Some of us get to feel a sense of superiority because we are vegans or lacto-vegetarians or vegetarians. There is an air of purity and morality when one speaks about not eating meat. But have they ever thought that to an animal or plant it makes no different we are cruelly chomping on their chops and they have feelings too. Have we ever thought about the feelings that carrot that you pulled out the earth or the potato that we harvest and boil in hot water – have we ever thought what that may be doing to those critters, well someone did and I think you should read it. Maybe we should only be eating what we produce ourselves.
So what really are the differences between animals and plants? There are plenty. The cells of plants, and not animals, for example, harbor chloroplasts, tiny green organelles that can turn the energy of light into sugar. Almost none of these differences, however, seem to matter to any of us trying to figure out what to eat.
When a plant is wounded, its body immediately kicks into protection mode. It releases a bouquet of volatile chemicals, which in some cases have been shown to induce neighboring plants to pre-emptively step up their own chemical defenses and in other cases to lure in predators of the beasts that may be causing the damage to the plants. Inside the plant, repair systems are engaged and defenses are mounted, the molecular details of which scientists are still working out, but which involve signaling molecules coursing through the body to rally the cellular troops, even the enlisting of the genome itself, which begins churning out defense-related proteins.
The differences that do seem to matter are things like the fact that plants don’t have nerves or brains. They cannot, we therefore conclude, feel pain. In other words, the differences that matter are those that prove that plants do not suffer as we do. Here the lack of a face on plants becomes important, too, faces being requisite to humans as proof not only that one is dealing with an actual individual being, but that it is an individual capable of suffering.