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Some scientists discover that plants have humanlike feelings. Now it becomes unethical and immoral to have mass production farms for plants as it is yet for animals. As there are animal-right activist, plant-right activists become a real thing. The Information is every where and the theory proved to be right.

So, how would society react and how would the understanding that we misstreated plants such a long time be processed if at all?

Edits:

  • The Scientist presents some patterns to understand the feelings of the plants like there are for dogs. (If tail in the air he's happy something similar.)

  • All the plants have feelings but the plants which are more complex or larger organisms have more specific feelings.

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    $\begingroup$ With no ability to relate to plants, I think 99% of people wouldn't care. $\endgroup$ – Varrick Oct 26 '15 at 13:01
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    $\begingroup$ I wonder, though, do we really mistreat plants all that often? Aside from when we mortally wound flowers then try to keep them alive as long as possible, I'd think we take good care of our plants. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Oct 26 '15 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ Ha! I thought it was "planets" instead of "plants". $\endgroup$ – Green Oct 26 '15 at 14:13
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    $\begingroup$ We trim our pets and keep them indoor/outdoor/caged at times when they don't want too. The short-term pain is necessary if they want the long-term care we give them. I think the plants would prefer the pot or trimmings, instead of fighting the weeds for survival or becoming unhealthy - which is the similar argument for keeping any pet in containment or doing something they don't actually enjoy. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Oct 26 '15 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ A lot of hippies would cry, and I would continue to eat fruits and vegetables at the same rate as I do now. $\endgroup$ – DSKekaha Oct 26 '15 at 17:05
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Well, some would feel that only eating the 'fruit' of the plant would be conscionable such as apples, or corn. Since that is what the plant is producing it for, as a way to propagate itself.

But for most people, it will likely make them less empathetic, since 'everything' we want to eat has 'feelings' so they will feel the need to distance themselves even more, like Nazi prison guards from their charges. They are something 'else' and 'beneath' me.

But ultimately we'll get some more nut cases fighting for plant rights that are nuttier than some of the people fighting for animal rights. But people need to eat something and since plants don't have eyes to draw pity from us, will be mostly ignored.

Don't they just melt your heart? I prefer they melt butter... enter image description here

People saving trees might have a little more umph behind their arguments but it will only slow some things down. You could also point out that 'spiking' trees to 'save' them is a bit of a 'lesser of two evils' choice...

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    $\begingroup$ Calling someone a 'nut case' is offensive to nuts. They have feelings too, you know. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Oct 26 '15 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh more political correctness! $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Oct 26 '15 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ The plants in the picture have "eyes". $\endgroup$ – TheNumberOne Oct 26 '15 at 18:47
  • $\begingroup$ @TheNumberOne that was supposed to be humor... $\endgroup$ – bowlturner Oct 26 '15 at 19:10
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    $\begingroup$ Hard to even know if 'spiking' a tree is the 'lesser' evil, given that the effects of unexpectedly hitting a metal spike with a chain saw often maims or kills the operator... $\endgroup$ – Perkins Oct 26 '15 at 21:46
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I imagine that the world would simply go in eating corn as it always has. Unless governments want to deal with starving, desperate, and angry masses, that is. History has shown us many times (do I really need to cite? I mean, really?) that even the most reasonable of people will resort to extremes given a lack of food. Since plants feed much of the world, I theorize that no big changes would happen.

Vegetarians and vegans would be viewed worse than they currently are, especially since there would be a considerable group of (even more considerably) outspoken plants rights activists that are ignored as much or even more so than animal rights activists are currently.

You specified in the comments that you wanted a more complicated response than "us versus them," but in reality it wouldn't get more complex than that. As @bowlturner stated in his answer, forest conservation organization would have more leverage, but in the end everyone needs a place to live, and trees are coincidentally the perfect building material.

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By and large, facts are much less important to the human species than their conceits, delusions, preconceived notions and comfortable myths. As plants lower in evolution have less precise feelings, most humans will continue to farm and consume plants deemed to be less evolved, just as they consume animals deemed to be less evolved like chickens, cows, lambs etc. but mostly refrain from eating more evolved animals like apes and monkeys, except in some remote areas. A similar situation will eventually exist with plants too. There will still be rampant illegal harvesting of evolved plants for various purposes just as there is rampant poaching of elephants and rhinos.

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    $\begingroup$ The first thought that popped into my mind when I read this was marihuana. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Oct 26 '15 at 20:22
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The same way we have for animals. Local laws will mandate non-harmful behaviour, and will be followed to a greater or lesser extent depending on local enthusiasm. Plants which make good pets and/or which are visually appealing will get preferential treatment.

