Animal Liberation and Plant Liberation (Portrait)

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<ul><li><p>8/14/2019 Animal Liberation and Plant Liberation (Portrait)</p><p> 1/6</p><p>Broccoli vs. Animals?</p><p>Vegetarians and vegans must develop a better answer to that age-old meat-eater question--but you killplants don't you? Raising the plant question is, in my experience, a first line of defense for most omnivoreNow, most seasoned vegetarians have their standard 10-point response about why it is better to eat planhan animals. They offer points such as the following: plants don't feel pain because they lack a nervoussystem, the experiments in The Secret Life of Plantshave not been reproducible and even the authorefused to perform the experiments again, omnivores actually kill more plants because cows eat plants, e</p><p>This line of argumentation has its place, but it doesn't answer the question of whether or not it is OK to eaplants in the first place. Vegetarians have to look a bit more closely at why every single omnivore makes argument and why we get so angry/defensive/exasperated with this argument. It is because there issomething to it.</p><p>Consider the following justifications for eating plants made by vegans on the Vegan-L email discussion lisMost of these arguments (numbered below and followed by my response) could just as easily have beenmade by someone trying to justify eating meat.</p><p>) Even vegans have to eat something.</p><p>This is verbatim a meat eater's argument--"But what do vegans eat? I don't have time to cook all of my owmeals, I could never get enough to eat without eating meat...." Clearly vegans could eat fruits and parts thcan be eaten without killing the plant--just like herbivorous animals who most often eat only leaves or part</p><p>of the plant that will grow back.</p><p>2) Plants lack a central nervous system and it is unlikely for them to feel pain in the way animals or humando.</p><p>ust as Descartes managed to ignore the obvious when he said that animals were unfeeling machines, ths considerable evidence that plants are much more aware than we commonly believe. Using a definition pain that is based on possession of a nervous system deliberately and arbitrarily excludes plants. Yet plaare clearly aware of when they are being attacked because they mobilize chemical defenses. Just as meeaters try to deny the fact that animals feel pain, vegans try to deny the fact that plants feel something ako pain--something that could be used to justify not killing them. If we ever encounter aliens, the chances</p><p>hat they have a nervous system like ours is vanishingly small, but we would nonetheless assume that theeel what we would categorize as pain.</p><p>3) Plants have no need to feel pain since they cannot move away from the source of the pain like animalscan.</p><p>See the previous response--plants clearly do react; if pain is simply a warning tool, some sort of distresssignal would still serve a purpose in plants.</p><p>4) And even ifplants did feel pain, eating meat causes much more suffering than living a vegan lifestylebecause animals eat countless plants before humans eat the animals.</p><p>Page 1 Animal liberation and plant liberation</p><p>2/16/2http://www.vegetus.org/essay/plants.htm</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 Animal Liberation and Plant Liberation (Portrait)</p><p> 2/6</p><p>This doesn't apply to hunting wild animals who generally don't kill plants (unlike cows who are fed deadsoybeans). And what about all of the plants and animals that are disrupted or killed by farming (i.e., the ohat were there before the farmer, the ones that the farmer kills on purpose)? Although veganism probabldoes decrease plant suffering when compared to eating meat, this doesn't justify killing plants. The quests not whether we should be omnivores or vegans, but whether or not vegans should adopt a more plant-riendly diet.</p><p>5) Fruits are designed specifically to be eaten--that is how plants spread their seeds.</p><p>Then just eat fruits. Eating potatoes and carrots doesn't spread seeds around and it kills the plant--how cahis be justified? What about plants that try to avoid being eaten--ones that are poisonous, taste nasty, ormake you infertile (e.g. sheep who eat clover high in phytoestrogens)?</p><p>6) Foods like tomatoes, apples, cherries, eggplants, grapes, etc. do not require the killing of the plant. It'smore like taking eggs from a chicken.</p><p>Given that vegans don't eat eggs because they think it's wrong, this argument makes no sense.</p><p>7) If fruits aren't eaten, they quickly wither and die--they are intended to be eaten. The same is not true ofanimals.</p><p>Yes, fruits are intended to be eaten. Some herbivores are also "intended to be eaten." There are carnivoranimals that can only eat other animals. If these carnivores did not eat the old and diseased prey animalshose prey animals would, in fact, "wither and die." Additionally, the whole herd would suffer if the populatgot too large or dying members were constantly eating food that healthy members could eat.