Plants Do NOT Feel Pain. Right? Or do they o.o? - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 07-07-2012, 04:15 PM
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(If you think I'm wrong or mistaken on any of this, please correct me. This is a bit long, so bare with me.)

 

I recently got told by a vegan themself that plants do feel pain when they are killed and you are cutting them up, and that you can "feel" it if you just open your heart to it. They told me that by not killing the plant and taking their fruits or grains/seeds that may not cause them any harm so those are the foods we should try to go for as veg*ns.

 

They also made the argument to me that me not opening my mind to plants feeling pain, is just like how many people didn't think animals felt pain and just reacted to their environment. (My thoughts: It's not quite the same, one is desensitization in order to kill a living being they KNOW feels pain, the other is just basic knowledge that when you pull a root out of the ground it doesn't shriek in pain or try to move away like we know other beings that feel pain generally do.)wink3.gif

 

First off I'm going to discuss why currently we are pretty sure that plants cannot feel pain. They do not have pain receptors, nor a central nervous system, nor a brain. To feel pain, at least the pain that is experienced in humans and animals, your pain receptors would need to send a signal of pain, through the nervous system. To read how pain is felt in the human body, this might be an interesting read:

 

http://pain.about.com/od/whatischronicpain/a/feeling_pain.htm

 

Plants CAN react to their environment, but that doesn't necessarily mean they feel pain.  It may be just like how our eyes react to less light by dilating, but we don't feel that.grin.gif

 

Another thing I would like to bring to light. To me, it sounded like this person may have put forth their own feelings onto something that likely doesn't have any.  Brings to mind objectum sexuals. Some believe that their objects they fall in love with have souls and feelings. I have nothing against objectophiles and think its kind of sweet and beautiful in it's own way. However I'd be hard pressed to believe that objects have feelings or souls, unless every single atom has a soul or has feelings (as far as I'd know they would also need a brain for that too.)  I think it is possible that people can put their own emotions and feelings onto something and not be aware of it. I can't speak for people's feelings and I can't be sure if they put their feelings onto something, but those are just my honest thoughts. Are people's feelings real? Yes. But are the feelings they think others, animate or inanimate feel real? Hard to say since you aren't that other thing/being.thinking.gif

 

I respect fruitarians and why they choose to live that way, but I can just never fathom plants feeling pain. There is maybe that small .00000001% chance they do feel pain, lord knows why, but maybe , but I wouldn't know it because I see pain like how humans and animals portray it. If there is some magical way plants feel pain, it would be in a method or way I have never known or acknowledged as pain. It would be hard for any of us to know pain in any other way than how we humans and animals express it.

 

So I'm not 100% certain that plants don't feel pain, but I am 100% certain they do not feel pain in a way I would know or recognize it to be...smiley.gif

 

If you have something to add or would like to comment, please do <3


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#2 Old 07-07-2012, 04:36 PM
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Great post!

I don't consider opening your heart to be the most scientific way to figure things out. I prefer evidence, logic, stuff like that. wink3.gif

I agree with all your points, and I especially like what you said about how your eyes dilate but you can't feel it. That's an awesome example to use.

Was your vegan friend a fruititarian? That would at least be ethically consistent. It annoys me that this argument is used so often by meat eaters to try to justify continuing to eat meat, that makes NO sense to me. If you really believe everything you eat can feel that isn't a reason to just say oh well and disregard how much pain and suffering you cause, that's insane.

I know generally meat eaters who say things like that don't really believe it and are just trolling, but still, they only say it because they can't deny that animals suffer and they want some kind of lame comeback. To me realizing that the things you do cause suffering makes you obligated to try to reduce that suffering, and it's disturbing that so many people don't think that way. undecided.gif

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#3 Old 07-07-2012, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Werewolf Girl View Post

Great post!

Was your vegan friend a fruititarian? That would at least be ethically consistent. It annoys me that this argument is used so often by meat eaters to try to justify continuing to eat meat, that makes NO sense to me. If you really believe everything you eat can feel that isn't a reason to just say oh well and disregard how much pain and suffering you cause, that's insane.
 


Thanks Werewolf girl. Yes I think that person was really a vegan that tried to eat food that didn't involve killing the plants. They aren't my friend, but didn't seem like a troll online. Hard to explain, but I was pretty sure they weren't a troll. They told me how they felt about plants and such. I didn't believe what they thought, but I must say, this whole thing has caused me to realize that I really "can't" speak for any other being or thing and what they experience.

 

I do try to keep an open mind even when my mind is mostly closed, and that's why I said that, well, we only really know pain as how we experience it. I sort of just came to that conclusion as I was writing the post :P Animals portray similar reactions of pain like we experience, and that's why it's quite clear they do feel pain like we do.  Plants do not show experiences of our pain like jerking away or shrieking, and that's why, if they ever did feel pain (though that would be really a cruel thing for a just god to do since they can't really move away or anything), we would have a hard time knowing it.

 

I agree with you though, since we know animals feel pain, we are obligated to try and not cause them pain. People who say animals don't feel pain are in so much denial, because it's quite clear. rolleyes.gif

 

P.S I partially agree with you about logic/evidence and stuff too, because like I said, somebody may just be pushing their feelings onto another, without knowing, it ya know? Kind of reminds me how little kids put life and feelings into their stuffed animals and figures and get sad when you take them away or 'hurt' them. I don't know if it's quite the same for objectophiles. Do their objects they identify with have feelings and we just can't perceive it? (I find that highly improbable) Or are they just putting their feeling unto these items? o.o So many mind boggling questions. dizzy2.gif


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#4 Old 07-07-2012, 07:25 PM
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I agree, it's clear that animals feel pain so we have a responsibility to treat them accordingly. I don't believe that plants feel pain because, as you pointed out, they have no brain or nervous system (at least not one discovered by scientists), they also have no defense reaction, like moving or making noise. Anything that has a defense reaction has brain capacity enough to know that they are in danger or are being hurt. Not something that a plant has shown evidence of having.

