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I'm writing a story where an intelligent zombie society has defeated humans and won. The zombies are the main characters in this story.

These zombies:

  • Have human intelligence, emotions, and remember their lives before becoming zombies
  • Have a nearly impossible to resist urge to eat human flesh. Brains are not actually preferred like most zombie cliches.
  • Animals and plants do not give them any nutrition, and tastes pretty bad to them.
  • Zombies will slowly regress into mindless monsters if they do not eat human flesh. The speed at which this occurs depends upon the amount of flesh eaten last time, the time passed, and the individual willpower of the specific zombie.

My problem: If all humans become zombies, then zombies no longer have any food and therefore all is lost to the zombie society. They will regress into mindless monsters and society will crumble.

What system can be put into place in this zombie society in order to prevent loss of human food source?

It takes place on Earth in modern-day. Zombies go to work, use cell phones, and even have pets. Let's assume that several years have passed since the zombies defeated the humans.

UPDATE: The meat of an infected human becomes inedible when the virus first spreads. This happens even before the first symptoms emerge. This is similar to a cold, where someone is "sick" before they even feel ill.

So originally it might not have been uncommon for a human to be killed for meat, only to realize their meat was inedible. Methods of testing a human for the virus beforehand would have been developed to prevent this. However, this would be a major political issue: killing the infected human prevents overpopulation...but if they were infected, they weren't really human. It would become an issue similar to abortion, where the debate involves answering the question "At what point are they considered one of us?"

The zombie virus spreads the same way a human cold spreads. So unlike most zombie stories where there is a definitive "Oh, he's gonna turn into a zombie now" moment, it is usually left uncertain. This mean zombies need to be extra careful when handling humans.

Zombie traits:

  • Zombies no longer get ill
  • Heart rate is much less than a human's. (about a fifth of a human's on average)
  • They can get injured and killed the same way humans do. (except illness) Bleeding out as a zombie still happens, however the slower blood flow means it happens much more slowly.
  • Looks exactly like a human being. No physical trait differences are visible.

Things I think I've figured out:

  • Animals and/or plants are absolutely needed: Humans must be fed and kept alive.
  • Zombies would very quickly form opposing political groups regarding issues about humanity and how they should be treated.

Another thing I'm having trouble with is deciding how the zombie society would change and differ from a regular human society. But that can be a later question. Right now I'm focused on figuring out how to keep the society from crumbling because of a loss of human food sources.

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    $\begingroup$ Can zombies eat each other? Stated another way: at what point does an infected-but-not-yet-turned human become inedible? $\endgroup$ – Muuski Oct 9 at 21:48
  • $\begingroup$ Do zombies have morality? Do they care if the humans are well-treated? $\endgroup$ – SIGSTACKFAULT Oct 9 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ Better question: Do you want the reader to feel bad for the humans? $\endgroup$ – SIGSTACKFAULT Oct 9 at 21:52
  • $\begingroup$ @Muuski That was my original plan, but I've since scrapped that idea. So no: zombies cannot eat each other for sustenance. $\endgroup$ – overlord - Reinstate Monica Oct 9 at 23:13
  • $\begingroup$ @SIGSTACKFAULT They are just as moral as humans are. They go through the same kinds of emotions, and have memories of their human feelings. $\endgroup$ – overlord - Reinstate Monica Oct 9 at 23:13
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In such a society, numerous political and ideological measures would appear, just as there are currently numerous views on how to treat, raise, and care for animals (or viruses, or plants....). Your situation has two competing problems: (1) humans can easily become endangered animals, and (2) restricting the deaths of humans is not possible because they're needed for food. For everyone. Thus the growth of humans would become an item of central concern.

Artificial Wombs

Current technology has grown lambs in artificial wombs or "biobags" which can be seen briefly in this youtube video. Currently the limitations on human experimentation come down to politics; if humans were suddenly necessary for consumption, those issues would (mostly) go away - at least enough for government approval to begin human experimentation.

This process helps to grow humans in sanitary conditions, keeping them away from the zombie virus.

Lab-grown Meat

Stem cells from animals, grown in a lab, into fat and protein. This video shows lab-grown meat already in work by different companies in both America and Israel - again, limited only by regulatory issues (in America, the FDA and Dept. of Agriculture). These issues would go away in such a zombie scenario. You can read more on lab-grown meat here, here, and here.

Human Farming

How we treat animals currently is a topic of large debate. Many vegans cite ethical issues, and others choose to eat meat from only local, ethical farms. There's no reason to think this would be different for humans in a zombie-dominated world. Some zombies would be vicious and force-breed humans, others would try to treat humans more like pets, or even equals (waiting for them to grow old and die before consuming their flesh).

Regulations

There are potentials for government regulations requiring a minimum number humans on reserves, farms, or other locations, as well as safe handling of human flesh and tissue. Just like the modern world, your zombie apocalyptic would would have some countries taking more draconian measures, some more laze-faire, and some more authoritative.

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Population Control

More zombies means more food needed. The zombies need to keep their numbers down as not to exhaust the food supply.

They could wall off the humans into parks and reserves to keep them safe from zombies on the condition once the humans reach the age of sixty, they commit suicide and become zombie food. Dying before being eaten would stop more zombies from being created but still leaves a long and fruitful breeding life. The zombies then ration out the corpses so everyone gets enough to not go mad.

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There is one answer to control large mass of not-so-intelligent beings as humans: Religion

To take it short humans should be kept in a low cultural (aztec-like) isolated tribes and zombies should live in "cities of gods".

Eating for zombies is a holy human sacrifice for tribes. This solves a lot of problems - zombies even do not need to fight for their meat (there would be even overproduction at droughts), or even go to humans. "Sacrifices" would come to them by their own foots. Only some "miracles" as cropdusting or medical and instrument drops are needed.

If tribe turns into zombies those "tribe" zombies should be killed: they a usless for high tech zombies as specialists, are not eatable and can "break belief" (last one is a good story plot for this world)

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If I was a zombie I would farm humans. With human meat being a necessity your zombie society would keep people in a sterile environment, with ample food and no means of education. No human would be educated, and they would maybe lose some of their intelligence through selective breeding. the zombies would have to wear airtight suits, so as not to infect the humans.

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