Occasionally, someone will tell me that plants and vegetables have feelings and can suffer as well, so it's meaningless to be a vegetarian. Today, I was told that I'm disregarding this aspect and causing pain is unavoidable. They went on to mention studies were done to prove this.

Does anyone know about these studies? What are your thoughts?

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Oh yes...This has been studied and 'proven" since the late 1800's.  I don't hear it as often as I used to, (I've been a vegetarian or vegan for over 30 years) but it still comes up occasionally.

I think it's likely that plants can perceive some sensations in a way that we would interpret as discomfort.  All living things on this planet tend to attempt to avoid pain and poison, and move towards pleasure and food. I see no reason to think plants are radically different from all other life. Sentient, no. Alive, responsive, yes.

Some of the studies strongly suggest that plants experience something intense when struck, or injured in some way.They also seem to respond with better growth with soft music and talking.

There was a study or two, as I recall, in the 1960s or 70s, that attempted to prove that plants could react to pain caused to another living creature in their presence.  These were debunked by Mythbusters.

When people tell me this, I tell them "All life feeds on life. Everything on our planet gains nourishment from something that once lived.  I'm not a vegetarian/vegan because I want nothing to die, but because I want to limit the pain and death I am part of. The common system in place today, of total disregard for the sacrifice other creatures make to sustain human life, is a system I don't wish to take part in.  Your conscience may lead you down another path."

Trust me, this tends to make them very defensive about their choices...;o)

Pain is transmitted down nerves to brains.  Plants dont have nerves or brains.  Animals do. 

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It's another B.S. excuse.  None of those people who use that excuse give  a f@ck about either plants OR animals.  Plants do move according to light source, they have been reported to thrive on classical music.  On the other hand, the only one of any importance, THEY HAVE NO BRAIN AND NO NERVOUS SYSTEM!  They can not feel pain.  Read the studies.  Just google for them - research on plants feelings - studies on plant consciousness, etc.  Plants are alive, they are not conscious.  We die if we don't eat plants.  We thrive if we don't eat animals.  This "what about the poor plants?" excuse is a particularly lame one.

There is no replicated peer reviewed research (sorry, but the International Journal of Parapsychology doesn't count as a credible scientific journal) demonstrating that plants are capable of having experiences generally agreed upon as being "pain" or "suffering". As others point out, there needs to be some kind of central and peripheral nervous system in order to experience "pain" and/or "suffering". I'm pretty sure that if you ask people making such claims about plants for their sources you'll discover it's either anecdotal, "intuitive", or based upon unreplicated "research" (such as Cleve Backster, et. al.).

BUT, just for fun, you could point out that IF plants could have any semblance of such an experience, and IF one claims to have ethical concerns about causing pain and suffering (after all, their argument is: no matter what you eat, it all experiences pain, therefore there is no ethical difference in eating animals or plants [fruits and nuts, too?]), THEN one ought to eat only plants. Why? Because animals are very inefficient converters of plants into their body mass. Most of the proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, enzymes, etc. eaten by animals simply go into metabolic processes rather than turning into "meat", and a very large percentage of animals used as food is inedible (bones, ligaments, etc.). THEREFORE, IF one is truly concerned about pain and suffering in making eating choices, one ought to only eat plants since eating animals requires (due to conversion inefficiency) many more plant deaths, pain and suffering.

The problem of course is that (in my experience) these people making the "plants feel pain too" argument aren't really concerned about plants (or animals) feeling pain or suffering at all, they're just trying to rationalize their own preferences for eating animals. At least in my experience, of hearing this argument many many times, once pointed out that many fewer plants suffer as a result of a plants-only diet, not one single person has ever said, "Oh, I didn't think of that. You're right, my ethical criteria to cause the least suffering possible requires that I no longer eat animals in order to lessen the suffering of plants." Not one. Ever. Maybe you'll have a different experience!

To me, this "poor little plant" argument is the phoniest and most infuriating excuse for killing animals. I have stopped pretending that those presenting it deserve a moment of my time. "You are lying! You don't care about the feelings of plants OR animals."


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