Thanks in part to the EU-funded "Try Store-bought Meat" initiative, Estonians in the remote southern province of Võrumaa are turning away from cannibalism. "For the first time in ten years we've seen a trend away from consuming human flesh," said UN scientist David Rothenfirth. While Estonians from Võrumaa do not kill and eat other human beings, they do eat the flesh from humans who have died of both natural- and un-natural causes. This Võrumaa practice is an ancient cultural tradition which is noted on the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Scientist Rothenfirth has been following the practice since Estonia's independence in 1991. In partnership with the EU, Rothenfirth produced television commercials where a large stuffed animal called Mummi (representative of an Estonian cartoon icon) refuses to eat the flesh of her dead parents. "The spots are really quite moving," added Rothenfirth. "They've truly made an impact on kids." But not on adults, as elder Võrumaalased continue to consume human flesh. But Rothenfirth believes in the data: "As the elderly die off, I am convinced this vile practice will end."
Rothenfirth is eager to try a similar program in Latvia and Lithuania where the incidence of cannibalism is even higher. "Lithuanians, in particular," noted the scientist, "will eat human flesh indiscriminately. It's so bad that tourism has suffered. Even the Poles won't go there anymore."
The mummi (above) is Estonia's anti-cannibalism poster child.