What About Killing Plants?
One of the strongest objections animal killers raise against vegetarianism is that vegetarians still have to kill plants, and that this is also violence. But there is no logic in equating fully sentient animals like cows with lowly vegetables. Certainly, plants are as alive as cows; modern experiments prove that plants have feelings, and the Bhagavadgita, the essence of all Vedic teachings, confirms that all life forms contain spirit souls qualitatively equal to one another. Still all killings are not the same. Going by the argument, killing the person so arguing and killing a potato should be the same but he would not agree to that. Besides most of the time the plants are not killed. At the time of harvesting, the rice or wheat stalks turn yellow and are already dead. When plucking an apple or tomato, the plant is not killed. Whatever violence exists in vegetarian diet, it is minimal because plants have been put by nature in a kind of anaesthesia. That is why chopping a potato and killing a cow creates very different scenes. Potato does not scream, writhe or tries to flee away. Is it the same thing to operate a person who is fully conscious and a person with anaesthesia? We have to eat something, and the Vedas also say, jivo jivasya jivanam: one living entity is food for another. So from a humane standpoint, the problem in choosing a diet is not how to avoid killing altogether—an impossible proposal—but how to cause the least suffering while meeting the nutritional needs of the body. A well-balanced diet of fruits, grains, vegetables, and milk products meets these criteria, and this diet is recommended in such scriptures as the Bhagavad-gita as most truly human.