What's the worst that happens while gathering? Not much. Ooh, you aggroed a same-level non-elite while swinging your mining pick. So what? Other professions are even more dull with the possible exception of skinning which has to at least kill something. Or follow someone else like a hyena and skin their kills.
I say we fix this! Make gathering hardcore.
You want to mine cobalt? Fine. That one will be easy. Saronite? Turns out that was actually a faceless one you just drove your pick into and he's pissed. Don't worry, he will yield more ore than even a rich node. BTW, you might go insane.
Want herbs? Fine, but they're going to be Outland-style herbs. By that I mean they're walking around and you have to kill them first. The little herbs sitting on the ground, they're just buried. Or if you're lucky, it's just nightmare vine and you'll get poisoned, and potentially end up insane or dead.
Skinning can stay as it is.
Engineers can still use their mote extractors But sometimes you accidentally pull out an elemental spirit and have to beat it into submission. These will yield eternals instead of mere crystals. Tinkering will sometimes cause the construct to get back up and need to be beaten back down again.
Tailors may retain their extra cloth at the cost of having to see that it came from stripping down an iron dwarf. Engineers can make goggles which filter out such horrors, though they also make it impossible to target Yogg-Saron while wearing them.
Smelting or working with titansteel should have a small chance to summon a Titan minion who can be looted for more bars, if he doesn't kill you.
Fishing. Sharks. 'Nuf said.
The Great MMO Culling of 2017
6 hours ago