Cannibalism: the thought experiment

This guy was in a terrible motorcycle accident that mangled his foot so terribly that it had to be amputated. So he took it home and made tacos from the meat, and served it (with their knowledge and consent) to ten of his friends.

Huh. Interesting.

I wondered what I would do if a friend offered to serve me a meal made with bits of himself. I think I’d be willing, and most of my reservation would be from the practice of ethical vegetarianism. But then I’d think that much of my reason for cutting back on meat is to reduce the load humans place on the environment, and what could be more environmentally-minded than eating people? So I’d probably go along with it for the novelty.

If it was my own limb…no, I wouldn’t go this route. I’d be disappointed if I didn’t taste good, especially since I expect some exquisite marbling of my flesh, and I think I’d be tender. I don’t need one more thing to be held in judgment over me, though.

No, I know exactly what I’d do in this situation that I would hope I never experience. Dermestid beetles would get a good meal. Then degreasing and bleaching. Then I’d rearticulate it and mount it on a tasteful frame and hang it on my office wall.

What else would you do with a piece of you? Bury it and let it rot? Burn it?


  1. Charles Knutson says

    I’ve been playing around with making canes and walking sticks, so I’d incorporate some bone in a cane for myself.
    A friend who did stage combat at the Renaissance Festival was looking at a hip replacement and wanted to have a friend to make a sword with her bone in the hilt, but she was told the hospital wouldn’t let her have her used parts. But it seems like it depends on the hospital, or maybe having a cooperative surgeon…

  2. says

    I saved one of my kidney stones from ritual sacrifice, years ago, and still have it. If I ever get the chance, I’ll have it put into a bead of glass and make a bit of jewelry from it. It’s really intricate and could be considered pretty, especially with the magnification the glass would provide.

  3. hemidactylus says

    Ughhh!!!! Trigger warnings dude! Trigger warnings. I actually tapped that link and I am…disturbed, as if your setup didn’t unsettle me already. Pictures bad! And I thought I was demented. I tap out on this one. Now I will have images of foot tacos in mind. Brain bleach.

    Are you angling for some political differentiation of people based on Haidt? Does that make me a conservative? I’ll eat fish tacos, which some who hate fish would find repugnant. I like some varieties of Thai fish sauce but have issues with sardines for some reason. The threshold is getting them in my mouth.

    That said a foot bone necklace or mobile hanging from a ceiling would be funny.

  4. chigau (違う) says

    I’m an archaeologist.
    I’d bury it, with a note of the exact date, ± 150 years

  5. Artor says

    I know a guy who is a taxidermist, and sampled some human flesh from a body part he was being paid to prepare. He had permission from the former owner, but I think I would not try that myself. Were I to lose a limb or something though, I would definitely make something badass out of my own bones.

  6. rpjohnston says

    I don’t think my friends would be interested in this experiment. Really, I’d be putting my foot in my mouth by even broaching the subject.

  7. Sean Boyd says

    I’m a bit skeptical. Not that I believe no one could have done this. But the pictures provided show the severed leg, then proceed to show raw meat, then on to the cooking, etc. They don’t show the butchering process itself, however. If you’re documenting the experience, that seems a rather important step to leave out.

  8. Curious Digressions says

    I’d be wary of eating a friend’s foot or other meaty body part. Even properly cooked, there are so many human-to-human transmittable diseases. If it were my body part, or my s.o.’s body part, eh. I could probably turn off the yuck-factor long enough to give it a go. I can disassociate with the best of them.

  9. hemidactylus says


    I am reminded of an episode of Always Sunny when Frank cons Dee and Charlie into thinking they ate human meat and to satisfy their newfound craving they traipse to a morgue to feast on a cadaver.

  10. willj says

    Don’t be squeamish. Which of us hasn’t indulged in a bit of mild cannibalism now and then?

  11. dianne says

    Bad plan. At least, serving bits of yourself to anyone else is. Think of the bacteria, viruses, and prions you could be harboring. Any harm they can do you has already been done, but sending them out into the rest of the population strikes me as rash.

  12. Jazzlet says

    I’d go the Dermestid beetle route too, I’ve seen x-rays of various parts of me and, damn, my bones look good.

  13. thirdmill301 says

    I think the problem with this experiment is that legally and culturally it sets a really dangerous precedent to say that humans are just another animal (even if that’s true biologically). It’s not a huge leap to say, If there is no legal or ethical distinction between humans and non-human animals, and if legally and ethically I can kill and eat a cow or pig or chicken, well, then why can’t I kill and eat another human? I would not want to see this carried to its logical conclusion. I think that there must be a line between humans and other organisms, and this experiment crosses it.

    Hard core vegans would no doubt say the solution is to tell people they can’t kill and eat any other animal either, but there is a reason hard core veganism has never attracted many adherents.

  14. Matrim says

    My major concern would be disease. Funnily enough, people carry more germs that affect people than food animals do. Granted, thorough cooking would make it fairly safe, but I’d still worry about it.

  15. hemidactylus says

    Would my dog refrain from eating me if I croaked in my sleep? I would hope she would hold back out of respect until the hunger overwhelmed her and even then could I blame her? I could be quite tasty. OK that just sounds wrong. But could I justify eating her after a catastrophe? OK that’s even worse.

  16. Matrim says

    @26, gijoel

    Given that CJD is a prion disease, eating muscle tissue is unlikely to transmit it. That’s more a brain/spinal cord concern. Still, there are a lot of nasties that can still be passed.

  17. says

    I had a partial hip replacement early last year and the surgeon presented me with the fractured femoral neck he had removed. My plans to clean it up and frame it were sabotaged by my wife who arranged for its burial while I was still incapacitated.

  18. Ragutis says

    Wasn’t there someone in Germany a few years ago that ended up in jail for something like this? He put out an ad, found a willing “donor”, and nom… nom… nom.

  19. wzrd1 says

    I’d not serve part of myself up to friends, nor would I consume part of them. I know where we’ve all been.

  20. Dauphni says

    Here in the Netherlands two television presenters had a surgeon cut out some small pieces of muscle from both of them for their tv show, which they then proceeded to eat live on camera, describing what it tasted like. The courts got involved and ruled that it was okay since there’s no law specifically prohibiting the consumption of human flesh and they didn’t break any other laws obtaining it.

    The relevant episode is actually on youtube, though it is in Dutch.

  21. sherylyoung says

    I wouldn’t eat it, but I’d be thrilled to put it out for the local carnivores! Mountain Lions & coyotes aren’t too picky. Maybe a Bald Eagle would like some too.

  22. tacitus says

    Once the technology to grow meat in a vat has matured, look out. Bootleg celebrity meats will be a thing.

    You heard it here first!

  23. lochaber says

    Not terribly interested in eating human flesh, mine or others.

    Though depending on the part, it might be worth trying to clean/preserve the bones and make something out of that. Possibly the skin as well, if that’s at all salvageable…

  24. Janstince says

    I’d have them make me a prosthesis with the actual foot, hand, whatever bones, using a clear lacquer preservative and hiding as much of the articulating equipment as possible.