27
$\begingroup$

What nutrients are only found in people and not in animals or at least in scarce quantities in animals? What nutrients force ogres to feed on people?

Considerations

Ogres are not a different and separated species of humans or hominids, they are more like a wide spread tribe or ethnic group of people heavily affected by an inability to produce or obtain normal nutrition from ordinary food forcing them on divergent dietary choices.

What exactly is found mostly in humans though?

Ogres are also affected by gigantism and have a mutated form of MC4R which makes them incredibly effective at saving energy and conserving fat more so than Māori people (mentioned the Māori people because they are genetically good at getting tall, big and athletic, no racism intended)

$\endgroup$
8
  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jan 11 at 3:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Are Ogres intended to be a species? In that Ogre parent have ogre children? Or are they a regularly occurring mutation, human parents on rare occasions have Ogre children? Because if it's the first and they're "widespread" as the question states (as opposed to concentrated in large numbers), I don't see them lasting very long. They're dangerous and will be hunted to extinction much faster than animals like Wolves in the UK. $\endgroup$ – Jontia Jan 11 at 9:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Jontia some mutations can happen to anyone, but are more widespread in particular groups of people, same here. Generally I've never heard of people getting rid of other people by pushing them to extinction, no matter how hard they tried to cancel them off the planet. A lot of people wanted the Chinese gone... The jews gone... The armenians gone, and they really wanted it and did everything they could to get rid of them, they are still here and aplenty. $\endgroup$ – user81643 Jan 11 at 10:04
  • $\begingroup$ @User24712 actually needing to eat people is a bit different from simply looking unlike the people you grew up with. That's why how Ogres arise is a big issue. If Ogres can be born to human parents, then there would be familial ties and always more ogres anyway. If Ogres are a separate species so only Ogre parents have Ogre babies and the need to Eat people to survive, I don't see them being tolerated. $\endgroup$ – Jontia Jan 11 at 10:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @SolomonSlow Actually Ogres vary a LOT between settings. A forgotten realms, pathfinder, Warcraft, & various fairytales all depict Ogres very differently. Many of these depictions are at-least intelligent enough for basic tool use and language, and in some cases the are quite intelligent masters of wizardry who rely on shapeshifting and cunning to hunt their human prey. The only consistent aspects of ogers are that they are man-eating giants. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jan 11 at 16:52

14 Answers 14

8
$\begingroup$

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A genetic mutation has caused your ogres to lose the ability to produce one of the enzymes needed to digest grains and nuts (either Amylase or Phytase should do). Ogres have a far more carnivorousness diet than humans as a result. The problem is that Mammals do not produce their own Omega-3 fatty acids; so, we get it from the food we eat; however, hominins such as Humans and Ogres need more Omega-3 fatty acids than other mammals to maintain a healthy Omega-3/Omega-6 balance.

Prehistoric man solved this problem by eating seafood, nuts, and seeds which are all relatively dense sources of Omega-3. But your Ogres have the problem that they cannot digest nuts and seeds, which makes them very heavily dependent on fishing, but fishing is not a reliable food staple year-round in many parts of the world; so, whenever there is not a steady supply of fish, Ogres will begin to crave the meat of the the only terrestrial large game animal with enough Omega-3 to sustain them: Humans.

Like humans who don't eat seeds, nuts, or fish, an Ogre who does not eat humans will quickly see a health fall off, and they will tend to die young from complications with their heart, liver, and obesity.

$\endgroup$
1
69
$\begingroup$

It's just out of superstition.

Like in some traditional medicines it is believed that eating rhino's horns will provide big benefits to a man's virility or other feats along that line, for the ogres the superstition goes that by eating human flesh they can gain human intelligence, which they notoriously lack.

Maybe it all started when an ogree overheard the human saying "You are what you eat" and due the the above lack of intelligence took it a tad too literally.

$\endgroup$
3
34
$\begingroup$

What nutrients are only found in people and not in animals or at least in scarce quantities in animals? What nutrients force ogres to feed on people?

Huh? What nutrients force humans to feed on pigs? All that is needed is a sufficient absence of compassion and a taste for it.

That's actually also the answer for cannibals: there the absence of compassion is considered pathological (unless we are talking about tribal cases of cannibalism, namely cultures/education with different standards). With humans eating pigs and ogres eating humans, it is considered normal behavior.

