Letter: Plants feel pain, too

Editor of the Reformer:

Every holiday, like clockwork, we get a letter to the Reformer describing the horrors of the worst factory farms and urging everyone to become vegetarians. Yes factory farms are bad. But that doesn't mean you have to abandon meat altogether. It makes more sense to me to try to find meat that is raised with concern for the animals' welfare.

Otherwise it's like saying huge gas guzzlers are wasting energy so we should give up cars altogether.

There are farms that raise meat humanely. As my neighbor the late Frank Stone used to say, "You give the animals the best life you know how, and then you make sure they're butchered painlessly."

There are local farms that raise animals with this philosophy. One problem is that small farms don't have the economies of scale that huge factory farms do, so locally raised meats are a little more expensive than factory farm raised. But the meat tastes better, and it's usually organic or almost organic. If you can afford it, it's well worth the extra expense.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if we discovered that plants can also feel pain. Trees do communicate through their roots. If one tree is damaged, it lets the other trees know that danger is afoot. We slaughter animals quickly, before they can feel much pain. But we yank our lettuce up by the roots and then tear the leaves into the salad bowl. Is this humane?

Gretchen Becker

Halifax, Nov. 25


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