The Veteran Vegetarian (For Dominic Berry)

I wrote this poem after a piece called ‘Beleaguered Vegan’ by English poet Dominic Berry, who I watched perform in Kettering a few years back. He struck a chord with me… for sure.

I love food, it’s effing bliss

but when I’m out with the relatives

they’re analysing my dish

you know that West Indian mission

like back when I was vegetarian

when I was more egalitarian

meat and two veg (eat healthy) they’d convey

but then they’d also say yes to Appleton and Old Wray

greens and pastas, no meat for Master Tré

Photo by asoggetti on Unsplash

quorn, cheese, Weetabix

whilst they would say

gimme a bite, just a little bit

they acted like they were all dietitians

so many Caribbeans have PhDs in nutrition

now, I’m asked

what’s that you got there

I’ve eaten the flesh of mares

and those meaty pizzas

fantastic beasts and where to find them

cold carcasses of chickens and cows

animals we’re fine putting into our mouths

lamb shank and curry kids. Try Bolognese,

a bacon butty and BBQ ribs

but forget about cats, dogs and a horse’s hide

we are British, that would sully our pride

and back then in the ripe old days of 2005

I was too difficult to please

because I wouldn’t eat animal corpses

I would rather bits of kale, crackers and cheese

just not the bones of executions on a platter

I was a child. I wasn’t raised rude

I was just deemed too sensitive to eat dead food

Photo by Emerson Vieira on Unsplash

like pigs in blankets and turkey breast

on the Christmas Dinner table

but that is now past, one day, I was tempted

by those Caribbean fables

of fried fish, stewed chicken

yes, I now love meat

but you won’t see me bashing veganism

with hashtags and tweets

as I eat vegan food too, I don’t discriminate

open the hatch, down the shoot

some would call me a human dustbin,

and I could not live without

Photo by Raj Rana on Unsplash

burgers, beers and BBQ chicken

salt fish fritters, breadfruit and chocolate cakes

macaroni, rice and peas and Grandma’s fried bakes

popcorn, roti, and all you can eat buffets on a boat

my gravestone will read death by curry goat

there’s so much food I adore with passion

and I’m not so keen on dessert

but on occassion,

you might find me wrist deep

in a saccharine sweet Black Forest Gateaux

my family were boggled at my choice

but before I was an omnivore, I was a veggie

they thought my food habits were a phase

if a phase was a craze of sixteen years of being kinda edgy

I don’t need to eat meat

but I do, I enjoy it; what I don’t endorse

is torture upon cows, goats

for milk packaged to feed the seven billion

when there’s alternatives like rice and soya

why do we drink other animal’s milk

is this some kinda effed up human paranoia

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

we do unto people what we do to animals

field beasts supposedly done no harm

people abusing people in FGM and human-trafficking farms

prisoners packed side by side like slaves making our clothes

behind bars rights disposed, brains comatose

systematic abuse industrialised for the masses

to feed us, the working and bourgeois consuming classes

if there really was strength in numbers

the animals would have long rebelled

maybe it’s time I became veggie again

and consoled my conscience until the end.

Writer-Poet | Muses: Black and Mixed-Race histories, inequality, identity, arts et al| Race and Black History Educator | | E:

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