A (potentially) thinking or feeling plant has to be killed in order to eat it just like an animal has to be killed, and there's no difference between the two.
Vegans draw the line at hurting sentient individuals. Plants lack nerves, let alone a central nervous system, and cannot feel pain or respond to circumstances in any deliberate way (not to be confused with the non-conscious reactions they do have). Unlike animals, plants lack the ability or potential to experience pain or have sentient thoughts, so there isn't an ethical issue with eating them.
The words 'live', 'living' and 'alive' have completely different meanings when used to describe plants and animals. A live plant is not conscious and cannot feel pain. A live animal is conscious and can feel pain. Therefore, it's problematic to assert that plants have evolved an as-yet undetectable ability to think and feel but not the ability to do anything with that evolutionary strategy (e.g. running away, etc.). Regardless, each pound of animal flesh requires between four and thirteen pounds of plant matter to produce, depending upon species and conditions. Given that amount of plant death, a belief in the sentience of plants makes a strong pro-vegan argument.
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