The silence of the Vegans

Could a vegan become a cannibal?

Hannibal the Cannibal

Under the right circumstances, such as life or death, I think maybe even a strict vegan would be tempted.

In 1991 The Silence of the Lambs, a psychological horror novel by Thomas Harris was adapted for the silver screen and made into a film by the same name.

It was wildly popular movie, and it became the third film in Oscar history to win the following five Academy AwardsBest PictureBest DirectorBest ScreenplayBest Actor and Best Actress. It stars Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter.

What made such a grisly topic a hit film? Well, the great actors for one plus the fascination we have for stories of desperate people turning to cannibalism to survive.

The memorable Hollywood double take

It happened when Hannibal Lecter calls agent Starling at her “FBI awards ceremony to congratulate her on her heroic resolution to the ‘Buffalo Bill’ case. He cuts the call short to avoid a trace but his parting words were chilling, saying to Clarissa that he has to go to the market, maybe for some fava beans, doc? I’m having a friend for dinner

We all knew what that meant, the way he said it and the look on his face.

Can a vegan turn their back to forbidden food?

How did the Donners keep the faith, not eat the flesh of their dead companions and yet survive under such dire circumstances?

With tragic outcome.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. What brought on this interest in a movie that’s 30 years old and what does it have to do with vegans? Turns out it’s a vegan story too, told to me in hallucinations between a fever and Nyquil induced coma by the ghost of Sam Peckinpaugh.

Covid or just a bad cold? It’s hard to know the difference, they both suck!

I have been feeling so great eating a plant-based diet that I forgot how bad sick feels.

As I lay there feeling sorry for myself, looking for diversions I moved the only muscles that weren’t sore, the ones in the fingers that control the TV remote. I happened to catch a clip from an old movie on YouTube where Robin Williams was playing the part of Patch Adams, an American physician, comedian, social activist, clown, and author. In the movie he made a joke about the Donner party which at first I thought was funny. Then I got to thinking, what’s so humorous about a group of pioneers, families, children, dying of starvation and what was the real story behind this tragic true event? I’m no prude and what’s done is done, I’m just curious and I had all the time in the world to find out.

Further surfing brought me to the documentary film by Rick Burns. About the Donners and other members of their party who wanted more than what they had back in Illinois and were willing to risk their lives and the lives of their families to get it in California and Oregon, some 2500 grueling miles away. Along the way lives were lost, families broken up over the 8 months it had taken them, sometimes under conditions where they faced unbelievable challenges, only to fall prey to the winter weather in the Sierra Nevada mountains just 150 more hard miles short of their destination.

Trapped in blizzard after blizzard, after several attempts to scale the summit, their party of 80+, including men, women, children, and babies hunkered down in makeshift, drafty, cabins on the shores of Truckee Lake to spend the winter and wait for relief. It’s a terrible story of suffering beyond belief, their faith on the edge, cold and hungry, some reduced to cannibalism as the only means of survival, later to suffer from self-recriminations, survivors’ guilt and depression. The Donners prayed for salvation which didn’t come until nearly half the party had starved to death. They had the only plausible excuse to eat meat there is, they had no other options, their survival depended on it.

In 1846 it’s a shocking story of survival, headline news across the country, not because of the survivors tales but the shocking allusions to cannibalism. Just a generation and a half later it’s a joke in a Hollywood movie by a popular comic who later commits suicide. Kinda sad. Yet, here I find myself making up wild & crazy comparisons to veganism in order to pass the time.

The Donner family themselves would not eat the flesh of their dead companions. How did they manage to survive where others who ate the flesh of the dead died anyway. (Can you die of nausea?)

So on with the vegan connection already

But wait there’s more

So, I get to thinking about another story of justifiable cannibalism, no options for survival, eat of the flesh to live or die of malnutrition, that of the soccer team whose plane crashed in the Andes in 1972. ALIVE!, it’s a terrible, yet fascinating story, one of courage, survival against terrible odds, and a father’s devotion to his son. Yet, both the Donners and the Andes survivors would be vilified in the press by people who had no idea what real survival was all about.

These were two circumstances I found where cannibalism IMO is acceptable. People finding themselves in no-win situations. In the case of a Hannibal Lecter or a Jeffrey Dahmer type killer cannabalism captures the headlines. The actual deaths become just a footnote to their evil killing nature.

Scenes we’d like to see

A parody of the movie ‘The Silence of the Lambs’


That vegan movie – directed by the ghost of Sam Peckinpaugh

A real Hollywood thriller re-imagined in the stuffy head of a vegan in the grip of a bad head cold and no chicken soup for his soul to help him recover.

To get things rolling we begin with a with the premise that Clarice Starling, FBI Trainee, young and pretty, is a Vegan. Just FYI Jody Foster is NOT a vegan.

In our twisted vegan version Clarice became vegan on the night of the lamb slaughter at a neighbor’s farm where the screams of the baby lambs woke her as a child. Haunted for years after by the silence after the killing she swore off meat and dedicated herself to the protection of the animals. She also became the first documented vegan activist when she kidnapped a farmers horse destined for slaughter and ran away with it. This was an event she only shared with Lecter in exchange for info on how to find another sick killer, Buffalo Bill and one that she never told the FBI about for fear she would be rejected by them as a wuss.

Had she been caught and convicted of felony theft, any hopes of an FBI career would have been dashed.

Only her supervisor, Agent Crawford knows she is vegan and has been protecting her from the company shrinks who want to cut her from the team because they suspect a lack of ‘killer instinct’ espousing to the suits at the top “she’s one of those vegan nuts, if she abhors cow killing how can we expect her to kill a human?”

But Crawford thinks Starling will be a good agent and he also has designs on her melons!

He tells Clarice not to mention her vegan-ness to Lecter, “he could find it insulting and refuse to talk.”

The vegan theme continues throughout the story until at last Clarice kills Buffalo Bill in a gunfight, rescues the senators daughter, proving to the FBI shrinks that she is capable of putting down the bad guys while advocating for the protection of animals. Meanwhile, Lecter is once again at large.

I’m still waiting for Silence of the Lambs 2, where they pick up the story at the end of the original movie, the place we last see Lecter, on the phone with Clarice in some exotic location, just to see who Lecter has for dinner.

My cold is better now, with a clear head and a nervous system absent of Nyquil I wonder where these crazy thoughts came from. It all this seems so ridiculous, but I guess that’s the point.

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