TLDR: you are overthinking this. It's to your credit but doesn't really concern ogres.

$\endgroup$
9
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Some necessary amino acids can only be found in animals and/or animal produce. Furthermore some animal meats (including humans) are a good source of iron. Arguably that was one of the reasons for cannibalism in some regions. $\endgroup$ – D.J. Klomp Jan 10 at 13:56
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Also note that human beings eat other humanoids-- monkeys and apes-- when they can. So being humanoid is not necessarily a reason to avoid a certain animal as food. $\endgroup$ – user151841 Jan 11 at 6:07
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It should also be noted that not all instances of cannibalism in humans are "predatory" in nature - endocannibalism, especially in a funerary context, is well-documented in numerous tribal cultures, though in recent decades has mostly died out due to a newfound appreciation for prion diseases. $\endgroup$ – Sebastian Lenartowicz Jan 11 at 10:31
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @D.J.Klomp there are no amino acids necessary to humans that are only available in animals or animal products, otherwise veganism would be impossible (rather than merely tricky). With certain combinations of food allergies though, a particular individual may only be able to safely get certain amino acids from animal products (I knew such a person in fact, who would have gone vegan if it were possible, but instead was veggie with cheese) $\endgroup$ – Tristan Jan 11 at 10:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think the issue is more of a 'humans are a fantastically dangerous prey animal, and if something has a choice of eating anything else then in the long run it will serve them better to eat that rather than humans'. $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Jan 11 at 13:17
24
$\begingroup$

Ogres have bad teeth
They only want to snack on the most tender morsels.

And nothing is quite as tender as a nice, plump, accountant or baker.

But even a farmer or a soldier will do, just remember to peel the soldier first before biting down, some of them have hard shells.

$\endgroup$
6
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This reminds me of a cartoon I once saw of two giants looking over a mountain at a road with cars and one of them says to the other: "The shell is tough but inside they are soft and juicy." $\endgroup$ – quarague Jan 10 at 9:24
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ What does a dragon call a knight in full plate harness? Canned food. What does the dragon call the knight's horse? Fast food. $\endgroup$ – Matthew Najmon Jan 10 at 23:10
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ But the clown/jester tasted funny... $\endgroup$ – Michael Mortensen Jan 11 at 11:02
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Oh -- more tender than the nice, plump, accountant or baker are their infants. Like lamb chops, you know, as opposed to mutton. $\endgroup$ – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jan 11 at 14:06
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Peter-ReinstateMonica For a Full Ogre? Gmpf. Sweet they may be, Tasty they may be, but barely Petit Fours. You would need a whole kindergarten full to make a basic hors'd'oeuvres tray of them. And getting to the infants is so meddlesome, for some odd reason the Humans go berserk if you crack open a nice, ripe Crèche. Worse than a nest of Hornets, when you borrow a spot o honey. $\endgroup$ – PcMan Jan 11 at 14:30
14
$\begingroup$

Symbiosis

Although I thought humans had a particular high salt (and acid?) content, I can't find it anywhere. However, it might not be the nutrients, minerals and vitamins the ogre might be interested in. It might be our bacteria.

Eating is an incredibly complex mechanism involving hormones, acids, but more importantly, gut flora and fauna. Most of these are benificial if not required for digestion. Ogres might be close enough related to humans or simply have a similar enough system to humans that they benefit from the same bacteria and the like. For gut bacteria, they can just focus on ripping out the stomach and intestines, leaving the rest as a gruesome warning. The reason they need to do this is that their gut balance depends on sometimes eating a human, or their gut and by extension they themselves get out of balance. This causes physical and psychological symptoms.

It might be possible to receive more than just gut organisms. There are many organisms, sometimes parasitic, that can get into the blood and from there anywhere in the body. This opens up the possibility of many more symbiotic organisms that potentially get from humans. During eating these organisms can also enter through skin (micro wounds), smell and eyes, so the act of eating might be enough to get these beneficial organisms.

Alternatively, it can be religious or cultural implications. Thinking the eating of a human will give you power, social status, or as a warning to others was already enough for other humans to resort to cannibalism. Ogres might just have the same idea with less moral problems.