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#5 Old 07-07-2012, 07:41 PM
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I don't really buy it either. More often that not, I see this based on something spiritual and not scientific. I found a page that talks about it. It is kind of spiritual, but they do offer up some studies. I'll have to go back and review them when my cousin is not trying to make up on me. 

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#6 Old 07-08-2012, 12:43 AM
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I was signed up to some herb society news letter, very fuzzy memory here of being invited some years ago to a Goethean lecture / workshop on 'seeing with the heart'. I believe Goethe asserted that the heart was an organ of perception, it's just that we don't use it much so we fail to notice what we're sensing through it, but we can learn to sense through it if we practice doing so - I think he principally applied perceiving through the heart to Nature. May have got that muddled and I don't know anything much else about it all - intriguing proposition though. 


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#7 Old 07-08-2012, 06:50 AM
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I've read about how a tomato plant will send electrical signals somehow to all its leaves when a caterpillar starts nibbling on one of them. This causes the other leaves to release a chemical that renders the leaves inedible to caterpillars. So if they don't have nerves -- and they don't -- they have something analogous, or in some ways comparable, though much slower than how nerves function in animals. This is usually the kind of thing that gives people the basis for saying plants have feelings, but it's nothing like the sudden stab of pain we feel when something jangles our nerves.

There was also this guy people cite who hooked plants up to a polygraph and noted their reactions if he burned one of their leaves, or if he sent out the thought that he planned to harm them. His name is Cleve Baxster, and he was a former CIA interrogator and not a plant scientist. He claimed that plants are not only sentient but telepathic.  I think that book "The Secret Life of Plants" is largely based on his experiments. He published in places like the Journal of Parapsychology, but never in peer-reviewed academic journals. Academics pointed out all kinds of fatal flaws in his methodology, like failing to use controls for comparison, and failing to consider other factors that could have caused the plants to react, but he does have his fans. As far as I can tell, no actual plant physiologist using scientific method has come up with results like those Baxster claimed.

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#8 Old 07-08-2012, 07:01 AM
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Nice post indeed. I agree with a lot of your points as well. Especially the way you said  that I am not 100% certain that they don't feel pain. 

 

Here is how I see it though. As mentioned, they don't have a brain or central nervous system. So basically, it doesn't know it's alive. If it doesn't know it's alive then how can it know if it dies?

 

Another thing though, I don't believe plant's can feel anything like a breeze, or heat, or anything like that. I mean, granted sunlight helps it grow, but can it actually feel it?

 

I'm not sure. This is getting a little deep for me lol. I should have been a botanist. 

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#9 Old 07-08-2012, 07:32 AM
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I've read about how a tomato plant will send electrical signals somehow to all its leaves when a caterpillar starts nibbling on one of them. This causes the other leaves to release a chemical that renders the leaves inedible to caterpillars. So if they don't have nerves -- and they don't -- they have something analogous, or in some ways comparable, though much slower than how nerves function in animals. This is usually the kind of thing that gives people the basis for saying plants have feelings, but it's nothing like the sudden stab of pain we feel when something jangles our nerves.

There was also this guy people cite who hooked plants up to a polygraph and noted their reactions if he burned one of their leaves, or if he sent out the thought that he planned to harm them. His name is Cleve Baxster, and he was a former CIA interrogator and not a plant scientist. He claimed that plants are not only sentient but telepathic.  I think that book "The Secret Life of Plants" is largely based on his experiments. He published in places like the Journal of Parapsychology, but never in peer-reviewed academic journals. Academics pointed out all kinds of fatal flaws in his methodology, like failing to use controls for comparison, and failing to consider other factors that could have caused the plants to react, but he does have his fans. As far as I can tell, no actual plant physiologist using scientific method has come up with results like those Baxster claimed.


I have heard of similar experiments too,especially the one on myth busters. They pretty much claimed that they are pretty sure they don't feel pain, but there is still a lot they don't know.

 

Surely they can have chemical reactions to their environment taking place within them for their survival or to help with the survival of their fellow species (like the caterpillar thing which is quite interesting! Nature knows what she is doing :)), but that's not to say they feel it or are aware of it.


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#10 Old 07-08-2012, 07:35 AM
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Nice post indeed. I agree with a lot of your points as well. Especially the way you said  that I am not 100% certain that they don't feel pain. 

 

Here is how I see it though. As mentioned, they don't have a brain or central nervous system. So basically, it doesn't know it's alive. If it doesn't know it's alive then how can it know if it dies?

 

Another thing though, I don't believe plant's can feel anything like a breeze, or heat, or anything like that. I mean, granted sunlight helps it grow, but can it actually feel it?

 

I'm not sure. This is getting a little deep for me lol. I should have been a botanist. 


All good questions :3

 

How do you know it doesn't know it's alive? What measures consciousness? Do you have to feel to be conscious? xD Can you speak for any other being :3?

 

Can they feel? Unlikely in terms of how we currently know humans and animals, but is there something more? I don't think anybody could ever know. We are not the plants :)

 

I know, so deep, so many questions! A botanist can't even give you a clear answer because you simply can't know how it feels to be a plant, or if it doesn't feel to be one at all. x)


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#11 Old 07-08-2012, 12:08 PM
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Does a stone feel? I don't know. But if I hit a stone, he/she fights back with the same hardness.


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#12 Old 07-08-2012, 01:06 PM
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Does a stone feel? I don't know. But if I hit a stone, he/she fights back with the same hardness.


That's true...I learned that in physics. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction...or something like that o.o


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