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Silence of the Tomatoes

The Secret Life of Scientists and EngineersThe Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers

Click here for Alan’s profile.

As a youngster, Alan Sage —scientist, rapper, and vegetarian—put up a fight against biology class dissections. He ate fish until he was about four years old, when he realized fish had eyes. As an adult, he discovered that plants react to glutamate, a neurotransmitter in the human brain, and this discovery tells us that plants have some evolutionary similarity to humans. His interpretation: Plants can think.

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Would you like some ketchup with that?

I wondered what it might mean to vegetarian philosophy if, through due scientific process, the notion that plants can think (and feel?) became a given. What would it mean to committed vegans and vegetarians?

If plants feel as animals do, will we start to think that eating things without eyes is discrimination against those that do?

These questions get to the very heart of why people are vegetarian in the first place. So, I asked this question on my Facebook page: “Are you a vegetarian? Or vegan? Or are you decidedly NEITHER? Why?”

Original funding for "The Secret Life of Scientists and Engineers" was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.