On one hand, vegetarianism describes a lifestyle in which meat-eating is eschewed almost always for the sake of ethical, health, or environmental concerns (or some combination of any of those elements). In that case, eating human placenta, which was just going to plop out and exist anyway, shouldn’t disturb that practice. On the other hand, human placenta really looks like meat! On a third hand that I’m about to bite off, further complicating this issue with actual cannibalism, a lot of vegetarian food really looks like meat. Beyond Burgers “bleed” and approximate hamburgers cooked rare. And they’re great.
This question arises not because I will ever actually have the opportunity of eating the placenta of my significant other (I’m gay and anyway, no thanks—I’m full) but because food writer Eddie Lin reports that he cooked his wife’s placenta and ate it in the appropriately titled Cosmopolitan.com essay, “I Cooked My Wife’s Placenta. Here’s How It Tasted.” Said placenta was “the size of a whoopee cushion, sprawling with thick blood vessels, dripping in amniotic fluid, and trailing a slimy umbilical cord.” OK, right, sounds like about the meatiest experience I could imagine.
Lin prepared it in “a riff on a medicinal Chinese chicken soup recipe.” As far as the taste, he reports:
The sesame oil amplified the flavor of the broth, and the subtle taste of the placenta gradually revealed itself. It was like beef, only very delicate; soft notes that suitably matched its gentle textures. One spoonful was all I got and needed. There was nothing offensive about it. Actually, it was quite ordinary, sort of beefy, and not the exotic taste I was imagining.
And in turn, that’s not the vegetarian taste someone who’d call this meal “vegetarian” was imagining.
And yet, one Ariel Garlow, who was according to her Quora bio in 2011 “six years vegan, nine years meatless” responded the question “Is it okay for my vegan wife to eat her placenta?” in this way:
We eat our own cells passively and constantly throughout our lives, so even a vegan will have “eaten themselves”. Nobody is harmed and you’ve got a, well, perfectly fine placenta to... eat.
I’ve never grasped the appeal of that though. I’ve heard of new moms freezing placenta chunks and stirring it in with their yogurt. Autosarcophagy reminds me too much of Soylent Green.
Let’s take it to the poll: