Vegetarians are Murderers!

Vegetarians are Murderers! May 19, 2012

That is the inescapable logical conclusion of this op-ed piece written by Michael Marder in the New York Times in favor of “plant liberation.” Plants, you see, have a “vegetal soul” and they respond to stimuli, therefore … well, something. He doesn’t really say what. But there’s some serious intellectual wankery going on here:

Although recent studies in botany are certainly groundbreaking, both Western and non-Western philosophers have been aware of what we may now call “plant subjectivity” for millennia. Most famously, Aristotle postulated the existence of a vegetal soul with its capacities for reproduction growth, and nourishment, as the most basic stratum of life. To Aristotle, all living beings, including animals and humans, are alive by virtue of sharing this rudimentary vitality with plants. Other levels of the psyche — the sensory and the rational — then presuppose the presence of vegetal soul for their proper functioning and actualization.

Contemporary research into plant intelligence, spearheaded by Anthony Trewavas (University of Edinburgh), Stefano Mancuso (University of Florence) and Richard Karban (University of California, Davis), among others, complicates this tripartite division. For example, studies have found evidence of “deliberate behavior” in plants: foraging (note that the botanists themselves use this word usually associated with animal behavior) for nutrients, the roots can drastically change their branching pattern when they detect a resource-rich patch of soil, or they can grow so as to avoid contact with roots of other members of the same species, in order to prevent detrimental competition. Of course, plants are not capable of deliberation or of making decisions in the human sense of the term. But they do engage with their environments and with one another in ways that are incredibly sophisticated, plastic and responsive — in a word, intelligent, though not perhaps conscious.

This is why it is a blatant mistake to equate plants with machines. The mistake itself has a long history, parallel to the Cartesian treatment of animal and human bodies as automatons. We cannot rid ourselves of such preconceptions overnight: the plant-as-machine metaphor has become so entrenched that it is difficult to digest evidence to the contrary. In the age of communication technologies, it is tempting to compare plants to certain “intelligent,” information processing machines, for example, computers or cellphones. Nonetheless, chemical signaling conducted through plant roots is not comparable to the waves emitted and received by cellphones. The study by scientists from the Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, which I cited in the original article, included a report on the enhanced ability of common pea plants, recipients of biochemical communication, to withstand drought, even though they did not directly experience this abiotic stress-inducer. I doubt that a cellphone would learn to function better on a low battery if it had previously received a message from another cellphone in a similar predicament.

Plants don’t “learn” those things either, of course, they simply adapt and evolve, as all living things do. Nonetheless, he is off drawing vague conclusions from his absurd premise:

How do these new findings bear upon dietary ethics? First, they do not mean that we should stop eating plants. Rather, the idea is not to reduce plants to storehouses of carbohydrates and vitamins or to that other source of energy so widely applauded today, biofuel. Respect for vegetal life entails nurturing all the potentialities proper to it, including those unproductive from the human point of view. It is especially pernicious to grow plants from sterile seeds, already robbed of their reproductive potential, patented and appropriated by profit-driven enterprises. Not only do these agricultural “innovations” harm farmers, who are forced to buy seeds from multinational corporations, but they also violate the capacity for reproduction at the core of the Aristotelian vegetal soul.

Given the co-evolution that brought together plants and humans, we are more interdependent with the world of vegetation, in the depths of our being, than we realize. “We are what we eat” rings even truer now that Chinese researchers discovered that molecules of rice survive the digestion process, enter the blood stream of animals and regulate the expression of mammalian genes. Violence against plants backfires, as it leads to violence against humans and against the environment as a whole, for instance when plants are genetically modified and made resistant to insects, pests or diseases. Minimally, then, respect for whatever we eat must filter through human self-respect, as the eaten becomes a part of who or what we, ourselves, are…

Positively understood, the project of plant liberation would allow plants to be what they are and to realize their potentialities, often in the context of cross-kingdoms co-evolution. Inasmuch as humans and animals share the vegetal soul with plants, the potentialities of the latter are also ours, though often it is virtually impossible to recognize them as such. Since the nutritive capacity is part and parcel of vegetal life, questions regarding dietary ethics are crucial to this project. We cannot subsist on inorganic matter alone, as plants do, but we can critically question our dietary choices without prescribing a perfectly violence-free and universally applicable eating pattern. A mindful dietary pattern would combine distinct parts of the Aristotelian soul: the nutritive capacity, which forms the vegetal heritage in us, and the reasoning capacity, which Aristotle deemed to be properly human. And, when it does, plant liberation will finally be on our moral menus.

