Like all "-isms", vegetarianism is an ideology, not a matter of taste. I have no quarrel with those who are convinced that a vegetarian diet is more healthy than the omnivorous diet of hunter-gatherers, nor with those who argue that meat is too costly to produce (in terms of food resources) in today's overpopulated world, nor with those who decry unnecessary cruelty and brutality, nor with those who just don't like the taste of meat. But I do have a quarrel with those who think it is barbaric to eat meat because animals have rights similar to those of humans.
First, let me offer my opinion on Rights: There is no such thing in Nature. "Rights" are a construct of, and exist only within, human society. What we call a "right" is actually a privilege that has been protected in cultural tradition and/or law after being fought for over many years, usually involving considerable loss of life. Rights are not to be taken lightly, but they are figments of our imagination.
It may come to pass that advocates of "Animal Rights" will win (via the usual means) such protected privileges for animals as the majority of we humans have mutually agreed upon for ourselves. Inasmuch as the animals have no understanding of human politics, it seems unlikely that they will be as vigilant in the maintenance of such "rights" as we humans are, so if PETA members are ever able to congratulate each other on "mission accomplished" and relax their attacks, it seems likely that any shrine to Animal Rights will be pulled down as quickly as the guarantee of freedom in a complacent society. But I digress.
Here is my message to PETA: What about Plant Rights? You seem to think it's perfectly innocent to rip the reproductive organs from an apple tree and chew on them in full view of the helpless tree, but a humane kosher abbatoire is a barbaric abomination.
Do you not believe that plants have feelings? Have you never heard of Kirlian photography, which has shown that the aura of a plant changes when it is injured? And that the same changes occur when a human merely thinks about injuring the plant?
Plants have been around a lot longer than animals. Does seniority count for nothing with you?
Animals at least have a chance to escape the hunter; the plant is forced to wait quietly for death by dismemberment, planted in rows for easy "harvest" and force-fed with artificial fertilizers until all their vitality is engaged in reproduction. We have distorted the natural form of most plants through milennia of genetic manipulation and forced breeding, until today's plants bear exaggerated genitalia which we tear away and consume without a thought.
Just because plants are unable to cry out their agony in a language we can understand, you deny the existence of their pain - the universal excuse for brutality: "They aren't really living beings like us."
I suppose a few people may heed my words and look for a less hideous way to obtain their sustenance. To them I say, phophylactically, "Equal Rights for Yeasts, Algae and Lichens!" and "Free the Fungi!"