You gonna finish that?
People used to eat people. It actually wasn’t that uncommon for early man to eat other early men. There are a few different theories as to why it was so common. A prevailing theory is that people were eaten so that other predators wouldn’t smell the bodies and come into the human cave to eat the dead human, and then, “Oh, there’s a few live humans here. Let’s eat these guys too.” Beyond the consumption of human flesh, skulls were also often used as cups. (Hey, early men were environmentalists, too.)
Of course, humans don’t eat human meat anymore unless you’re performance artist Rick Gibson or anyone that drinks Soylent (lol). But, all this talk about eating humans begs the question, what other things did we used to eat that now seem totally off limits?
Yes, everyone’s favorite Floridian resident used to be everyone’s favorite dinner. One fascinating article on a Belizean vacation-planning site describes, in graphic detail, the hunting, skinning, and eating of the fatty beast in the 1960s. Despite having the nickname sea cow, the author describes the flavor as “pork-like.”
Technically people still eat elephant, though they’re not supposed to. In fact, the International Union for Conservation of Nature warns the poaching of elephants for their meat in the Democratic Republic of Congo is threatening more elephants than the ivory trade. But eating elephant meat wasn’t always thought of as detrimental to the pachyderm population. In Paleolithic times, early hominins basically survived off these enormous creatures. And through the 19th century, Western travel writers, including Dr. Livingstone, presumably had a predilection for the elephantine.
Actually beaver is still eaten quite a bit, but it used to be eaten by early American trappers as a staple. In fact, the Catholic Church used to say eating red meat on holy days—which made up about half the year—was forbidden. But because the rodent spent a lot of time in water, in the late 17th century, the fuzzy slappers were classified as fish by the church, turning holy day hunger pangs into belt belly overhangs. Also, according to the gourmands at Saveur, grilled beaver tails taste like brains.
The world over, endangered animals including lions, sea turtles, and pangolins are consumed for their meat. Check out 10 other animals that may sound like a delicious meal, but should be avoided as dinner at all costs.