Words can hardly express how silly this is.


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  • joeina2

    Aside from how stupid the article is (and I say this a mostly vegetarian), it has some plain old wrong “facts”. Namely, I mean the part about how it is pernicious to use seeds which cannot reproduce. This is undoubtedly a reference to the Terminator seed line from Monsanto.

    Which was never sold. Ever, after the line was developed the public and scientific outcry was enough that Monsanto pledged to never market the seeds, and there is no evidence anywhere that suggests that the did anything contrary to that pledge.

  • neil

    The Canadian band The Arrogant Worms beat him to this by over 10 years with their song “Carrot Juice is Murder”. Of course they know that they are being silly.

  • chrisj

    To quote G K Chesterton on the subject:

    And Mr. Mick not only became a vegetarian, but at length declared vegetarianism doomed (“shedding,” as he called it finely, “the green blood of the silent animals”), and predicted that men in a better age would live on nothing but salt. And then came the pamphlet from Oregon (where the thing was tried), the pamphlet called “Why should Salt suffer?”, and there was more trouble.

  • KG

    There are plants, of which the Venus flytrap is the only one I can call to mind, which arguably show a simple form of learning or memory.

  • AndrewD

    This reminds me of an old Sam Slade-Robohunter story in 2000AD

    Sam Slade-so you are the Vegatable liberation army

    Sam’s Captor-Yes we are not vegetarians, we are stonarians, we do not belive in eating living things

    Sam Slade- So you only eat stones

    Sams Captor- Yes, there was a stone liberation front but they died out

  • Arguments that plants don’t feel pain like animals do – are suspiciously animal-centric because they are coming from animals. It’s hard for me to see why pain-feeling creatures should be given preference; that seems arbitrary.

  • abear

    You know who (else) was a vegetarian?

  • Artor

    Drat- someone else beat me to making the Arrogant Worms reference. Here’s the Youtube link for those who want to hear an awesome bit of snark.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov5Jgw_Nwx4

  • Didaktylos

    So essentially the only virtuous way of life is to be a Breathairian ?

  • KG

    It’s hard for me to see why pain-feeling creatures should be given preference – Marcus Ranum

    I’ll enlighten you: it’s because they feel pain. This means that they themselves have preferences: they prefer not to be in pain. Things which are incapable of either suffering or enjoyment, such as plants, have no preferences. See?

  • dingojack

    and what’s the philosphical position on plants that inflict pain delibrately?

    Dingo

  • Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Only an academic could be that stupid.

  • anandine

    There is a whole religion that believes more or less this: Jainism.

    From Wikipedia: Jains are prohibited from consuming root vegetables such as potatoes, garlic, onions, carrots, radishes, cassava, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc., as the plant needed to be killed in the process of accessing these prior to their end of life cycle. In addition, the root vegetables interact with soil and therefore contain far more micro-organisms than other vegetables. Also, the root vegetables themselves are composed of infinite smaller organisms, hence, consuming these vegetables would mean killing all those organisms as well. However, they consume rhizomes such as dried turmeric and dried ginger. Eggplants, pumpkins, etc. are also not consumed by some Jains owing to the large number of seeds in the vegetable, as a seed is a form of life. However, tomatoes are consumed normally as its seeds are difficult to be killed (even at high temperatures/pressures). Mushrooms, fungus and yeasts are forbidden because they are parasites, grow in non-hygienic environments and may harbor other life forms. Jains are also not supposed to consume food left overnight because of contamination by microbes. Most Jain recipes substitute potato with plantain.

  • anandine

    And the reason you can’t eat it after it becomes contaminated with microbes is that that it’s nasty but that you can’t kill microbes. They are life.

  • We don’t have to give cetaceans rights in order to justify outlawing whaling, and we don’t need to appeal to “plant liberation” in order to encourage sustainable and ethical farming. The distinction I see between this bollocks and sustainable farmer Joel Salatin honoring “the chickenness of chicken” is that Salatin isn’t talking about chickens having souls or being people– he’s saying that poultry-eaters and poultry themselves are better off if the birds are raised eating and living pretty much how they would be without humans around.

  • omnicrom

    It’s rare indeed that Psuedo-science seems to be cribbing from M. Night Shyamalan’s legendary film “The Happening” where Markie Mark tries to negotiate a truce with a plastic houseplant.

  • I’ll enlighten you: it’s because they feel pain.

