top of page

Suffering: Plants vs. Animals

Dear Dr. Klaper:

I’m not going to suggest that you give up consuming all life forms, but to remind you that plants are living beings too. They too resist death, and defend their lives, and that some form of violence is require to “harvest” the plants we use as foods. – Charles

Thank you, Charles, for your comments above.

Plants are, indeed, living entities and they are destroyed as we eat them. The question, however, is not one of life, but of suffering. I have never heard a carrot scream.

I certainly have heard cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, sheep and calves scream as they are slaughtered – and they, unquestionably, suffer by the billions in today’s factory farm production facilities.

I trust you would feel differently running barefoot through a field of living grass as opposed to running barefoot through a pen full of baby chicks. That is the difference to which I refer.


I agree plant life is precious and should be cherished and cared for, and/but I do not feel any guilt eating a salad. However, I would always feel dreadful biting into a piece of animal flesh knowing the suffering inherent in its commercial production.

I hope in our consideration of this issue, we don’t plunge down the rabbit hole of Cleve Backster’s experiments detecting electrical currents (energy flow and vibration) in plants. Suffering, to my knowledge, requires a nervous system, which all sentient animals have and plants do not.

I am quite concerned about wanton destruction, poisoning, and burning of plants and forests. They are sophisticated forms of life upon which our lives depend and should be treated with reverence and respect. At the same time, I believe that consuming plants – as a way of incorporating the sun’s energy to sustain our lives – does not cause measurable suffering to plants, whereas the slaughter of animals inevitably does account for (unnecessary and avoidable) suffering.

While I share your concern for life and logical consistency, I know the difference I feel in my heart and spirit when I cut into a carrot versus what I would feel if I plunged a knife into an awake, living rabbit. That visceral awareness is one of the reasons I advocate for plant-based nutrition, which will not only alleviate suffering for billions of sentient non-human beings, but also improve our planet’s environmental health and the personal health of people who currently eat animals.

To your good health and happiness,

Dr. Michael Klaper

bottom of page