garliccrpdA while back, while peeling a head of garlic I noticed that the cloves had begun to sprout. Tiny green shoots were poking out of their white husks. I broke off several cloves and stuck them into a pot of soil. A couple of days later, tall green blades were proudly sticking out of the ground. Not having much of a green thumb, I was touched and amazed. “Garlic is also a life-form,” I thought. “Each clove is alive, yearning for its moment under the sun and entirely at my mercy for its future.”

Make no mistake, there is no such thing as harmless eating. To eat is to kill (whether you are a vegan or an omnivore).  To appreciate the inevitable pungency of eating ethics, get a head of garlic and rescue one clove by planting it, while killing another clove by cooking it. Contemplate the inevitable arbitrariness of your choice: It is entirely up to you, human god, which garlic life-form gets to live and which must die.  As I see it, there is no need for guilt here. After all, if that clove of garlic could have eaten you instead to assure its survival, it most certainly would have.

adapted from Reinventing the Meal (Somov, 2012)

related: Ahimsa Eating Reconsidered (Somov, Huffington Post)

Garlic photo available from Shutterstock



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    Last reviewed: 21 Apr 2013

APA Reference
Somov, P. (2013). The Pungency of Eating Ethics. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 27, 2015, from


Select books by Pavel G. Somov, Ph.D.:
Mindful Emotional Eating Reinventing the Meal
Present Perfect
Eating the Moment

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