Do Plants Feel Pain: Eye-Opening Facts About Plants You Need To Know
Time to read 3 min
Time to read 3 min
A common question that often pops up, especially when it is related to veganism, is whether plants feel pain or not.
So, what’s the real answer - do plants feel pain, and do they have feelings?
In short - no. Plants do not feel pain because they lack pain receptors, nerves, or a brain which means they can’t have feelings or feel pain the same way animals or humans do.
Since there is a lot of misinformation about this topic, let’s dive deeper into it to see what the science says about plants and whether they feel pain.
So far, there haven’t been any studies to prove that plants can feel pain.
The main reason is that they lack the nervous system, pain receptors, and brain necessary for this to happen. So, anatomically, plants are not able to feel pain.
The confusion that plants can feel pain may come from the fact that plants are indeed alive and capable of doing incredible things.
However, they are different from animals and us. For example, plants operate on a cellular level - when certain stimuli (light, gravity, water, and touch) are applied to an organism, various changes appear.
Plant hormones (signal molecules) regulate plant cellular processes, including plant growth, flowering, ripening, and defense responses.
No - unlike humans and non-human animals, plants do not have feelings.
It is undeniable that a plant can respond to environmental stimuli, like turning towards the light or closing over a fly. But that doesn’t prove that they can have feelings, such as pain.
That’s what makes a plant less morally significant than an animal with a brain, nervous system, and sentient.
That’s more important when assigning moral worth- not the possession of life, but the possession of sentience.
Like plants, trees are alive, but they are not sentient beings. They don’t have subjective experiences, and from what we know, they can’t suffer or feel pain.
Research for over 25 years shows that many plants transmit electrical signals to and from different parts of their bodies to respond to environmental stimuli. However, plants do not have a nervous system.
Sentience is the capacity to feel, perceive, or experience subjectively. Therefore, sentience requires a level of awareness and cognitive ability.
Plants are not sentient. Plants use groups of coordinated physiological activities to deal with defined environmental situations but currently have no known mental state to prioritize any order of response.
As mentioned before, plant cells respond to external stimulants by changing several factors on a cellular level.
Yes - animals are sentient.
This includes all animals, and evidence supports the sentience and consciousness of fish, too.
Animals possess a central nervous system, which means that they have the potential to experience pain. There is also undeniable behavioral evidence of pain, including screaming, squealing, and struggling.
Despite the evidence, even if plants did experience pain, a vegan diet would be the best way to reduce their suffering, as going vegan actually saves more plants and trees than a typical meat and dairy diet.
This is because:
Farming animals for food uses much more land than farming plants. 77% of agricultural land is used to farm animals, despite it providing just 18% of the world’s caloric intake.
Plants have entirely different ways of being than us.
There is an undeniable moral distinction between animals, plants, and other life forms, precisely because of the sentience factor.
Plans are not conscious, they don’t consciously respond to external stimuli, and there is no evidence to suggest sentience or the ability to feel pain or emotions.
On the other hand, non-human animals, like humans, are conscious, sentient, and have subjective experiences.
Unlike plants, animals can experience negative emotions, such as pain and suffering, or positive ones, like happiness and joy.