</p><p>8) We should be vegans because we can; we should reduce whatever suffering we can. </p><p>Should we not then be fruitarians or gatherers because we can? Or are we simply too lazy, just like mostpeople are too lazy to be vegan. We usually don't find that an acceptable excuse! (Of course laziness iscertainly not the primary problem--people are constantly bombarded with the idea that they can, should, amust eat dead animals.)</p><p>9) We're herbivores. We must eat plants to survive--it is our instinct.</p><p>This simply begs the question--meat-eaters justify eating animals by pointing out that humans are omnivowhich we are--see e.g., Humans are Omnivores). Furthermore, humans manage to overcome all sorts oinstincts"--for example, we generally do not copulate in public. Arguments that appeal to "nature" should </p><p>met with deep skepticism. Recall that slavery and the subjugation of women and countless indigenouscultures were and are considered a necessary part of the "natural order."</p><p>0) Broccoli screams might be pleasure, not pain.</p><p>Ditto for animals.</p><p>1) It's a rare person--and, I would say, a very strange person--who would flinch upon seeing a carrot pulrom the ground.</p><p>First, many people do abhor large-scale agriculture. Second, the fact that our culture is desensitized toviolence, especially to something that's been going on for a long, long time is not an argument for anythinAlso, people don't want to face up to what they are really doing--just like how most people don't think abowhere their meat came from.</p><p>The above responses show that vegans cannot come up with any truly compelling reasons as to why eati</p><p>plants is justified in the context of animal rights. Which leads us to the ultimate question...</p><p>Page 2 Animal liberation and plant liberation</p><p>2/16/2http://www.vegetus.org/essay/plants.htm</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 Animal Liberation and Plant Liberation (Portrait)</p><p> 3/6</p><p>2) And so what if you cannot totally eliminate any supposed pain that plants may feel. Is that a justificatioor eating meat? For killing humans, by extension?</p><p>We can agree that humans must cause some suffering to exist. Whereas a meat-eater uses this fact tognore animal suffering, vegans use this fact to ignore plant suffering. But just as inflicting plant sufferingdoes not justify inflicting animal suffering, the fact that we do notinflict animal suffering does not license uo inflict wanton plant suffering. Rather than just dismissing plant suffering as inevitable, vegans should tryeduce that as well.</p><p>The Rhetoric of Plants</p><p>Vegans clearly need to be more savvy in their justifications for eating plants to avoid simply justifying eatianimals. Instead of trying to counter the idea that plants suffer, we should just accept this premise becaushe best way to reduce both plant and animal suffering is to stop eating meat since animals are fed deadplants. Additionally, meat-eaters typically don't like to acknowledge animals suffering, yet when they raisehe plant question they areadmitting this since their underlying assumption is that since plants and animaboth suffer, there is no unique reason to avoid eating animals.</p><p>Meat eaters raise the plant question not because it is an indictment of veganism, but rather to deflectattention from their own shame caused by eating animals--they are trying to show that vegans are notperfect either. But rather than getting defensive, sarcastic, or belittling the person, we mustadmit our own</p><p>shame from harming plants. Sociologists point out that "Conflicts escalate, according to Thomas Scheff,when there is no mechanism for individuals to express shame and shame is transmuted to anger and pridwhich, in turn, can lead to more shame. To block this 'feeling trap'as Scheff calls itit is necessary toeduce alienation between groups and find ways to offer apology and restitution" (Groves 189). True dialo</p><p>can only occur if both sides accept their shame. Until then we will be left with the pride, anger, anddeliberate attempts to redirect shame as revealed in this 30 June 1998 post to the Vegan-L:</p><p>Digging Deeper</p><p>Outside the context of a discussion with a meat-eater, there are real implications to the plant question. Itpoints to an inadequacy in the theory of animal rights. Even if we succeed in no longer having a world bason the exploitation of animals, it will still be a world based on the exploitation of plants on a massive scale</p><p>The proper response to the "You're killing/hurting plants" argument is to laugh in their face andnot even entertain such a ridiculous notion. By taking them seriously, you're legitimizing theirargument--and that's what they want you to do. This whole angle was obviously dreamed up bymeat industry propagandists. Their aim is to engage vegetarians in a silly debate that will end up</p><p>making the vegetarians look ridiculous by revealing us to be utter and outrageous wimps--sowimpy we actually care about a plant's feelings. Think about it--do you think these argumentativemeateaters give two shits about a plant's feelings? Of course not; they're just trying to make uslook silly. So, if you want to win the debate, laugh in their smug meateating face and makeTHEM look silly.