Eating Corpses

Davyd Madeley writes about vegetarianism for the environment [1] which is listed in Wikipedia as Environmental Vegetarianism [2]. He links to an article on the Huffington Post [3]. The Huffington Post article in turn links to an article on about global warming [4].

Mass-produced meat is not only bad for the environment but there are also health issues related to meat consumption (due to bad practices in mass farming, combining the meat of thousands of animals into mince thus increasing the spread of bad meat, and the fact that most people in first-world countries consume significantly more meat than anyone did at any time in history).

One thing that doesn’t get mentioned in these posts is the fact that farming is not required to produce meat. In fact the meat that is most healthy (due to lack of carcinogenic chemicals and free-range feeding) and has the strongest flavour (which may be a good or bad thing depending on whether you actually like the flavour of meat) is from wild animals. If you don’t like the taste of meat (which seems to be the case when people don’t like game meat) then why eat it at all?

In Australia large numbers of kangaroos are killed because they eat grass more efficiently than cattle (they have evolved over tens of thousands of years to survive in Australian conditions unlike cattle). There are also a number of foreign animals that have run wild in Australia and are considered vermin, this includes rabbit, pig, buffalo, deer and camel (all of which are tasty).

Even among native animals there are often times when a cull is needed. If some good seasons allow the population to increase then when there is a bad season the population has to reduce and it’s often better for them to be culled (thus providing plenty of food for the surviving animals) than for all of them to starve.

There is a game meat wholesaler I’ve visited a few times that sells buffalo, rabbit, pig, camel, crocodile, possum, emu, kangaroo, and some other animals. All of the meat is from wild animals (apart from rabbit and pig none of those animals can be domesticated). I’m sure that every region has such a wholesaler that will sell to interested individuals if you know where to look (it seems impossible to buy any game meat other than kangaroo retail in Australia).

Finally one thing that offends me is people who eat meat but are not prepared to kill the animal. If you aren’t prepared to kill it then you shouldn’t pay someone else to do so on your behalf! Claiming that “the animal was going to be killed anyway” is a pitiful excuse that is only suitable for children. It’s acceptable for children to eat meat without thinking about where it came from. But adults should be able to deal with the fact that eating meat means killing animals – or become vegetarian if they can’t cope with it.

The book 3001 The Final Odyssey pioneered the term “corpse food” for eating meat. I believe that the term is accurate and should be used. If you can’t stomach eating corpses then there are many good vegetarian options available.

There are many vegetarians in the Linux community. As these issues are getting discussed a lot recently maybe it would be good to have the vegetarians choose some good vegetarian restaurants to have Linux meetings on occasion. Davyd got a bit of negative feedback on his post, maybe if he invited a bunch of his local Linux people to have dinner at a vegetarian restaurant and they enjoyed the food then the reaction to such ideas would be more positive.

9 comments to Eating Corpses

  • corpse (kôrps) n. — A dead body, especially the dead body of a human.

    bod·y (bŏd’Ä“) n., pl. -ies. — 6. A mass of matter that is distinct from other masses.

    How doesn’t corpse food apply to vegetables as well?

  • deb user

    “Finally one thing that offends me is people who eat meat but are not prepared to kill the animal. If you aren’t prepared to kill it then you shouldn’t pay someone else to do so on your behalf!”


    There are tons of things I don’t want to do. I pay other people to do them for me. What’s wrong with that?

    Not that I’d be particularly mortified to have to kill an animal, but it’s not exactly something I would do in my leisure time.

  • There was a letter to Crikey about kangaroo meat earlier this year:

    Andrew Dempster (yesterday, comments) asks if kangaroos produce methane, and if
    not, why we can’t use them instead of sheep and cattle. Kangaroos don’t produce
    methane because of some tricky digestive processes. But they aren’t very
    efficient in producing meat. Ruminants ruminate! This enables them to extract
    more energy from good pasture than kangaroos which pass food through quickly
    and relatively inefficiently.

    The kangaroo digestive mechanism is better on bad pasture, they take in and
    process a lot of food, while sheep and cattle face a digestive bottleneck. See
    Knox’s “Biology” (the standard University biology text) for more detail. The
    bottom line here is that kangaroos aren’t efficient meat producers, they don’t
    herd, they fight, they jump fences, the mob structure isn’t good for farming,
    and no farmer wants to give up cushy evenings watching Big Brother to go out
    and shoot kangaroos which is a tough, back breaking and thoroughly unpleasant

    The current kangaroo industry can’t get enough shooters to even meet its
    current quotas which produces very little meat. Read Jared Diamond’s “Guns
    Germs and Steel”. He explains in detail why so few wild animal species have
    been domesticated over the millenia – it isn’t for lack of trying. And if you
    can’t domesticate them, you have to hunt them. Hunting wild animals has never
    and can never support large populations. Again, see Diamond for more details.

  • etbe

    Innismir: The term “corpse” is generally used to refer to a dead animal not a dead plant.

    deb user: There is a huge difference between something that you prefer not to do and something that you are not prepared to do. I prefer not to do outdoors stuff which is why I haven’t gone out hunting animals. But I have no hesitation in killing them if necessary (I have killed, cleaned, cooked, and eaten many fish and would have no problem doing the same with larger animals).

    Paul: I’m reading Guns Germs and Steel at the moment. I don’t think it would be practical to have kangaroos provide the quantities of meat that we currently eat. But government subsidies to the meat industry will end sooner or later and most people will be unable to afford their current levels of meat consumption. At that time kangaroo will be able to provide a significant portion of the national meat consumption.

  • Jason Nicholls

    Davyd has taken out the PLUGgers to a vegetarian restaurant not so long ago when Pia was here. I think most of the people enjoyed it.

    Unfortunately Perth is a little starved for vegan/vegetarian restaurants but it’s improving slowly…

  • You are philosophically and scientifically incorrect in your reference to the “need to cull wild animals” when they increase in population in good seasons. To kill the fit and healthy members of the kangaroo populaiton,which is done by the commercial kangaroo slaughter, severly destroys the natural evolutionary processes that have made kangaroos so well adapted to Australias environment. Indisciminate killing destroys the genetic diversity and destroys the fittest and healthiest, targeted by our cruel industry in kangaroo products, leaving the weaker and smaller kangaroos to breed,. A recipe for extinction.

  • damar

    It’s immoral to eat meat considering how it is produced. Here is a site that explains how factory farms work:

  • etbe

    Australian Society for Kangaroos: In good seasons animals breed, in bad seasons populations decline due to lack of food. Unlike most animals kangaroos have reasonable control of their reproduction so part of the population decline in bad seasons is due to lack of breeding, but part of it is from death from starvation. If the food is going to run out then reducing the numbers will help those that remain.

    As for extinction, the first URL above suggests that Lumholtz’s Tree-kangaroo is officially regarded as endangered in Australia and the second states that the Tasmanian Forester Kangaroo is officially recognised as endangered in the US.
    I have not found any reference to the Red Kangaroo being endangered, the wikipedia page suggests that it is of “least concern” which seems to contradict your web page.

    Killing the larger and stronger animals won’t cause them to become extinct, merely to evolve to be smaller. Cattle survived quite well after being bred to be smaller than the auroch.