Our subject today is about food in Pokémon. What I meant by food here is not referring to the berries or treats like Poffins, PokéBlocks or the cakes in Pokémon Amie (called the PokéPuffs). Instead, the subject is treating Pokémon as food, much like a cat eats mice, or a person eats a chicken. It’s understandably a touchy subject to think that our friends are potential food.
There are even examples of this in the PokéDex, so it’s not a foreign concept. Examples include Taillow’s entry stating that it dines on Wurmple, or Kingler’s entry mentioning prying open Shellder to take its innards for food. Time and again this would appear, such as Heatmor’s Durant snack. In the anime, there are times when it’s alluded that Pokémon could be used as food, such as that time when Meowth was hungry that he wanted to have James’ Magikarp as food, but it was too hard for Meowth to bite. It’s a subject that was common in the anime, but now it’s rare.
When you are ready, let’s continue with this subject.
Realism of the Food
As an example, I will take fish represented in cartoons. One type of fish is drawn realistically, while the other is drawn cartoonishly. Of the two, which looks like it could be eaten? This is an issue of iconic and realism. For the real fish, because of its realistic detail, it is easier to dissociate from them, thus we have no problem with them being eaten.
It helps that real fish doesn’t have the ability to express emotions like people do, so it is easier to not feel sorry for them. However, if you look at that cartoon fish (First thing in my mind is Cheep Cheep from Mario), we tend to easily identify with them, which is thanks to their ability to express themselves like humans do, so when we see the fear in them when they are about to be eaten, then it scares us that those cute creatures could be no more.
The Pokémon we have are iconic and identifiable, because they show off various personalities depending on their expressions and forms. As such, when it comes to showing them off, this subject is normally avoided. It’s OK when it’s mentioned in text, because words have less of an effect than seeing something in action.
This even extends to plants. In Pokémon, there are plants that are real, and plants that are Pokémon also. There are cherries in the form of berries (Cheri Berry) and there’s Cherubi. Would we feel sorry that the Cheri Berry is being eaten? No, because it’s an item that doesn’t express itself, so we could see all those Cheri Berries used for curing paralysis and we won’t feel sad about them being eaten.
Now take a look at Cherubi. What would be your thought that Cherubi could be eaten? It would probably be heartbreaking for Cherubi lovers. Another to consider is that it has a second head with a face, but when it evolves, it loses that extra head. If you think about it, you might also be horrified that the cute second head doesn’t exist anymore, but it’s nature for Cherrim to sacrifice it to evolve. When it comes to eating the food that grows on the Pokémon such as Tropius’ bananas and Pansear’s herb hair, then that’s generally OK because, unlike Cherubi’s second head, they are just normal food.
What about those Pokémon that are actually designed after food? Examples include Vanillite and Swirlix. The same principle applies: it’s going to be uneasy to see them actually being eaten, despite their designs resembling actual food. Still, some might see that since they are designed as food, it’s OK for them to be eaten, but preferably not on-screen. Of course, these food-like Pokémon have ways to fight back, so it’s not always easy for the predator.
Natural Source of Food
Do you understand the concept of the ecological pyramid? The gist is that the lower level of the pyramid consists of mainly plants that are able to generate their own energy, and at a higher level, there are herbivores who dine on plants (known as the primary consumers). They are not as plentiful as the plants, but they are more common than the upper level, consisting of animals that eat said herbivores. The same could exist in Pokémon, where the lower level Pokémon are mainly common ones like bugs and plants, while the higher level (and thus, rarer Pokémon) consist of those strong types, like dragons and monsters.
Take Magikarp. This is a common Pokémon, and an incredibly weak one at that. Because of this, its chances of survival are low, and are food for pretty much any predator-based Pokémon. This is why they could be easily hatched from eggs and there are plenty of Magikarp: survival by numbers.
Another type of feeding could be parasitic feeding. This essentially means that one Pokémon would eat others without regard of their hosts’ consent. Examples of this include ghosts eating each other (Haunter licking each other) and bugs eating grass (Heracross sapping away Bulbasaur in the anime). Another example is Shellder, who likes the juice of Slowpoke’s tail, which would result in it latching to it. This is said to be the cause of Slowpoke evolving. If we look at it this way, we would see the parasite as a villain because it causes harm on others, while the victim is the one we feel pity for.
Ethics on Eating Other Pokémon
Now we reach the final section of this article: the ethics of eating other Pokémon. Generally, we see a Pokémon as being of a higher nature than animals, because unlike animals, Pokémon can understand what people are talking about, whereas animals acted on instincts and won’t understand what humans are saying. In both the anime and manga, Pokémon generally have some personality that makes them human.
It is a very likely possibility that the Pokémon world educates everybody from young that they are to be treated as friends, and as such, are discouraged from eating them. After all, most Pokémon are able to provide some form of utility that makes them very useful while being alive.
Eggs are a trickier subject, since it is a potential live Pokémon waiting to be hatched. It could also be all kinds of egg dishes, like scrambled eggs. I imagine that in the Pokémon world, it is taboo to even make eggs there, since there doesn’t seem to be fried eggs and the likes there.
As for Pokémon eating other Pokémon, that is trickier because it is possible that they instinctively see a smaller Pokémon as potential food, so a trainer had to train the bigger Pokémon to see the smaller Pokémon as a friend, and not as food. Still, wild Pokémon are fair game, so it’s important that trainers take good care of their Pokémon (There is a part in the anime earlier on where Misty had to remind Ash that the Pidgeotto could eat his Caterpie if he’s careless with it).
In conclusion, treating Pokémon as food is a touchy subject as a whole, especially in the Pokémon world. For us fans, the idea that a Pokémon’s purpose as food doesn’t sit well with us (unless they are made for it), while in the Pokémon world, everybody could use Pokémon as their helpers, and as such, wasting them away isn’t the best way for a trainer to gain respect.
What are your thoughts on the subject of treating Pokémon as food? Sound off in the comments! I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I have writing it.
Thanks for reading.