Much to the horror of vegans everywhere, tomatoes are a lot like meat animals in that they get stressed and even make noises demonstrative of pain when in difficult situations.
Israeli researchers, publishing their findings in the journal Cell on March 30, explain that tomato and tobacco plants that are stressed, either from dehydration or having their stems severed, emit sounds "that are comparable in volume to normal human conversation."
To the human ear, these noises are non-detectable because they are so high-pitched that a person is unable to hear them – but they still occur. Insects, other plants, and possibly even other mammals besides humans can hear them cry out in pain when they lose a "limb" or become dehydrated.
"Even in a quiet field, there are actually sounds that we don't hear, and those sounds carry information," says senior author Lilach Hadany, an evolutionary biologist and theoretician at Tel Aviv University.
"There are animals that can hear these sounds, so there is the possibility that a lot of acoustic interaction is occurring."
(Related: Beware of GMO tomatoes, which are not only unhealthy but probably even sadder and more depressed than abused non-GMO tomatoes.)
While unstressed tomato plants rarely make any noises at all, their stressed counterparts cry out in their own frequencies for help. The sounds they make resemble pops or clicks, and stressed plants can emit anywhere from 3-50 clicks per hour, seemingly at random intervals.
Unstressed plants, conversely, emit far fewer sounds, if any at all, as they are happy as clams growing in well-lit, well-watered, pest-free conditions.
"When tomatoes are not stressed at all, they are very quiet," Hadany added.
This is really bad news for vegans, who often denigrate meat eaters for hurting animals that have to undergo slaughtering and processing. As sad as this is for the animals in question, the same is technically true of plants, which undergo similar stress upon being pruned or harvested.
Ben Bartee of PJ Media joked about this from the perspective of smug vegans who are constantly blasting meat eaters for inflicting "cruelty" on the animals from which their dinner plates are derived.
"The next time you sit down for a meal with a vegan activist, assuming you have the poor fortune to have vegan social acquaintances, and he smugly dives headfirst into a salad full of ripe, juicy tomatoes, remind him of the absolute suffering that his delicious tomatoes cost," Bartee writes.
"The tomatoes popping their sweet juice between his molars, remind him that the appendages of a living plant that died screaming to toss his precious salad were ripped unceremoniously from their plant’s embrace, tortured, and killed for his personal satisfaction."
In a Study Finds report on the study, it is further revealed that other plants besides tomatoes seem to cry out as well when they undergo stressors.
"We found that many plants – corn, wheat, grape, and cactus plants, for example – emit sounds when they are stressed," Hadany is quoted as saying.
It remains unknown precisely why these plants make such noises, and admittedly it could have to do with the formation and bursting of air bubbles in the plants' vascular systems, a process known as cavitation.
"It's possible that other organisms could have evolved to hear and respond to these sounds," Hadany adds. "For example, a moth that intends to lay eggs on a plant or an animal that intends to eat a plant could use the sounds to help guide their decision."
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