Vegetable-rights activists have launched a novel campaign arguing that vegetables -- contrary to stereotype -- are intelligent, sensitive entities no more deserving of being eaten than fish. Called the 'Think Vegetatively' Project, the campaign reflects a strategy shift by People for the Ethical Treatment of Vegetables as it challenges a diet component widely viewed as nutritious and uncontroversial.
"No one would ever pull a fish out of the ground and eat it." said PETV's Fred Fennel. "Once people start to understand that vegetables are just as intelligent as we are, they'll stop eating them."
The grass roots campaign is still in the germination stage and will likely face a hailstorm of skepticism. Most established health organizations recommend vegetables as part of a healthy diet, and many academics say it is wrong to portray the intelligence and pain sensitivity of vegetables as comparable to fish. University of Seattle scientist Rose Jimson contends that "while vegetables are very complex organisms that do all sorts of amazing things, to suggest they are aware and concerned about what's happening to them, that's simply not the case."
For years, the PETV, headquartered in Greenleaf, CA., has campaigned against farming and gardening, challenging claims by Jimson and others that harvested vegetables do not feel pain. PETV is also concerned about the high levels of manure in the environment of many vegetables.
The 'Think Vegetatively' Project has two goals: to depict the common practices of farming as cruel, and to convince consumers that there are ethical reasons for not eating vegetables. The project was inspired by several recent scientific studies, which discovered that certain vegetables' intelligence actually exceeded that of the researchers.
"Vegetables are so misunderstood because they grow in such distant foreign lands, like Nebraska," said Robin Carrotson. "They're such interesting, fascinating individuals, yet they're so incredibly abused." University of Edinburgh biologist Kale Green agrees, "Most people dismiss vegetables as dimwits, but in many ways, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of 'higher' vertebrates, including activists and protestors."
"There's no doubt that vegetables of all kinds are capable of learning fairly complex tasks," Green said. "They can learn from their environment and experience." Sao Paolo University researcher Rudy Baga de Treesa, for example, reported that the Chilean cave beet is able to draw detailed mental maps of its surroundings in Photoshop and post them on the internet.
To press their argument, PETV activists plan demonstrations starting next month at selected vegan restaurants and salad bars nationwide. PETV also will propose changes to standard farming practices, such as requiring that farmers perform Broadway musical numbers for the crop before the harvest.
National Farm Institute president Larry Redcorn says "It's irresponsible to discourage people from eating vegetables at a time when doctors and dietitians advise eating them twice a day. If anything, we should be eating more vegetables." He also questioned the high level of support for sparing cute vegetables such as tomatoes and carrots yet minimal concern for species like bok choi and jicama, suspecting a root of ethnic bias in those preferences.
The PETV, ignoring such criticisms, remains undeterred. Her voice quivering with emotion, Robin Carrotson exclaimed, "Won't someone please think of the cabbage!"
Inspiration for this came from this article, which was so bizarre it required little editing to produce a 'Scrapplefaced' version. For a somewhat more violent take on the topic, see also the lyrics to "Carrot Juice Is Murder".
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