Plant lives matter: Exposing our society’s brutal treatment of millions of innocent vegetables
Views 177 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 4 - 25 - 2017 | By: Cameron Lee
In the spirit of Earth Day, I think we should take a moment to remember that the continued survival of our species is only possible due to the merciless slaughter of innumerable other living things. Every day that we live, we do so only because we have reduced another organism to a mere means of human survival. I am talking about the heartless speciesism we exhibit in our yearly mass cultivation and consumption of plant life.
While vegans and vegetarians may feel secure in the moral high ground simply because they have decided not to eat anything with a face, they are just as complicit in the mass suffering of plant life as other members of our species. As Dr. Daniel Chamovitz of Tel Aviv University has noted, certain plants have been found to possess sensory faculties; it takes only one unsubstantiated leap in reasoning to conclude, then, that all plants are capable of experiencing pain just like you and me.
And how have we treated our photosynthetic friends? Even though many Americans fail to reach their daily recommended servings of cruelty in the fruit and vegetable portions of the food pyramid, our consumption is still stomach-churning. Every year, the average American consumes over four pounds of strawberries, many of which were grown in California. This means that our state government has blatantly failed to protect some of the most vulnerable organisms among us, but year after year, voters have done little to punish or correct this negligence.
Of course, our exploitation of the planet’s plants is part of our past also: during the Vietnam War, for example, we carelessly used chemical weapons against innocent, helpless plants with little regard for the suffering we would cause, both in the short term and for decades to come. Furthermore, the history of orchards is a history of exploited labor: we force trees to work all day under the unrelenting heat of the sun, expose them to dangerous chemical pesticides, rip the product of their labor straight from their branches, and offer them next to nothing in return.
This is, of course, only one dimension of the suffering which humans bring on to other organisms – we have not even stopped to consider the 99.9% of germs killed by Lysol on many surfaces.
Of course, a comprehensive overview of the cruelty of our species is not necessary; I am sure that this modest overview of our crimes against plantkind will be sufficient to convince anyone with even a shred of compassion that something must change. While appeals to compassion and decency have so far been insufficient to convince most people to care about the plight of the Palestinians, the suffering of refugees, or even the problem of poverty in our own country, I am sure that the awareness of such a tragedy will soften the hearts of even the most callous Americans.