3

As far as I understand, one of the strongest points of veganism for not consuming animals is so as not to cause animals harm or suffering. Vegans also abstain from animal products such as milk, honey and eggs because those are not made by for humans, and taking those is akin to stealing and will cause them harm and suffering.

Humans, however, are capable of giving away their flesh with consent. This has actually been practiced culturally. Some indigenous tribes in Brazil and Peru practice endocannibalism, in which they consume their own deceased, and in Papua New Guinea cannibalism was still practiced this decade.

If a person consents to having their flesh being consumed by others in the event of a death by natural causes, would that flesh be considered vegan?

  • It's not the aspect you're asking about, so I'm not going to post it as an answer, but just to state the obvious: if consensual cannibalism is your only source of meat, unless you've managed a seriously impressive pipeline, you're not going to have enough meat to sustain the gut flora and enzymes necessary to handle meat well. That probably matters less if the corpse was shared by a very massive number of vegans, such that none got more than a starting transition from veganism amount. I mean, based on your rep, I'd assume this is worldbuilding, but... – Ed Grimm Mar 10 at 0:05
  • @EdGrimm not worldbuilding, just curiosity on people's worldviews. – Renan Mar 10 at 1:14
5

After death

I would argue that human meat is vegan no matter if consent was given, as long as

  • the human was not intentionally killed (and the meat is taken after death), and
  • the human was free (i.e., not a slave).

This applies to non-human animals, too: it would be vegan to take the meat of animals who died in the wild (without human influence) or of animals who where accidentally killed e.g. on the road.

Without consent, taking/using such meat might be unethical for other reasons (e.g., post-mortem rights, extrinsic moral value given by others), but these have nothing to do with veganism. If consent was given, these other reasons no longer apply, and taking/using the meat would be ethical.

While living

Meat from a human who still lives is only vegan if

  • the human gives consent to the injury/amputation (or it’s in their best interest), and
  • the human gives consent to the use (e.g., eating) of the body part.

This mostly can’t apply to non-human animals, as they can’t give consent. An exception would be if an amputation is medically required (i.e., it’s in the animal’s best interest), and the animal has no need for the amputated body part.

Why?

Based on the Vegan Society’s definition, something is vegan unless it involves exploitation or cruelty.

If you are dead, you are non-sentient (→ you no longer have intrinsic moral value), so nothing can be exploitative/cruel anymore.

If you give true consent to an action that would otherwise be exploitative/cruel, that action is no longer exploitative/cruel.

Analogous examples are post-mortem and living organ donations:

  • It’s vegan to take the heart from, and accept the heart of, a dead person (but possibly unethical if the person didn’t agree to it during their lifetime).

  • It’s vegan to take the kidney from, and accept the kidney of, a living person who agreed to it.

7

There is no official definition of veganism so you won't get a definitive answer. You could eat consenting humans and call yourself a vegan if you wish. You might be breaking the law but not because you misrepresented yourself as vegan.

6

The closest analogy would be breastfeeding, which most vegans consider acceptable: a mother is consenting to share her milk with her child (unlike cows or other animals, who cannot consent). However, there are always broader ethical considerations (is consuming meat, even consensually given, necessary? etc.) and so it's likely that different vegans would have different opinions.

2

Since Renan said in a comment that they're just interested in people's views, and there's no nay-sayers for people to vote on...

My view is that the practice wouldn't be vegan, but it would be ethical. It's a choice I can respect.

Just to clarify the kind of person I am and thus represent, I'm an old school pragmatic vegan. That is, I don't eat meat, eggs, or dairy. Meat includes fish and poultry. I don't have a particularly strong stance on honey; I don't go out of my way to avoid it, but it's not a big part of my diet.

I am pleased that I'm able to live healthily and enjoy what I eat on a much more ethical diet than what I was doing before, but I didn't become vegan because of ethics, and I'm not staying vegan because of ethics. The ethics is just a nice bonus. Since I feel like eating a vegan diet has improved my health and quality of life, I've not been in a position where I've been able to really determine whether ethics alone would be enough to keep me vegan. I've certainly mulled it over, and I think I know the answer, but actually being in the position of having a reason to stop being vegan is quite different from the context in which I've thought about it, so I'm not certain if the answer would apply.

-3

Humans are animals so vegans should object to eating human flesh.

We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

  • 3
    The key difference being discussed here is the consensual part. With animals, a consent can hardly be an argument. With humans it leads to questioning of whether veganism is a question of consent or a question of avoidance regardless of ethical context. – Alexander Rossa Oct 14 at 10:06

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