A new cooking mechanic in Pokemon: Sword & Shield has revived one of the franchise’s most uncomfortable questions: do humans eat Pokemon?
A new trailer for Pokémon: Sword & Shield reveals the new Pokémon Camp feature. As implied, the feature allows trainers to take a break during their journey, create a camp with their team and cook food over a campfire. A common mechanic in RPGs, cooking is a brand new addition to the Pokémon games, making it a pretty big deal for fans.
The meals you can make appear to be entirely curry-based (there’s even something called “Toast Curry”) with curry and rice described as a “very popular dish in the Galar region,” (as it is in the U.K., which Galar is very clearly based on). The recipes use Berries, a staple source of nourishment and Status-healing for Pokémon since Generation II games, as well as “other ingredients you find” like pasta, bread and tins of beans.
All of these recipes sound pretty innocuous, until… “Sausage Curry.”
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And just like that, the simple inclusion of a staple Galar/British foodstuff reopens a big can of worms for the Pokémon community: What do humans in the Pokemon world eat?
The debate exists because Pokémon appear to be the primary source of meat. In a universe where people and wild (yet catchable) monsters are supposed to be viewed as equal partners and sometimes beloved family members, you can see why the presence of a simple sausage is cause for confusion, or even discomfort, for players. After all, this is a world that was created and shaped by Mythical and Legendary Pokémon. You’d think eating their progeny would be severely frowned upon. Arguing that people in the Pokémon world simply use meat substitutes as part of a vegetarian/vegan diet doesn’t entirely resolve the issue, either, given that plant, Funghi and other non-animal types of Pokémon also exist.
This isn’t to say that the Pokémon world is completely devoid of animals that we have in our own, monster-free universe. In the core games, butterflies sometimes flap across the screen during a battle, while birds and even fish are mentioned or served as food in restaurants. This is true of the anime series, too. In fact, in the episode “Challenge of the Samurai,” Ash dons a cow costume, which is the strongest evidence we get as to the existence of livestock. And yet, despite both Ash and other trainers traversing every inch of land, fields of cattle are nowhere to be seen in any region.
From an objective point of view, the reason for this is likely two-fold. One is simply that it’s a continuity oversight on the creators’ part, strengthened by the fact that the vast majority of real-world animal sightings come from the earlier seasons of the anime. Similar instances from the Advanced series onwards have become extremely rare and minor, indicating a tightening up of world-building rules. The second is that, well, who wants to see boring old cows in a world where Miltank exists?
One Bulbapedia-affiliated fan site made claims that the Pokémon anime’s chief architect, Takeshi Shudo, planned to introduce dinosaurs into his unmade idea for a third Pokémon movie. Taking inspiration from Jurassic Park, Shudo’s story had a fossilized T-Rex come back to life, confirming that normal animals had long since died out in the Pokémon world.
But let’s circle back to the more pressing issue of humans eating Pokemon. Do they do it? The short answer is… kind of, but not really.
We know for certain that Slowpoke tails are sold as an expensive, edible delicacy as of Gold & Silver. In the anime, Ash’s Pokédex told him that Farfetch’d make for a “delicious” meal. Despite adding that the cooked bird goes best with the leek it uses as a weapon, the computer also points out that it was “hunted to extinction” because of this. (Why add serving suggestions alongside a chilling warning about humanity’s catastrophic impact on the environment? Why encourage children to use the very thing their “equal partner” uses to defend itself to improve the flavor of its slow-roasted death? Who knows! Maybe the Pokédex just wants the world to burn.)
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Another scene in the anime shows Ash and Brock drooling over a fantasy of a sliced-up, ready-to-eat Magikarp but again, this could be a mere oversight. (Or, your typical seeing-things-as-food-that-aren’t-food cartoon logic.) In the Pocket Monsters manga, which is infamous for its darker themes and surprisingly graphic imagery, Pokémon battles can get very vicious: an image of a chopped Arbok looking like rump steak in one chapter is particularly visceral. It’s also well documented in the Pokédex that Pokémon, being wild creatures, prey on each other.
While the jury will probably forever be out on where humans officially source their meat, there are no grey areas when it comes to humans eating products of Pokémon, like eggs, honey, fruits and nuts. This strongly indicates that the human race — perhaps heeding the warning of the devastated Farfetch’d populace — live a mostly pescatarian or vegetarian existence in the Pokémon universe.
Or at least, we could say that, if it were not for… Sausage Curry. But hey, at least we finally get that Curry Dex we’ve all been asking Nintendo for, right?
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