However you're making the assumption that mass-production is automatically harmful, and this isn't necessarily true. Chickens for instance prefer not to be outside on their own - they would rather be in a darkened barn surrounded by lots of other chickens, so you can have rather intensive farming of chickens which is still completely ethical (assuming you approve of the fact and method of slaughter). Grass plants naturally grow surrounded by lots of other grass plants, so it's quite likely that intensive farming conditions would be what would make wheat most happy.

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One thing that hasn't been mentioned is that some people might be driven to try to find other things to eat. For instance, maybe in this 'hopefully' fictional world, mosses or fungus don't have feelings. Or maybe they will only eat some kind of gruel made from plants that had already been cut down before the discovery was made. Or only laboratory organics that have been produced from various chemicals with no natural ingredients like Cool Whip and Cheetos. Just a thought.

Also, maybe some vegetarians might swing the other way and start eating meat?

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Many plants have evolved so that they are propagated best by being eaten by higher beings. Humans and animals eat fruits, which sometimes includes the seeds. Later, the seeds are deposited in the waste from the animal, which becomes fertilizer for the seed. The cycle repeats.

Certainly a plant that has evolved this way cannot be upset when nature takes its course.

Regardless, there are plenty of plants that I hate, such as kale. Nothing is going to change that. I don't care how kale feels about me. Kale and me, we just don't get along.

On the other hand, I am immune from poison oak. Most people aren't. Does that mean poison oak likes me and not others?

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    $\begingroup$ It doesn't mean that poison oak likes you. It means that you are simply immune from its vicious, malevolent attacks. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Oct 27 '15 at 13:05
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Actually, plants DO have feelings. Sorta.

The Mythbusters tested this a while back, and actually got a response from both bashing the plant and thinking bad thoughts about it.

However, this didn't really mean much of anything for anyone. I see that as a good thing: They can 'sense' and 'output' emotions, but cannot act on those emotions.

(Could this mean plants have brains? Dreams?)

So, the overall answer is: society couldn't give a damn 'bout plants, especially seeing as how we raze the rainforests. Even then, there's going to be some activitsts.

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    $\begingroup$ "got a response from from both bashing the plant and thinking bad thoughts about it." - Um, actually, that only means something was wrong with their equipment. Or that the plants are mind-readers and understand english. Agree with "no one cares", though. $\endgroup$ – user8808 Oct 26 '15 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ They got similar, "happy" responses from being nice to it. $\endgroup$ – Nefer007 Oct 26 '15 at 20:54
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    $\begingroup$ Sounds about as scientific as any Mythbusters experiment! $\endgroup$ – Mohair Oct 26 '15 at 21:33
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    $\begingroup$ That episode really annoyed me actually. They got genuinely weird results from their experiments and rather that investigating that they kept changing the parameters until they got the result they wanted :( $\endgroup$ – Tim B Oct 27 '15 at 8:41
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    $\begingroup$ @DJMethaneMan Actually they normally aren't too bad. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Oct 27 '15 at 19:03
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There's a big difference between feelings like dogs and feelings like humans! And another big difference between feelings like dogs and feelings like sheep.

If specific species of plants start showing for example pain when they see other plants suffer, and affection for other plants and their human carers, some people would stop eating those plants. They would become characters in kids' stories. People would start keeping those plants as pets. That would be the real way those plants would stop being eaten - no-one will want to eat potatoes after Sally's potato wags its tail at them. Ultimately, lots of people do eat dogs, so we can't really expect everyone to stop eating these plants.

If it's all plants, then we'd be in real trouble. All our livestock eat primarily plants. We'd start investing much more heavily in algae, plankton, yeast etc. (it will become a righteous act to serve Vegemite!), and also fish farming. Some people would pay a small premium for non-sensitive foods. People would probably increase their vegetable consumption once there were enough advertising campaigns about how much corn is factory-farmed to produce one kilo of beef.

Where people still farmed plants, there would be efforts to grow them more humanely, with low pollutants, more careful machinery and more spacing between rows so that the plants are not needlessly crushed by machinery, plants only grown in appropriate climates, etc. People would pay more for these humanely grown plants, the same way people pay more for free range eggs.

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The first thing would happen is a counter study that "proves" the first study is a load of rubbish! (Similar to how studies into the environment go IRL)

That way, anyone who wants to go on abusing plants can simply believe the counter study and their conscience is clear.

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