Carnivore Confusion

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
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"Let Me Get This Straight.... You know her; she knows you. But she wants to eat him. And...everybody's okay with this? Did I miss something?"
TimonThe Lion King

There's an unspoken awkward issue in fiction involving Talking Animals. If everyone can talk, and everyone at least implicitly has the same thoughts and feeling as everyone else regardless of species, does this mean predatory creatures are forced to engage in a form of murder to eat? Or is it more like cannibalism? And then what happens when human characters are added into the mix?

Works of fiction will address this in one of several ways:

  • By far the most common approach, especially in older fiction, is the Predators Are Mean subtrope. All your heroes are herbivores. All the villains are carnivores à la the Big Bad Wolf from the Three Little Pigs.[1] This subtrope is so strong culturally that people assume Real Life predators are mean, evil, and nasty, and all the herbivores are cute, cuddly, and friendly. Anyone with any knowledge of real animal behavior knows that's not the case at all.
  • Sometimes your heroes are predatory animals. Now carnivores are okay, so scavengers often become the Villains By Default. The usual ethos is that only evil weirdos eat carrion, and only cowards do not hunt. They will be depicted as ugly and intimidating. Example: The Lion King.[2]
  • An increasingly popular option in recent fiction has been to render the carnivore's prey in a realistic, non-cute manner. The prey does not talk—the prey is not humanised in any way. Fish, in particular, are nearly always a viable mealtime option, unless they're major characters.
  • Similar to the option immediately above, some works such as The Chronicles of Narnia and the Spellsinger novels make it clear that only some of the animals have human-like intelligence. In some fiction, there are explicit differences between the anthropomorphic and normal members of the same species—bipedality, speech, clothing, etc. It's okay for a talking lion to eat a non-talking deer, but eating a talking deer would be tantamount to cannibalism.
  • Establish that the carnivore is unlucky (Wile E. Coyote) or that their chosen prey is too fast or aggressive to catch—for example, Jerry of Tom and Jerry. This makes the point moot, since we never see the predator eat.
  • Depart from real-world biology completely: the carnivore can choose to go vegan if they really want to. A common way of doing so is by rendering carnivorism as something similar to alcoholism. (An American Tail, Finding Nemo, Pride, etc.)
  • Somewhat similarly, the solution in works with more of a science fiction bent is that the technology available has created meat substitutes that are readily available for humans and animal carnivores. (Star Trek: The Next Generation explicitly pointed this out in an early episode.)
  • Some works, such as Happy Feet, will half-refer to this problem, and then avoid the issue entirely.
  • Finally, predation can be treated as just a fact of life. See Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, the Dinotopia books, and the Web Comic Kevin and Kell, among a very, very few others: Carnivorism happens, it's nature, and it may even be incorporated as a part of both the talking animal economy and social structure.

See also Super-Persistent Predator, Let's Meet the Meat, Ascended to Carnivorism, and I Taste Delicious. Compare Furry Confusion, Cats Are Mean, Reptiles Are Abhorrent (notice that small lizards and turtles, two groups that include herbivores, get to be non-abhorrent far more frequently than snakes, which are all carnivores), and What Measure Is a Non-Cute?. As with What Measure is a Non Cute, do not expect to see realistic animal behavior taken into account. When it's between a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire and a human, it's Warm Bloodbags Are Everywhere. Things get really ugly when I'm a Humanitarian gets thrown into the mix.

Examples of Carnivore Confusion include:

Anime and Manga

  • Kimba the White Lion has played a bit with this problem (despite being guilty of this trope itself in early episodes): after all animals make peace under the new "lion king", they are suddenly facing a situation where no-one is allowed to eat anyone else, thus reducing their entire carnivore population to live solely on insect (and even THAT gives them moral qualms; lucky that a man who's been trying to invent "artificial meat" eventually comes along...)
  • Pokémon brings up this trope sometimes, albeit rarely. In the series, all animals -and even several plants- are Pokémon, and all Pokémon are intelligent. The cast has indeed been seen eating meat and the early games directly address this at points - Farfetch'd and Lapras are said to be near-extinct due to overhunting, and Pokémon Gold and Silver has you rescuing Slowpoke from Team Rocket...who are harvesting their tails for sale as delicacies. (They grow back, but...). In the first season of the anime, curiously, there were a few non-Pokémon fish, but they've been pretty much retconned out of existence. (Much of this was before there was a Pokémon equivalent of almost everything you can think of.) Most of the characters seem to prefer to never talk about such things and enjoy the meal, including the Pokémon.
    • Actually, there are real animals in the Pokémon world, they were just not brought up very often. In the games Raichu is described as being able to knock out an elephant and Bellsprout eats insects according to their Pokédex entries.
    • But they also have Pokémon food...and berries can be fed to any Pokémon...
    • In one episode, James has a Magikarp, which is basically a very big koi. They narrowly escaped a sunken ship, and are starving on a makeshift raft in the middle of the ocean. Everyone wants a taste of the juicy Magikarp, except Misty who has a soft spot for Water-types. The only reason Magikarp survived was because its scales were too hard to bite through. Nobody seemed to care that Magikarp was alive.[3]
    • In an episode featuring Farfetch'd, the Pokédex states that the bird is best served with the leek it carries as a weapon.
  • The gamesag and cards specifically cite references of Pokémon eating each other; Ekans have clearly been stated to eat other Pokémon eggs. According to Pokémon Silver, Furret eat Rattata, and according to one of the TCG cards Omastar is a predator that cracked open Shellder shells and sucked out their insides. Sneasel specifically targets the eggs of Pidgey, who in turn love to eat Magikarp, Wurmple developed poison to fight off Swellow, who still manage to eat many Wurmple anyway. Thankfully, Pokémon you've caught won't try to eat each other.
    • Metagross, despite being one of the smartest, and probably closest to sentient of most Pokémon, is described as a brutal predator which may eat anything smaller than its mouth (actually seeing its mouth in 3D was a letdown). Diglett scavenge off of Onix's catches.
      • Some Pokédex entries do refer to Venonat eating bugs, but this is probably due to there being no Pokémon small enough for it to eat. Other Pokémon like Gengar can simply feed off of emotions like fear, but it's a Ghost.
        • It's hard to find at least one Pokédex for a species that doesn't mention the word "prey".
      • Pokédex entries in the games do mention actual places and animals, so the meat coming from actual animals is not out of the question.
    • In the Pokémon manga The Electric Tale of Pikachu, there is a section were Ash and Pikachu get lured by a Clefairy into an Onix's nest, where Ash suggests that it wants to eat them.
    • Pokémon Diamond and Pearl tackle the issue head on, in the Canalave library there is a book with an ancient legend that states that if you pick the bones of a Pokémon clean then throw it to the sea it will come back to life. Another one also mentions a foolish young warrior who goes around striking down any Pokémon he came across with a sword.
  • All animals in Nagasarete Airantou can talk, so humans eat fish instead. Eggs are still fair game, though, making it a little awkward when a hen has a friendly chat with the male lead before handing over a basket of her, well, periods.
  • Arashi no Yoru ni (One Stormy Night) is a heartwarming anime movie about a clumsy, mangy wolf named Gabu making friends with a sweet (if somewhat androgynous) goat named Mei. The wolf repeatedly had to suppress the urge to eat him and his kind, which his goat friend is blissfully unaware off (unlike his more wise nervous friends). For example, while going out on a picnic, Gabu loses his meal and (delirious with hunger) thinks about gnawing off Mei's ear under the assumption that friends should make others happy.
    • Even more heartbreakingly, At one point, the two get stuck in the snow together. There is no grass around, so Mei will almost certainly not make it back home alive. There is no prey for Gabu to eat, either...except Mei, that is. Gabu refuses to listen at first, but when Mei points out that he might be able to live if he eats him, and that Mei will almost certainly die anyway, he reluctantly sees things his way, though not at all happily. Luckily, they find a way out without having to resort to that. Honestly, the whole movie could be seen as a Deconstruction/Reconstruction of the trope.
  • Yume no Crayon Oukoku has an odd situation. The Crayon Kingdom has several neighboring kingdoms, such as the Hamburger Kingdom and the Rice Ball Kingdom. When dignitaries from all these kingdoms were invited to a banquet, we couldn't help wondering, "What do the hamburgers eat?" The question was answered: they eat smaller, non-sentient hamburgers.
  • Averted in Wolf's Rain, where in spite of the wolves' ability to replenish energy by sleeping in the moonlight, it's clearly no substitute for actual food. Kiba mentions having gone a month with only moonlight to sustain him, and consequently is much thinner than the others. They find a decomposing deer carcass in one of the early episodes (which everyone but Hige turns down, generally because it's rotting). After Toboe's Crowning Moment of Awesome where he kills the giant walrus, they eat the walrus—and in a surprisingly dignified acknowledgment, the walrus says something along the lines of, "You may have killed me, but I have saved you all."
  • In Serendipity the Pink Dragon, Bobby talks to and sings a musical number with some coconuts before eating them.
  • In the manga Wa!, there's a scene in which Those Two Girls engage in a Seinfeldian Conversation which quickly turns into Conversational Troping regarding this trope and Furry Confusion.


