for help” but I don’t know what you would call the release of chemicals to attract carnivorous insects that eat the plant’s predators. If a dog yelps in pain upon being injured, and a person comes to help, would it be anthropomorphizing to call that a call for help?

  4. Eric Brooks Says:

    Hi all,

    The longer I have been vegan the more I have come to realize that the purpose of a vegan diet can be boiled down to one central goal:

    To live a healthy life while doing as little damage, causing as little pain, and taking only what we need from the natural world around us.

    This simplifies the whole debate. Since vastly more plant life and ecological impact are required for a meat/dairy diet, the choice to eat only plants is the logical first step in living such a low impact life.

    As to the contention that we can’t live on gathered fruits, this is actually not correct at all.

    If, worldwide, we were to shift all of our agriculture to permaculture harvesting from only perennial plants which remain in place as they are harvested (fruits, nuts, leaves, seeds, etc.) we could easily and perpetually fulfill most of our dietary needs, and with much less impact to the land than we currently produce through mass annual plant based agriculture.

    One point on pain. There is a key difference between plants and animals which counters the idea that plants experience similar pain to animals when we work with them, even aggressively. To see the point, consider pruning. Anyone who has ever worked with plants has discovered that most of them respond quite well and vibrantly to pruning. They seem to be perfectly happy with it and even in need of it in some cases. Many species of tree actually depend on being burned by fire to properly release their seed and germinate. It is frequent in nature that plants actually depend on being partly or completely destroyed and/or eaten by animals or natural forces in order to perpetuate themselves.

    However, it is clear, that when one attempts to ‘prune’, burn, destroy or eat an animal, its experiences immediate high levels of pain.

    peace

    Eric

    • Royce Says:

      I’m happy that for you a vegan diet boils down to that, but we all have reasons that differ from each other at large or small points.

      The simplification works for the argument that all things suffer, so how do we decide what to eat, but I’m not sure if that argument is what I was going for.

      I wonder about this worldwide shift to fruit, but again it doesn’t make perfect sense to me— a worldwide fruitarianism would make it difficult for some people, especially those in desert biomes, to eat. I’m curious as to the logistics of shipping the fruits from place to place in an environmentally friendly way, but that is because I can’t even think of a biome that would allow us to grow the fruits, seeds, and berries necessary for proper nutrition.

      I never said plants experienced similar pain. That would be absurd for me to even pretend to claim (I couldn’t even claim that you and I experience pain in the same way). Rather, I was questioning what we would do if we found that plants do experience a suffering of some form.

      I would never deny that plants (from our perspective) respond well to pruning. But then some animals (especially the human kind) respond well to pruning— haircuts, nail clipping, etc. I can imagine that for plants some pruning of certain parts might be a similar thing.

    • mel Says:

      I agree with Eric. I think if plants were determined to suffer, it stills comes down to the least harm clause for me. Would it be kingdomist for humans to continue to eat plants, even if it caused them suffering? I would then have to speak up on behalf of the voiceless against all animals that eat them, but offing all animals would hurt plants and fungi that require nutrients we return to them. There has to be a balance somewhere. I think the line can shift with new knowledge, but I don’t think it’s necessarily arbitrary to have to draw that line.

      Now, if it was established that plants quantitatively and qualitatively suffer more than animals, I’d really start to worry!

      • Royce Says:

        I mean kingdomism would still be speciesism.

        And I get what y’all are saying about causing the least amount of suffering, but I’d like to restate how much a lot of this echoes omnivorous discourse.

        Why would killing off all the animals make any more sense than vegans deciding to kill all predators because they kill other animals.

        I think a line is as arbitrary as any sort of ethics or morality which is the more “objectively” you look at it, the bigger the scale you use to look at it, the more arbitrary it all seems.

        I also don’t think you can ever prove that anything (anyone) can suffer more than anything else in any quantitative or qualitative way. How do you measure suffering?

      • mel Says:

        You’re right, it doesn’t make any sense. I think that was my point.

        If plants were to suffer, it doesn’t make sense to just stop eating them, assuming the mutual goal for all living things is to have life continue on this planet. I think the key needs to be the separation of suffering and oppression. Surely prey suffers when a predator takes it down, but mountain lions don’t have an institutionalized hierarchy over deer and so we deem their behavior appropriate for the continuation of their species. I don’t know what that symbiosis would look like with sentient plants.

        I suppose in the great scheme of things, especially as an athiest, all of life is rather arbitrary. I think what I meant is that I have to accept that I need to draw an educated line somewhere based on the resources and information I have available, lest a crippling fear of misstepping in the world imprison me in my pajamas under the covers.

        The last line about measuring suffering was meant tongue in cheek.

      • mel Says:

        And this ties in directly to your post the other day! It’s really a lot to think about.

      • Royce Says:

        Damn, tongue-in-cheek is incredibly difficult to catch on the internet. I think it has something to do with there not being a common ground with which to judge whether or not someone is being sarcastic.

        Though I’m confused about which “it” doesn’t make sense.

      • mel Says:

        Killing off animals to save other animals.

        I am certainly not advocating the killing of orcas to save the poor seals, so somewhere in that “circle of life” I must somehow be justifying that the suffering of a seal when its life is taken is ok. And similarly, if plants were to suffer, I wouldn’t fault a moose for grazing, so I don’t think it would be selfish of me to want to eat plants either.

        Like I said, I don’t know what that hypothetical symbiosis would look like. I suppose we’d have to have a better understanding of what we’re doing “wrong” in order to develop a plan for correcting our behavior for the sake of the plants.

        To tie it in to your post the other day, as with plants, I don’t know what that mutual relationship would look like with non-oppressed wild animals. Without some crazy developments in human – non-human animal – plant communication technology, I’ll never really know what our relationships are like from their perspectives. I would err on the side of caution to think that cows don’t want me to take their milk, and since I have the food and nutrition science wherewithal to get by without their milk, I would still refrain. I would hope an ant with my cognitive abilities and resources would do the same for his fellow aphid. Then again, perhaps they do communicate and the aphid is perfectly happy.

      • mel Says:

        (This is way more interesting than work, but I apologize if I’m talking in circles…)

        My main point is that I have already accepted that suffering is part of life, and if plants do suffer, than their suffering is part of my life as well. And I will do what I can to make informed decisions, such as veganism, to minimize that suffering.

  5. Eric Brooks Says:

    On the ‘fruits’ question see:

    http://www.permaearth.org/foodforestarticle.html

  6. Eric Brooks Says:

    It doesn’t ignore it at all. Most deserts and other marginal habitats were once incredibly productive biomes until humans destroyed them through bad land use and agricultural practices.

    One of the cornerstones of permaculture is to bring living productive biomes back to full life in depleted areas.

    The marginal areas you are speaking of can all be restored, usually quite rapidly.

  7. Eric Brooks Says:

    And prairies by the way can be very productive perennial permaculture food producers, especially when conjoined with forest food bearing habitats. Tundra is a little tougher and should just be left to the wolves, bear, deer, etc.

    • Royce Says:

      Prairies for fruit production. I thought this was under the plan that all of humanity consumed fruit.

      This restoration thinking doesn’t sit with me completely. Did humans cause a spread in deserts? —Yes. But deserts are natural biomes. How do you decide where to grow back a forest, and where a real desert should be?

      By depleted biomes and marginal habitats you mean biomes that are productive for humans who follow a certain diet?

      I’m also sure the folks that live in tundra environments would also like to stay where their folks have lived for centuries/millennia, and not just leave it to the bears, deer, and wolves.

  8. mama Says:

    ive thought about this a lot in the past decade. i read the secret life of plants and other work documenting the response of plant life to various stimuli.
    frankly, i see the ‘nervous system’ argument of veganism to be one of its weakest. and am surprised by how often it is called upon. the idea that we can make a coherent or liberatory moral argument based on pain/pleasure has me shaking my head. is the idea that pain=bad and pleasure=good, and thus we ought to increase pleasure and decrease pain for those who can feel it? have folks thought about the authoritarian implications in such a moral paradigm?
    even before i began eating vegan, it was self evident to me that plants are sentient beings. i feel empathy with plants. and im not a tree hugging hippie or anything near it.
    plants have sensations even if they dont have a nervous system! how utterly speciesist of us to use our physiology as the bases for what is sentience…

  9. C Says:

    it’s interesting because I usually only see this issue being discussed by anti-vegans who only want to justify their consumption of sentient beings that we know suffer because of our human actions. This issue is usually thrown out as un-thought out excuse to continue to oppress other animals. I think it’s great that it’s being discussed on a vegan blog because we need to know how strong our argument for veganism is and the only way to know that is to question it.
    That said, if there is no moral difference between harming or killing plants and animals, and that the distinction is arbitrary, then there would be no moral distinction between harming or killing plants, humans, and other animals. I’m not sure anyone reading this blog would admit that they honestly do not accept a distinction between humans -and other animals- and plants when it comes to causing them harm. And is there anyone out there who would consider a principle of not harming humans to be arbitrary?

