To and on vegetarians

I have absolutely nothing against vegetarians. Many of my GoodFriends are vegetarian, and how dare I have anything against them?

sample vegetarian. Notice the look of extreme sadness on her face.
Nevertheless. Nevertheless, they manage to bewilder me. They make me scratch my head and make  me ponder upon the futility of such a life; the inherent sadness of such an existence. And all this they perform by the sheer power of the fact that they are vegetarian.

At a personal level, (I hope I don't get into issues with the PETA) I believe that it is an animal's moral duty to present itself on my plate when I sit down to eat, at least once in its life time. The fact that it can do that only once makes the previous statement sound a tad redundant but let that not taint the vitality of my faith.

I've been involved in countless food-brawls with my GoodFriends. By food-brawls I refer to brawls over food, not brawls with the food (the thing that the WWE superstars are so competent at). And most of this have ended with a tongue-lock when I am left to counter the very very ancient and incorrigibly clichéd argument regarding the "compassion and love for all things living". Which I admit, I cannot. The best reply I can give when someone stumps with a "How would YOU feel like if you were to be eaten someday?" is that "I cannot foresee a future when I would be within 50 miles of cannibalism at any point in my life." Lame, I admit. But works.

Which brings me to the question of plant perception. Can plants feel?

Hell, yes they do. I base my conviction on the numerous results that appear when you type the same question in the Google search-bar. This, being the most glaring. Discarding non-vegetarian food on grounds of "compassion and love for all living things" can now go to the dogs. But yes, them vegetarians, are hard nuts to crack. My GoodOldSidey (I don't know whether whether he's reading this) (yet another vegetarian, needless to say) comes up with this extremely contrived extension of the same reason. Which is, "I don't like eating something which has yelpt in pain and cried so that I may eat it".

If he had as much of a white soul as he appears to, after this revelation, God bless this sin-stained world, but that is besides the point.

To him, and to others who would like to emulate him, let them be made aware that when Sir George Bernard Shaw visited Sir Jagdish Bose's laboratory, he was stunned to see that cabbages suffered from violent convulsions when boiled to death. (A piece of information shamelessly wiki-lifted from the above link). To them I ask,  "Will you stop boiling cabbages now?" I think I know the answer to that.

Plants (continuing upon the same spree of shameless wiki-lifting) actually have a very well developed nervous system and they respond to shock by spasm in exactly the same way as an animal muscle does. Just because one cannot visibly see or hear the pain a broccoli plant goes through when you chop its limbs off without a bother doesn't prove anything. You can as well wait for goats to sleep (or use tranquilisers for that matter) before you behead them and proceed to cut them into nice chops and blah-blah.

Another thing.

Vegetarian food has this weird way of staring up at you and shouting, "Hah! Your ancestors fought their way up the food chain and you're somewhere down there again." Quite right! Being vegetarian is like openly disregarding the revered concept of the food chain and showing scant respect to the laws of evolution, which over millions of years have carved a path for you, so that you, as a Homo sapien are given the birth-right to be a secondary consumer. If not higher.

Therefore, by being vegetarian, you actually go against nature and it's predetermined laws.

Hah. So much for your compassion and love for nature now.

Quad-erat-demonstrandum.

would you have all these?
or well, just this?
PS : Andy Rooney ( I have absolutely no idea who he is) says that "Vegetarian is an old Indian word for 'lousy hunter' ". I say, "Bullseye."

Comments

Nickspinkboots said…
Dear Avid Non Vegetarian

I am vegetarian because I don't need another reason to piss off my parents. Really don't look into whether thing sang and danced when it was alive before putting it in my mouth.

Sincerely,
There Are More Important Things In Life Than Food.

:P
Vineet Pandey said…
ok, same ol' same ol'. First thing that comes to mind when I get into stalemates on old topics with friends is to ask someone with more knowledge and insight. So in this regard, you can maybe ask old souls with more understanding of things than a 20 year old as to why they were or turned vegetarian.

The reasons as I know include:
> Hinduism has a concept of Brahma (the absolute truth, in CS terms that would be an all-encompassing knowledge base on which Godel's Incompleteness won't hold) and the hierarchy of animals that you mentioned leads to a path to this Brahman. The more knowledgeable a soul, the closer he is (this also leads to what we call as wise men). To be able to have that amount of purity of mind, it is important to stay away from certain (as texts put it) vices like adultery, intoxication and meat. Also it is not believed to be wise to consume beings with certain evolved decision-making abilities. Well, how do you draw the line? That's the fuzzy part and maybe the fact that humans need to survive on something at least, makes plants and animal products the solution.

