‘But plants have feelings too’ argument against veganism

by Jakub Marian

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Every time I see a discussion about veganism (note that I am not a vegan myself), someone tries to argue that “scientists discovered that plants also feel pain, so it is stupid for veg(etari)ans to avoid meat for ethical reasons”.

It is true that plants do have some primitive form of cognition (but they do not possess any known form of higher cognition, and they cannot feel pain in the scientific sense of the word, because pain is defined as stimulation of certain nervous cells that plants do not have). The argument, however, is utter nonsense, irrespective of whether plants do feel some pain or not. Here’s why:

Telling vegans they should eat meat because “plants feel pain too” makes sense just about like telling thieves they should commit a murder because stealing is also against the law.

Vegans try to minimize suffering. Is it reasonable to draw the line exactly at “we can do whatever we want with plants, but hurting any animal in any way is wrong”? That is questionable.

However, arguing that someone should cause more harm just because he or she is already doing something that causes some harm is absurd, and it is definitely not a principle we would like to see in other areas of human life.

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