Bad news for vegetarians and vegans, plants can feel and are intelligent enough to know when you’re eating them, and they don’t like it.
While millions around the planet have adopted vegetarian and vegan diets, refraining from eating animal flesh or products coming from animals, they have resorted to diets based purely on plants, fruits and vegetables. But what if they new that plants can feel?
Even if eating a leaf off a plant doesn’t kill it, new studies on the intelligence of plants have shown that they can tell when they are being eaten and respond with defensive measures to stop it.
To us humans, intelligence might mean something completely different from what it means to animals or plants. Intelligence is how something thinks or behaves, each within its own environment and community.
A team at the University of Missouri experimented on Arabidopsis, specifically the thale cress, a close relative of broccoli, kale and cabbage. Since it was the first plant to have its entire genome sequenced by scientists, it is popular for experimentation.
To test whether or not the plant has “feelings”, the scientists imitate sound vibrations made by caterpillars when they are eating off leaves. Also, they included other sounds and vibrations the plant might hear, like wind noise.
To the researcher’s fascination, the plant produced and send mustard oils to its leaves, which is mildly toxic when ingested. The study showed that when plants felt or heard the sound of caterpillars munching, they sent out extra mustard oils, but nothing when they heard other sounds and vibrations.
While nobody can tell for sure how the plant hears, feels and/or thinks, these new findings open doors to a whole new field of science.