Meat Is Murder: The Song Which Launched Countless Vegetarians

Heifer whines could be human cries
Closer comes the screaming knife
This beautiful creature must die
This beautiful creature must die
A death for no reason
And death for no reason is murder

And the flesh you so fancifully fry
Is not succulent, tasty or kind
It’s death for no reason
And death for no reason is murder

So begins the song “Meat Is Murder” by the Smiths. If there was one song to encourage vegetarianism, no other hits the chord harder than this.  Although it was never released as a single, this is one of the band’s most infamous tracks due to its heart-wrenching message, disturbing lyrics, and haunting melody. Released in 1985, “Meat Is Murder” is the title track of their second album which was the only Smiths to reach number one in the UK charts not including compilations/best of packages.  It also featured their best-known song, “Now Soon Is Now”, a dance club smash which gained popularity in the U.S. thanks to MTV. It was also the theme for the TV show Charmed throughout its eight-year run. While the band’s follow-up album, 1986’s “The Queen Is Dead”, is considered their best by fans and critics, the song “Meat Is Murder” could be the one song which turned a generation of music listeners vegetarian.

The song was written by band frontman Morrissey, who had been veggie since he was 11 years old, along with guitarist John Marr, who went vegan around the time of the album’s release.  Within the 26 years since the song’s release, Morrissey remains an outspoken animal rights advocate and has often found himself the center of criticism for his comments.  In 2006 he refused to tour Canada in protest of the country’s annual seal hunt and in 2009 walked off the stage during a Coachella performance because the smell of cooking meat from the nearby food stands was making him sick. (He returned later to finish the set.)  Most recently he was declared a racist after he described Chinese people as a “subspecies” for their inhumane treatment of “skinning animals alive” for the fur trade. (Incidentally, Nine Inch Nails mastermind Trent Reznor – who is not veggie – narrated a horrific video for PETA in 2007 about the cat and dog fur trade in China.) In 2005, PETA honored Morrissey with the Linda McCartney Memorial Award for his contributions to animal rights.

Here is a video clip from the documentary “The Importance of Being Morrissey” filmed in 2002 in which the man speaks against the meat industry.

And, here is the video for “Meat Is Murder” featuring concert footage interlaced with images of animals in slaughterhouses. Warning, it’s a rough clip to watch, even for I’d think a meat eater. Personally, the song alone makes me weep, and to be honest, I as of yet have not been able to make it through the entire clip.

Download the track at
Buy the album at

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