9

votes

How does a Paleo lifestyle affect your views of cremation?

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created August 09, 2011 at 10:35 PM

As a former life-long vegetarian, part of the transition to a Paleo lifestyle has involved coming to terms with killing as a part of eating. Rather than getting into a battle about the definition of "killing" and whether plants have feelings too, let's just accept that we, as omnivores, are at the top of our local food chains and so have the "right" to eat meat. The thing about the circle of life, though, is that the death of the carnivores is supposed to return energy to the soil so that plants can consume it, feed herbivores, and feed future carnivores. This is a core requirement of a sustainable ecosystem.

I have found during my Paleo journey that I can no longer justify the idea of cremation. I always planned to be cremated as a way to reduce costs (and avoid the icky thoughts of worms eating my body). Now I feel like I need to allow my body to participate in perpetuating this circle, which is not a thought I ever had when I was displaced in the food chain. Has anyone else given this topic any thought? If so, what did you decide? Are there methods of body disposal that would increase decomposition and minimize negative impact on the environment (ie. taking up space in a cemetery)?

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:36 PM

I like the idea of sky burials in theory. But I think they have to be performed in an area where bodies don't decompose naturally due to altitude/climate, i.e. Tibet. If you haven't, you should watch the Human Planet episode where it details the practice. There is one man designated to perform the ritual, and he is an alcoholic due to the gruesome nature of his trade. While I think our country is sorely out of touch with death, sky burial is a whole other realm of intimacy with it.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:33 PM

I hear that, Heather, totally valid. But I think about how that space will be there long after you're gone and no one is around to visit anymore.

3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 19, 2011
at 01:20 AM

Just a little perspective on that "food chain" thing (warning: not for the faint of heart): http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/265455/Bear-s-eating-me-girl-told-

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 10, 2011
at 04:00 PM

yes, i know there are religious exemptions for some orthodox christians and muslims as well.

0e2772604bdb3627525b42d77340538b

(953)

on August 10, 2011
at 03:30 PM

In Judaism, bodies are buried within 24 hours normally and are not embalmed.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on August 10, 2011
at 03:57 AM

this is my plan.

78fcdeee6ac4ee7d071bbac56b9e359f

(1025)

on August 10, 2011
at 02:15 AM

Ohhh, interesting!

34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on August 10, 2011
at 12:53 AM

On paper I get what you're saying but from an emotional standpoint, I don't think of my mothers grave as a waste of space. I rather appreciate that I can go there to "visit" her.

47e1e207e9cd7df2a5adcf571f17f76f

(288)

on August 10, 2011
at 12:22 AM

I've actually wondered about that- because I hate the idea of being embalmed also. I think I tried to put something in my will to that effect but I suppose it won't make any difference if it's against the law. oh well, good thing we have all this acreage then I guess! ;)

218f4d92627e4289cc81178fce5b4d00

on August 10, 2011
at 12:22 AM

spot on, natural all the way

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:34 PM

oh, what a beautiful letter that is. very sweet, and so sad his wishes werent fulfilled.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:33 PM

I admire your ability to overcome your fears to pursue your interests. :D I, on the other hand, will never go in past my knees. Heh.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:19 PM

Kaz-I surf about 5 hours a week. Scared out of my mind the entire time. Not good for cortisol levels.

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:16 PM

Annie, I share your sentiments. I *used* to want to be a marine biologist, but then I realized I was terrified to go into the water. >.<

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:05 PM

Oh, I didn't know that bit about mandatory embalming. Well, that puts a crimp in my plans. =/

7d0c3ea9bf8be00b93e6433d8f125ac3

(7540)

on August 09, 2011
at 10:45 PM

I don't know. There are over six billion humans on the planet doing so many things that disrupt ecosystems and food chains. The impact of someone deciding to be cremated instead of rotting into the ground as would happen naturally seems extremely small. To be even more callous, well, there are plenty of other people that will die and decompose naturally.

6670b38baf0aae7f4d8ac2463ddc37c0

(3946)

on August 09, 2011
at 10:38 PM

I'm at the top of the food chain until I get into the water. Didn't you see "Shark Week?"

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10 Answers

7
3aea514b680d01bfd7573d74517946a7

(11996)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:14 PM

VandyGear, I've been thinking along those lines for several years now. There are some "green" alternatives to burial. And a neopagan cemetery has been doing these kinds of burials for a while now.

One of the most beautiful things I ever read was an open letter by the biologist W. D. Hamilton, regarding his final wishes:

I will leave a sum in my last will for my body to be carried to Brazil and to these forests. It will be laid out in a manner secure against the possums and the vultures just as we make our chickens secure; and this great beetle will bury me. They will enter, will bury, will live on my flesh; and in the shape of their children and mine, I will escape death. No worm for me nor sordid fly, I will buzz in the dusk like a huge bumble bee. I will be many, buzz even as a swarm of motorbikes, be borne, body by flying body out into the Brazilian wilderness beneath the stars, lofted under those beautiful and un-fused elytra which we will all hold over our backs. So finally I too will shine like a violet ground beetle under a stone.

Sadly, his wish was not carried out; he was buried in a regular service at Oxford.

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:34 PM

oh, what a beautiful letter that is. very sweet, and so sad his wishes werent fulfilled.

218f4d92627e4289cc81178fce5b4d00

on August 10, 2011
at 12:22 AM

spot on, natural all the way

5
6426d61a13689f8f651164b10f121d64

(11488)

on August 10, 2011
at 12:24 AM

VandyGear, your remark about being at the top of the food chain got me thinking. Humans are a top predator because of brainpower--thinking, knowledge and passing that knowledge on to future generations.

