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I'm a Humanitarian

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"The number of incidents of the use of human flesh in cooking decreased this month to 56."
NKVD (Police) Archive for the Leningrad District, June 1942

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

No, this trope is not about humanitarianism. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Cannibalism is considered one of the greatest taboos, so, naturally, it's become a trope. One idea which stands out is that human flesh is superficially similar to swine flesh, hence the nickname "long pig" and the phrase "eating the long pork". note  A robot designed to taste wine corroborates this idea. Thus, it should be delicious, which is reflected both in Hannibal Lecter's gourmet tastes, and in the idea in Sweeney Todd that pies with this ingredient would sell like hotcakes. Or hot pies.

You'll often have people eat something and not know what it is, and then discover the ghastly truth, such as in many an Inn of No Return.


A mostly Discredited Trope (see Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest for an exception) is a variation that portrays members of non-European societies as cannibalistic, often attempting to cook visiting Europeans in a pot. See Cannibal Film for the Exploitation subgenre based on this.

In Speculative Fiction, cannibalism is generally extended to include eating all sapient or humanoid creatures, even if they aren't technically eating their own species. Any species that includes humans (or other humanoids) in its diet is usually portrayed as villainous, as is any species that routinely eats members of its own social group. Likewise, humans treating other sapient species as food are rarely treated sympathetically (unless What Measure Is a Non-Human? is in effect). If an alien or monster race make a practice of eating their own (as well as or instead of humans), then we have a case of Monstrous Cannibalism.


To various degrees, anthropophagynote  is usually expected of Zombie Mooks.

If the cannibal systematically hunts down people on a regular basis so they can eat them, they'll be a Serial Killer as well.

As an interesting side note, whether you can be criminally charged with cannibalism (in the United States at least). Only 16 of the 50 states have laws that explicitly make eating other people illegal. The other 34 tend to handle such cases under the purview of laws dealing with desecration or molestation of dead bodies.

A subtrope of I Ate WHAT?! and Human Resources. Can also involve Carnivore Confusion without furries (or maybe with furries - see the paragraph on Speculative Fiction above.) See To Serve Man for when Aliens and Monsters find us tasty. Picky People Eater and Brain Food is for those not interested in mere muscles. See also Let's Meet the Meat. Compare No Party Like a Donner Party, in which persons are forced into cannibalism due to starvation, or The Secret of Long Pork Pies, for when someone is unknowingly tricked into it. And when you get down to the bitter dregs, there's Autocannibalism. Also see Fattening the Victim, where people are fattened before being eaten.

Note that this trope applies to non-humans who are sentient or otherwise capable of independent thought or communication even if they only eat their own kind. Likewise, this trope is not about anyone eating humans. It's about cannibalism.

Interesting note: In many cultures this is actually the primary method of funerary rites, done either under the logic that the dead will be able to live on in their loved ones, or simply to make use of a perfectly good hunk of meat that no longer happens to be a person with rights, depending on the culture in question.

Truth in Television (including Nature red in tooth and claw — according to The Other Wiki, more than 1500 species are known eaters of their own), and often so disturbing we ask No Real Life Examples, Please!

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Alternative Title(s): Cannibal, I Am A Humanitarian, Hominivore, Anthropophage


One Hit Wonderland: "Timothy"

In Todd in the Shadows' series One Hit Wonderland, he covers The Buoys' only hit, "Timothy". The song is about three guys trapped in a mine, but only two of them get rescued, as the Jim and the narrator get hungry and eat Timothy beforehand.

How well does it match the trope?

4.78 (9 votes)

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Main / ImAHumanitarian

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Main / ImAHumanitarian