Plant Rights? Or Another Sorry Excuse to Eat Animals?

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear another carnist bring up some version of “plant rights” in an attempt to justify consuming animals – and that’s the key point here, in an attempt to justify consuming animals.

People generally have no problem letting house plants die, stepping on grass and flowers, using chemicals on their lawns, letting fruits and vegetables rot in the fridge, cutting down a tree to make a wider driveway, growing a vegetable garden and apple picking – but mention that you’re vegan or advocate for animal rights and all of a sudden these acts are made equivalent to slitting an animal’s throat.

To be clear, I do believe that we drastically underestimate the complexity and interconnectedness of all life on earth. The world would be a much better place if we afforded plants even a fraction of the sensitivity and concern that we’re capable of affording human beings. But this is a far cry from equating them with animals so that one can feel better about eating pig flesh instead of lentils.

Simply put, while plants respond to stimuli, they lack subjective awareness, a nervous system, and pain receptors. It is imperative that we love and respect all life, but that doesn’t mean that there are not fundamentally different life forms that warrant different treatment. There is a reason why we don’t avoid stepping on grass but do avoid stepping on a dog’s tail. There is a reason why we take children to pick apples and not to slaughterhouses.

It is also worth noting that besides the sentience/subjectivity/pain part of the distinction, anyone who is genuinely concerned with protecting all life forms from death, as though they are equal, ought to be moved by the fact that it takes up to 15 pounds of plants to produce just 1 pound of meat. Consuming animal flesh and animal secretions requires far greater amounts of plants to be killed than if we eat the plants directly. In short, someone eating an omnivorous diet is responsible for far more death of every kind of life form than someone who consumes plants directly.

If anyone in your life is still not convinced that there is a fundamental difference between plants and animals, that the fact that plants are complex life forms does not justify killing animals, then propose the following to them: “I’ll make you a deal – you watch a series of ‘humane’ slaughter videos and I’ll watch a strawberry harvest.” Checkmate.

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Compelled to Veganism

We can all agree that animal cruelty is both horrifying, unnecessary and wrong. And yet most people sit down to a meal three times a day consisting of the bodies or secretions of animals violently brutalized, wear shoes or coats from the skin or hair of brutalized animals, purchase tickets to zoos, circuses and other forms of entertainment formed by animal cruelty or purchase household cleaners and cosmetics that are the result of years of the brutalization of other animals in cages. If one is truly against animal cruelty, one is compelled to veganism.” – The Thinking Vegan

Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be?

“Just how destructive does a culinary preference have to be before we decide to eat something else? If contributing to the suffering of billions of animals that live miserable lives and (quite often) die in horrific ways isn’t motivating, what would be? If being the number one contributor to the most serious threat facing the planet (global warming) isn’t enough, what is? And if you are tempted to put off these questions of conscience, to say not now, then when?” – Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

“Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.”

“Every time we say, ‘Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know,’ we limit the potential for growth,
for change, for making possible everything we want to be and everything we want this
world to be. So we walk around with blinders on, complacent in our comfort zones
because we’re afraid to change. To me, that’s limiting. That’s restrictive.”
Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Being vegan is easy

“Being vegan is easy. Are there social pressures that encourage you to continue to eat, wear, and use animal products? Of course there are. But in a patriarchal, racist, homophobic, and ableist society, there are social pressures to participate and engage in sexism, racism, homophobia, and ableism. At some point, you have to decide who you are and what matters morally to you. And once you decide that you regard victimizing vulnerable nonhumans is not morally acceptable, it is easy to go and stay vegan” ― Gary L. Francione

Veganism: It Follows From What Most People Already Believe

By Gary Francione

You don’t need a theory of animal rights to get you to veganism. You don’t even need to believe in human and nonhuman equality to get to veganism.

If you believe–as most people believe–that: (1) animals matter morally; (2) because animals matter morally, we cannot justify imposing “unnecessary” suffering on them; and (3) pleasure, amusement, or convenience cannot suffice as “necessity,” then you are already committed to stop eating, wearing, or using animals in any situation in which there is not compulsion or real necessity, such as being on the desert island or the lifeboat with no access to plant foods.

Veganism is not in any way “extreme.” What is “extreme” is saying that you believe that animals matter morally but acting in your life as though they were merely things.

So what are you waiting for? Follow through in your conduct with what you say you believe. Go vegan.

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If you are not vegan, please go vegan. Veganism is about nonviolence. First and foremost, it’s about nonviolence to other sentient beings. But it’s also about nonviolence to the earth and nonviolence to yourself.

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