One of the things frequently thrown at me (and others) is that meat kills the planet. We've all seen the propaganda messages about cows trumping and burping and vegan propaganda would have us believe that meat eaters are to blame. Ah if only it were that simple. Factory farming is a relatively new process and it is one in which animals are typically fed grain. Grain was domesticated around 12,000 years ago (a blink in the evolutionary eye) whilst the cows predecessors the aurochs were around for an estimated two million years before that (another blink in the evolutionary eye). Grain is not the proper diet of cattle, it will increase growth rates (kerching ££££) but it will also cause them to be diseased. So I agree that factory farmed meat is not a good thing either for my own health or that of the planet.
So why do these voracious vegans treat all meat eaters with such hostility? Even the ones who eat grass fed locally raised meats? Well to them an animal still dies, sadly the cycle of life dictates that we all die someday, even a catabolic vegan/dieter but that's just not good enough.
Lets take a look at the vegan lifestyle and see if it possibly still has blood on its hands?
Do agro-vegans ask what died in the production of their food? I doubt it very much. Agriculture is possibly the most destructive thing that we as human beings do to our planet. Growing grain and other foods frequently destroys whole ecosystems, if the world were to turn vegan where would we grow all the extra food required? Ah to hell with it, we'd destroy some more ecosystems and then wipe the blood from our hands...at least we don't eat meat.
People point to the facts that it takes it takes 12-16 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of beef, but remember cow's wouldn't usually consume grain. Grass fed cows eat no grain and oddly enough have less impact on the environment than mass agriculture. So we can maybe consider that industrial scale agriculture is the real culprit of the degradation of our planet, not as vegans want us to believe due to meat eaters alone.
As I've stated before the argument that "meat kills", "meat ruins the environment" etc simply doesn't stand up to much. Comparing McDondald's meat to grass fed locally reared is like me comparing heavily processed soy crops that damage whole ecosystems with someone who buys fresh veg from their local farm. The only way I'd use that argument is if I was so blinkered about my beliefs that I just wanted to argue that crops kill the planet....and in all honesty I don't want to do that. Eat what you fancy and don't force your views on others...discuss don't lecture.
Another argument thrown in the ring is that we shouldn't kill animals, or how do we decide some animals are food yet other are pets. And its a good one, most would turn their nose up at a little cat for lunch but this is mainly dictated by our geographical location...one man pet may well be another mans dinner. I've always been interested in the same view of plants, why do we keep roses for our viewing pleasure (although some may brutally murder, dehydrate and flatten the petals) yet devour celery (some even keep it semi alive and keep hacking bits off it). The rationale is that plants have no brain, the are living but not in the same way animals are.
Research shows that Tomato Plants trap and kill small insects with sticky hairs on their stems to allow them to absorb nutrients through their roots when they decay and fall to the ground. Wow, plants aren't even vegan! Can a vegan consume a tomato?
It's long been known that carnivorous killer species exist in far flung regions of the world but they are also right in our allotments. Garden favorites such as the petunia, as well as some varieties of potatoes and tomatoes all have blood on their leaves.
The researchers, publishing their finding in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society said:
“We may be surrounded by many more murderous plants than we think...“We are accustomed to think of plants as being immobile and harmless, and there is something deeply unnerving about the thought of carnivorous plants."
That really throws things up in the air for veganism, should they also now avoid particular plant food if it has been living of insects?
Yet that other factor about plant intelligence and awareness is a growing field, we do know that while no brain is yet evidenced they do have systems for sending electrical signals and produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. Research by Gagliano suggests plants learn from experience, indeed the Mimosa plant collapses its leaves when it senses danger, and in an experiment akin to Pavlov's Plant when Gagliano repeatedly dropped the plant every 5-6 seconds it took only a few drops to learn that the stimulus did not represent a relevant danger. You're probably think the plants were fatigued, but to test this a different stress was applied (shaking) and the plants protected themselves once again until the learned this action wasn't dangerous. Retesting every week for 4 weeks the plants continued to remember stimulus. So, can you really separate killing plants or animals? You probably can because one set isn't potentially fluffy nor has eyes. Can you claim moral superitority? Not in my eyes.
Further reading on plant intelligence;
Trewavas A. (2014). Plant Behavior & Intelligence. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
Affifi R. (2013). Learning in plants: semiosis between the parts and the whole. Biosemiotics 6 547–559.
Guiguet A. (2013). Plant Learning: An Unresolved Question. Master BioSciences. thesis, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, Lyon.
Meyer KM, Soldaat LL, Auge H, Thulke HH.(2014). Adaptive and selective seed abortion reveals complex conditional decision making in plants. Am Nat. 183(3):376-83.
Gagliano M, Renton M, Depczynski M, Mancuso S. (2014). Experience teaches plants to learn faster and forget slower in environments where it matters. Oecologia.175(1):63-72.