So there you are on Facebook, Twitter, or simply chatting with a friend at the local coffeehouse and all of a sudden the infamous “What about plants, don’t they have feelings too?” question rears its ugly head. What makes someone ask this question when they’re being confronted with the idea that all sentient beings deserve the right not to be someone’s property? Or, you merely stated “Oh no thanks, I don’t eat flesh or secretions, I’m vegan”.
This has bothered me for sometime now. I usually try my best to explain the difference between an animal (human or not) and a plant but the questioner usually doesn’t seem to get it. Well, thanks to Adam Kochanowicz alerting me to the following quote by Leonardo da Vinci, maybe, just maybe, Leonardo can help answer the question a bit better:
Though nature has given sensibility to pain to such living organisms as have the power of movement, in order thereby to preserve the members which in this movement are liable to diminish and be destroyed, the living organisms which have no power of movement do not have to encounter opposing objects, and plants consequently do not need to have a sensibility to pain, and so it comes about that if you break them they do not feel anguish in their members as do the animals.
~ Leonardo da Vinci (Source)
Every now and then I get a person who knows I’m vegan saying “Sorry Randy!” just before they devour, for example, a cow’s secretions or flesh all the while declaring how good it tastes.
Most of us human and nonhuman animals can experience pleasure and pain, know we’re alive and have a strong desire to stay that way—as pain free as possible. That said, it makes no sense to me whatsoever given we do not need secretions nor flesh to thrive that some folks, for pleasure alone, choose to inflict pain and suffering upon other animals and ultimately steal their lives away.
Interestingly, their “Sorry Randy!” statement makes me wonder what they might think if they heard about someone who uttered “Sorry!” and then proceeded to crush a puppy’s head for sheer pleasure. My guess is that no matter how sincere the apology they would think the puppy killer was a monster (or at least a very sick individual). But, what makes the puppy’s killer any different from the person who pays someone else to enslave, torture and murder a cow because they like the way she tastes? From my perspective, being that they both needlessly did what they did for pleasure, they’re one of the same.
Think, then Go Vegan!
While it is true that abolitionists ask folks to “Go Vegan”, it is not true that abolitionists expect those folks to go from consuming flesh, secretions, skin, etcetera to vegan overnight. Our goal is to make nonhuman animal slavery illegal, just like it is now for human animal slavery.
Our method is to tell the TRUTH, the WHOLE TRUTH, and nothing but the TRUTH. That is, turning a sentient being into a commodity is about as wrong as wrong gets and thus all forms of animal exploitation, human and nonhuman alike, should be abolished immediately. Once this message is out there we let the recipients of the message do what they think is best.
Some will Go Vegan right on the spot. Others will not. Instead they’ll eat “humane” flesh or forgo flesh but continue consuming secretions, skin, or whatever (i.e., vegetarianism). BUT the message from us that it is ALWAYS wrong to commodify a sentient being will remain with them forever.