    • Royce Says:

      I’d question what you mean about causing harm. My own personal issues are forged more from bonds to individual beings. Shadow, the dog that I spent most of my teenage years with, comes before a number of humans. Just as my family comes before a lot of other humans. Truthfully— the pine trees in my front yard back home, the crabapple tree in the back, the feral rose bush on the side would probably come before a number of animals in my desire to protect from harm.

      I accept distinctions, but I also see a lot of the distinctions as arbitrary, and defined by a sense of some macro-filiation.

    • C Says:

      At risk of seeming reductionist, what I had in mind in regard to harm would be at very least inflicting physical or phychological distress, pain, or suffering on beings who can experience such emotions and sensations and immediately react to avoid what will harm. As far as anyone is aware (asides from those who antropomorphize), trees do not experience emotions or feelings or phychological distress as humans and other animals do.
      You’re description of protecting trees from harm really seems to only involve your own interests (but perhaps also indirectly animals who inhabit the trees) as to where harming a dog would directly involve another sentient being’s interests in not being harmed (as described above).

      • Royce Says:

        I think there may be a difference between anthropomorphizing trees and granting they may have sentience. Assuming that an animal has its own interests, its own desires, its own emotions isn’t anthropomorphizing, why would questioning if a tree has its own sort of being-ness, with the potential of suffering not be the same thing?

        I think that protecting any being from harm can be reduced to your own interests if you want to do it that way.

      • C Says:

        “I think there may be a difference between anthropomorphizing trees and granting they may have sentience. Assuming that an animal has its own interests, its own desires, its own emotions isn’t anthropomorphizing, why would questioning if a tree has its own sort of being-ness, with the potential of suffering not be the same thing?”

        One doesn’t have to anthropomorphize other animals to recognize that they are sentient with the potential for suffering. However, I don’t think the same can be said for plants. On the contrary, I think one has to attribute human or other animal characteristics to plants to make the case that they are sentient.

        “I think that protecting any being from harm can be reduced to your own interests if you want to do it that way.”

        If one (say, a vegan) is striving to end the oppression of all beings who are no doubt sentient, with cognitive abilities, interests, feelings, emotions, etc. then those beings’ interests are at least respected and taken into consideration.
        Granted, even our best deeds are, on some level, carried out to benefit ourselves psychologically (but perhaps not in all cases..).

      • Royce Says:

        Why isn’t it anthropomorphizing to give sentience to animals, but it is to possibility for plants? One does have to do a bit of analogizing to say that animals are also sentient and can suffer, just as one would have to do for any other being.

        —I can suffer, you are like me, so I grant you have a subjectivity, and can suffer

        I merely am acknowledging that plants and animals aren’t all that different, and it could be possible for plants to have their own subjectivity, while acknowledging that I have no clue what a plant’s subjectivity would be like (I also don’t know what your subjectivity is like either).

        Right, fighting to end the oppression of other beings does take into consideration their interests, but it also takes into consideration yours.

  10. robyn Says:

    I didn’t read all the comments, so sorry if I repeat shit.

    Actually, the sheer number of comments is evidence of the divisiveness of this topic. Personally, I found that particular article to be beyond worthless as far as its stated goal (to discredit vegans). But of course, the plant-experience is interesting to think about.

    1) I think it would be nuts to claim to know anything qualitative about plants’ pain, or lack thereof. I don’t feel the need to make any assumptions, even to morally justify my diet.

    2) self-evident to who, is maybe an apt question, in general.

    3) I seriously advise all of you to read the giving tree, by Shel Silverstein.

    I feel funny posting under R., since I know Royce has used that in the past, so from now on I guess I’ll reveal my real name…

  11. samtha Says:

    here is the must see video that plants do think and have consciousness

    http://www.ceveni.com/2010/02/can-plants-see-hear-think-and-feel.html

  12. [...] What, exactly, makes one “human”? DNA? Behavior? Appearance? What of Neanderthals? Human-animal hybrids? Chimeras? (Or, while we’re at it, dolphins?) Humans who possess organs transplanted from nonhumans? Nonhumans biologically manipulated to grow human parts? Can one be 85% human, or is “humanity” an all-or-nothing proposition? And how do such dilemmas relate to the gender binary? Royce addresses these question and more. (See also: what if plants have secret lives?) [...]


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