$\endgroup$
2
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1, what I really like about this answer is that there are real life parasites that alter behavior in their hosts so they can better pass to the next one (example, possibly disturbing since we are talking about brain affecting parasites - Toxoplasmosis which makes rodents to try and get eaten by cats, and might cause so called "crazy cat lady" syndrome). Maybe ogres are really nice when not affected by this brain parasite? :) $\endgroup$ – G0BLiN Jan 10 at 14:53
  • $\begingroup$ "...high...acid content..." - oh, great. Just what we need - ogres on acid... $\endgroup$ – Bob Jarvis - Reinstate Monica Jan 13 at 12:49
12
$\begingroup$

Ogres are degenerated humans with inability to produce critical proteins:

Once, ogres were simply huge hominids with a taste for human flesh. As they became accustomed to eating fellow hominids (fellow hominids already consisting of the perfect mix of nutrients), a curious thing happened. The Ogre digestive system specialized and began taking up intact proteins from their all-hominid diet (They also developed a modification system to prevent prion disorders). The Ogre digestion was thus highly efficient, and they did not need to fully digest food. Direct integration came with a dreadful price, however. The proteins that were close could be modified into functional forms easily, and a few critical proteins were identical. The ogres who developed mutations and lost function in the genes for these proteins survived, and over evolutionary time the ogres were no longer able to function without supplemental proteins.

Now the ogres find themselves in a situation where they cannot get critical fully functional proteins from other foods than fellow hominids. They may be able to function with supplemental food for calories, but they NEED the flesh of fellow hominids to obtain critical proteins (especially during development, but some throughout their life). This also means ogres are likely to engage in endocannibalism to recycle the supply of proteins as much as possible. So grandpa and your neighbor are nice, but they're also delicious.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ Or in a more culturally accepted form, after a war there's a big feast where the tribe pays honor to their fallen warriors by eating them. $\endgroup$ – Egor Hans Jan 11 at 8:11
10
$\begingroup$

Why would they not?

Humans are plentiful, slow moving, widely distributed and for the most part not a physical danger to creatures of larger size. They're probably one of the easiest preys to take.

For a top predator, there's no obvious downside.


Commenters pointing out that this isn't going to work are overlooking the fact that Ogres have been extinct for something over 2000 years, probably due to overlooking that this isn't a long term survival strategy as human technology improves and populations increase. Ogres aren't known for their intelligence.

$\endgroup$
14
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ Actually I have read that sharks attack humans only when they confuse them for seals. Else we are too lean to be tasty. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Jan 9 at 12:39
  • 27
    $\begingroup$ Attack one human and you'll likely see a heavily armed group with both ranged and melee weapons ready to tear you a new one. We're good at tracking, cooperation and using tools. There is kind of a heavy downside. We took mammoths down with little more than sharpened sticks... $\endgroup$ – Trioxidane Jan 9 at 13:09
  • 19
    $\begingroup$ "Why would they not?" let's ask all the species that prefer humans as prey, shall we? Oh wait, we cannot. Even larger predators like jaguars, panthers, lions will attack humans only occasionally. If they start developing a taste for human meat, they don't live long. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 9 at 15:23
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ @VLAZ, and how many Ogres do you see as you walk down the average street? $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Jan 9 at 16:15
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ @Separatrix I'm trying to point out that nothing eats us right now. There is no shortage of predators that are bigger and faster than humans. Turns out, they aren't more dangerous. Your assessment of how easy is to eat humans doesn't hold up to the reality. How many predators you see eating humans predominantly? The odd bear or jaguar attack, sure, but how many bears and jaguars do you see as you walk down the average street? We've dealt with anything that habitually eats us. Ogres would be no different. $\endgroup$ – VLAZ Jan 9 at 20:41
9
$\begingroup$

Displaced aggression.

Why do adults beat up kids? It happens a lot. The kids are no threat. The adults who do it are getting something out of this interaction. These troubled people are expressing their aggressive impulses in a way safe to themselves. If I feel angry and I go try to beat up an adult, he might beat me back, worse. Kids can't do that.

The ogres are aggressive. It feels good to attack and beat and destroy a thinking, feeling individual. And they are dumb, but not so dumb as to be unaware that other ogres are dangerous. To ogres, humans are like helpless weak little ogres. Humans are close enough to ogres that ripping up a human can scratch that aggressive itch and attacking humans is generally a lot safer for an ogre than going after one of their own kind.

The eating of the meat is secondary to the aggression and more a case of waste not / want not - once they kill a human there is no sense in wasting good meat.