    Yes, I understand that argument. It’s suspicious because it comes from a pain-feeling creature. By what moral calculus do you argue that pain matters more than life itself? Based on the “pain” argument I could morally kill and eat Terry Schaivo, or, with the aid or pain-killers, I could harvest and eat your genitalia. In fact, if you’re saying pain is the issue, then any meat (including human) that is harvested painlessly is OK?

    Alternate form: you understand pain, so you elevate it as a moral value. That doesn’t make it so.

  • A. Noyd

    Wow, that’s a lot of stupid. I especially like how he thinks there are such things as molecules of rice.

  • Addendum: why pain? Why not reproduction? By what moral calculus is eating a living being’s genitalia while leaving them alive to try again and again, in vain, to reproduce? Or to genetically warp them so that they’re doomed to a completely fruitless(pardon the pun) life? Does the fact that a plant is brainless make it morally acceptable, or merely safe to abuse them? It is trivial to observe in nature that plants evolve to defend themselves against being eaten, by growing spines, or protecting their seeds, or producing chemical cocktails to make them less appetizing. I suppose you could argue that “fruit is asking for it” by being tasty (so that it’ll be eaten and its seeds get spread) but by eating a fruit and not spreading its seeds so it can reproduce, you’re breaking your side of the reproductive bargain.

    If meat is murder, vegetarianism is genetic flesh-slavery.

  • So essentially the only virtuous way of life is to be a Breathairian ?

    Nice try. Except that then you’re competing for resources (air) with other beings who have just as great a claim to it.

    The only virtuous way of life is to die immediately. That way you make some bacteria very happy for a short time. The longer you exist on earth the longer you are pointlessly consuming resources and killing other living creatures that have just as much right to be alive as you do.

  • peterh

    Wherein it’s demonstrated one can go all woo-woo whacko on just about any topic imaginable. There’s real effort and creativity in reaching Marder’s level of stupid.

  • dingojack

    Marcus – apparently it’s morally all perfectly OK to render a whole species of Variola virus extinct because it kills humans…

    Dingo

  • caseloweraz

    “It is especially pernicious to grow plants from sterile seeds, already robbed of their reproductive potential, patented and appropriated by profit-driven enterprises.”

    Excuse me? I thought sterile seeds were those that could not germinate. This sounds a lot like “hereditary sterility” as postulated in the TV series The Invaders.

    Probably he means seeds which produce sterile plants; i.e. plants that produce no more seeds of their own.

  • There’s also a wonderful song by Tom Paxton “Oh, no, don’t slay that potato!”

    How can you do it? It’s heartless, it’s cruel.

    It’s murder, cold-blooded, and gross.

    To slay a poor vegetable just for your stew,

    Or to serve with some cheese sauce on toast.

    Have you no decency? Have you no shame?

    Have you no conscience, you cad?

    To rip that poor vegetable out of the earth,

    Away from its poor mom and dad?

    [Cho:]

    Oh, no, don’t slay that potato!

    Let us be merciful, please.

    Don’t boil it or fry it, don’t even freeze-dry it.

    Don’t slice it or flake it.

    For God’s sake, don’t bake it!

    Don’t shed the poor blood,

    Of this poor helpless spud.

    That’s the worst kind of thing you could do.

    Oh, no, don’t slay that potato,

    What never done nothing to you!

    (etc)

  • Marcus – apparently it’s morally all perfectly OK to render a whole species of Variola virus extinct because it kills humans…

    Yes (shudder) xenocide!!!! So self-centered!

    Fortunately, there are samples of the variola stored in bio-weapons labs in the US and Russia, against a day when – for political reasons – they may come back out and have their turn.

  • caseloweraz

    Michael Marder: “Most famously, Aristotle postulated the existence of a vegetal soul with its capacities for reproduction growth, and nourishment, as the most basic stratum of life.”

    And Aristotle was right about everything, yes?

    WRT “plant intelligence,” I don’t think Marder is interpreting those researchers correctly. Intellectually, perhaps, he should consider a low-Karban diet.

  • lpetrich

    Aristotle? He believed that there are three kinds of soul:

    * The vegetable soul, responsible for growth and reproduction. All living things have it.

    * The animal soul, responsible for sensing and motion. All animals have it.

    * The rational soul, responsible for reason and consciousness and the like. Only our species has it.

  • caseloweraz

    “We cannot subsist on inorganic matter alone, as plants do, but we can critically question our dietary choices without prescribing a perfectly violence-free and universally applicable eating pattern.”

    Frederic Pohl was there long ago. In a delightful story called “The Gold at the Starbow’s End,” he advised, “…it is a sin to eat a radish. Carrots, on the other hand, enjoy it.”

