Popular belief we have, that vegetarian food is non-violent and so without any sinfulness. Many believe that vegetarian food is produced without pain to anybody and so very harmless. They also believe that there in this type of food no killing is involved. In the last century one Hindu scientist from India, Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose, had done some revolutionary discovery that exposed these popular beliefs. He showed through his specially developed instrument that plants have pain when they are killed to make our vegetarian food. Many sects in India such as Jainism, Brahmanism and many others became interested in this belief and so they insist to do only vegan diet and they vehemently avoid meat food because it involves killing, violence and so painfulness to dying animal. They claim that meat diet is causing much pain when animals are killed and so that food is bad. Since, this discovery is by an Indian scientist who is also a Hindu we should take it seriously and rethink about our concept of vegetarian food. Following article elaborates on this topic. Please see what Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose discovered.
The truth that plants are capable of feeling emotions was first recorded in 1848, when Dr. Gustav Theodor Fechner, a German experimental psychologist, suggested that plants are capable of emotions and that one could promote healthy growth with talk, attention, attitude, and affection towards plant.
Indian scientist Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose, from Bengal, began to conduct experiments on plants in the year 1900. He found that every plant and every part of a plant (tissue) appeared to have a separate (independent) sensitive nervous system and responded to shock by a spasm in protoplasm just as an animal muscle does. In addition Bose found that plants grew more quickly midst pleasant music and more slowly midst loud noise or harsh sounds. He also claimed that plants can "feel pain, understand affection etc.," from the analysis of the nature of variation of the tissue membrane potential of plants under different circumstances. According to him, a plant treated with care and affection gives out a different vibration compared to a plant subjected to torture.
One visitor to his laboratory, the vegetarian playwright George Bernard Shaw, was intensely disturbed upon witnessing a demonstration in which a cabbage had "convulsions" as it was boiled to death. Bose found that the effect of manures, drugs, and poisons could be determined within minutes, providing plant control with a new precision. He repeated his tests on metals, administering poisons to tin, zinc, and platinum, and obtained astonishing responses which, when plotted on a graph, appeared precisely like those of poisoned animals. In conclusion he said:
"Do not these records tell us of some property of matter common and persistent with living beings? That there is no abrupt break, but a uniform and continuous march of nature's law? These experiments showed that all matter whether plant or animal or seemingly non living material have a life force within some measure, however minute it may be."
According to Bose, all nature is full of life forces and life force is not limited to only animals and plants. Seemingly Non-living material also has some incipient life element in it. That means whole world is filled with life force of different measures. Only when the strength reaches a level that humans can notice it. That life force becomes evident to humans not otherwise. This goes well with ancient Hindu belief that even a stone can become reverent when the incipient life force in that stone grows to the level that it can be felt by humans. This explains the concept of idolatry (idol worship) and litholetry (stone worship similar to Shivling and Kaaba, Black Stone, in Mecca) that continues to exist in Hindus.
Plant perception or bio-communication is the idea that plants are sentient, that they respond to humans in a manner that amounts to ESP and that they experience pain and fear. Plants also do communicate with one another and with insects via chemical "distress signals".The theory was earlier dismissed by scientists because plants lack a nervous system.
Bose subsequently made a number of pioneering discoveries in plant physiology. He used his own invention, the crescograph, to measure plant response to various stimuli, and thereby scientifically proved parallelism between animal and plant tissues. Although Bose filed for a patent for one of his inventions due to peer pressure, his reluctance to any form of patenting was well known. To facilitate his research, he constructed automatic recorders capable of registering extremely tenuous movements; these instruments produced some striking results, such as Bose's demonstration of an apparent power of feeling in plants, exemplified by the quivering of injured plants. His discoveries are explained in his two books, Response in the Living and Non-Living (1902) and The Nervous Mechanism of Plants (1926).
His major contribution in the field of biophysics was the demonstration of the electrical nature of the conduction of various stimuli suchlike wounds, chemical agents in plants, which were earlier thought to be of a chemical nature. These claims were later proven experimentally. He was also the first to study the action of microwaves in plant tissues and corresponding changes in the tissue membrane potential which may cause cancer in humans. He researched the mechanism of the seasonal effect on plants, the effect of chemical inhibitors on plant stimuli and the effect of temperature. From the analysis of the variation of the tissue membrane potential of plants under different circumstances, he hypothesized and proved through his experiments later that, plants can feel pain, understand affection etc. That means plants are a living being full of sentience similar to animals.