> The same ecological pyramid that you mentioned also works on a rough 10:1 ratio, so eating an animal is equivalent to consuming 10 plants it feeds on, when you can yourself survive on lesser. Some find this a strong rationale.

I am a vegetarian but I do not hold anything against non-vegetarians, it's a personal choice but I do have issues when people from either side berate the other party believing their view is the right one. And I sure as hell hate it when I am told I don't have enough exploring to do with veg. food. In that case, yo momma needs cooking lessons. Also, try human meat, probably cannibals say the same about you not having enough options.

I liked the idea of the post but not the execution or the opinions. But it's your blog :) Keep writing
Nickspinkboots said…
:D Stop getting so worked up. By all accounts non veg is very tasty. But I can't say something about stuff I've never tasted, can I?

P.S It's very tedious posting a comment on your blog. Can you change the process, or is it fixed?
wrahool said…
@vineet : that was ... erm ... quite a lot. I have no issues with vegetarians. They ensure that meat prices stay lower than what would have happened had all you vegetarians (god bless them) shown carnivore instincts. Thumbs up for that.

The stand I take against isn't vegetarianism. Rather vegetarians who justify it with lame reasons.

As I can see, you aren't one of them :-/

@nick sorry, but no. Here's what happens when I turn off comment moderation. (I have kept this post just to show this to people who raise this question)

http://wrahoolwrites.blogspot.com/2009/04/unexpected-guest.html
Abhinav said…
As a vegetarian by choice, I have naturally gone through the gamut of arguments you present here. What I have a problem with is the way you handpick quotes from your sources to make it seem that it's overwhelmingly obvious that vegetarianism is fundamentally hypocritical.

First, even the Wiki article you quote on plant perception talks about how the overwhelming scientific consensus on this phenomenon is that it's a pile of junk (why'd you not mention this? If you're going to say that it's all a scientific conspiracy against non-vegetarianism, I have nothing more to say.)

Second, where the heck did you pick this one up from: "Plants (continuing upon the same spree of shameless wiki-lifting) actually have a very well developed nervous system and they respond to shock by spasm in exactly the same way as an animal muscle does". I have found three different wiki articles that assert that scientific consensus holds the exact *opposite*, and go on to use it as an argument *against* plant perception.

Third, pain is a complicated thing. It is more than a sum of its physical symptoms; it is more a state of the brain, that necessarily requires some level of consciousness. Do read the Wiki article on 'Pain' - the current scientific consensus is that at all vertebrates feel pain, in a way non-different from us. So, yes, the cannibalism comparison still holds in this sense. OK, you can argue, as this observation wasn't consensus as recently as 30 years ago, that it is liable to change again. Probably, but the point I'm trying to make here is that not only is what you're saying *not* clear-cut and evident, but it's the minority view among the people who study these things.

There's another tangential point that often crops up in these sorts of debates - are you a non-vegetarian by choice? Did you weigh up all these arguments before choosing your stance? If you did, apologies for my presumption, but it is much more likely that you're just continuing your family tradition, and now that your views are far too ossified to change drastically, you choose to hunt for retrospective justification to what you're already doing anyway.
Blabberer said…
Would like to add a few points to Vineet above:

Human body is not designed, or you might say, evolved to eat meat. Our teeth, as well as our digestive system is not properly equipped to handle meat.

Also, you run a much higher risk of diseases while eating meat. A simple reason for this maybe that animals are much higher up in the food chain. So, as Vineet pointed out above, 10 plants is equivalent to one animal. And, you can't really control where the animals are eating. So, you have a much higher risk of diseases.

Otherwise also, it has been scientifically proved to be unhealthy.

So, I am a veggie by choice. But, I really do not have anything against non-veg people. Because it is a personal choice,I can't really affect it.
wrahool said…
Can't say I that I did not expect a full-on vegetarian assault here.

Good thing is, it brings comments my way.

@lone i picked that up from the wiki-page itself. Hell, if you do something which you have been doing and which you like to do, you would naturally want to justify it. And to justify it, you shouldn't allude to references which'll go against you. It's like saying "Tendulkar is a good player despite the fact that he hasn't scored 75 centuries. I'd rather focus on that fact that he *has* scored 50 centuries than the fact that he *has not* scored more than that to justify that he is a good player. If I were of the opinion that he isn't good player, then I would probably allude to it.