  • Aristotle postulated the existence of a vegetal soul

    The jains do, too. If you look at it, jainism is a reductio ad absurdum of the notion of reincarnation – after all, that bug in your lettuce might be your great-great-great-grandmother. Of course, since their philosophy is founded on ignorance, they don’t take into account the bacteria in their colons, any of which might be the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler…

  • KG

    By what moral calculus do you argue that pain matters more than life itself? – Marcus Ranum

    I’ve already told you@10. Try reading beyond the first sentence. Anything that can feel pain has preferences. Plants have no preferences: they don’t care about anything, nothing matters to them, including being killed.

  • Try reading beyond the first sentence. Anything that can feel pain has preferences. Plants have no preferences: they don’t care about anything, nothing matters to them, including being killed.

    I did read it. All I see is a bunch of assertions – assertions stemming from your preferences. Your preferences do not make right and your argument is entirely based on your valuing caring and mattering. On what do you base your claim that we should be morally concerned about pain, as opposed to (say) reproductive capacity or anything else?

    You still haven’t addressed the question of whether it is then proper to kill and eat Terry Schiavo, or a person who prefers to commit suicide, or an animal that terminated painlessly. A person who has been given a big shot of Fentanyl a) doesn’t care about anything, b) nothing matters to them, c) including being killed. Is it OK, then, to kill and eat them?

  • dingojack

    Really, what part of Hetrotrophy is so difficult to understand?

    Dingo

  • Plants have no preferences

    BTW, that assertion is manifestly wrong. Plants orient toward light (a “preference”) and produce a variety of defenses, as I mentioned earlier, to attempt to protect themselves from being eaten: spines, toxins, hard shells around reproductive organs, etc. Consider the fairly sophisticated defense mechanisms of the nettle as merely one example. Nettles clearly “prefer” not to be eaten. Plants are the original inventors of insecticides – expressing their strong preference not to be eaten by insects. If a plant doesn’t want to be eaten by insects, it doesn’t want to be eaten by a great big vegan full of moral self-justifications, either.

  • KG

    Marcus Ranum,

    Nettles clearly “prefer” not to be eaten.

    The fact that you have to put it in scare-quotes gives the game away. They don’t have preferences, because they don’t have a nervous system capable of supporting them. You know that as well as I do. Nor am I going to be diverted by your spray of questions about marginal cases, each of which would require an essay in itself. Only fools think that the existence of such cases undermines a distinction:

    Though no man can draw a stroke between the confines of day and night, yet light and darkness are upon the whole tolerably distinguishable – Edmund Burke

  • sailor1031

    It is indeed a moral quandary of the first order. I fear the only solution is Soylent Green. Dead bodies feel no pain, after all – or so we are told. But then, how do we know?

  • Infophile

    To sum up Marcus’s posts: “You can’t make an ‘ought’ from an ‘is.'” All of morality is based on choosing a few arbitrary axioms and working from there. For instance, a common set of moral axioms would be such:

    1) Causing a person harm is immoral.

    2) Causing a person pleasure is moral.

    3) It is more moral to avoid causing harm than to cause pleasure. (Hence, when goals 1 and 2 come into conflict, 1 takes priority.)

    There is no logical basis for these axioms, and philosophically, there can’t be. But they’re all intuitively acceptable and relatively obvious. You could add your own axioms to this, which many would accept, such as:

    4) It is moral to strive toward making society more fair for all.

    5) Obeying an authority’s commands is moral.

    But here we start to have trouble getting people to accept these axioms. Some people will think it obvious that 4 is true and 5 isn’t, while others will think the reverse.

    All of which is to say, the debate here is over axioms. Do we consider it immoral to cause harm to plants? We can’t answer it with logic. It comes down to our choice of moral axioms, so it’s an essentially circular argument.

    If you want my opinion on the axioms to use, I go with this set, though I don’t claim it to be perfect or complete:

    1) Causing a self-aware being harm is immoral.

    2) Causing a self-aware being pleasure is moral.

    3) It is more moral to avoid causing harm than to cause pleasure. (Hence, when goals 1 and 2 come into conflict, 1 takes priority.)

    4) Striving to make society more fair is a moral goal. (When this comes into conflict with the above goals, however, the relative harms and benefits must be weighed.)

