The idea of consuming flesh for nourishment is not a new one. Even today in the 21st century, the number of people who are non-vegetarians overpower their vegetarian and vegan counterparts. Of course, modern civilization restricts itself to just animals, birds and in some cases, insects, never venturing towards the notion of consuming their fellow human beings. The question to be asked is, is the idea of cannibalism so bizarre?
As recent as the 16th century, this question was never thought of. Instead, the question that was asked was, what type of flesh should one eat? Aristocrats, priests, royalty, scientists and common folk alike regularly ingested different parts of the recently dead or mummified human body in an attempt to invigorate or rid themselves of various ailments. The society of the time considered human blood, bones and fat to have mystical properties, which may seem revolting now, but they were essential in treating migraines, dizzy spells, bleeding ailments, and bruises. It was even believed that the more violent the death, the more potent the resources. Towards the 1650s, the notion that hot, fresh blood was a guaranteed cure for epilepsy gained prominence, firmly establishing medical cannibalism as an essential part of human life.
If recently deceased individuals were considered as prized possessions, mummies were invaluable. 17th-century pioneer of brain science, Thomas Willis created a mixture of chocolate and powdered human skull to help soothe various brain injuries and internal bleeding. King Charles II on the other hand, constantly sipped a solution of alcohol and skull and called it, "The King’s Drops".
One of the main reasons why cannibalism was favored during those times was the belief that the human spirit lingered in the remains, enhancing their power as remedies. It was a widely accepted notion that the spirit and the body together made up the soul, the essence of a being. What could be better to heal a fellow human than the soul of his deceased brother or sister? The practice of cannibalism, with such beliefs and benefits, should be considered ethical.