$\endgroup$
1
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I am wondering about the downvotes. I worry it is because it is horrible thinking about people who hurt kids. I am sorry if this idea upsets you. It upsets me too. There really are ogres. The distance of fiction makes it a little easier to think about evil. $\endgroup$ – Willk Jan 10 at 1:32
8
$\begingroup$

It's a by-product of robbery

Ogres like robbing people of their possessions, weapons, shiny jewellery etc. They ambush and kill their victims. It would be a terrible waste to leave the bodies to rot. They celebrate by having a barbecue.

Also of course human flesh just tastes good. Ogres prefer it and it's highly prized. They probably eat lots of other things but if there's a chance to eat human they do.

$\endgroup$
6
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ They like manflesh a lot more than mutton. $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Jan 10 at 13:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @RonJohn - Isn't that trolls? Also trolls like goat. worldstories.org.uk/reader/the-three-billy-goats-gruff/english/… $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Jan 10 at 14:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Good point. But do trolls actually eat humans? $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Jan 10 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ @RonJohn - I think that's a subject for a new question ;-) $\endgroup$ – chasly - supports Monica Jan 10 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ The question assumes that they do. (The real problem is that the definitions of "troll" and "ogre" are... variable. For example, the trolls in The Three Billy Goats Gruff aren't the same as the trolls in Tolkien's world.) $\endgroup$ – RonJohn Jan 10 at 19:16
8
$\begingroup$

Cholesterol

Cholesterol is present in animal tissues, but really large quantities are found in the brain.

If your ogres can't synthesize cholesterol in large enough quantities, they are dependent on getting them from their food, so they will develop a taste for the brain.

Humans have relatively large brains compared to other animals, which makes them an especially tasty meal.

$\endgroup$
5
  • $\begingroup$ This is a very good answer, possibly the best so far. $\endgroup$ – The Square-Cube Law Jan 10 at 4:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol are not the same and have not direct relation. Dietary cholesterol is (from the top of my head) just broken down by the stomach and stored as fat. $\endgroup$ – D.J. Klomp Jan 10 at 14:02
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @D.J.Klomp cholesterol is a general category of fats, some cholesterol we can break down and reform whereas others have to come from our food. This is why my answer more specifically focuses on Omega-3, because it is the type of cholesterol that we need, but must get from our food. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki Jan 10 at 22:28
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ "BREAKING NEWS: Scientists discover that increased cholesterol levels raise chances of getting eaten by orge" $\endgroup$ – val says Reinstate Monica Jan 11 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ @D.J.Klomp dietary cholesterol does indeed directly relate tp blood cholesterol... Otherwise why would the liver drastically reduce cholesterol production when you eat cholesterol or saturated fat? Also there's plenty of studies comparing people who don't eat cholesterol to people whp eat it $\endgroup$ – user81643 Jan 12 at 13:09
7
$\begingroup$

Because we're slow and frequently easy to catch. Sure, we can be dangerous in large, well armed and trained groups, but a lone human is probably the easiest meal an ogre is likely to find.

The ogres, will, of course, be concentrated at the edge of kingdoms and other governments, where the local garrison is spread too thin to go out and hunt monsters... and small, fringe towns offer little economic benefit to the folks in charge, so there's not much reason to send the army out.

$\endgroup$
1
  • $\begingroup$ There are a lot of us. $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Jan 9 at 22:50
7
$\begingroup$

Let's get the biology out of the way first:
Since humans eat plants & other animals, there are no novel (physical) nutrients that an Ogre can't get elsewhere. They're just conveniently packaged.

And then let's deal with some cultural history:
Simply because you all but equated Ogres with Polynesians (Maori, in specific), we should perhaps take a look at Maori cannibalism. It was a thing, and a very nasty thing to boot.

As soon as Europeans first met Polynesians in the Aotearoa, Capt. Cook noted that the locals had a preference for fresh human flesh. In Jan 1770, he noted: "though stronger evidence of this horrid practice prevailing among the inhabitants of this coast will scarcely be required, we have still stronger to give." While we should always be careful not to cast undue aspersions, the practice has been known in Aotearoa long after Cook's time, and was also known in other related cultures.

Paul Moon, a New Zealandish historian, treated cannibalism in This Horrid Practice. The Maori had access to an amazingly broad spectrum of food from root crops to birds to plant produce to seafood. Lack of food wasn't the cause of cannibalism. It seems to have been a product of their war culture. Moon notes "post-battle rage" as one factor. Retribution for offences, especially given by an enemy, and as a warning to other tribes are other important factors.

