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ShanEnri's avatar

Why do vegetarians not consider plants as living things?

Asked by ShanEnri (4409points) May 15th, 2010

I ask this because my daughter is friends with a vegetarian. She told me that she doesn’t eat meat because they’re living things. I asked aren’t plants living as well? Where is the sense in that? Needless to say no one has been able to give me an answer that makes any sense. Maybe my fellow flutherites can help me to understand this?

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10 Answers

syz's avatar

I suspect that your daughter’s friend is merely ineffective at expressing her personal choice.

There are some individuals who go to the extreme of eating nothing that has not fallen naturally from the plant, rather than harvest the plant itself (they eat only fallen fruits and grains, etc). I don’t remember the term, but as I’m sure you can imagine, there are not many who are capable of following such incredibly strict guidelines.

Most vegetarians who choose to avoid eating meat as a moral decision do so because animals are capable of suffering and of perceiving pain, which plants are widely accepted as being unable to do. But you should avoid making broad generalizations about a varied group of people who make a similar life choice based on a great many variables. Some people chose not to eat meat because they feel they are physically healthier that way. Some people (myself included) choose not to eat meat because they do not approve of modern agricultural practices and prefer not to eat meat that is full of hormones and antibiotics and is contaminated with (literal) shit because of slaughter and handling techniques.

I may be mistaken, but your tone seems to be quite scathing. Rather than denigrating a young person who has actually changed her behavior in an effort to improve her world, perhaps you could congratulate her for following her convictions, regardless of whether or not you agree with her.

simpleD's avatar

I’m sure that your daughter’s friend knows the difference between a living animal and a living plant, and assumed that your daughter understood that the distinction was implied. As @syz said, animals, unlike plants, are sentient beings capable of fear and suffering. We vegetarians, as empathetic beings, consider that causing suffering and fear is wrong. But also, as @syz has said, vegetarians make choices for a variety of reasons, which may have nothing to do with contributing to animal suffering.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Lack of cerebral cortex maybe? An ex of mine used to joke with vegies that was the most delicious part.

RedPowerLady's avatar

The idea that plants can’t suffer may be a bit wrong. Some plants do exhibit signs of “pain”.
Not the most credible site but the first I found:

Arp's avatar

Plant’s are living things, but as far as we know, they don’t really feel pain, as far as we know… If we do find out that plants feel pain, I have a lot of uh-splaynin’ to do :o

I guess I could just live off eating sand…

syz's avatar

@Arp You could do what this guy does…..

noodlehead710's avatar

No central nervous system, no brain.

AstroChuck's avatar

I consider plants living things because they are and I’m not stupid. People are vegetarian for a myriad of reasons, not just ethical ones. But my decision not to eat animals is precisely about that last reason. I just don’t feel comfortable eating something that experiences life. Show me that plants are sentient creatures and then I may have to start questioning my diet.

ShanEnri's avatar

@syz my attitude was not scathing! I too am a vegetarian, it is something she and I joke about, but for me it was a serious question! I chose to eat veggies because I was forced to eat meat (all of it) or get a spanking! I don’t judge people based on any reason, but certainly not based on their food choices or why they chose them! I do thank everyone for their answers, I have never really thought of animals any different than plants. And yes ironically I eat them any way, but like I said I’m vegetarian based on personal choice and not a moral one! The question was not meant to offend anyone! If it did, you have my apologies!

mattbrowne's avatar

A significant part of our DNA and the DNA of bananas is the same. Plants are living things without a brain.

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