And regarding pain. Well, I'd say I CHOOSE to take the jagdish bose side because it suits me more. You can find Wikipedia articles to justify anything these days, even the fact that the sun goes round the earth (who knows, maybe)

Simple as that. The definitive answer to "plant
perception" isn't out yet and ... I really don't think it'll be out by our lifetimes. Both lines of thought are open, and I choose to support the one I choose.

PS : voluntary veggies have a far more complicated rationale than the average number of twists and turns in their gut. They are far more baffling than a generation of Einsteins put together.

@blabberer well, i do not feel unhealthy in the least after the sumptuous crab my mum had cooked today. And is that a crack on my front incisor? Oh, it's not due to the bone I might have crushed yesterday. Rather the dive in the swimming pool in the shallow end a few years back.

Oh and puh-leez. If non-veg was as toxic as you make it sound, non-veggies would have died out due to natural selection way back.

Oh wait, maybe they are. Let's wait and watch who perishes earlier. Veggies or non-veggies.
Abhinav said…
Come on, with one hasty statement you swept the rug off two thousand years of scientific endeavour. Of course, you can always *choose* to support the flat earth hypothesis, but you should know that there is overwhelming evidence to the contrary, and that a majority of scientists would consider you bonkers. I'm just saying the plant perception has been attempted to be proved many times since Baxter and Bose, but there've been no controlled experiments which have *repeated* their observations, hence the consensus.

The Sachin thing is a bad analogy, and you know it. *Science is not one guy's opinion against another's!* You also say, "And to justify it, you shouldn't allude to references which'll go against you." - that's just plain bad science here - are you saying plant perception should fall outside the domain of science? An analogy for the kind of argument you're employing here would be - I love bungee jumping off the edge of the Earth - what, you don't believe me? There's a wiki article called the 'flat earth hypothesis' to back me up.

Btw, if you split hairs, there's no *definite* answer to anything in science. It's just consensus based on evidence weighed one way or the other. All I'm saying is you can't say something as gospel (you *are* misleading your readers, who'll possibly go on to use the same argument themselves) when it's more or less debunked by scientific consensus.

I disagree about your Wiki articles justifying anything though - even an article on the flat earth hypothesis *may* present arguments backing it, but it'll also clearly state that the scientific consensus is that it's absolute rubbish.
Vineet Pandey said…
Kudos to Lone for arduously debunking most of the claims. In any case, the point that I wanted to talk about (and it is beyond this debate, so I don't expect veg. and non-veg. people to split the same way) was that there are way too many habits which we have that are not based on science but more on the spirit of carrying on traditions or spirituality. Now, as important as it is to break norms to create a new world yada yada, it is also important to realize why some systems have been running successfully for many years (they are related). In that respect, justifying vegetarianism (or even altruism) does not find a clear scientific basis but it makes sense to some people on certain other grounds.

I am also commenting to point out the flaw in your arguments, which unfortunately were more of jabs/retorts and Lone did an amazing job picking them apart. Anecdotes and analogies never prove anything; to use science to explain something, one needs to have hard theory. I know this will boomerang on me on the question of Brahman and spirituality and I concede that it is a matter being looked into by scientists (taken up with more vigour in recent years actually, some research is shaping at the fringes of science about propagation of reiki waves etc.) but sadly spirituality stands debunked for people like you and me who think they understand science better than they do.

Also, your frequent resort to sarcasm when other folks tried putting in things more formally sounded out of place. :) Good luck with the blog and more interesting discussions.
wrahool said…
dear 2006-batchites

I come in peace.

sincerely

flabbergasted 2009-batchite
Roshmi Sinha said…
Hmmm.One must enjoy the best of both worlds... and everything in between ;) ;)

P.S. How come you are a regular on bloggersville these days? Hols??

P.P.S: Wish you and your family a very happy and prosperous new year. ... And may you enjoy all the yummy delicacies cooked @ Krishnokolee-r kitchen :)
wrahool said…
@Roshmi fact remains, as pointed out by one of the seven likers of this post, that vegetarians suffer from *insecurity* which is why they go into such depths to fight out such a trifle.

Happy New Year to you and your family as well, and yes, hols are on. They end soon though.
Avada Kedavra said…
Dont quite agree with you on this post. Even though you pick a fruit/vegetable from the plant, the plant still survives, whereas you need to "kill" an animal in order to eat it. Ofcourse one must not consider vegetables like beetroot (which do not come under vegetarianism as dictated by ancestors).

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