Is Cannibalism Illegal In The U.S.? The Answer May Surprise You

Is Cannibalism Illegal In The U.S.? The Answer May Surprise You



Cannibalism, a practice with a long and varied history across different cultures, has intrigued humanity for centuries. From ritualistic customs to survival scenarios, the act of consuming human flesh has woven its way through tales of history and taboos. But what about the legality of cannibalism in the United States? Buckle up as we unravel the surprising truth behind the laws governing this eerie practice.


The Global History of Cannibalism:

Delving into the historical fabric, cannibalism, or anthropophagy, has left its mark on almost every corner of the globe. From Africa to Australia, Melanesia to South America, instances of cannibalism have been recorded, often linked to religious rituals, witchcraft, or survival necessities. While ancient practices may seem distant, the remnants of this eerie past still echo in the annals of history.


The Curious Case of the United States:

Considering the seemingly strange laws that dot the United States, it’s a surprise to learn that cannibalism itself is not explicitly illegal at the federal level. Yes, you read that right! Silly String bans and restrictions on reptiles in Mardi Gras parades take the stage in the realm of peculiar laws, but cannibalism, for better or worse, doesn’t make the list.


Cannibalism and the Legal Void:

In the eyes of federal law, there exists no explicit prohibition against eating another person. The Legal Information Institute at Cornell University reveals this peculiar gap in legislation. However, before you contemplate inviting friends for a cannibalistic feast, hold on. While there’s no specific law against cannibalism, various indirect laws across states make obtaining and consuming human flesh a legally perilous endeavor.


Navigating the Legal Maze:

The absence of a federal ban doesn’t give a green light to those with cannibalistic inclinations. Murder, a universally illegal act, becomes the roadblock preventing most aspiring cannibals from making a macabre dinner choice. Consent to be consumed doesn’t provide a free pass either, as legal consequences, such as desecration of a corpse charges, loom large.


Historical Legal Cases:

Cannibalism’s intersection with the law dates back to the 1884 English case of Regina v. Dudley and Stephens. Castaways on the high seas, Dudley and Stephens faced charges of murdering Richard Parker for survival. Despite their desperate circumstances, they were found guilty, challenging the notion that necessity justifies murder.


A German Tale of Cannibalism:

In a more recent case in Germany, a man connected with a willing victim through a cannibalism fetish website. The consenting victim allowed the man to kill and consume him. While cannibalism wasn’t illegal in Germany, the man faced charges of manslaughter, highlighting the legal complexities surrounding such cases.



The surprising reality is that while cannibalism isn’t explicitly illegal in the United States, a web of laws indirectly makes it a perilous pursuit. The intersection of historical cases, legal voids, and the specter of murder charges paints a complex picture. So, while the idea of cannibalism may linger as a curious legal anomaly, the societal and legal ramifications firmly keep it out of the realm of acceptability.