Question: If humans, animals and such can be reborn, why are plants not also reborn? Could it be that if they are part of the process of rebirth, Buddhists will all be starving because there will be nothing to eat without killing? Was the Buddha giving us humans a way to survive without guilt by saying consuming plants is alright? If plants are lifeforms, can we consume them without creating negative karma?
Answer: There are two kinds of lifeforms — the sentient and non-sentient. Plant life is the latter, naturally not subject to rebirth. Only sentient beings can be reborn as they are subject to the law of karma. The first precept of non-killing pertains to sentient beings only, as they suffer from pain, while plants do not. However, the Buddha taught us to respect all lifeforms — both the sentient and non-sentient. Plants are cared for as part of environmentalism. The Buddha discouraged needless destroying of nature in general. For food, it would reasonable, though we should not waste food. If we do, it would be a waste of resources that can help more.
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Does The First Precept Require Vegetarianism?