</p><p>Page 3 Animal liberation and plant liberation</p><p>2/16/2http://www.vegetus.org/essay/plants.htm</p></li><li><p>8/14/2019 Animal Liberation and Plant Liberation (Portrait)</p><p> 4/6</p><p>We want to eliminate the property status of animals--should we also consider wanting to eliminate theproperty status of plants? That is, would we rather have mass exploitation of the whole of nature, or limiteusage of both wild plants and wild animals?</p><p>Plant exploitation parallels animal exploitation. There are factory farms with monocropping, cloning, geneengineering, pesticides, herbicides (!). Agriculture is a constant battle against the plants, insects and otheanimals that initially lived on the land. Beyond plants as food, plants are kept in houses as "pets," used foentertainment (Christmas trees, Jack-o-lanterns), people wrap themselves in dead plants, and doctors aralways experimenting on one plant or another looking for the next "miracle" drug.</p><p>One can say that individual plants are not aware, but they are alive and try to remain that way, whichdifferentiates them from, say, rocks. Plants have all kinds of chemical defense systems that go in to actiowhen the plant is damaged. Plants have ways to avoid being eaten--thorns, phytoestrogens (found in ove300 plants), poison, taste, growing high off of the ground. As Barbara McClintock, a Nobel laureategeneticist who worked with corn for over 30 years, said, "Animals can walk around, but plants have to stastill to do the same things, with ingenious mechanisms....Plants are extraordinary. For instance,...if youpinch a leaf of a plant you set off electric pulses. You can't touch a plant without setting off an electricpulse.... There is no question that plants have [all] kinds of sensitivities. They do a lot of responding to theenvironment. They can do almost anything you can think of. But just because they sit there, anybodywalking down the road considers them just a plastic area to look at, [as if] they're not really alive" (Keller99-200). If anyone should be at least open to the possibility that plants have some level of awareness, it</p><p>vegans since we continually chide others for not acknowledging animal awareness.</p><p>But whether or not plants are aware is not really the issue. There are clearly two levels to concern aboutanimals--the immediate suffering of individual animals and the fact that animals are exploited at all. Whileone can certainly object to the treatment of animals simply because of the suffering they endure, mostvegans object to the inherent exploitation of animals. That is, they are not animal welfaristswho believe itacceptable to exploit animals as long as their suffering is minimal, but rather animal rightistswho believe,ace, that it is wrong to own animals and systematically exploit them. It might be possible to raise animalsood who are unconscious the entire time--that is, they are just as unaware as plants might be. But veganeject such idealized scenarios because no matter how "kindly" animals are treated, they are still slaves.</p><p>n fact, vegans may not simply be animal rightists, but environmentalists who believe that all of Naturedeserves consideration. This is why it is not necessary to resolve the thorny issue of whether or not plantare "aware" in order to give them consideration. The dominionist mindset that Nature is here for humans exploit applies to animals, plants, and even rocks. Just as environmentalists so often fail to see how eatinanimals is the embodiment of the dominionist mindset, vegans seem to want to ignore the fact thatagriculture is simply another aspect of that worldview.</p><p>The ideal way to give plants consideration is to eliminate agriculture in favor of foraging. We tend to thinkhat it is impossible to return to a forager lifestyle because agriculture has been around for 10,000 years.Even Jim Mason, who highlights all of the negatives brought about by the beginning of agriculture, simply</p><p>states that we are stuck with it and that we should only rid ourselves of animal agriculture.) But if the who</p><p>of human existence is compressed into a calendar year, we have only been farming for the last 8.5 hoursFurthermore, most of the forager cultures in the Americas were destroyed beginning only 500 years ago.And most importantly, there still exist numerous forager cultures. Foraging is not some romantic notion ouof the past--it is a reality even as you and I sit at our computers.</p><p>A forager diet need not--and should not--include hunting. There is no nutritional requirement to hunt.Organized hunting "began only about 20,000 years ago--some 25,000 years after the emergence of Homsapiens sapiens" (Mason 72). Prior to that, our ancestors met their nutritional needs by foraging, whichsometimes included insects, lizards, and maybe scavenged meat. Hunting developed mainly as a respono female power (women gathered most of the food and bore children, in which the male role was notknown). "The hunt, in other words, was not so much about nutrition as it was about acquiring power--theanimal's power" (Mason 86). "Hunting also ga...</p></li></ul>