Bryan Fuller, Writer of NBC's Hannibal on Animals & Cannibalism
As NBC’s Hannibal comes to its finale, an interview with series writer Bryan Fuller and Entertainment Weekly was released in which Fuller discusses his aversion to meat. His study and portrayal of the character Hannibal Lecter, infamous serial killer and cannibal made famous by Sir Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs (though his initial silver screen appearance came about in 1986’s Manhunter, played by Brian Cox), pushed him to question the morality of animal consumption.
Here are notable excerpts from the interview:
Has working on this show changed food for you at all?
Absolutely. I stopped eating land animals as a result. There will be a couple of times a year where I’ll have an experiential taste of something where somebody says, okay, this is something, this comes from this place, this is how it was raised, this is how it was treated, this is how it was prepared, and there is an artistry behind it. And so I will indulge in a bite from time to time, but mostly I am a pescatarian as a result of not only writing about cannibalism for the last three years, but also doing considerable research on the psychology of animals and how sophisticated cows and pigs and the animals that we eat actually are, and emotionally alive in a way that we’ve kind of been taught to dehumanize them so that we can eat them.
And what I’ve found in writing Hannibal is that I’m humanizing animals in the same way that I look at actual human beings and seeing more similarities than I see differences. And so that has made it much more difficult to eat meat.
And when did you become a pescatarian?
Right in the first season. It had a direct impact on how I view meat and how I view the things that I put in my body, and also, in those rare occasions when I do have a piece of meat, in my mind, it is cannibalism. And I’m eating another sentient being and it’s no different than eating another human being, in my mind. And I’m comfortable with that in those moments. The trauma of Hannibal cuts both ways.
That’s a positive change for you and the animals, I would imagine.
Yes! And also, if I can bring myself to eat pork or beef, I can bring myself to eat a human being.
Here, Fuller brings up an interesting point that’s not commonly discussed in the psychology of eating meat: a sentient being is a sentient being - be it cow, pig, or man. By consuming these conscious creatures, he asserts that he’s committing an act that he contends mirrors cannibalism in both its nature and psychological justification:
…basically, I’ve adopted a certain cannibalist nature when it comes to certain land animals, where I’m like, you’re pretty emotionally sophisticated and dimensionalized as a creature so it’s hard for me to say, “I am that much better than you.” So it has rearranged my perspective in terms of eating.
When you interact with those animals, you realize, “Oh, you are real.”
Oh, yeah. I bond with animals very quickly. I totally get sucked into their eyes and, of course, it’s a matter of projection because so much of those animal relationships with human beings are mostly projections from the human side of the equation because we can’t measure animal intelligence in the same way that we measure human intelligence. So we fill in those blanks. But it’s hard not to look at a creature and feel bonded with them.