EP&M Online Poetry: Satire

Food Neurosis in A Gallery of Ethopaths:
    A Requested Section

Joseph S. Salemi
Department of Classics
Hunter College, CUNY

I have written the following section of A Gallery of Ethopaths at the request of a fellow poet who wishes to remain anonymous. He has specifically asked me to go after that subspecies of vegetarians known as vegans.  It seems that some people like to think of me as a hit-man, which is a natural assumption to make about a satirist. Well, I don't mind—as long as the targets are worth hitting. But first, some commentary.

One of the most visible manifestations of modern malaise is the severe disorder in our eating habits.  Today in the developed world, as a result of antibiotics, insecticide, and scientific agriculture, there is an unprecedented abundance of food.  The larders of the Western world are bulging to a degree that would have been undreamt of by previous generations.  And what is the consequence?  We have compensated for this abundance by having a food-neurosis of pandemic proportions.

When I say "pandemic" I mean it literally.  Think of all the individuals you know who are in some way tormented by food obsessions: the dieters, the calorie counters, the macrobiotic faddists, the vegetarians, the anti-carbohydrate freaks, the bingers, the bulimics, the anorectics.  In the modern world, if you are not a food-neurotic you are in a distinct minority.  They are everywhere.

Think of the pathetic little Weight Watcher on her stationary bicycle, sucking on a bottle of Poland Spring as she dreams of a cheeseburger. Think of stupid housewives spoiling good recipes by omitting all salt, butter, eggs, and sugar, and then trying to convince their enraged families that such meals are "healthy."  Think of brainless nutritionists serving tasteless muck to students in school cafeterias, and then wondering why half the lunches get thrown in the garbage.  Think of the obese person who has given up the fight, and who now just shovels in food as a form of consumerist oblivion.  And think of that sickest neurotic of them all, the vegan.

Vegans are the epitome of our modern food-neurosis. They represent a hatred of food in itself, an unrelenting hostility towards the very idea of enjoyable eating.  They have totally subsumed nutrition under the rubric of ideology, and are demanding that we all do the same. They are a dangerous group of fanatics, and bear close watching. If you think I'm exaggerating, remember that in 1914 Lenin was just a little nudnik in a Swiss hotel, and Hitler was a nondescript Bavarian recruit. No one could have imagined the problems that they would eventually cause.

Food-neurosis is probably the most widespread of ethopathic phenomena, affecting nearly everyone in the developed world.  Young and old, rich and poor, male and female, educated and uneducated—very few people these days escape from delusional fetishes about eating.  Our ancestors sat around the table in good-natured sanity and humane fellowship, and ate whatever they found pleasing. Today, we are plagued with neurotic basket-cases who whine about processed sugar and animal fat and carcinogenic frying. It's maddening to have to deal with such geeks.

God made the world, and He gave human beings the freedom to eat whatever we see fit to eat.  If you have a problem with that, then move to another planet. You don't belong on this one.

 Vegan Absurdity
        — from A Gallery of Ethopaths

I would find it most intriguin'
To have lunch with a crackpot vegan.
You know who I mean—those folk
Who start to palpitate and choke
If offered any normal food.
The vegans are a spaced-out brood
Who will not touch a single morsel
Of flesh or fowl or fish with dorsal
Fins, or any fins at all.
In fact, it's easy to appall
A vegan: offer him some veal.
He'll leap up with a piercing squeal
And scream that you're a moral monster.
The vegan looks with total conster-
Nation on a murdered vittle.
This food-obsessed neurotic twit’ll
Go into a frenzied rage
At seeing chickens in a cage,
And you'll fire up his juice
Just mentioning a force-fed goose.
There's a list of things verboten
That vegan dorks are fond of quotin'.
No eggs or butter, cream or milk,
No cheeses—nothing of that ilk;
No meat or poultry, fowl or fish,
No snails, no clams, or any dish
That once was actually alive--
Not even honey from a hive,
Since that would be unjust to bees.
They won't touch the stuff.  So Jeez—
What the hell do these cranks eat?
Sprouts, dried beans, a tofu treat?
A nut-loaf cooked in bottled water?
Green salad, and a tasteless quarter
Of some damned organic melon?
A life-incarcerated felon
Eats better than a vegan dope.
At least in jail you have some hope
Of turkey, ham, and good roast beef.
Death-row prisoners get relief
When ordering their final dinner—
The warden grants the hapless sinner
Carte blanche for his last meal's menu,
For (they say) the man's next venue
Will be heaven, or hell's heat—
So give him what he wants to eat.
Vegans are denied this choice—
They all squawk, with a single voice,
That "Foodstuffs are a moral issue!"
They weep (while passing 'round a tissue)
About poor pigs and lambs and ducks,
Poor chickens with their plaintive clucks;
Poor shrimp and oysters, and poor scrod,
Poor tuna, mackerel, and poor cod;
Poor cows and partridges, poor quail,
Poor anything we might avail
Ourselves of as a nice entrée
Well, here's what I have to say:
You vegans are moronic bores
Who'd rather live on leaves and spores
Than on the food that makes men great.
You'd much prefer a pallid plate.
Of dull, insipid, scraggly stuff
To food that makes you strong and tough.
Why don't you just get a life
And then pick up your fork and knife
And eat your supper like real men?
Consume red meat, and maybe then
Your bloodstream will infuse new vigor
To brains unused to logic's rigor.
A veal chop and some London broil
Will give your rusty wits some oil;
Beef Wellington and cordon bleu
Will vitalize you through and through;
Some ortolans in lemon sauce
Will make you healthy as a horse;
A slab of salmon from the grill
Will energize your mind and will.
Remember that your human days
Are brief, and meant for joyous praise
Of all that's given by the Lord,
And that includes a varied board.
You don't need stupid moralists
To put your knickers into twists
About their idiotic theories
And jargon-spouting cant that wearies—
-So cock your fingers, and give figs
To all those pious, prating prigs
Who whine about "immoral eating."
Give them the middle-finger greeting.
Just eat all you want, and more—
And leave daft theories at the door.

    Joseph S. Salemi
    Copyright © 2002 by Joseph S. Salemi
    All Rights Reserved