Killing to Eat

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Here’s something that has bothered me for quite some time. Many vegans say they do not want to eat anything that has to die in order to nourish them. Some say they won’t eat anything that has a face. Some don’t want to eat anything that might be harmed in the production of it. But ultimately, what I think they are saying is that they do not want to kill in order to eat. It’s a laudable ethic, but not one that appeals to me in all its aspects. I enjoy a little meat now and then. And I’m sure that some vegans and vegetarians are motivated by thoughts of better health rather than an overriding concern about killing.

My burning question is this: What do vegans think happens to the head of lettuce that is pulled out of the ground and then has its roots whacked off? For sure, that head of lettuce has just been killed.

To me, this means that many vegans are seemingly displaying a gross animal bias. Or maybe I’m picking nits but that’s how I see it.

I read a science fiction book that had a character that only ate things that were not killed in the procurement of them. The author had decided this character would only eat fruits because they could be harvested without killing the parent plant. But what about the fruit? Well, I suppose that you could argue that a fruit’s ultimate fate has always been death. But so far, with the state of current medical science, that is the ultimate fate for all animal life as well. In any case, as a dispersal mechanism for seeds, the fruit has to die and decompose, or be eaten and then the seeds shat out at some new location for the parent plant to propagate.

So then my mind slips even further along and wonders, what does it mean for plants that we are breeding seedless varieties. Are we depriving them of their genetic futures? Does that mean that we are ultimately condemning them all to a progeny-less death? Is that akin to randomly sterilizing parts of the human race? I’ve indulged in a little reductio ad absurdum to be sure.

It seems a bit ridiculous, but I suppose that is only because I have a fairly firmly seated animal bias. I admit it. I’ll also admit that what a lot of vegans are ultimately opposed to is not always the killing, but the needless suffering on the part of the animals being eaten. So do plants suffer would be a good question to ask.

There are studies being performed that seem to demonstrate that plants communicate with each other. Pea plants that are deprived of water in one location somehow communicate with pea plants in other locations about the scarcity of water. The deprived pea plants put into effect measures to cope with the lack of water. And so do the pea plants in the other locations. Imagine what this means.

I read of another study wherein a researcher took potted plants that react when touched and dropped them. She dropped them from about 16 inches in the air onto a pillow. When she first dropped them, the leaves all closed up. After repeated droppings, when the plants learned that they were not harmed by being dropped (that was the researchers working hypothesis), they stopped closing their leaves. To be sure that she wasn’t just “wearing them out,” she let some days go by and then dropped them again. They did not close their leaves. But plants new to the procedure did.

This would seem to say that plants can learn and also remember. If the results of these tests can be relied upon, well then, I am seriously going to have to rethink my animal bias. And until science can figure out some other way of sustaining life, we all, vegans and meat eaters alike, live at the expense of other lives.

Published by Dianne Lehmann

I'm a writer. But I'm also a wife and a mom to a couple of fur babies. You could call me a cook (but never a chef, I'm not that good) and provisioner as well. Laundress? Yeah. Probably. I design jewelry and I crochet. But mostly I love to write. I love words and how they sound. I love their meanings and origins. I love stringing them together. And of course, I love to read. Thinking about it just now, I realize that what I love most is life and the people around me with a special place set aside for my wonderful husband, our adorable dog and our inscrutable cat. It's the world and the people in it that fuels my writing. So thanks to you all for being the amazing beings that you are.

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