Now, those of you who worry about the turkeys that have been slaughtered for Christmas, or the pig whose ham many people will be dining on, give a thought to what those turkeys are being stuff with or those hams being eaten with: the poor, unsung vegetables.
If you think that the yam you pop in the oven to roast or the potatoes you boil only to mash, or the carrots and onions you dice up to cram into the turkey, love to be roasted, boiled, mashed, diced and crammed, then think again.
As a story in the New York Times today describes in nice detail, plants want to live life to the full just as much as you do! A tomato is filled with seeds, live little babies, and they don't want you crushing them with your teeth any more than you want your neighbor's dog to crush your leg with his! Natalie Angier points out in her story that plants have many defense mechanisms to prevent being eaten, and they often work well against caterpillars and insects -- but most plants have developed no defense against humans.
Well, from an evolutionary point of view, that's totally untrue, you might say! Nothing has been so good for cowdom or tomatodom than humans. We've given them huge selective advantages over their scrubby wild competitors. Corn and soya rejoice! Of course, unlike the holiday spirit, evolution works by differential survival, not by euphoria. So the price the agricultural species pay for their incredible success is that they live short lives, ending in capital punishment--often of cruel and inhuman (and hence thoroughly unconstitutional) means. A lot of people against the aborting of human fetuses, don't give a lick of a thought about aborting the lives of thousands of tomato fetuses in every bite of their lasagne. Except the lick of their chops. So unfair and inconsistent are we!
Our food decisions are thus already a bit of a negative capability dilemma for many of us, as we decide to eat fish but not mammals, or anything without a face, or free-range chicken but not factory raised. But, extending our sympathy to vegetables makes it a bigger dilemma yet, as we have to eat something. It forces us all to recognize that, no matter how we manage the ethics of our food decisions, we all kill to eat.
We have no answer for this dilemma, but as we said above, at least include the innocent victims in the thanks you give to Whomever you give them to for the blessings of your holiday meal.