Recent research has shown that plants can respond to electrical impulses, but their lack of a central nervous system and nociceptive A delta fibers implies that plants have no feeling of pain "exactly like animals". However, hypothesis suggests that plant being of a very different structure these nociceptive A delta fibers may not be required to feel pain. Central nervous system and nociceptive A delta fibers are required to carry pain and pleasure causing impulses to brain and back to that tissue but since plants do not have brain these are not required as some experts opine. In case of plants each tissue has its own nuclei and the pain and pleasure is felt at that point, that means, each tissue feels pain and pleasure independently. While one part of plant is suffering from pain other parts may not be having that pain. This arrangement is very different from that animals have. In animals pain is registered at the level of brain and that feeling is carried all over the body through the nervous system and thus all body feels the pain. At the end of the day, we have to understand that plants do feel pain though in a different way. What Bose concluded in his work is more relevant than the other opinions. One more point comes to be evident that a plant is not one life but a collection of many life forces working together in unison to make a whole plant; this is very different from animals. in animals it is only one life force that exists for the whole of that body.
This also explains why tissue culture is possible in plant tissues while it is not possible in animal tissue. In plant tissues the system is complete in itself but in case of animal tissue it is not complete in itself. So long as it is connected actively with central nervous system it functions normally but as soon as it is separated from that it ceases to function normally and so dies completely. A plant tissue does not die in this way. Even a single tissue can function as complete life and so it responds to tissue culture techniques. Plant tissue dies only when subjected to wrong environment such as heat, chemical or mechanical pressures.
Veganism is based on the belief that plants do not have pain and pleasure, sentience. Above information shows that this belief is not scientifically proven. Ancient Jains and other people did not know of this and so they probably went by simple common sense reading of plant behavior. Since, now we know that plants do feel pain and pleasure, killing a plant tissue is also violence. Veganism stands to lose its claim on this account. We have activists to protect animal from cruelty but nobody bothers for what cruelty is shown to plants.
We shall do some calculations to show how killing vegetable tissues and killing animal tissues is not theoretically very different. Since animals have, as mentioned above, Central nervous system and nociceptive A delta fibers their pain is not felt at the tissue level unless the pain impulse is carried to it by brain. When animal is killed the Central nervous system and nociceptive A delta fibers ends from functioning normally and so no pain is carried to parts of the body which are affected by the action of killing. In case of animals each and every tissue is not functioning independently like plant tissues and so these tissues do not feel any pain once the animal has died or subjected to treatment to inactivate it (anesthesia). If an animal is subjected to treatment of making its senses inactivated and then killed he will not feel any pain and in that case there we achieve a painless death. Anesthesia works on central nervous system but since, plant tissues do not have such arrangement anesthesia does not work on it. That is why all plant tissues always have active sensuality. This reality is exactly opposite the usual belief of veganists. When body parts of the killed or dead animal cut in pieces each piece having no sentience, no violence is happening in that process. Whereas in case of plant even when it is cut in pieces, each tissue in those parts continues to feel sentience. Therefore, when an animal is killed that amounts to only one pain (and one kill) count while in case of a plant when the plant is killed every tissue dies independently. Therefore, when an animal is killed only one count of pain is recorded; whereas in case a plant dies several tissues record pain and so the count of pain is much more. For example, if a cow is killed only one count of pain and one count of kill is recorded whereas when a potato is boiled all tissues of that one potato register pain separately increasing the pain count to many thousands depending upon how many tissues that potato had. This explains why killing a potato is more violent than killing a cow! An apparent paradox we see here. Therefore, what commonly we believe that veganism is lesser violent than non-vegetarianism is actually wrong. I take cow for example because it is one animal big enough and so it shows the difference in count better. Human sensitivity for many lights as well as sounds is not good enough to perceive them that does not mean they do not exist. Similarly pain expressed by plant tissues are not perceived by humans. However, they can be recorded by using equipment such as crescograph.
This may explain why ancient Sanatan Dharma recommended to eat cow and so sacrificed it. That was probably because it was least violent. May be, those ancient sages were fully aware of this truth. That wisdom was lost in due course of time and then ideologies such as Jainism developed professing vegan diet as non-violent food. Brahmanism adopted it from Jain ideology and propagated it among Hindus.
