Death Revolution: Eating the Dead to Save Our World
Carmen M. Cusack, Death Revolution: Eating the Dead to Save Our World, 4 J. Envtl. & Animal L. 37 (2012)
36 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2013
Date Written: June 01, 2012
Neo’s consciousness is transported into a body that lies dormant in an amniotic pod. Neo’s stirring instantly becomes frantic as he punches through layers of fascia. He frees himself from the sealed pod, and realizes that he is one of many humans who are captured, bilked into believing a daydream, and harvested like batteries for their electrical impulses. In Tanzania, healers hunt "Zeru Zeru" — albinos, who are also called “ghosts” or "black in a white skin" — for their body parts in medicinal concoctions. Albinos’ corpses have been found with all of the limbs removed, and some corpses have “been found minus tongues, genitals, [ ] breasts,” or fingers. Some parents sell their albino children to the predatory healers. Human body harvesting conjures thoughts of alien invasion or black market barbarism. But, the harvesting of bodies can be respectable and useful. Scientists, surgeons, and artists legally and respectably deal in human body parts. These people not only contribute positively to society by usefully recycling dead limbs, parts, and organs, but these people better utilize natural resources and reduce waste and environmental toxicity by keeping full corpses from entering mausoleums, being embalmed and buried, or being cremated.
Human corpses and parts are harvested for use in science, medicine, art, politics, and other important causes. Harvesting corpses or parts for constructive purposes seems to be acceptable. The law carefully regulates transplantation of body parts, but the law does not offer concrete guidance on how bodies should be disposed or otherwise harvested. Bodies can be burned, buried in backyards, dissected, displayed, frozen, turned into diamonds, or shot into space. A body can be handled or transformed in almost unlimited ways including those that enhance the earth and those that destroy it. Even when the disposal method is environmentally problematic, the law is virtually silent. The most common ways to dispose of the dead — internment and cremation — are destructive of the environment and damage the ecosystem in a number of ways. Burial pollutes both land and water, and inefficiently uses valuable land. Furthermore, cremation pollutes the air and water. Since the law does not require people to bury or cremate the dead, this paper suggests a more ecofriendly alternative: eating the dead.
This paper posits that, absent any laws to the contrary, people should consider harvesting corpses as a way to reduce the amount of pollution created by more popular corpse disposal practices. Harvesting corpses also reduces the demand for animal meat, which is widely known to be a serious factor in water, land, and air pollution; water waste; erosion; misuse of land; and world hunger. Particularly, consumption of the dead can also positively impact this last problem: world hunger. If people donate their bodies to the poor, then their flesh may be a source of sustenance for those people who are hungry or starving. The solution is a win-win for the environment by reducing the cost of disposal to families and solving some food inefficiencies.
However, this article accepts the minority view that eating human corpses is acceptable, and suggests a wide-scale alternative to burial and cremation at a time when novel disposal options are just beginning to become available to the public. Therefore, this article provides rationales for why human bodies could or should be eaten despite the majority opinion’s taboo against anthropophagy. Taking an unglamorized approach to the sacredness of life, death, and dead bodies, Section II critically analyzes traditional beliefs about corpse disposal and the dead, and provides reasons why society ought to use corpses efficiently. Section II also discusses the social beliefs that surround corpses and why we should deviate from our past beliefs about eating and being eaten. Section III explores ecological and environmental problems caused by popular corpse disposal methods, and Section IV dissects the relationship between food production and natural resources. Finally, Section V concludes that the substantial benefits of harvesting dead bodies for food should not be pushed aside in favor of antiquated notions about the moral or spiritual importance of death.
Keywords: anthropophagy, recycling, eating corpses, zombie, burial, funeral, ecology, environment, cremation
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