The Viva Vine: vol #2, no #3: May / June 1993

Dear Pamela:
It was a pleasure to make my contribution toward the success of your [Adopt-A-McDonald's Campaign kick-off] RALLY at Fifth Avenue and 23rd St. on April 17, if only by my presence in your audience. You are to be commended for the work you are doing to publicize the vegetarian way of life. This comes to you from a youthful 93-year nonagenarian who has been a complete vegetarian for 53 years, enjoying good health and who is still galavanting around ... Pamela, you are the David fighting the Goliath, and yet, your "Beyond Beef" campaign, directed at McDonald's, benefited the multi-million dollar corporate giant immeasurably by the advertising of its name. Why not send them a nice letter explaining that you are actually helping them and that your activity should be worthy of compensation by them. Ask them, "Would you then consider sending us a check for a thousand dollars to help us defray the expense of conducting this campaign?"
Sincerely, as always, Louis Warter

Dear Pamela:
Have you encountered people who when urged to eat plants instead of animals counter with the "fact" that plants are conscious and experience pain? The basis for this view stems (excuse my pun) from the book "The Secret Life of Plants' which was based on work published by Cleve Backster in 1968. Well, recently I came across the enclosed article from "The Skeptical Inquirer" by John M. Kmetz (page 57-61 of the Spring/Summer, 1978 issue). Mr. Kmetz, it happens, attempted to replicate Backster's results. He found no evidence of plant consciousness. Others before Kmetz (R. Johnson and K.A. Horowitz, 1975), also, have attempted to replicate Backster's results with negative outcomes. It appears that Backster's work claiming consciousness for plants was flawed in its methodology and conclusion
- Mike Hudak, Binghamton, NY

(Ed. Note: Yes, Mike. I have been countered with the argument that plants have feelings many times! It's just one more of those things that makes you want to scream for sanity. I have tried my best to argue with people on the point. But, have never had any documentation before to back me up. I usually just retreated from the argument by telling people that if they were concerned about plants because they believed that they had feelings, then the mere fact that animals first have to consume huge amounts of plant food before they are eaten gives inexorable power to the argument for vegetarianism. So, Mike, the Kmetz essay you sent me is, at this point, absolutely invaluable and if not esoteric, albeit, thankfully very short. I'd like to quote from the last paragraph of it as it is most revealing.) ... Quoting from Mr. Kmetz' essay: "It is unfortunate that the popular press has taken Backster's experiments and presented the results to the public in such a way that many people now believe plants can do something that, in fact, they cannot. The press, for the most part, never mentions that articles on the Backster effect are based on observations of only seven plants. Perhaps they need to be reminded, again, that they are making exaggerated claims from an experiment that no one, including Backster, by his own refusal to do so, has been able to replicate."

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