    Under that set of axioms, plants aren’t self-aware, so there’s no moral problem with eating them. Most animals are self-aware, so it’s immoral to harm them. But in the end, it’s arbitrary. I could just as easily have drawn the line for morality at sapient (wise, able to discern and reason) rather than self-aware, which limits things more. Perhaps a big grey area is justified, with it being more immoral to harm a human being than to harm a dog, which is still more immoral than to harm a cockroach, which is still more immoral than to harm a bacterium.

  • Your preferences do not make right and your argument is entirely based on your valuing caring and mattering.

    Now I’m sitting here trying to figure out what could matter less than mattering.

  • I mean, obviously, what could matter more than mattering.

  • sinned34

    “And the angel of the lord came unto me, snatching me up from my place of slumber.

    And took me on high, and higher still until we moved to the spaces betwixt the air itself.

    And he brought me into a vast farmlands of our own midwest.

    And as we descended, cries of impending doom rose from the soil.

    One thousand, nay a million voices full of fear.

    And terror possesed me then.

    And I begged,

    “Angel of the Lord, what are these tortured screams?”

    And the angel said unto me,

    “These are the cries of the carrots, the cries of the carrots!

    You see, Reverend Maynard, tomorrow is harvest day and to them it is the holocaust.”

    And I sprang from my slumber drenched in sweat like the tears of one million terrified brothers and roared,

    “Hear me now, I have seen the light!

    They have a consciousness, they have a life, they have a soul!

    Damn you!

    Let the rabbits wear glasses!

    Save our brothers!”

    Can I get an amen?

    Can I get a hallelujah?

    Thank you Jesus.”

    Disgustipated by Tool.

  • Nor am I going to be diverted by your spray of questions about marginal cases, each of which would require an essay in itself

    An essay full of presuppositional arguments by assertion wouldn’t be very convincing, anyway, and I suspect you know it, and know that that’s all you’ve got to offer. If you can’t support your position with argument, you could have admitted that up front when challenged on your assertions, rather than a rather lame “I’m not going to be diverted…” I interpret that as a statement that you’re not going to be diverted into an argument that you’re going to lose. As a dogmatist, your arguments seem likely to rest mostly on bulging your eyes out and thumping the table as you loudly shout what is merely your opinion over and over. That’s what you’ve been doing so far and I’ve given you every chance to offer better arguments. Why haven’t you?

    In fact those marginal cases contradict your claims. If you want to still assert your claims, that’s your right, but you’re not going to convince anyone that you’re intellectually honest that way. Whatever.

    My use of “scare quotes” is completely irrelevant, BTW. I used them to delineate my re-use of your term “prefer”, that’s all. Whether you call a plants attempts to protect itself a preference or anything else, you haven’t successfully refuted the observed fact that plants appear to be taking actions to protect themselves against being eaten. Whether it’s done via intent under the control of a brain or not, what’s the difference? It only makes a difference if you’re a “brainist” who is prejudiced to believe that creatures with brains are somehow superior and that having a brain makes your desire to survive more important because of it.

    @Infophile – exactly. Good summarization of Hume.

  • jahigginbotham

    http://thesmartset.com/article/article11221101.aspx

    If You Pick Us, Do We Not Bleed?

    By Stefany Anne Golberg

    In a room near Maida Vale, a journalist for The Nation wrote around 1914, an unfortunate creature is strapped to the table of an unlicensed vivisector. When the subject is pinched with a pair of forceps, it winces. It is so strapped that its electric shudder of pain pulls the long arm of a very delicate lever that actuates a tiny mirror. This casts a beam of light on the frieze at the other end of the room, and thus enormously exaggerates the tremor of the creature. A pinch near the right-hand tube sends the beam 7 or 8 feet to the right, and a stab near the other wire sends it as far to the left.

    “Thus,” the journalist concluded, “can science reveal the feelings of even so stolid a vegetable as the carrot.”

    Just some bozo?

  • Now I’m sitting here trying to figure out what could matter less than mattering.

    I should have emphasized “your” in that sentence. If we understand that a person’s preference (or opinion) about what matters is specific to them, then the subjectivity of these moral arguments is clear. They’re not actually statements about what’s right or wrong, they’d just statements about the speaker’s preferences.

  • leftsidepositive

    @#7:

    Ooooh, I know, I know!!!

    HITLER!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMtek9G74Yc

    p.s.: @#8, I’m totally going to use that vegetables song the next time a forced-pregnancy nutjob tries to declare killing a blastocyst is murder.

  • leftsidepositive

    Damn, I thought things auto-embedded around here:

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMtek9G74Yc&w=560&h=315%5D

  • leftsidepositive

    Okay, I give up… #8, how’d you do that?!?!

