What's the vegetarian stand on the humble fungus?

Those are small and extremely specific sensory systems, and there has been nothing to indicate that - contrary to the glurge about roses screaming when plucked - plants are capable of feeling what we sense as pain, or being capable of registering it as such and actually suffering as a result.

I, personally, have never understood how a line can be drawn so arbitrarily between plants and animals as sources of food.

A vegetarian’s argument invariably boils down to “It’s okay to kill plants, but not animals”

Why the distinction? They’re both living things.

As for myself, I don’t like to eat anything that didn’t have a face at one point.

EVeryone’s gotta find that line they’re comfortable with. Most people draw the line at babies and pets. :slight_smile:

On a related note, I remember reading years ago about a religion that practiced a very radical vegetarianism and actually ranked foods. For instance, a carrot was considered more “sentient” than say rice, which I think was the “lowest” food. Fungi would no doubt be high on the list. Anyone know what this religion is? I’m thinking it may have had Indian roots…

tremorviolet: google on the “Jains” in India. IIRC this is the root of the vegan thing. Jains are a vegetarians vegetarian. Kipling mentions the Jains in his novel Kim.

In China, most practicing buddhist monks and nuns are strict plant eating vegetarians (no eggs, dairy, etc). They also did not eat onions and garlic on the (simplified explanation) basis that they were too “strong” flavored.

hehehehehhe… blaggin’ on my spelling? classic :slight_smile:
a bit off topic tho’… isn’t it?

I DO know how to spell…
and yes, I do consider myself very fluent in this language you call “english”…

but, I also take a lot of liberties with it… especially talking online… I’ll write, pretty much in the same slack-arse manner that I speak…

I may be well educated, have a uni degree… and all that…
but, I wont talk that way… not often…

so… excuse the gratuitous use of “dude” speech… it’s just the way I am… mmmmkay? :wink:

but… back onto the subject…
interesting comment here by Mr. Frink…
(is that Professor Frink from the SIMPSONS? that dude rocks)

“As an interesting aside…I remember reading in Time Magazine a while back, that through genetic analysis, it was discovered that the Fungus Kingdom is more closely related to the Animal Kingdom than it is to the Plant Kingdom. Interesting, eh?”

something I’ve always suspected… and it does seriously start messing with the grey’ness and vague’ness of vegetarianism… at least from a seriously pedantic viewpoint…

Well yes, but I’m not understanding why you think any type of vegetarian might not eat funguses, as they are not animal-related in any way.

In other words, I don’t understand the entire premise of your friend’s question, assuming (s)he is aware that mushrooms are not animals.

Well, the argument has been made ( by my old mycology professor, anyway ) that evolutionarily speaking, the fungi are more closely related to animals than plants ;). However the level of distance is so great from either, that that is admittedly an almost nonsensical comparison.

  • Tamerlane

Oops. Obviously I didn’t read this thread thoroughly enough before posting. My apologies for the redundancy :).

  • Tamerlane

Isn’t the same also true for some varieties of Protists, like amoebae?

Eating Amoebae is generally not a good idea.

Amoebic dysentery comes to mind. Not a pretty picture.

He wants to know what the reasons are to justify vegatarianism.

The basis of vegetarianism is usually to avoid inflicting pain on others… the idea… that we shouldn’t cause animals to suffer… coz we’re better than that… all well n good…

but… if suffering is the issue… any taking of life… causes suffering… and everything we eat… dies… so we may eat it… such is the recycling of organics… how about the mushroom issue, or plants sensing pain, etc. ??

so… that’s the funny thing I have with it… I mean… if you simply chose to not eat meat… coz you don’t like the taste… if it’s a diet issue… I’m perfectly happy with that reasoning… I’m not really a fan of tomatoes… just don’t like the texture…

love tomato sauce, no problems with pizza sauce… tomatoes in ANY form… but original form… my only reasoning… taste… well… texture.[. just thought I’d get my point across… ;)/quote]

I agree with the tomato thing. That’s my problem with most vegetables, is the texture. I love tomato sauces and such, but wouldn’t eat a whole one to save my life. Well, maybe to save my live…but that’s about it.


Most vegetarians I know (note they being distinct from vegans) offer some blend of health related reasons and honoring the pain felt by critters with central nervous systems. The maxim I’ve heard most frequently is if it’s possible to derive nourishment without inflicting pain/suffering on someone/something else–well that’s the best option. And if not clear from the preceding maxim, these vegetarians I speak of do not believe that humans alone constitute the moral community. In other words, they believe humans and all other sentient animals are equally morally considerable at least in regards to honoring basic moral committments on not causing unnecessary harm.

Peter Singer (author of Animal Liberation, among other things) is fond of the term speciesism which is the irrational elevation of one’s own species above all others, akin to racism, sexism, ageism, etc.

Ummm… no. Physical pain (purposely avoiding topics like emotional or mental pain, unless someone wants to suggest that plants have emotions and feelings) is only possible through the central nervous system. Responding to environmental conditions does not equal the ability to experience pain. Sorry, it just doesn’t. As a result, vegetarians do not see any inconsistency in eating plants that may respond to environmental conditions and not eating critters possessing a central nervous system who can clearly experience pain as we know it. Apples and oranges, so to speak.

Now those vegans with whom I’m familar opt for less a utilitarian moral philosophy in favor of something like a tweaked Categorical Imparative by Kant. In one formulation of Kant’s Categorical Imparative, he cautions against treating any other person simply as a means and not at least as an end. In other words, you shouldn’t treat other people simply as tools to get what you want. Some vegans may use this reasoning in saying that it is wrong to eat eggs and honey because we are using the critters that produce those things as means and not as ends in themselves. So do they eat fruits and veggies–yes, but to them these non-animals are not owed specific duties.

In the end, the entire omnivore human/vegetarian human/vegan human boils down to which non-human critters are owed moral consideration. And there are various reasons for including some non-human things and not including others.

Why is it wrong to kill your mother, but not a clam? They’re both living things.

There are obvious distinctions between living things. Factory farms and the like are very cruel environments. I choose not to support them financially by not eating their products. I certainly see a distinction between an animal crying out in pain and a tree being chopped down.

There are also other good reasons that don’t ‘boil down’ to what you said. As has been stated, environmental reasons. Hunger and deforestation can be decreased by less meat-eating. Thus, I chose to be a vegetarian for equally half and half of those reasons.

Fungus doesn’t really violate my credo of trying to eat with as little cruelty as possible to survive.

The problem with vegetarianism motivated by concern for the animals involved is that the underlying premise is that it is better for any given animal not to even be born than to end up as human food.

I wonder how Singer justifies that?

Hmm. Obviously, my quoting skills weren’t up to par on Sunday morning… especially since I was being rushed out of the house.

Thanks for the answers… I’ll see what Spoz thinks of them later on. (he says there’s no point in making him an addict to this site :wink: )


That is actually the position of members of PETA - last I checked, it’s been a while - that domesticated animals used for food would be better off going extinct naturally (due to our not breeding them) than continuing to be raised for food. It’s considered preferable to our continuous “enslavement” and use of them, especially because humans created the various species through breeding - they are not “natural.” Plus, an animal that never exists does not suffer. As for wild animals, the position is that given the option, we shouldn’t kill them for food.