If Plants Are Consciousness, What Happens When We Eat Them?

Not too long ago The New York Times ran an article, Sedate a Plant, and It Seems to Lose Consciousness. Is It Conscious? The new evidence that plants have a type of “conscious,” joins a host of other research indicating that plants are intelligent, understand where they are in space, respond to threats and obstacles, and communicate with each other. We’ve known for years that plants grow faster and lusher when you play the right music or speak nicely to them, but now there is evidence that plants form memories. Does that mean they remember that you were kind to them? And what does it mean now to eat them? What, if any, are the moral or ethical implications?

Just to be clear, I’m pretty sure that we have to eat something, so I’m not advocating for fasting or breatharianism (the belief that one can survive on sunlight and fresh air – and yes, this is real).  As an 80-90% vegetarian I’m already big on a plant based diet, and debating making the jump to full time veggie.  Furthermore, what started as a simple recognition that I feel better when I eat less meat and more plants, has begun to take on ideological overtones as more is uncovered about the horrendous abuses in the meat industry. It is no longer possible to ignore the glaring cost of what we put on our plates in terms of animal suffering, environmental damage, and waste of resources.  Continuing to support any part of this system with my food dollars has become untenable.

I think that in an ideal world there is a way to “ethically” eat an animal. Perhaps a Native American or indigenous rite of recognizing, honoring, asking permission and thanking the spirit of the animal before slaughter would come close. Eating nothing but what one has hunted oneself would likewise add a mindfulness to the process that is lacking now.  My question today is, do plants deserve the same “soul” recognition and mindfulness in their handling and consumption?

I suspect the answer is yes. And while I’ve never been a big one for saying grace before meals, I have for years thanked the plants that I am dicing, chopping, sauteing, etc., for their nutrients and sacrifice on my behalf. I feel bad for unused food in a way that I didn’t before – now it’s not just a question of wasted money, but a needless sacrifice of an energy that was prepared to nourish me, if I had remained mindful. Thinking this way also means that I am more mindful of portion size and not being greedy, which may also explain why I feel and look better when I eat this way. And for that, I give thanks, too.

 


Ghosts in the Genes: Cellular Memory

| by Cheryl Shainmark

We’re having good friends over for dinner in a few weeks and my friend and I are discussing what to serve: I’m thinking Italian and I tell him that I want to try my hand at making homemade pasta. A few minutes later, after proposing and rejecting various menu items, I close my eyes to organize my thoughts and it happens — I see my hands as clear as day making pasta in front of me. In reality, one hand is holding a cup of coffee and the other is resting on my lap — but in my minds-eye I can feel the smooth dough against my fingers as I roll little orrechiete “ears” over my thumb….

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The Voice of Your Higher Self

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I learned over time that this is the sound of my higher self. Sometimes it’s barely there in the background, pointing me in the right direction with a nudge or a song lyric, or a bit of humor and love. Other times she comes through loud and clear with precise instructions or suggestions. No topic is too large or too small to engage my higher self, and the range of comments over the years have both startled and amused me.

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Tell Me A Story: Stirring Up Cellular Memories with Meditation

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I have been meditating for over twenty years now and find it an essential part of my life. Many have written about the substantial physical and emotional benefits, and while I’ve certainly found that to be the case, too, I’ve also noticed that there is a component of releasing “cellular memories” that is rarely addressed. People shy away from phenomena that are not so easily explained, but whether you call it “cellular memories,” “past lives,” or releasing “old patterns,” I have found that there is something extraordinary happening that also brings welcome relief to the body and the spirit.

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Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age

| by Cheryl Shainmark

In his new book Life is in the Transitions: Mastering Change at Any Age Feiler notes that the idea that we’ll have one job, one relationship, one source of happiness for most of our lives is outdated, and that we now live in a non-linear world that forces us to make transitions. While this trend has been occurring for some time, what is new right now is that the whole world is going through these transitions at once. How we face these life altering changes, and what tools we can use to help the process these events is at the core of this book.

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The Buddhist Soul in Me

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I am many things, but I am not a Buddhist. Still, every so often the secret Buddhist in my soul demands to be fed: lighting a little incense, placing a flower in a bowl like an offering, sweeping a spider out the door (instead of squishing it), or taking a day trip to the Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, NY.

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For the Common Good

| by Cheryl Shainmark

What is the common good? The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy say that the common good “refers to those facilities—whether material, cultural or institutional—that the members of a community provide to all members in order to fulfill a relational obligation they all have to care for certain interests that they have in common.” Put more simply, it is whatever is for the benefit or interests of all.

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The Booming Market for Meat Alternatives

| by Cheryl Shainmark

White Castle and Fat Burger now feature Impossible Burgers, Del Taco has Beyond Meat on the menu, and Burger King is about to roll out a Beyond Meat Whopper. Hard Rock Cafes in Europe carry a veggie burger now, (though you’d have to skip the cheese to make it a vegan meal), and they expect to offer it in their US locations next year. As Phil Shainmark, our columnist for The Unlikely Vegan noted recently, “It’s quite possibly the best time to be a Vegan. There are so many amazing choices and places to go.” Even if you’re not a vegan or a fast food fan, the variety of meat alternatives is great news as many grocery stores and regular restaurants have also added plant based options to meet growing customer demand. According to Market Insider, the $14 billion dollar meat alternative industry is expected to grow to $140 billion over the next decade.

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Turning My Deck into Paradise

| by Cheryl Shainmark

It’s that time of the year again, when I start to fantasize about sitting out on my deck, surrounded by plants and cats, sipping a cold drink and enjoying a warm breeze.  I usually get into decorating my little outdoor space, but this year I plan to really do it up: more plants, more herbs, nicer cushions, fairy lights, and candles. Have I missed anything?

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When Your Body Speaks: Paying Attention to Food Cravings

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Several weeks ago I caught a doozy of a cold, leaving me with a stuffed head, chronically runny nose, sore throat and a bit of a cough. Bad enough for the first few days, weeks later it seemed like it just wouldn’t go away. I didn’t have the flu or strep throat or bronchitis, but the symptoms lingered. Finally, after weeks of getting more rest and watching my diet, it passed. During that time I ate lightly, (when I wasn’t sleeping,) but found myself throwing handfuls of thyme and garlic into virtually everything – from scrambled eggs to soup. It was a little bizarre, actually.

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