We’ve recently seen some debate about whether or not it’s safe to eat vultures in a survival scenario. Vultures are known as the garbage disposals of the world. However, it’s human nature that starving people might do desperate things to survive.
Let’s face it! If you’re even contemplating the idea of eating vulture meat, it’s safe to assume you’re living in desperate times.
Let’s get right to it—while you probably could eat vulture meat, if at all possible, you probably should not.
The Vulture’s Digestive System
Vultures have superior digestive systems in which their stomachs contain a strong poisonous acid that kills dangerous diseases:
At a pH level of 1.0, a vulture’s stomach acid is corrosive enough to digest bones.
Why You Shouldn’t Eat Vulture Meat
Putrid carrion contains harmful decomposing bacteria that release toxic chemicals into the bodies of these scavengers. These toxic chemicals produced by decaying flesh leech into vulture meat, making it smelly, unpalatable, and inedible.
While there’s no evidence to suggest that eating vulture meat outright kills you, there’s plenty to suggest that it’s toxic enough to make you sick. Vultures are commonly referred to as scavengers of death because they eat all things dead.
Although unproven, there are many claims that food poisoning can result from eating vulture meat. One could argue that in a TEOTWAWKI scenario, these risks would be acceptable when the alternative is starvation.
On the other hand, even the slightest chance of poisoning yourself doesn’t make much sense unless there’s just absolutely no other alternative, particularly when you consider there’s likely little chance of medical treatment in such a scenario.
In ancient cultures (and even some modern ones), scavengers that fed on dead organisms were considered unclean and forbidden foods, and this is likely for good, sanitary reasons. It’s no secret that putrid carrion contains an array of dangerous bacteria and parasites.
While a Western diet has plenty of “unclean” meats on the menu, these meats are also known to carry harmful diseases. Take pork, for example, that carries the trichinella roundworm.
Trichinosis was much more common before the 20th century, and its symptoms were known to last for months:
- Aching joints
- High fever and chills
- Muscle pain and tenderness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe fatigue
- Stomach pain
- Swelling of eyes and face
It took government legislation that prohibited feeding raw meat garbage to pigs, as well as public awareness, to ultimately reduce trichinosis cases each year.
Because vultures also thrive on “raw meat garbage,” deductive reasoning concludes the same risks are quite plausible. Even if the chances are slim, is it worth the risk?
Eating any scavenger that thrives on decaying flesh, bones, and feces just doesn’t seem like a good idea. Eating vulture meat places you at risk for many deadly pathogens.
Ultimately, only you can assess whether the reward outweighs the risk, but consider the consequences. Much like bats, it is well known that vultures carry an abundance of diseases:
- Avian influenza
As such, it’s probably best to stay away from these animals altogether.
Obviously, in a worst-case scenario, the law would have little impact on survival, but for the sake of “don’t try this at home,” you should know that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 protects both vultures and their eggs.
This is likely the reason you don’t find much information regarding the topic. Committing the crime is quite costly, to the tune of $100,000.
Benefits to the Ecosystem
Despite their detestable appearance, vultures are great for the ecosystem because they do feed on dead carcasses. Vultures are the very mechanism that prevents disease from spreading.
From a survival perspective, during TEOTWAWKI, it would be much more advantageous to let the vultures live. We can already see the impact in geographic locations where these birds are on the verge of extinction. Without them, disease definitely runs rampant.
Does Any Culture Eat Vulture Meat?
There are many claims that some cultures, particularly in developing countries, do eat vulture meat. In fact, it’s sold far and wide throughout bushmeat markets.
However, in most situations, the vulture is used for religious purposes wherein they are not ingested but instead used in mystical rituals.
In South Africa, for example, they use the vulture’s brain mixed with glycerine and gunpowder. Spiritual leaders light this mixture on fire, and people inhale the smoke or snort the ash to trigger a type of spiritual clairvoyance.
In other words, it’s used more like a drug than an edible food.
In other parts of the world, like Nigeria, vendors reportedly sell vulture meat under the guise of chicken to unsuspecting patrons. Unfortunately, there’s no information regarding the outcome of eating said meat.
Culturally, however, most Nigerians believe that killing vultures is taboo. Furthermore, bushmeat is notoriously known for spreading zoonotic diseases:
- Ebola virus
Can You Eat Vulture Eggs?
There are some claims that it’s safe to eat vulture eggs and even some so-called proof. Although, there’s no way of knowing for certain the egg in that video is truly a vulture egg.
Additionally, because both vultures and their eggs are protected, I find it somewhat suspicious that someone would be so brave as to air their crimes on YouTube. But then again, in today’s world, you just never know.
There’s one thing you can know for certain. If you don’t eat, you’ll eventually die. If it’s a matter of starving or living, eating vulture meat or eggs at least gives you a chance to live. At any rate, I doubt the government will be enforcing species protection laws in a TEOTWAWKI scenario.
However, I’d like to believe better options would be available. Perhaps consider some other survival foods instead. While we all hope to never live in such a world, ultimately, you have to decide if eating vulture meat is worth the risk.