More examples we shall see to understand this subject. A chapati (bread) of small size needs about 400 grains of wheat. So to make one chapati 400 grains are pounded to make floor. That means when one chapati is eaten the man has made 400 kills and so 400 pains and as many sins. As we presume here for the sake of argument; sin is equal to the count of pain. If pain count is taken as measure of sin count then by eating one chapati eater has made 400 count sins. Violence count is also related with sin count one to one. In case of this example 400 count of violence we have record. While for killing one cow only one violence count will be recorded. This shows that killing one cow is less violent then eating one chapati. Meat of one cow can satisfy about 200 people (approximate) that means by simple arithmetic, one eater has committed 1/200 count sin and also responsible for equal count of pain. If 200 people eat one chapati each, total sin and violence and pain count comes to 80000 counts in all for all people who eat that. These simple calculations show adequately how vegan food is more violent, more painful and more sinful. Some readers may take it as a joke but believe me it is truth and no joke.
When we talk about sin we should first decide what is sin in this context. As per Hindu belief sin is committed in mind of the person and if it reaches high level of intensity then an act of sin is committed. We should also note that Jainism is having same approach. If a person commits killing of anything unconsciously that is no sin similarly if that killing is done for self defense it is not sin. Here we shall take the previous example of chapati. A person pounds quantity of wheat grains in a mill not with intention to kill those grains but for food (self defense argument) then by the definition provided by Hindu belief that is no sin however pain it does cause to those grains and so violence committed. Here we should note that violence has two types, one violence due to sin and other due to pain. Vegans are more concerned about violence due to pain.
One has to decide in these four things, kill, pain, violence and sin; and the definition of violence, whether sin is violence or pain is violence? If pain is priority then eating chapati is violence but if sin is the consideration then there is no sin and so no violence committed. A series of study shows in every food habit whether it was sin or not but in all cases pain count was confirmed. I do not know what makes vegan society insist for vegan food. If it is for pain then actually vegetarian food is most painful and so most violent. I do not know in Jainism what is definition of violence against which they complain. If we form a society to protect plants from cruelty (similar to protection to animals from cruelty), we probably would have to abandon eating plant food.
We have to now find out what vegan food is not causing violence(pain). Parts such as ripe fruits, flowers do not have such arrangement (capacity to be used for tissue culture) and so cooking and eating it is not violence. Here I have taken pain is violence. We shall compare different food habits taking sin as violence later. About animal produces, eating non-fertile eggs is no violence but eating fertile egg is definitely violence because one unit life is killed in that process. We generally feel that eggs from poultry farms are non-fertile and so eating them is not violence but lately I have found that in some poultry farms particularly owned by Christian and Muslim farmers, they allow cock in the cage. By this most eggs become fertile. They do it because fertile eggs have longer shelf life and they do not need refrigeration to preserve them. Hindu poultry farmers do not put cock in cage and so one who is particular about violence should avoid eating eggs from a Muslim or Christian farmer. However, it is not possible to know from which farm eggs have come in shop! If animals are slaughtered after making them unconscious then there will be no pain and so no violence. We can make it a condition that all animals will be slaughtered only after making them unconscious. Then we shall have meat without pain. However, Muslim butchers kill animal by their religious law and by that if killed animals have to undergo much pain. Hindus should prefer to take meat only from Hindu butchers to have only painless meat.
Finally, we may come to conclusion that eating vegetarian food is more violent than eating animal meat. Anybody who wants to justify vegan diet giving excuse of violence is absolutely baseless. However, if he says he does not like meat diet and so does not eat it; that will be better. Because, one should not eat that food which he does not relish. Let us remember that Sanatan Dharma says one life lives by eating other life. We cannot exist unless we kill some life somewhere! Therefore, talking of non-violent food is blasphemy and amount to hypocrisy.
Discussion on the true definition of violence, sin, pain and kill, we shall take for chatting some other time.
You may contact me on my Email ID given below,
You are invited to visit my other blogs
Ashok Kothare, http://ashokkotharesblog.blogspot.com/ for stories
I reckon, http://kotharesviews.blogspot.com/ for philosophy
You may visit blog, Freedom of Expression, http://blogs.siliconindia.com/kothare/ for intelligent discussions.
Freedom of Expression, http://kothare-thinks.blogspot.in/