  • Here’s another bit of moral reasoning, if you prefer:

    – We should act to protect those creatures that cannot well protect themselves

    – Plants are more defenceless than animals

    – Therefore it is less moral to eat a potato than a cow

    – Humans defend themselves better than cows

    – Therefore it is more moral to eat humans than cows

    (note: since KG appears concerned with use of “scare quotes” let me state that I normally would prefer to scare-quote “moral” because I am unconvinced that morality is real or is even a coherent concept we should take seriously. rather obviously, I am a moral nihilist)

  • Infophile

    @46 Marcus:

    Morality is almost certainly an invention of evolution, providing human minds with a set of cognitive shortcuts that were proven over time to lead to optimal (as, propagating the species) results.

    However, that being said, there’s little question that we’re left with a world in which pleasure is pleasurable and pain is painful (well, to most people). With that in mind, it’s possible to build a “moral” framework which is based around maximizing quality of life. It’s still arbitrary, but it gives us something to work with.

  • neonsequitur

    Am I the only one who’s thinking this whole thing just HAS to be some sort of poe?

  • raven

    It’s not only silly but bigoted.

    Where is the Fungal Liberation Front when you need them? Using yeast to make bread and beer is slavery. They need to form a union and get paid at least.

    The Popular Front for the Liberation of Bacteria? Without the cyanobacteria, we wouldn’t even be here. Try living without oxygen.

    The Archaebacterial Interest Group?

  • Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven

    The only virtuous way of life is to die immediately.

    You don’t seem to be practicing what you preach….

  • jakc

    So Marcus Ransom & KG: Didn’t I see you two in an off-broadway version of William Tenn’s “The Liberation of Earth”?

  • footface

    I’ve been vegan for 17 years and I’m thrilled to see that the New York Times has finally caught up with all the stupid jokes I’ve ever heard about being a plant murderer.

  • F

    Vegetable roights!

    Azykoth

    I was going to make a comment on Marcus Ranrum’s argument WRT your comment, but he’s already addressed it from one angle at 46. Or do you seriously believe he suggests that no one eat? 😉

  • Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven

    I was going to make a comment on Marcus Ranrum’s argument WRT your comment, but he’s already addressed it from one angle at 46. Or do you seriously believe he suggests that no one eat? 😉

    Oh, I’m fully aware that he’s merely being disingenuous about moral reasoning as a category.

  • nooneinparticular

    neonsequitur

    Absofuckinglutely. Poe it is. Or if not, mental masturbation, angels dancing on pins, belly button gazing, whatever you want to call it. Plants have no capacities that earn them rights; using them for food has no moral content. Eating animals is not immoral. Treating them humanely and without (or with minimal) harm to the environment before they are slaughtered is how to ensure it is moral. Give thanks to them before you slit their throats, shoot them or haul them from the deeps, if it eases your conscience.

  • johnhodges

    I’d like to remind everyone of Fruitarianism, where “fruit” is defined as “anything that eventually falls off the plant”, so it includes seeds and nuts. Besides classic fruit, it would include cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, peppers, and similar “green fruits” that are usually considered vegetables.

    Fruitarians can therefore eat without killing or even harming plants. And regarding “keeping the bargain”, I’m sure any plant adopted as a food plant by fruitarians would have its propagation guaranteed, even if 99% of the fruit gets eaten.

    I am not myself an “ethical vegetarian”, and never was; currently for health reasons I am trying the Paleo diet. I was a vegetarian (“sattvic diet”, including dairy and honey but not eggs or meat) for religious reasons back in the 1970’s, so I learned about the varieties of vegetarianism then.

  • I’m just not going to get drawn into any discussion about plantellgence.

    This:

    “or, with the aid or pain-killers, I could harvest and eat your genitalia.”

    caught my eye.

    I have had my genitalia “eaten”, a number of times, pain killers were NEVER required.

  • imthegenieicandoanything

    So, is this guy simply being a smugly misguided asshole (chances 99%) or is he looking for a way to excuse his secret shame: eating the flesh from living – and adorable – big-eyed puppies and kittens?

    The media is a vital part of any society striving to be informed and free, and yet this sort of thing – inevitable and constant as rain in a temperate climate – makes the NYT seem as unpleasant as a particularly large punchbowl at a party with a sign upon it reading “turds guaranteed!”.

  • carolw

    I just had a plate of fries. Is some activist going to come throw green paint on me now? Damn.

  • Skip White

    And here I thought Alec Holland was the Swamp Thing.