Humans have hunted whales for hundreds of years for a variety of different reasons. In some cold environments, the blubber was necessary for survival. Some people hunted whales for their meat, especially in areas where it was difficult to grow crops and more sources of meat were needed. Over time, people began to hunt whales for other reasons, such as oil, or because of a deep cultural history of whaling.
Whales provide a large amount of meat and blubber when they are hunted. For many people who lived in very cold regions such as Greenland, hunting whales became a part of life because it allowed them to eat regularly and keep themselves warm. Whale oil can be used in lamps and can also form candle wax. In some countries, whale oil became a part of margarine and some oily products and fluids. Whale oil is even used in certain cosmetic products.
Over time, the need for whale meat and blubber gave way to other reasons for whaling. As HowStuffWorks explains, some people hunt whales because doing so has become embedded in their national history and culture. For example, the inclusion of whale meat in the Japanese diet after World War II led to whaling becoming deeply entrenched in many cultural facets of Japan.