Research more and more is finding that plants are sensitive and sophisticated actors in their environment, writes Pulitzer-prize winning science columnist Natalie Angier in today’s New York Times. Does this mean that eating a Brussels sprout is the moral equivalent of eating a steak? Most people would probably say no, but as you might guess the article has set off a lively (to say the least) debate in the comments section. Join the fray here.
Excerpt: “But before we cede the entire moral penthouse to “committed vegetarians” and “strong ethical vegans,” we might consider that plants no more aspire to being stir-fried in a wok than a hog aspires to being peppercorn-studded in my Christmas clay pot. This is not meant as a trite argument or a chuckled aside. Plants are lively and seek to keep it that way. The more that scientists learn about the complexity of plants — their keen sensitivity to the environment, the speed with which they react to changes in the environment, and the extraordinary number of tricks that plants will rally to fight off attackers and solicit help from afar — the more impressed researchers become, and the less easily we can dismiss plants as so much fiberfill backdrop, passive sunlight collectors on which deer, antelope and vegans can conveniently graze….”