Social Question

stump's avatar

Would you eat human flesh?

Asked by stump (3855points) February 19th, 2010

Hypothetical – You are a tourist in a distant country out to dinner at a typical restaurant. In a private room a family is having a funeral, in which they ceremoniously eat a small portion of the deceased. You are informed by your waiter that you are invited to participate. It would be a huge honor for them if you accept. Assuming it smells good, would you participate? Are there any conditions under which you would?

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58 Answers

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

That would offend my cultural values.

syzygy2600's avatar

To survive with no other options, I would. For the circumstance in the topic, no.

dpworkin's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy You really think you would let yourself die of hunger on principle when there is protein available? I doubt it. And if you did you would be a fool, not a hero.

Berserker's avatar

I would. The only thing I would worry about is if my modern society weaned system would be able to hack raw flesh. (Considering this is uncooked flesh or organs of which we speak.)
If it’s cooked, no prob. I’d try it either way…most especially if it was important to them and avoided me being turned into dinner for offending their honour through refusal.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

In the above situation, absolutely not. The only circumstance in which I would eat it: when my survival depended upon it.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Fine. If I die, you can eat me.

erichw1504's avatar

Maybe with a little bacon salt for taste.

Who am I kidding? No! That’s disgusting. Unless it was for survival.

dpworkin's avatar

Too much bile.

Likeradar's avatar

Life or death- yes. Fo sho.
I wouldn’t do it just because it would make someone from another culture happy though.

holden's avatar

No, I would not. Unless the funeral was being held for a pig. Then, yes.

davidbetterman's avatar

In “Stranger in a Strange land” by Robert Heinlein, you eat of the dead so as to grok them more fully.

However, I myself simply wouldn’t be traveling through parts of the world where cannibalism is practiced.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@Likeradar My thoughts exactly!

tragiclikebowie's avatar

Considering I don’t eat animal flesh, I would not eat it.

Okay, maybe under the circumstances as a ritual I might. For survival, I’m probably not gonna eat anyone I knew unless it was between the choice of eat them or die, which would take a lot.

Val123's avatar

Whatevery one else said, “No” and “Yes.”

@tragiclikebowie What if you were in a situation and you were starving to death. (Alive!)

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Very clever dpw ;)

ucme's avatar

I’m a vagitarian so on that premise i’ll pass thanks.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@stump Because it’s disgusting, and it’s something that I’m not willing to change my stance on just to suit someone else’s culture.

davidbetterman's avatar

@Val123 @dpworkin Starving to death isn’t part of this equation. We are supposedly eating out at a restaurant morons guys.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Thank you davidbetterman.
For a moment, I thought I was the only one who took this as a non-survival question.

mrentropy's avatar

What did this hypothetical person die of?

LunaChick's avatar

I wouldn’t be able to do it, in the situation you described…I would politely decline and hope they are not too offended.

The only way I could see myself participating, in an act of cannibalism, is in a life or death situation.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I can’t picture the scenario (not to mention the misuse of “ceremonious” when I believe the intended word should be “ceremonial”—“ceremonious” implies “party hearty”, and “ceremonial” is more somber and ritualistic).

But to get back to the scenario:
I’m a tourist—a stranger to these people—and in a public restaurant where they are having their (obviously) private function. What is the ‘honor’ to them to have a stranger partake in this ritual? Especially a stranger who is (obviously) also a stranger to the most fundamental of their customs?

This scenario doesn’t exist on Earth; it’s fantasy. So, in that case I respectfully decline to participate, put down the book, and find a better one.

davidbetterman's avatar


I hated to see you get attacked for being right!

dpworkin's avatar

Oh, well, then I would try it. It’s supposed to taste like pork. No brains or spinal tissue please, just muscle for me.

Val123's avatar

@davidbetterman The last sentence in the details read Are there any conditions under which you would? That’s why people are saying “No, not under those circumstances, but under others yes, I would.”

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Given the situation at hand and their tradition, yes I would. (even though I’m vegan)

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Unless it was my own deceased family member then I would refrain.

mrentropy's avatar

But the rest of the book…the rest of the book—It’s a cookbook!

ratboy's avatar

Sure. It was tasty enough last time.

susanc's avatar

Sure. Other people’s cultures are why we travel. If you can’t accommodate, stay the hell home. And they’re not asking you to eat spinal cord/brain tissue, are they? And if they’re eating ceremonial bits, how harmful can they be? Don’t be a priss. Take the bite.

buckyboy28's avatar

Sometimes I bite my cuticles. Does that count?

