Do Plants Feel Pain?
The Intelligent Plant: The Largest Argument Against Veganism
When the New Yorker first published its article written by Michael Pollan, author of such books as “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and “The Botany of Desire,” about the developments being made in plant science. It caused controversy, causing the unsupported friends and family of vegans to argue that their meat eating lifestyle is no different then the vegan way way of life because “Plants feel pain”.
People were suddenly up in arms with statements like, “Plants feel pain, and vegetables are picked and often eaten while still alive. Animal rights activists are often in the news, but has anyone ever protested for vegetable rights?” Multiple attempts at invalidating the vegan and animal rights movements were being thrown across forums, Facebook, and Twitter. People were concerned, could this be the downfall of a Plant Based lifestyle?
This new research in a field called plant neurobiology, which a bit of an odd name for it, because even scientists in the field agree that plants do not have neurons or brains.
The Veggie Pain Research
Even Pollan doesn’t argue that they have brains, he said, “They have analagous structures, They have ways of taking all the sensory data they gather in their everyday lives… integrate it and then behave in an appropriate way in response. And they do this without brains, which, in a way, is what’s incredible about it, because we automatically assume you need a brain to process information.”
An experiment done by animal biologist Monica Gagliano. She presented research that suggests the mimosa pudica plant can learn from experience. And, Pollan says, merely suggesting a plant could learn was so controversial that her paper was rejected by 10 scientific journals before it was finally published. Mimosa is a plant, which looks something like a fern, that collapses its leaves temporarily when it is disturbed. So Gagliano set up a contraption that would drop the mimosa plant. When the plant dropped, as expected, its leaves collapsed. She kept dropping the plants every five to six seconds. “After five or six drops, the plants would stop responding, as if they’d learned to tune out the stimulus as irrelevent,”
The Truth Has No Pain
While plants can respond to stimuli, and filter the information to respond appropriately. The end all is that plants lack the nervous system and brain necessary for them to feel pain. Yes, a plant can respond to its environment, for example by turning towards the light or closing over a fly, but that is not the same thing. It is also hard to see what purpose pain could serve for the plant as they have no way of escaping. If you look at it like this, having the feeling of pain would not benefit a plant from the evolutionary standpoint for this reason.
Scientific American states, “Plant biology arises from the evolutionary constriction of the “rootedness” that keep plants immobile, then we can start to appreciate the very sophisticated biology going on in leaves and flowers. If you think about it, rootedness is a huge evolutionary constraint. It means that plants can’t escape a bad environment, can’t migrate in the search of food or a mate. So plants had to develop incredibly sensitive and complex sensory mechanisms that would let them survive in ever changing environments.”
If we explore this concept, the major attribute in a Plants makeup is being stationary, and in combination with no central nervous system, plants cannot process pain in the same way that humans and animals can.
End of line, plants can process stimuli but they cannot feel pain.
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