The Ad Plantarum Fallacy: Because Plants Don't Have Feelings

Kimberly's picture

One of the clear signs meat-eaters are on the losing side of the ethical battle for our plates is the awesomely fallacious "plants are sentient beings" argument. "Plants have feelings too!" the meat-eater bellows, his fancy taking flight to a mystical land of anthropomorphized carrots and talking watermelons.

When a meat eater pulls the "plants have feelings too" or its kissing cousin "bugs and bacteria die in the wheat thresher, therefore vegans are cruel and evil to bugs and bacteria" the vegan has won the argument. Like those who jump to comparing their opponents to Hitler, a modern fallacy known as Reductio ad Hitlerum, the argument itself is an immediate capitulation to the other party. In other words, if you use the plant-sentience argument in defense of eating animals, GAME OVER. You lose.

Eating a soybean and throwing a puppy into a wood-chipper: these things are not the same

Though it is hard to imagine even the most profoundly naive member of the species homo sapiens is too dumb to recognize the difference between chopping down a tree with an axe or using the same axe to chop down a Labrador retriever, stupid is as stupid does. The ad plantarum fallacy is born. An ad plantarum argument goes something like this: "Vegans eat corn. Corn feels pain when you cut it and cannot run away. Therefore vegans are as equally cruel as meat eaters." The ad plantarum argument's fatal flaw lies within its own logic. If plants are sentient, thinking beings, then up to seventeen times more sentient beings must die for the meat-eater's plate. Think about it. Are animals who are used for their muscle tissue a.k.a. meat breathatarians? Do they sustain their protein-packed musculature by starving themselves? No. Surely those "meat" animals eat something, don't they? That something is (drumroll please) plants. Animals do not subsist on rainbows, air, or by consuming small piles of sand. They eat plants. The equation is devastatingly simple.

Eating animals is plant genocide

Animals eat so darn many plants Bill Gates has said, "The global population is on track to reach nine billion by 2050. What are all those people going to eat? With billions of people adding more animal protein to their diets — meat consumption is expected to double by 2050 — it seems clear that arable land for raising livestock won’t be able to keep up."

You don't have to be Bill Gates to figure out raising animals to eat them is a woefully inefficient use of resources. It takes seventeen pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. In other words, if you have 2.5 acres of land to produce food, you can support the caloric needs of one person if you put a cow on that land, one if you raise chickens for their eggs, two if you raise chickens to kill for meat, and two if you raise a cow for milk. If you raise corn on your 2.5 acres, you'll be able to feed fifteen people. Rice? The number goes up to nineteen. Potatoes? The number goes up again to twenty-two. We're not even talking about the huge inputs of fossil fuels raising animals requires, the staggering amounts of fresh water, or the way eating animals accelerates global warming.

If you like your cows raised on their nature-intended diet of grass, the impact of plant homicide goes exponential. The 2.5 acre feedlot a poor, entrapped cow suffered upon to become a meat-addict's meal becomes a thirty-five acre spread for a grazing cow who will grow more slowly (i.e. naturally) due to a lack of bovine growth hormone and antibiotic injections. The one thing that can be said for factory farms is they are very efficient at what they do, which is torturing the most animals in the least amount of space in the shortest amount of possible time.

In short, by eating animals, you are not helping plants. You are responsible for species habitat extinction via your meat habit, as the primary reason habitats are destroyed is to fuel the appetite for meat. Eighty percent of the plant food produced in America goes to feed livestock animals. Just think of how much food America is not funneling into countries that need it in Africa or South America because of this very thing. By eating animals, you are not helping anyone, including yourself as you speed down the road towards diabetic comas, debilitating strokes, Alzheimer's plaques, open-heart surgeries, and malignant cancer biopsies.

Muscle memory: plants don't have it, animals do

Addiction breeds denial. Just ask any alcoholic how many drinks she had at last night's bender -- chances are she'll grossly underestimate the number. Only addicts buy into the staggering feats of illogic proposed by the ad plantarum argument, which helps them both to sleep at night and to outright deny scientific evidence that animals have a wide range of emotions, their own forms of communication, and the ability to feel terror and pain as well as joy and love. If sentience is a spectrum as the addicts would postulate, isn't it obvious an animal who has a mouth with which to scream and complex eyes with which to take in the world is more sentient than a stalk of celery? A friend of mine named David Lay pointed out the science behind muscle memory, that fantastic phenomenon that enables a squirrel to climb a towering oak and a concert pianist to bring the electrifying strains of Chopin's Grand Valse Brilliante to an audience's waiting ears. The phenomenon behind the phenomenon of muscle memory is the presence of microtubules, tubular structures that house a special protein called tubulin that work together to help cells grow and function. Plant cells have minimal numbers of microtubules where animals have trillions, hence the muscle memory of animals and the lack thereof in plants.

The stories meat eaters tell themselves

Upon seeing they cannot morally defend their choice to destroy innocent creatures for their own tastebuds, those who insist on eating animals choose to lie about the choice they are presented with in every meal. They pretend their choice is not between choosing between murdering or exploiting an animal and simply doing without. Instead they pretend they are making a choice to eat animals based on their own well-being and survival. This is the essence of the ad plantarum argument -- it's a cover-up designed to disguise the fact humans have no need of dead animal flesh, animal mammary secretions, or eggs to remain healthy and vibrant throughout life.

Meat eaters often like to bandy about the idea eating meat is a matter of necessity for human survival, therefore eating animals is the inevitable consequence of existing as a human being. No preposition could be more false, especially in the face of overwhelming evidence a plant based diet enables the humans who eat it not only to survive, but thrive. Humans need to eat to survive, however, it is proven they don't need to eat MEAT to survive. It has been widely proven that herbivorous humans who choose an omnivorous diet suffer the consequences in the form of rampant heart disease, obesity, auto-immune disorders such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and lupus, various cancers, and straight-up food poisoning. Vegans choose plant-based eating because they want to live in a way that does not take away the lives of sentient beings, not because they wish to be perfect.

Ad plantarum attempts to reduce a moral choice to a fantasy realm of futile striving for perfection, and since we cannot be perfect, no one should try to better himself at all. I would like to think the human race shouldn't merely opt to self-destruct because its beings aren't gods, and as a species, self-destruction is exactly what we will achieve if we do not start respecting our fellow Earthlings and our living planet.