Many modern, urbane, sophisticated zombies like to pretend that we don’t eat brains. It’s an understandable kind of pretense. Eating brains is shameful. There are no zombie heroes in our fiction who haven’t overcome the adversity inherent to their identity. It can’t be done, in the public imagination. Cannibalism evokes such an ingrained reaction of disgust and revulsion that no one can consider what an entire species that needs to eat brains could mean, and how to deal with that.
There’s one simple defense of brain eating that hasn’t been attempted; eating brains is best for everyone. The dead aren’t using theirs. If they’re uninterested in resurrection, there’s little to no reason to leave the brain untouched. I’ve brought up this point before when urging folks who wanted one to get a DNR stamp on their license, but here I’m making a more nuanced point: it’s possible that giving the brains of the dead to zombies is the only ethical method of handling them.
Zombies require human brains to survive. This is a well-known fact. As long as acquiring brains is difficult, illegal, or otherwise stymied by society, zombies will inevitably do so in less and less ethical ways. The need for brains is indelible, and so trying to prevent a zombie from eating them only leads to bad incentives. The zombie kept away from brains will not only act in desperate ways to acquire them, but will eventually, if they fail, enter a berserker state, endangering themselves and everyone around them.
Until we can produce synthetic solutions which provide the same benefits to zombies that human brains do, we must be vigilant to prevent new problems from springing up. Any solution to the problem of zombies requires accepting our need for brains first; the rest can come after.