The Unexamined Life
By Judith V. Waters

Judith V. Waters is an itinerant philosopher naturalist who writes poems and essays on nature and metaphysical themes. She has been a vegetarian for almost 20 years. This poem was published in Between The Species, 1992, 8:(2):72-3.

Don't drink coffee?
Don't drink tea?
Don't use liquor?
It's fine with me.

Don't eat chicken?
Don't eat beef?
Don't even eat fish?
Beyond belief!

What do you eat?
How do you survive?
Whence comes your protein?
Plants too are alive.

What do your spouse and offspring say?
How about your parents, do they eat this way?
Do your friends still come around today?
What kind of game are you trying to play?

Some people are good and they eat meat,
While some are bad and forego this treat.
You mention ozone and global heat,
How can it help to eat beans and wheat?

I like meat, my friends like to hunt.
Animals are dumb, they snort and grunt.
People are smart and clever and wise.
I think you ignore that everything dies.

Even if you're right and that our diet is to blame
And disease of the globe and of us is the same,
And if world hunger is, as you claim,
Bound up with this, it's truly a shame.

But change my ways? That is too much!
My folkways are too "right" to touch.
They're obviously right, they're what everyone does,
And your presence to the contrary puts my head in a buzz.

Do whatever crazy thing you want,
I'm surprised you're not all weak and gaunt.
But don't tell others and don't tell me,
I'll turn deaf ear on any plea.

To question what's plain for all to see
And shake accepted customs uncomfortably.
To examine my worldview would cause me unease.....
I might see a difference 'tween rabbits and peas.

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