Val123's avatar

@buckyboy28 Well THAT’S something to think about!

CMaz's avatar

Does Red Winging count?

susanc's avatar

@Symbeline: I was going to thank you for your solidarity, but I see in your profile that
you’re a practicing cannibal, so i won’t.

HGl3ee's avatar

Last time I checked I’m not a zombie….

Mmmmmmmmmmm!! BRAINS!!!

Jack79's avatar

Well, I would have certain questions I’d need to be answered first. For example:

Do they also have salt and pepper at the table?
Can I pick which part of the body to eat?
Can I have seconds or is it an insult?
Do they serve it with potatoes?
What do I do with the bones?
Is it ok to put the leftovers in a doggy bag?
Any other members of the family terminally ill?
Could someone give me the recipe?

Berserker's avatar

@susanc Note-I’m also Marilyn Manson.

susanc's avatar

@Symbeline: remind me not to accept any invitations to dinner from you.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

No,thanks.I don’t think it’s in the food pyramid.

iphigeneia's avatar

Assuming it looks like any old meat, and not like a finger or something, sure! Maybe not with exclamation-mark-worthy enthusiasm, but I wouldn’t be morally opposed to it, given the hypothetical circumstances.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I’m in agreement with some others here in that if I had to eat human flesh to sustain my life if I was in very dire circumstances, I would follow through. On any other occasion, most likely not.

This question made me think about the book and movie “Alive” and that was a very pertinent scenario where they had to feed off fellow passengers to remain alive.

tinyfaery's avatar

I do not eat weird stuff.

mrentropy's avatar

I wouldn’t eat a clown. They taste funny.

Berserker's avatar

@mrentropy Ba bump pshh! XD

mrentropy's avatar

Thank you. You’ve been a wonderful crowd. I’ll be here until next Saturday.

filmfann's avatar

Only if it was someones birthday.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

From a moral standpoint, no problem. The person is DEAD. They are protein at that point. Assuming there are no objections from the family/loved ones, I would have no problem. It is the practical considerations that make me wary.

For example, even if the subject was tested beforehand, there were some diseases that couldn’t be tested for:

“In the 1980’s, investigators from the Centers for Disease Control (headed up by Daniel W. Bradley) and Chiron (Michael Houghton) identified the virus. In 1990, blood banks began screening blood donors for hepatitis C, but it wasn’t until 1992 that a blood test was perfected that effectively eliminated HCV from the blood transfusion supply. Now the risk of contracting hepatitis C through a blood transfusion is approximately .01%. Prior to the screening of the blood supply for hepatitis C, approximately 300,000 Americans contracted hepatitis C through blood transfusions or blood products.”

Granted, this was back in 1992, but who’s to say other diseases for which there is currently no screening test are not present in the subject? Given that any infection the subject has would obviously be communicable in humans, which is not true with many animal-bound contagions, the risk involved in eating raw human flesh is considerably higher than that of raw animal flesh. Also, just bringing the flesh to the boiling point may not be sufficient. ”Today, exotic microorganisms are known, that can survive exposure to temperatures up to 130°C”, or approximately 266°F, 54°F warmer than boiling water. I would insist that proper thermal processing was calculated and adhered to.

To be honest, considering the amount of sugar, fat, and salt in most Americans’ diets, I wouldn’t be surprised if their flesh actually had a pleasant taste. Granted, the knowledge that the flesh was human would ruin most peoples’ appetites; however, if they did not know the flesh was human, many may enjoy the flavor of the meat.

Jack79's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna unfortunately the deceased would not be American in this scenario. It would be some skinny little Kathmanduni with lots of bones. And from what I understand, the meat would be cooked, since it’s some hypothetical ritual and it all happens in a restaurant.

But yes, unlike others here, the first thing I thought after reading the question was not whether it was a survival situation, but that it would be extremely risky to eat that meat due to the reasons you mention.

I’d certainly have no moral objections or feel disgusted though. Would be very different if the person had been killed for food, as has often happened in some societies.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

@Jack79 Obviously, there would be moral objections if the individual was killed for food. That would be murder, lol. I imagine you are correct about the skinny little Kathmanduni as well. I’d much prefer eating an American, an obese American. :-)

LunaChick's avatar

@Dan_DeColumna: * looks around * locks door nervously.

Dan_DeColumna's avatar

@LunaChick: You’d already be dead silly. I’m not going to kill you! The price of beef is still cheaper than the price of murder. Although, with the way things are going, that may change someday. * wink *

PacificRimjob's avatar

(Makes the ‘wait, my mouth is full’ nod)

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