For many non-meat-eaters, the decision to go vegan or vegetarian can be a moral one. But for those of you who stock up on vegetables because you can’t stand hurting animals, we have news for you: Plants know when you’re eating them, and they really don’t like it.According to new research from scientists at the University of Missouri, plants respond to insects munching on their leaves by acting out in self-defense.
How is this possible? Scientists already know that plants, while they are certainly not sentient beings, respond positively to music. A change in vibrations in the air (such as the sound made by a speaker playing classical music, or a caterpillar munching on their leaves), signals changes in the plants’ metabolism, causing it to create defense chemicals to repel attacks from hungry, hungry caterpillars (and puckish vegans, too).
“What is remarkable is that the plants exposed to different vibrations, including those made by a gentle wind or different insect sounds that share some acoustic features with caterpillar feeding vibrations, did not increase their chemical defenses,” Rex Cocroft, professor in the Division of Biological Sciences at Missouri University. “This indicates that the plants are able to distinguish feeding vibrations from other common sources of environmental vibration.”
Vegetables are smarter than we think, so think about that the next time you’re munching on a salad of fresh greens.