Todays New York Times (March 15, 2011) has an article in the science section about the ambiguities surrounding vegetarian choices. Really I am not sure why this article was published since nothing new is added to the research end. The points made, that plants struggle to survive, that plants warn each other of danger, that plants can detect when their green neighbors are similar genetically to themselves, and so-- therefore, the fact that they are not so apparently similar to ourselves does NOT mean that they can be eaten with the clear conscience that they have no pain reactions, (since their behavior suggests very much that they are reluctant to be harvested.) For the writer of this article the question becomes: how can vegetarians justify eating vegetables on the grounds plants are dissimilar to animals, including ourselves.
No new research here, but---what we do have is a wonderful example of binary thought. That is: two options, and only two, are possible answers to a question, and one answer, is clearly not allowable----man does not know. The examination of ordinary mechanical thought which stresses the binary aspect of man's mentation is critical to the points made by the twentieth century philosopher, Jan Cox. Only someone with an ability to focus their attention on the personal edge of current currents, will comprehend his point that either or choices are merely functional for rearranging the external world. Reality is better described as both/and if one is to continue an objective examination of the what-is.
Seen in this light the question of the New York Times writer, what can we consistently eat if we want to avoid harm to fellow creatures who are sentient and have their own agenda, is a rhetorical flourish with no intellectual gain. The choice between intellectual consistency OR a full stomach, is a false dilemma like all binary choices which attempt a complexity beyond dam building (which after all beavers can do). To really perceive and live in the light of what is--a momentary glance, most of the time,-- is to know the wordless reality of what is appropriate for oneself at a certain moment. Socrates knew this, and some since.