12) And so what if you cannot totally eliminate any supposed pain that plants may feel. Is that a justificationfor eating meat? For killing humans, by extension? We can agree that humans must cause some suffering to exist. Whereas a meat-eater uses this fact toignore 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
inflict animal suffering does not license usto inflict wanton plant suffering. Rather than just dismissing plant suffering as inevitable, vegans should try toreduce that as well.
The Rhetoric of Plants
Vegans clearly need to be more savvy in their justifications for eating plants to avoid simply justifying eatinganimals. Instead of trying to counter the idea that plants suffer, we should just accept this premise becausethe 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 raisethe plant question they
admitting this since their underlying assumption is that since plants and animalsboth suffer, there is no unique reason to avoid eating animals.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
admit our ownshame 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 pride,which, in turn, can lead to more shame. To block this 'feeling trap'—as Scheff calls it—it is necessary toreduce alienation between groups and find ways to offer apology and restitution" (Groves 189). True dialogcan 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:
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 basedon the exploitation of animals, it will still be a world based on the exploitation of plants on a massive scale.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 upmaking 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.
Page 3 of 6Animal liberation and plant liberation2/16/2008http://www.vegetus.org/essay/plants.htm