University of Missouri researchers Heidi Appel and Rex Cocroft have been able to successfully demonstrate that plants are able to sense themselves being chewed and digested and even respond by sending defenses. Plants can feel pain.
Researchers placed caterpillars on thale cress, which is similar to cabbage and kale. They then placed lasers and a small mirror on the leafy greens to mimic the same vibrations that occur when the caterpillars feed on them. Then the scientists put actual caterpillars on the greens and found that the previous “vibrations to mimic feeding” caused an increase in levels of mustard oils – a chemical that repels many herbivorous insects -than would have been found on plants that had not been previously effected by the lasers.
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What Does This Mean?
The plants actively responded to what they perceived as a threat by stimulating their defense system. Yes, plants have a defense system. It is no surprise that plants can be responsive to outside stimuli.
Plants are more in tune with their environment and surroundings than previously believed, but this doesn’t mean that plants actually suffer in the way that animals do.
How This Relates To Vegetarianism
I’ve been seeing this argument quite often, that plants feel pain and even have defenses against being killed. The argument therefore, would make Vegetarians and Vegans just as “bad” or “inhumane” as the meat eaters because the plants are suffering as well.
In fact, the idea for this article came from an article that was titled: “Scientists Made A Surprising Discovery Throwing Vegetarianism Into Question” with the opening sentence reading: “Meat eaters rejoice! You can finally tell your Vegetarian friends to get off their high horses.” Obviously, as someone who consumes a primarily plant-based diet, this rubbed me the wrong way. I’ll try to keep emotions aside, and just present the facts.
Why This Is An Invalid Argument
People must be forgetting that the animals they love to eat also have to eat. The majority –if not all, of what they eat is… you guessed it, plants. Cows for example, eat anywhere from 100-200lbs of plants daily. Sometimes it is grass, hay, corn, soybeans, etc. But all plants nonetheless.
It takes about 13 pounds of grain to produce just 1 pound of meat. Which is much more than any Vegetarian or Vegan would be eating on a daily basis, and the majority of people who consume meat on a daily basis are consuming about 10 ounces of meat daily -about two-thirds of a pound. Now, I don’t believe that the vast majority of those here on planet Earth are evolved enough to live strictly on fresh air and sunlight at this time. So what’s the next best step?
I want to be clear about this next statement, I am not intending to shame anyone who eats meat. I even believe that some people do need some meat in their diet, but the keyword here is some. What a huge difference it would make in the world if people decided to simply eat less meat. If everyone stepped up to this challenge eventually over time, the meat could actually be sustainably produced and have way less of an impact on our environment. Many people are unaware of the massive environmental toll that is the direct result of daily meat consumption, read more about that here.
If everyone who is eating a lot of meat opted to consume it in moderation then less animals, (and in turn, less plants) would have to die. It’s a win-win for both situations. Perhaps it’s something we should all consider.