Eating Placenta as Cannibalism?

Ok, so the eating human meat thread made me curious. Somebody there claimed that eating the placenta after birth counts as cannibalism and would so be immoral. I can kind of see where they are coming from… except that the idea of eating the placenta for the sake of gaining the extra nutrients (it is extremely rich in nutrients) and passing them along to ones offspring is something that seems totally fine to me. So now my curiosity is piqued. What exactly constitutes immoral cannibalism? I know its ok in certain circumstances (necessary to survive etc), so what is the universal rule for when it is and isn’t wrong and does that rule make the practice of consuming the placenta after birth immoral or not?


i really don’t get how that’s not cannibalism to be honest

so yes, it’d be pretty immoral

:Hmmm: Maybe these people got the idea by watching wild beasts that do that.

But I have seen dogs AND cats that will eat their puppies if they die. Should we copy that behaviour?

Male lions will kill the cubs of the previous head of the harem when they replace him.

Again should we do that? If a woman is divorced and we enter in a relationship with her, “kill the offsprings of the previous man” :eek:

We are Humans, NOT beasts.

Peace :thumbsup:

Are you being a cannibal in eating the skin that falls off your head, or biting your nails, or eating your hair or sunburnt skin?

No? You’re just being weird?

Then you aren’t being a cannibal in eating any extraneous bodily material that comes from you - including removed organs (such as the appendix), tonsils, and the placenta.

That would seem to be the case… as far as I can tell, anyway.

I know cattle eat it, ( ex dairy farmer ). Other animals eat it, and I believe some tribal religious nut type people do the same… I have seen human placenta in a bucket,
Why on earth someone would think about eating it , I have no idea, maybe with bacon & eggs perhaps, but nah… Not for me… Is it cannibalism ? Thinking without any form of emotion, I guess it would be cannibalism… After that, I need a coffee,

Animals consume the placenta post-birth in order to hide the evidence of having brought new fragile life into the world, to gain nutrients and energy after the rigors of delivery, and to prepare themselves for the stress of lactation; moreover, I’ve seen it suggested that compounds within the “organ”, when consumed, produce an analgesic effect, thereby minimizing to a degree any pain experienced from the delivery.

I raise sheep and see this all the time.

I have never heard of humans consuming their own placenta in all of history.

I know people who have done this, and others who ponder it. I used to know a lot of hippies and earthy types.

You can lose alot of blood through labour; life threatening blood loss is not uncommon, and if you don’t get the option of a blood transfusion, eating the placenta could really help you recover some of the iron you have lost, and help build up your hemoglobin quickly. It could really make the first four months of rearing a newborn much better for you, and potentially Improve bonding etc, because you won’t be as completely exhausted as you might have been. It is not a silly thing to do at all! It is certainly not immoral. To say it is cannibalism is to say drinking your own urine is cannibalism. It is a waste product that has served its purpose and that has one last purpose to serve! :thumbsup:

The very definition of cannibalism is the eating of human flesh by another human being. The placenta is developed for the sole purpose of providing nutrients, and as we all know it is expelled from the body after pregnancy because it is essentially a byproduct and is no longer necessary to contain within one’s body. Is ingesting the byproduct of our own bodies really cannibalism? I personally struggle to make that leap. I for one have no intention of ever eating a placenta, but I struggle to see it as immoral… just odd.

What about people who drink their own urine? Is that cannibalism? Or what about Trichotillomania, a disease where one eats their own hair? Or if someone cuts their finger and puts it in their mouth to stop the bleeding, they are ingesting their own blood. Is that cannibalism? Or boogers! Is someone who eats their boogers a cannibal? I wonder, is the difference (And thus the cause of the debate) that the placenta is bigger than all of these other examples of things expelled from the body?

I had another thought…

I am assuming cannibalism is wrong because it is a desecration of a body made in the image of God and destined for eternal life right?

Well. I really hope my resurrected body doesn’t include all the placentas I ever birth… :eek:

This right here. It’s very inconsistent to call it cannibalism, since we don’t say the same of people who eat boogers or skin. It’s kind of disgusting, but it’s not cannibalism if it comes from your own body and not somebody else’s.

While trying to do a search on cannibalism in the Catholic Catechism I didn’t find any such entry. (… has anyone else tried?) but I did find this webpage:

I’m not advocating anything said on here, just giving you what I found. I didn’t read the whole thing either. Just has some thoughts to share on the topic.

I personally don’t think it would be cannibalism. It might be gross, or off-putting (to some), but I don’t’ think a person would be sinning- unless you knew someone who was strongly opposed to it- you could offend someone. I think there would be less culpability of sin - if it is sin- if the mother herself ate it or if someone was ill ate it and was in need of the supposed nutrients in it.

It seems with some religious sects the placenta is treated with some honor. Some people make placenta prints (you can look it up) and I think I’ve heard that some religious sects have a burial for it.

“Honey, don’t forget the placenta on the way home”

Nah… not happening. Sushi and bugs are about as far as I’m willing to go.

It doesn’t strike a chord of immorality within me to picture some tribal woman fry up the placenta after giving birth and eating it. Maybe slightly gross, but that’s my pampered 1st world sissy boy sensibilities talking to me, not my conscious. Maybe I’m wrong though. I don’t know what the limits are for what constitutes cannibalism.

I believe a highly likely justification within Catholic philosophy for why eating a placenta is not immoral, but eating a human arm would be, is because the functionality of the human arm is specifically for operating in the world around you. Likewise, a stomach is specifically designed to break down food to go into the intestinal system. A placenta, on the hand, is specifically designed to filter nutrients to the baby, and then afterward, it is specifically designed to be expelled from her body, as it no longer has any purpose as an “organ”. So in that case, it would not be degrading to the human person. However, in the spirit of charity, one should also consider the sensibilities of those around you, who may be weaker in faith than you are (as the Pauline epistles mention). Even if eating meat is not immoral, it is better to not eat meat than it is to cause the brother next to you to stumble.

What about the fact that the placenta is entirely fetal tissue? Are you not eating somebody else’s formerly useful body part?

Hmmm. I don’t know. Is it cannibalism to eat somebody else’s hair or skin that is naturally lost over time?

I doubt it, but it is weird to consider.

It is weird, but I’m inclined to think it’s not cannibalism if the body part is naturally lost and is no longer needed by any human. The placenta is a special case though, because although it isn’t necessary once it’s expelled from the body, it was very much needed before that (whereas hairs and bits of skin aren’t really in the same boat).

I still don’t really think it’s cannibalism, but it’s hard to think about the morality of eating various expelled or lost body parts. :confused:

Well this is the definition in wikipedia blergh!

Cannibalism (from Caníbales, the Spanish name for the Carib people,[1] a West Indies tribe formerly well known for their practice of cannibalism)[2] is the act or practice of humans eating the flesh or internal organs of other human beings. It is also called anthropophagy

Now some have discussed eating other body parts:

Some are real disorders that require medical or psiquiatric help

Self-cannibalism among humans
As a natural occurrence

A certain amount of self-cannibalism occurs unwillingly, as the body consumes dead cells from the tongue and cheeks. Ingesting one’s own blood from an unintentional lesion such as a nose-bleed or an ulcer is clearly not intentional harvesting and consequently not considered cannibalistic.

Catabolisis is also sometimes described as “self-cannibalism.”[citation needed]
As a disorder or symptom thereof
Main article: Autophagia

Fingernail-biting that develops into fingernail-eating is a form of pica, although many[who?] do not consider nail biting as a true form of cannibalism.[citation needed] Other forms of pica include the compulsion of eating one’s own hair, which can form a hairball in the stomach.[citation needed]
As a choice

Some people will engage in self-cannibalism as an extreme form of body modification, for example eating their own skin.[4] Others will drink their own blood, a practice called autovampirism,[5] but sucking blood from wounds is generally not seen to be cannibalism.[citation needed] Placentophagy may be a form of self-cannibalism. On January 13, 2007, Chilean artist Marco Evaristti hosted a dinner party for his most intimate friends. The main meal was agnolotti pasta, which was topped with a meatball made from the artist’s own fat, removed in the previous year in a liposuction operation.[6]
As a crime

Forced self-cannibalism as a form of torture or war crime has been reported. Erzsébet Báthory allegedly forced some of her servants to eat their own flesh in the early 17th century.[7] In the 16th century, Spanish colonizers forced natives to eat their own testicles.[8] Incidents were reported in the years following the 1991 Haitian coup d’état.[9] In the 1990s young people in Sudan were forced to eat their own ears.[10]

And is this not proof of our fallen nature I wonder.

Peace :thumbsup:

Since when has cannibalism been inherently immoral?? :confused:

I don’t see it being that at all. :shrug:

I think the bottom line here is that cannibalism is not inherently immoral. That’s why eating a placenta is not immoral.

With regard to the OP, it depends on definition of cannibalism one chooses. If it is the eating of another human being, then eating a placenta is not cannibalism. Eating a placenta is actually a natural act for many species, though nowadays people are so removed from nature that the thought of doing so is repulsive.

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