Meat and Potatoes                                                © 2009 Paul Seymour


(A horror story with a happy ending, based on an argument with a friend)



I was talking, one day, with an old friend

About the virtues of not eating meat

But he chuckled as if I was crazy

And said “But we’ve all got to eat”


I replied “Yeah, but that’s just the trouble:

In order for you to have steak,

Ten children will die of starvation

And the hearts of their mothers will break,


“Cause the food that it takes to grow one cow

 Could feed a whole suburb for days

And thousands of tons of potatoes

Could be grown where that cow needs to graze”


“But what about all of the farmers,

If they couldn’t breed cattle?” he said

“The land then, at last, would recover

And they could grow soy beans instead”


“But farming is perfectly natural

What harm does it do to the land?”

Sahara was once a lush pasture

That sheep and goats turned into sand..


“To produce just one kilo of mutton..”

(Or two pounds, for you old-fashioned Yanks)

“Takes TEN THOUSAND litres of water..”

(That’s one thousand two gallon tanks)


“But dairy and meat manufacture

Is nearly as old as the stars…”

“Yet it liberates more greenhouse gases

Than ALL of the trucks and the cars!”


“But in order to be strong and healthy

You’ve got to eat meat, don’t you think?”

“No, you’ll die young of cancer or heartache

And meanwhile your body will stink”


He looked like he’d just been assaulted

I assured him that wasn’t the case

He said “I’ll be buggered!” and pondered

A questioning look on his face


“But why were the animals put here,

If it wasn’t for people to eat?”

I said “Well then, why were WE put here?

Were we also meant to be meat?..


“Plus, they were here long before we were

An’ we only ate fruit we picked fresh.

It wasn’t ‘til fire was discovered

That we could digest (or chew) flesh”


Mmm, maybe so..” he responded

“But animals don’t have a soul..”

My Catholic friend had been brainwashed

By the powers that stay in control.


“So, that’s your excuse” I resounded

“You pretend that they don’t think or feel,

So then you can murder their babies

To enjoy eating lamb chops and veal..


“Cause mammals ALL feel true emotions

And fish even feel dreadful pain

And maybe they don’t think like we do

But they still have nerves and a brain”


He smirked and said “Chickens are stupid.

So surely they’re meant to be food”

“No, no they’re not really stupid

They play and they squabble and brood


“These darlings who die in their billions

Are treated like feeling-less things

And trampled and tortured or boiled alive

So you can have your ‘Wicked Wings’”


The argument went on for hours

As we topped up our glasses of wine

But I knew, though he never conceded,

That victory truly was mine


I was the one with clear conscience

He was still clouded with guilt

My view came from love and from logic

His, on tradition, was built


And I know that it won’t be long now

‘Til a new world is free of such crime

And my friend will smile and say “Thanks mate”

It’s only a matter of time.