In that vein, the best thing you can do with your body is to donate it for some scientific endeavor, such as research or training healthcare providers. Maximizing human knowledge, even in an admittedly small increment such as this, will help keep your species at the top of the food chain.

Of course, donated bodies are eventually cremated anyway, so there is no difference in terms of environmental impact.

559aa134ff5e6c8bcd608ba8dc505628

(3631)

on August 10, 2011
at 03:57 AM

this is my plan.

5
Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 09, 2011
at 10:57 PM

i think its pretty much illegal in most stated to bury a body without the whole embalming process. i dont ask too much, but my husband dated a mortician for a long time and told me everything, but i blocked most of it out. apparently, in a lot of states people need to be embalmed EVEN if they are being cremated. this pissed me off, and is gross.

personally, i want to be cremated. it seems cleaner and no muss, no fuss. its an opinion i have held strongly ever since my first open casket funeral when i was 8 years old and i dont see it changing anytime soon. my husband says that he wants me to blindfold him, drag him into the woods and shoot him in the leg. not likely that he will get his wish, but thats how he wants to "return to the earth" or whatever. he really would be happy to go out like that, but im not ready to be an accessory. aside from that or drowning oneself, i think its hard to get around state laws. if you have a terminal illness that doesnt result in demential you can for sure plan this stuff out better.

wow. what a weird place im at in my head now....

74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:05 PM

Oh, I didn't know that bit about mandatory embalming. Well, that puts a crimp in my plans. =/

47e1e207e9cd7df2a5adcf571f17f76f

(288)

on August 10, 2011
at 12:22 AM

I've actually wondered about that- because I hate the idea of being embalmed also. I think I tried to put something in my will to that effect but I suppose it won't make any difference if it's against the law. oh well, good thing we have all this acreage then I guess! ;)

Aead76beb5fc7b762a6b4ddc234f6051

(15239)

on August 10, 2011
at 04:00 PM

yes, i know there are religious exemptions for some orthodox christians and muslims as well.

0e2772604bdb3627525b42d77340538b

(953)

on August 10, 2011
at 03:30 PM

In Judaism, bodies are buried within 24 hours normally and are not embalmed.

3
74f5d2ff6567edd456d31dfb9b92af61

(5227)

on August 09, 2011
at 11:01 PM

I agree with you, I want my remains to nourish future life.

I plan on being cremated, then having a tree planted in the ash. I dunno, I sorta feel like a casket would be a waste of space, and I like to fancy that my ash would be a nutrient-rich fertilizer. :D

What do you think of sky burials?

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:36 PM

I like the idea of sky burials in theory. But I think they have to be performed in an area where bodies don't decompose naturally due to altitude/climate, i.e. Tibet. If you haven't, you should watch the Human Planet episode where it details the practice. There is one man designated to perform the ritual, and he is an alcoholic due to the gruesome nature of his trade. While I think our country is sorely out of touch with death, sky burial is a whole other realm of intimacy with it.

1
9d43f6873107e17ca4d1a5055aa7a2ad

on August 10, 2011
at 12:04 AM

I've been fascinated by Dakhma (ritual exposure) for some time now. There is a theory that this is what the paleolithic temple, Gobekli Tepe, is for.

78fcdeee6ac4ee7d071bbac56b9e359f

(1025)

on August 10, 2011
at 02:15 AM

Ohhh, interesting!

1
6f2c00fcbf48c69f0ea212239b3e1178

on August 09, 2011
at 11:56 PM

It doesn't. I don't plan on dying, so I needn't make any plans for it.

1
218f4d92627e4289cc81178fce5b4d00

on August 09, 2011
at 11:40 PM

Cremation while much better the obscenity of an embalmed burial is not all that eco-friendly - the average male cremation release 50kg of Co?? into the air. I am really interested in the concept of "natural burial" - put me a hemp sack, unembalmed in a shallow grave and plant a tree on top of me. A Forest "cemetery" in an isolated area, not a horrible stone cemetery in an urban area wasting valuable land. Even as a kid I disliked cemeteries - "what is that place?"......"so you can't play there? or do anything there? it's just full of dead people? boy what a waste", and the feeling remains.

34a367e60db77270bd7096dc04270fdc

(4171)

on August 10, 2011
at 12:53 AM

On paper I get what you're saying but from an emotional standpoint, I don't think of my mothers grave as a waste of space. I rather appreciate that I can go there to "visit" her.

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on January 17, 2012
at 07:33 PM

I hear that, Heather, totally valid. But I think about how that space will be there long after you're gone and no one is around to visit anymore.

0
D8f58eba263277ec6119293137b85b02

on January 17, 2012
at 06:22 PM

This ties into what Ed said, but with a bit of a twist: I plan on having my body donated to a body farm (and I had this plan long before I went Paleo, by the way). If your reasons have to do with "giving back", then I think it'd be a good thing to look into, as it studies the natural decomposition of human bodies (so the bodies can't be embalmed). It's the most "eco-friendly" and pro-science thing I can do post-mortem, really.

0
Medium avatar

on January 17, 2012
at 06:09 PM

Bodies well fed by fat burn better than bodies fed by grain.

0
9b5c8d561ea17d942aaed06274ab2c6c

on January 17, 2012
at 07:35 AM

Rather than cremation.... try body liquefaction... environment friendly...process...

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