Monday, December 21, 2009

Vegetarianism is Murder

OK, that's hyperbole, but I've always been a little befuddled that, according to many vegetarians, killing plants is fine, while killing animals is "murder." I'm not talking about factory farming animals, which I do find shameful, but the moral position that somehow, killing plants isn't, you know, killing. My own diet is almost completely vegetarian, but I do eat meat on occasion and have no plans to change that.

An article from the NYT does a fascinating job of explaining some of the strategies plants use to avoid being dinner:
When plant biologists speak of their subjects, they use active verbs and vivid images. Plants “forage” for resources like light and soil nutrients and “anticipate” rough spots and opportunities. By analyzing the ratio of red light and far red light falling on their leaves, for example, they can sense the presence of other chlorophyllated competitors nearby and try to grow the other way. Their roots ride the underground “rhizosphere” and engage in cross-cultural and microbial trade.

“Plants are not static or silly,” said Monika Hilker of the Institute of Biology at the Free University of Berlin. “They respond to tactile cues, they recognize different wavelengths of light, they listen to chemical signals, they can even talk” through chemical signals. Touch, sight, hearing, speech. “These are sensory modalities and abilities we normally think of as only being in animals,” Dr. Hilker said.
Folks, we're part of the Kingdom Animalia. Quoting from Wikipedia, "All animals are also heterotrophs, meaning they must ingest other organisms for sustenance." Like it or not, your survival depends on other living things dying. That's life.
It’s a small daily tragedy that we animals must kill to stay alive. Plants are the ethical autotrophs here, the ones that wrest their meals from the sun. Don’t expect them to boast: they’re too busy fighting to survive.

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