Other scholars note that cannibalism is deeply rooted in the culture, in the onomastics and in the lore of the Maori.

In conclusion:

Ogres are not a different and separated species of humans or hominids, they are more like a wide spread tribe or ethnic group of people

Since Ogres are humans based on the Maori, there is no real nutritional reason for Ogres to heat other humans, we must consider the historical, mythological, cultural, religious, and folkloric reasons.

Ogres are ... heavily affected by an inability to produce or obtain normal nutrition from ordinary food forcing them on divergent dietary choices.

This clue is something of a red herring. People can get food from just about anywhere on the planet. Since Ogres are humans too, it stands to reason that they'd be similarly gifted.

If they are unable to procure food in ány area they live in, they're unlikely to get it from humans. Historically, humans are pretty good at savagely exterminating anything that gets in their way. Once Ogres develop a taste for other humans, other humans will develop a taste for eradicating Ogres.

Who knows? They might even develop a taste for Ogres!

Ogres are also affected by gigantism and have a mutated form of MC4R which makes them incredibly effective at saving energy and conserving fat more so than Māori people (mentioned the Māori people because they are genetically good at getting tall, big and athletic, no racism intended)

Since there's nothing particularly special about Ogres in regards their ordinary humanity, I think the answer will be neither biological nor nutritional. Like the Maori, your Ogres have simply practiced cannibalism for so long that it has become thoroughly embedded within every aspect of their culture.

Their mythic & legendary heroes did it; ordinary warriors did it; everyone else benefited from it. For them, it's no different than meatloaf on Wednesdays. So entrenched is it that places are named after the practice, a rite of passage must be when a young suitor offers some crispy fried human tenders to his beloved, there may well be special utensils for eating various parts of human, like the 'oqnoq, which is a very long handled sharp pointed spoon used to punch through the sinuses in order scoop out the warm brainy goodness from the skull.

As time progresses, there may even be specialty shops in Ogre towns dealing with the various rubs & marinades that go with human cookery. Perhaps even decorative tins shaped like human faces & breasts & thighs, for those hectic holidays when you just can't be bothered going out and butchering a fresh human and all that's available last minute is tinned minced human and you want to at least decorate it up real nice for the family get-together!

$\endgroup$
3
$\begingroup$

The most obvious answer would be the quantity of brain matter. Otherwise human physiology isn't that unique and they could eat pigs for example instead of humans.

As an alternative it could be a matter of evolution and food deprivation. As mankind expanded they started minimising the territory of the ogres as well as the food sources for the ogres. So ogres developed a solution to counter both issues: eat the expanding humans. It slows the spread of humans in the area, it keeps the ogre food sources more available, it adds food sources in the form of humans and these humans are so easy to find! You just wait near a village wall (they'll likely have a wall with you around) and when something comes out for travel or farming you eat them!

Another option is using certain chemical processes of humans like their immune system. Some sea slugs will be able to separate and incorporate chloroplasts from algae for photosynthesis, and your ogres could be after specific cells in the human body. From gut bacteria to immune cells to even some of your neurological cells, using the quantity of neurons in humans to save enough for their own use.

Ogres are often thought of as dumb; imagine if they can only replenish the broken down neurons in their body by assimilating those of the animals they eat? And by eating humans you can gather enough neurons for more complex thoughts like using clubs, fashioning crude clothing or extorting people trying to cross your bridge and occasionally eating one when others aren't watching or they cant pay the toll. The advantage of intelligence is obvious, so there could be ogres that don't eat humans but they are less able to survive and slowly being supplanted by the smarter ogres who do eat humans.

$\endgroup$
2
  • $\begingroup$ The part about assimilated neurons is good material for a question $\endgroup$ – user81643 Jan 10 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @user81643 what kind of question? $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jan 10 at 13:45
2
$\begingroup$

Ogres don't tolerate humans in their swamp (territory).

Ogres can see and understand how far humans have taken over the land and spread throughout the planet. Perhaps they eat or kill humans to assert that they are still a threat or as a sign of strength to other ogres?

Maybe, instead of purely for nutrients, ogres hunt humans for the achievement or status it gives them.

$\endgroup$
0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy