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‘We may all become fruitarians’: Animal rights group PETA says they may resort to eating ‘only what falls from the tree’ if it can be proven that plants feel pain – but say the ‘jury is still out’ on the issue
Animal rights group PETA have said they may become ‘fruitarians’ and eat ‘only what falls from the tree’ if it can be proven that plants feel pain.
The vegan organisation said the ‘jury is still out’ on the question, but added it is possible plants have a way of experiencing pain that we do not yet understand.
It comes after a new study suggested the plant kingdom is able to produce alarm sounds while being cut – with distressed noises coming from tomato and tobacco plants, as well as corn and the grapevines used to make cabernet sauvignon.
PETA’s Vice President of Programmes, Elisa Allen, told MailOnline: ‘The jury is still out on whether [plants] feel pain. If we discover that they can, we may all become fruitarians, eating only what falls from the tree.
‘It shouldn’t come as a shock that plants make noise – likely from the formation and bursting of air bubbles in the plant’s vascular system – given that they communicate via fungal networks to warn each other of impending threats.
Animal rights group PETA have warned they may become ‘fruitarians’ and ‘only what falls from the tree’ if it can be proven that plants feel pain. [File image]
A recent study found that plants emit distressed sounds when they are experiencing stress
‘But today, we know that eating plants directly, rather than feeding them in massive quantities to animals and then killing those animals for their flesh, requires fewer of them and doesn’t hurt animals – who indisputably feel pain.
‘So for anyone worried about plants’ welfare, going vegan is the best option for now.’
Meanwhile, other vegans branded the idea of plants feeling pain as ‘ridiculous’, insisting the plant kingdom does not have the same capacity to feel as animals.
Rory Cockshaw, campaigner at vegan animal rights group Viva, told MailOnline: ‘The idea that plants are sentient is slightly ridiculous. Plants don’t have nervous systems.
A recent study found that tomato plants which had not been watered for up to five days produced a popping sound much more frantically – more than once every two minutes on average
‘The sounds that plants make are likely due to air popping – that’s nothing like the cry of a pig when suffocating in a gas chamber.
Do plants feel ‘pain’?
When a bug bites down on a plant leaf, the wound triggers the release of calcium, researchers at the University of Wisconsin said last year.
This sets off a chain reaction in the cells along the plant leaves and stem.
It takes about one to two minutes for the response to reach every part of the plant.
The calcium generates a hormonal response from the plant to protect its leaves.
Some plants release noxious chemicals that makes it taste bad to other invading bugs.
Others, such as grass, give off hormones that attract nearby parasitic wasps, which eat the attacking insects.
‘It’s nothing like the cry of a dog when stepping on a thorn.
‘As a vegan I would feel bad eating animals, because animals have nervous systems – they’re sentient – they have the ability to feel pain.’
He added: ‘Plants do not have the ability to feel pain, or to experience the world.’
When discovering that plants can make distressed noises, however, another vegan said: ‘I’m in shock! Eating tomatoes will never be the same!’
Plants usually produce a noise similar to popcorn popping – believed to be caused by air bubbles bursting in their stem – less than once an hour.
But a recent study found that tomato plants which had not been watered for up to five days produced a popping sound much more frantically – more than once every two minutes on average.
When they were cut, meanwhile, the tomato plants made an alarm sound around every two and a half minutes.
The researchers also discovered plants including grapevines, wheat, corn and cacti made noises when they were cut or dehydrated.
The sounds lasted for longer when a plant was dehydrated, compared to when it was cut, while different plants seemed to make different noises based on factors like noise frequency.