You are what you eat and I’m not meat by Edward Birt

Bacon. Ham. Sausage. Steak.
None of this gets on my plate.
Chops. Chorizo. Squid and offal.
Divine to some, to me just awful!

“Why?!” folks say – “Meat’s so delicious!”
“It’s chock full of protein – and it’s so nutritious!”
“Where do you get your iron, your B12, and zinc?”
“The best thing for you is a steak I should think!”

Thanks for your concern about my wellbeing
But really I’m fine and quite healthy I’m feeling.
You know there’s more to this life than my own salivation,
And the pleasures of taste bud gratification.

It’s something quite strange and important to me,
When I stopped eating meat it’s like I started to see.
Like a light coming on, or a penny that dropped,
And I felt quite relieved and quite glad I had stopped.

The meat industry works in mysterious ways –
There just aren’t any family abattoir open days…
Those rendering plants won’t let us inside…
Without information how are you supposed to decide?

In truth, each day of the year animals are taken through,
On their way to the slaughter house for me and for you,
The sheer size of these figures should boggle your mind,
And one can only conclude; humans are really unkind.

In Australia alone in the course of one year,
677 million animals* went slippery with fear,
Down the slaughterhouse chute – 677 million fates,
that’s 1300 lives every minute to fill up our plates!

That’s a whole lot of animals having a really bad time!
Experiencing what – for your pet – a court of law would call “Crime”,
No chance to know family, belonging, affection,
Doomed from the moment of unfortunate conception.

Penned. Prodded. Sold and chained.
Herded. Sliced. Scalded. Maimed.
Stunned. Hung. Split in two.
Dismembered. Dissected. Rendered. Used.

But like that old woman who swallowed a fly,
If we don’t heed the warnings perhaps we’ll all die.
For the fate of these beasts soon will be our own –
Like ravenous locusts, we’re eating ourselves out of home.

On fields of flesh we are pleasantly grazing away,
While our own slaughter house trucks are leaving today,
When you are loaded on board, I’m afraid it’s too late;
Was there a chance long ago to save your-self from this fate?

Could you have torn yourself away from your pleasurable chewing,
As you had a premonition of some dark trouble brewing?
Perhaps if you’d knocked your way through that fence fast –
You’d be enjoying the greener shade of the other side’s grass.

In the machine it’s too late, your feelings no longer matter,
Your destiny unfolds; your blood it will splatter.
They’ll make use of your body, of that they assure,
They’ll exploit every piece and leave none on the floor.

The workers sharpening their knives mean you no personal harm,
They’ll just slice you to pieces it’s supply and demand,
It’s nothing you’ve done, in fact I’m sure you’re quite nice,
It’s just that I’m hungry and you’re delicious on rice.

Scratch beneath the surface of our plentiful plates,
In rich patterns of gravy we may read of our fates,
The food that we eat is the clearest connection,
To our planet, our neighbours, our future direction.

There’s so many of us now in this great human race,
And in the 21st century – tough decisions we face.
Are we really intelligent? Or are we merely a plague?
As resources grow scarce it’s no time to be vague.

It’s a real pleasure to be part of a refreshing solution,
To reduce gorging and wasting and causing pollution,
Meatless meals are creative; they’re tasty not boring,
And as I hope you discover – they’re most habit forming.

I like to remember that old cliché,
That you may once have heard your grandparents say,
Grandma said to me: “Son, you are what you eat”
Well these days Grandma; “I’m glad I’m not meat!”

*ABS Livestock and Meat Statistics from Oct 2015 to Sept 2016

7215.0 – Livestock Products, Australia

(Does not include fish and other “seafood” animals and “bycatch”)

About the author:

Edward Birt is a Wollongong based poet.  His work has featured in his personal journals over the last several decades and he hopes some of his material may soon be plagiarised by growing family members to help them through their school age years.  Edward is motivated by empathy, optimism and a love of the natural world tempered by a raw terror and despair at human arrogance and irresponsibility.

12 Comments on You are what you eat and I’m not meat by Edward Birt

  1. Daniel S // March 11, 2017 at 12:15 //

    Love this!

    Thanks for the poem, really resonates with how I feel. Must be the Wollongong connection (my hometown). 😊


  2. Anne Birt // February 24, 2017 at 03:14 //

    Like it still!


  3. I wish these dumb liberals would stop speaking for myself and my culture.


    • Do you need a ‘safe space’ where you won’t be ‘triggered’ by these nasty poets that you’ve gone looking for and that attack your culture ‘snowflake’?

      Good poem and if it’s made you write this comment you obviously know that your tacit or otherwise support of this foul industry is detrimental to the planet and all of our ‘cultures’ in the long run.


    • Go Ed! Having a burger thinking of you!


  4. Mariann Martin // February 23, 2017 at 19:03 //

    This poem is so true and makes me think as I was brought up on a farm which supplies animals for those who eat meat,this was so well voiced.


  5. I really enjoyed this. Good message


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