  • Fables takes the "only some animals can talk" route. The Big Bad Wolf, sending his children out for some hunting practice, tells them to be sure to chase the animal long enough to make sure it isn't sapient before they kill it. Not all the carnivores will do this though. There are some that have no issues with eating talking animals and even Bigby himself used to be like this, so this is more an issue of personal ethics. The problems seem to come when the prey are recognized citizens of Fabletown and so protected by its laws.
  • In the short-lived furry comic book, SpaceWolf (Not that one!), the characters are of intelligent furry species that still have the predator/prey relationship such a Wolf species raiding a planet populated by humanoid sheep. Eventually, the sheep rebel and a long war starts that is only resolved when the sheep develop soy-curd meat substitutes which satisfy the predator species' needs. However much later, a villainous Sheep monarch decides to seize power by first demonstrating the lethality of an awesome planet destroying weapon. As terrible as that is, that is actually the lesser of his two major threats to cow the interstellar population: he also threatens to cut off the flow of soya-cord food to any resisting planet and let it fall back into murderous predator/prey chaos.
    • Of course, that raises the question of what the hell the wolves were eating before they invented spaceflight.
      • They ate sheep from their own planet. That's why they are extinct, and why they have to go to space now.
  • The DC Comics series Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew takes place on Earth-C, a parallel Earth populated solely by anthropomorphic animals. The series presents the world's populace as being vegetarian (though eggs are acceptable, and vegetarian versions of burgers, hot dogs, etc. exist), including carnivorous-in-real-life species such as felines. The comic explains that while their prehistoric, uncivilized/unevolved ancestors did eat meat, animal-kind ceased doing so once it became "civilized". A villain in one story attempts attacking the Zoo Crew with fierce prehistoric animals brought from, as he describes it, "the age of the flesh-eaters." The idea of eating another animal is viewed among Earth-C's populace as cannibalism, as seen in one story where a "wuz-wolf"—a friendly wolf who, under a full moon, becomes a feral human—attempts to eat a pig.
  • In Blacksad we see a photograph of a barbeque where two polar bears and an arctic fox (anthropomorphic of course) are grilling sausages. In the Blacksad world not all animals are anthropomorphized...but the pigs are.
  • The French comic De Cape et de Crocs, which is set in a Lions and Tigers and Humans, Oh My! world, plays with this trope. In one book, the main characters are taken prisoner by a tribe of savages who, at first, seem to be your average Cannibal Tribe: they bind them, dump them into a cauldron of boiling water and vegetables, the usual works. The heroes manage to free themselves and befriend the tribe leader, who is confused when they complain to him about the barbaric custom: his tribe, he says, have never been cannibals. That's when the characters seem to remember that they are, actually, an anthropomorphic fox and wolf. And the savages, while not cannibals, definitely have no problems with eating dog meat. (That's only one way in which the comic parodies and subverts the heck out of various adventure tropes.)
  • The newspaper comic Tom the Dancing Bug parodies this in a strip called, I think, "Anthropomorphic Antix". An anthropomorphic dog is walking a dog on a leash when an anthropomorphic pig holding a bag walks up. The pig says, "I don't get it. Aren't you both dogs?" to which the dog replies "Isn't that a pork chop in that bag?"
  • Douwe Dabbert features an animal kingdom populated by Funny Animals. Every single one of them is vegetarian, including normally predatory ones, such as the wolves. Two human villains then entered the kingdom. Not knowing that the animals were intelligent, they slaughtered and roasted the innkeeper, a chicken (the inn as empty at the time, and quite isolated from the rest of the kingdom). When the wolves arrive, they eat along, not knowing it's the innkeeper. When they realise it afterwards, they decide that they like the taste of meat, and proceed to conquer the kingdom with the human villains. They go back to being vegetarians at the end of the story.
  • Elf Quest doesn't really fit the "talking animal" topic, but it notably avoids the "carnivores are okay as long as they are predatory" bit. For the Wolfriders (a tribe of elves), it is normal to leave the bodies of their dead to the wolves.
  • In Snarfquest, after the gaggaleech/death leech Wished for the ability to communicate with any living thing, it discovered to its horror that a type of prey-animal it'd fed on previously was just a baby, and began screaming for its mother when the leech attacked. For the rest of the series, the gaggaleech wound up feeding on fruit (which still cried for help!) or the blood of fresh-killed monsters slain by Snarf and his friends.
  • In The Courageous Princess both talking and mundane animals can be found. Ones that can talk are given full human rights. Mundane ones can be eaten without any trouble. It happens that a talking animal is murdered via being silenced and tricking someone else into eating them.
  • The sentient animal society in Chlorophylle by Raymond Macherot has a lecteresque criminal mastermind who consumes other sentient animals
  • In Sam and Max Freelance Police, while there's only a few truly anthropomorphic animals, lots of other animals are sapient and can talk. This might be deliberately dark humour to reinforce what a Crapsack World the setting is, though. In addition, Max is repeatedly shown eating meat, even though he's a rabbit, albeit one with carnivorous-looking teeth.
  • Played with in early issues of the children's magazine Cricket, where the marginal comic strip's talking insects hung around with Zoot the shrew: a mammal who, by rights, should've been eating them all. For a time, Zoot's friendship with "everybuggy" was justified by his being so nearsighted, he mistook them for bunnies and other creatures not on a shrew's menu; later, he got some glasses and learned the truth, but conveniently also turned vegetarian.
  • Beast Boy of the Teen Titans has come to this conclusion: as he can transform into any animal under the sun, eating any kind of meat, feels like cannibalism, with eggs having a squicky implication. He tries to share his tofuburgers with the other Titans whenever possible(they rarely partake), and has been known to turn into particularly cute animals and quip that they should at least vow never to eat green meat.

