Why The Walking Dead cast & crew go for grains, not brains


Image Credit: AMC

Okay, I admit it: I am a big fan of the post-zombie-apocalypse TV show ‘The Walking Dead’, which is set to kick-off its much-anticipated 6th series from October 11, 2015.

There is something about man – and woman’s – eternal struggle against hordes of flesh-eating zombies that I am drawn to. Mind you, so are lots of other folks.

According to Forbes, The Walking Dead is the highest rating show on cable TV. On October 13, 2013 the season 4 premiere aired, titled “30 Days Without an Accident”. At the time, this was the highest-rated hour of cable television ever; with a staggering 16.11 million viewers in the US alone.

This cable-TV monster continues to gather a legion of fans. Season 5, which premiered on October 12, 2014, recorded a record-breaking 17.3 million total viewers, about 1.2 million more viewers than its previous high.

So, it was naturally big news when the cast and crew of this TV phenomenon publicly announced they’re gradually adopting the vegetarian lifestyle.

The Ecorazzi website reported one off-camera source who claimed that:

“After watching ‘Walkers’ realistically look as though they are consuming bloody human flesh or seeing heads and other body parts sliced off, no one was touching the red meat or even chicken that was on offer.”

In an interview on ‘SF Gate’, actor Norman Reedus, who plays ruggedly handsome zombie bow-hunting Daryl Dixon (my wife’s favourite) admitted that the special effects team, who created scenes of human flesh consumption in the fifth season, made them a little too realistic for comfort. So Norman has decided to adopt a meat-free diet. It seems that this was almost against Reedus’ better judgment, as he was quoted as not being exactly happy about his lifestyle change: “I’ve become a vegetarian and I’m kind of bummed about it.”


Image Credit: AMC

Why the big turn-off meat?

What’s really going on here? I recently saw a hunter say on a TV show (where he was justifying his lifestyle to a bunch of animal rights activists), “hunting is in our DNA”. In other words, according to this bloke and his supporters, hunting, killing, and butchering animals is a normal, natural, instinctive human activity.

If that’s true, why don’t most people naturally revel in the sight of blood and guts? For that matter, why are millions of people outraged over the ‘canned hunting’ death of a single animal Cecil the lion? I think this touches on the deeper question of who we really are. Are we the ruthlessly efficient hunter of Paleo fantasy, or are we essentially plant-eating primates who might only eat flesh foods for the occasional bit of protein and extra sustenance?

You won’t find a dog or a cat put off by the sight of gore. They’ll see lots of their natural food source, and, of course, (unlike us) happily (and safely) eat it in its raw state. And trust me, having visited several factory farms and abattoirs in my time, whatever stomach-churning scenes you might see on ‘The Walking Dead’ of zombies chowing down on dead rats, horses’ guts, or some poor guy’s shoulder muscle, it pales in comparison with the reality of animal slaughter, which is a real-life horror show.


Image Credit: AMC

There is also the fear of cannibalism, or ‘anthropophagiophobia’, which is implicit in gross acts of live-flesh eating the once-human zombies perform on their human victims in the show. Think of the revulsion many felt when Hannibal Lecter in ‘Silence of the Lambs’ uttered those immortal words:

I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti” (I’ll spare you the grisly suckling noises Hannibal (aka Anthony Hopkins) then made to Clarice (aka Jodie Foster).

I think ‘The Walking Dead’ example proves, yet again, that we’re not natural carnivores. Sure, we can eat some meat as highly adaptable, opportunistic apes, but the thought of eating raw offal and innards makes most of us feel sick. Which it almost certainly would do if we ate it like that! Eating raw meat by humans is known to lead to the ingestion of harmful bacteria and disease-carrying pathogens. As reported in Wikipedia, “Every year in the United States, 6.5 million to 33 million cases of illness are diagnosed due to microbial pathogens, with about 900,000 deaths occurring annually as well.[5] According to a multi-state study published in the America Journal of Preventative Medicine, the annual cost of disease caused by food borne pathogens is estimated to be anywhere from 9.3 to 12.9 billion dollars in “medical costs and productivity losses.”[6]

But, of course, we don’t have to, and nor should we. The best, healthiest foods for humans (not dogs…or zombies) are fresh, whole plant foods. As is well-known, not only can we eat these foods raw; they’re extremely good for us, and best for natural weight loss and protection against chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. Raw (and cooked) vegetables and raw fruits, with a few raw nuts and seeds are what we should be basing our diet on. Complimented, of course, with some beans, legumes and whole grains.

According to another report of ‘The Walking Dead’ series,

“on-set meat dishes have been replaced by spinach and avocado salad with garlic mustard vinaigrette, mushroom risotto and black bean and cheese Mexican enchiladas.”

Apparently “around 80%” of the food served-up by Craft Services caterers at the five locations in Georgia where ‘The Walking Dead’ is filmed is now meat-free. So it’s greens, beans and grains; not brains, that are on the menu for most working on the set of ‘The Walking Dead’.


It seems that battling rabid man-eating zombies together ultimately does bring out the best in us. I think sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes would agree.

Tom Perry


2 replies
  1. Tom Perry
    Tom Perry says:

    Thank you! I can’t wait for the next series, and it’s pretty cool that most of the cast & crew went vegetarian…

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