Why don’t vegans care about killing plants?
Reducing suffering and death, not plant pain
Vegans do not avoid animal products because they believe that all living things have an equal right to life, but rather because they believe that the unnecessary suffering and death caused by human actions towards animals is morally wrong. In other words, the ethical consideration for vegans is not about whether or not a being is capable of feeling pain, but rather about reducing unnecessary suffering and death as much as possible. It’s important to note that eating plants is not equivalent to causing the same level of suffering and death as raising and killing animals for food.
Furthermore, the idea that plants feel pain is often used to justify acts of cruelty towards animals. For example, someone who beats a dog and picks a carrot may argue that it is okay because “plants feel pain too.” However, this logic is flawed as it is not equivalent to compare the suffering of a living, sentient being with that of a non-sentient organism.
Comparing animals to plants is not a fair or accurate comparison. A sentient being capable of suffering has a brain and a central nervous system connected to various receptors, such as tactile, gustatory, visual and auditory receptors — like all animals have. These receptors help those beings to hear, feel, smell, touch, and taste, and if they don’t have these receptors, not one of these things is possible. Animals such as dogs and pigs have nervous systems and the capacity for consciousness, while plants do not. It is a more accurate comparison to compare animals to animals, rather than to plants.
Do plants feel pain?
Pain is generally understood as a sensation of discomfort associated with actual or potential tissue damage. While some scientists have proposed that plants possess a form of consciousness and may be able to experience a form of pain, there is currently no concrete scientific evidence to support this claim. Plants are known to respond to changes in their environment, such as changes in light intensity or the presence of predators, but this is not the same as experiencing pain. Additionally, plants have the ability to communicate with other plants and other organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, but this does not imply that they experience pain. Plants do not react to injury in the same way as animals do. When an animal is hurt, it usually displays signs of pain such as vocalisation, flinching, or attempting to escape, but plants do not show these types of responses when they are injured. Many plants can be harvested without killing the entire organism, while animals are killed for their meat.
The debate around plant consciousness and the possibility of plant pain
Some scientists have suggested that plants possess a form of consciousness, and that they may be able to experience a form of pain. One of the most prominent scientists in this field is Dr. Monica Gagliano, a biologist at the University of Western Australia. In her remarkable book “Thus Spoke the Plant: A Remarkable Journey of Groundbreaking Scientific Discoveries and Personal Encounters with Plants”, Dr. Gagliano has conducted a number of experiments that she believes demonstrate that plants have the ability to feel pain. For example, she has shown that plants can respond to mechanical stress by releasing a chemical called ethylene, which is often associated with stress and pain in animals. However, this is a highly debated topic, and there is no concrete scientific evidence to support this claim.
The ethical and environmental advantages of a plant-based diet
Vegans opt for a plant-based diet as they consider it to be more ethical and environmentally friendly. They hold the belief that animals, similar to humans, possess the ability to feel pain and suffer, thus they should not be used for food or any other purpose. Consuming plants does not cause harm in the same way as consuming animals does. Furthermore, cultivating and collecting plants for food requires fewer resources and causes a smaller ecological impact compared to breeding animals for food. Animal agriculture requires large amounts of land for grazing and feed production, which can lead to deforestation and habitat destruction. In contrast, many different types of plants can be grown in a small area, which means that less land is needed to produce the same amount of food, including less water. Thus, vegans choose to eat plants to minimise their environmental impact and to decrease the harm caused to animals.