There are many people in our world today who practice vegetarianism and they each have their own reasons for doing so. Some simply don't like the taste or texture of meat products, others do so for dietary reasons and their health, and still others do so for some imagined humanitarian reasons. I can understand the first two reasons and they are quite reasonable. Those are simply choices made for valid reasons. However the third one about not being cruel to another creature is pretty weak as an argument and I will explain why.
Very often I hear people who say that they choose vegetarianism because they do not like to take the life of another living being. The expression I often hear is "I don't eat meat because animals are sentient beings" just doesn't go far enough because if that is truly their reasoning then they are destined to starve unless they eat rocks and dirt. Here is why I say this. It has been documented that plants are just as 'sentient' as any other creature on this planet. Here is a link to one of many web sites that discuss this fact.
There are dozens of such links but this one avoids the scientific mumbo jumbo and puts it in layman's terms so that anyone can understand what they are saying. My point in this is that so often you get some kind of a smug attitude from such people who want to look down on me because I am enjoying a big juicy steak while they are munching on a salad or piece of fruit. They sometimes say "you know a creature had to die so that you can eat that don't you?" It is all I can do to say that you are eating a plant's baby when you eat a fruit or a whole plant had to die so that you can eat your lettuce and carrots so what makes you so different? LOL These people are sometimes so wrapped up in their notions that it is almost cult like much like PETA is today. It becomes a kind of religion for these people and it is really quite annoying.
Actually while I am very much an omnivore I do understand and believe that every living thing, plant or animal, actually has a soul and a conscience capable of being sensitive to its surroundings, having feelings and emotions, and responding to its environment. However that being said I also understand the brutal nature of Nature. It is a fact that we live in an eat or be eaten world and each of us are part of the food chain whether we like it or not. When a Venus Flytrap plant catches and devours a fly it has to sense the presence of the fly and then close on it to trap it and then slowly dissolve it to absorb the nutrients. It could not do that if it were not sensitive to its environment and capable of responding to it.
There were some studies some time ago using a galvanic skin response device (aka lie detector) to measure responses if any from various plants. The researchers were quite surprised to discover the range of emotions that plants were able to demonstrate. They could show fear, anxiety, and were able to recognize threats. Amazingly they even displayed rudimentary memory because if a person hurt a plant then went away, when they returned the plant registered fear and anxiety. In an amusing side note plants also had taste in music because they responded in a relaxed manner when easy listening music was played but showed agitation and anxiety when heavy metal rock was played. LOL Anyone who gardens also knows that if you care for and tend plants lovingly they respond better than if you ignore them and don't take care of them.
So the next time some vegetarian gives you that "holier than thou" attitude because you are chomping on a cheeseburger while they nosh on a salad you might want to refer them to some of the many web sites about plant sensitivity. We cannot survive without all of the other myriad forms of life on our planet simply because we would eventually starve unless we became cannibals and devoured each other. In times of great tribulation history has shown that on occasions humans are capable of doing just that. There is some archaeological evidence to indicate that in the past humans have indeed dined on other humans particularly when there was evidence of famine having overtaken their societies. In effect when we admonish ourselves to be good stewards of our planet and our environment it is an inherent understanding that without the other creatures in our environment we too would be doomed.
It is my firm belief that life as we know it is actually a learning experience for the souls that inhabit each and every life form from plants to animals to humans. Our physical bodies are nothing more than repositories for minute traces of the mass of energy that is our Master Creator. In other words every soul is a trace of that from which we all spring and our purpose is to serve as the sensory mechanism for that Creator. This is perhaps a weird concept for others to understand but it is what I personally believe and it seems to explain a lot of what others call the mysteries of life. Besides I don't know what I would do without my bacon. :)