Monday, July 7, 2008

Coming Full Circle?

For some reason, everyone that works in the kitchen at The Rendezvous wants to make a big fuss about me being a vegetarian. Everyone's got something to chip in, another argument for why being vegetarian is stupid, how I'm being destructive to my body and that's not helping anyone, etc. Do these guys think I haven't thought about it or something? Do they think I didn't look into it, health concerns and all, before I made my decisions? Geez! C'mon, guys!

Anyway, one of them actually said something that struck my interest. I told him that one of the main reasons I am doing it is to alleviate suffering, seeing as killing and eating animal flesh creates more suffering than eating wheat. His reply was, "Don't be so sure about that! You don't think plants feel pain?" and then he led me to a book. It's called The Secret Life of Plants, and although I found it in the New Age section of Barnes & Noble (I didn't buy it there. I checked it out at the library), it's pretty cool and not very "New Agey." It talks about how plants are very alive, sensitive, feel pain and pleasure, show signs of intelligence, and are just generally really neat creatures. We're just too impatient to watch them and really see it all going on.

I'm still going to remain vegetarian, don't get me wrong. There are a lot of environmental issues at stake besides just suffering, not to mention the logistical issues of how much more food can be produced if we switch to a more fruit/vegetable based diet than meat. Even still, it looks like I've got more to think about.

My friend said to me at the end of our conversation, "Do you thank the wheat that went into that bowl of spaghetti O's?"
Trying to cop out and avoid getting attacked, I replied, "Not directly, no."
"Well," he stated, "There is only one way to be thankful. You should think about that."
And think I will, my friend. Perhaps we could all be a bit more thankful for our spaghetti O's.

I also had another intriguing conversation about religion at work which has led me to some further research. My boss was talking to me about what I believe and why (he's a great guy who asks with good intentions, so I'm more than happy to engage him), and we ended up getting onto the topic of original sin. While I viewed it as a way of guilting people into a belief system, he sees it as a means of putting everyone on the same level and thus creating equality. Interesting....

He said to me, "When you heard, 'We're all sinners who need the grace of God,' you stopped listening at, 'We're all sinners,' and you took that personally." He's probably right, to tell you the truth. I've always had low self-esteem, so when I was constantly surrounded by people saying, "For all have fallen short," and "We're the scum of the earth who need redemption," etc, etc, I couldn't get past it.

So once again, it's back to the books. I'm reading through the gospels and the Torah again trying to figure it out for myself. We'll see how far I get, but I think it could be a promising journey.


Chris Panza said...

Last time I checked, plants didn't have C-fibers. As a result, it's difficult to see how they could feel pain.

Besides, even if plants did feel pain, they would surely not be self-conscious of it in the way that an animal would. Plants don't feel terror, for instance. Animals very well might.

So even if plants feel pain (which I seriously doubt they do), there are still plenty of suffering-reducing reasons to be a vegetarian.

Anonymous said...

You're an Ent destroyer!

Mark said...

Panza - As far as the book discusses, plants feeling pain and emotion isn't based in anything physical. There is a lot of discussion of "energies" and "higher planes of existence," etc. Admittedly, I like reading about that stuff and I don't think it's all so far-fetched most of the time, but that's just me. From a scientific analytical perspective, it doesn't seem to make much sense, though.

Eli - Perhaps there are an abundance of vegetarians in Middle Earth and THAT'S where all the Ent-wives went! The world may never know...

Chris Panza said...

Aha. Yeah, on such questions I think I prefer good-ol' science.

Anonymous said...

Have you heard about breatharianism? It was an actual movement, based on the "scientific" claim that you cold survive simply on air. Gah. We each have to examine our consciences and choose. I made the choice to eta seafood, but nothing higher up the evolutionary scale. It's not defensible, but it worked in my life. And I don't bother to justify it to either those who go the pure vegetarian route (which I appplaud), or to those who seem offended that I don't eat other kinds of meat.