Disney Animated Canon, Pixar, and misc Disney animation

  • The talking/non-talking roles were reversed for morbidly comic effect in The Emperors New Groove, with a grisly little reference to The Fly: a bug caught in a spiderweb screams "Help meee! Help meee!" in a tiny voice, then is promptly eaten by the spider.
    • "Too late..."
  • In the early Mickey Mouse cartoon Ye Olden Days, the royal court is made up of Clarabelle Cow and several nameless pig footmen in addition to other anthropomorphic farm animals. When the King calls for the royal feast, some of the first foods to emerge from the kitchen are a whole roast boar and bull. Now, the Anthro cows and pigs are shown eating spaghetti and soup but, really, that's right out of Silence of the Lambs.
    • Heh. What an appropriate title.
    • Lest we forget the many times Donald Duck has worried about not having enough money to put a Thanksgiving/Christmas turkey/goose/chicken on the table. And yet has shown objection to the idea of roast duck once or twice.
    • All those times Pete has kidnapped Minnie...was it for love...or lunch?
      • Well, Pete is a cat - a really fat and ugly one, yes, but still a cat.
  • Bedknobs and Broomsticks features a sequence that takes place underwater, with the live-action cast dancing with a city of talking fish. All well and good—until the merry ball is broken up by a fisherman. Who turns out to be a talking bear. Because all the animals on this island island were made human-like thanks to a magic spell. Hello, Fridge Logic.
  • Addressed in Finding Nemo. Nemo is introduced to a Pelican who makes an apology to Nemo on the off chance that he had ever tried to eat him in the past. Apparently, predators only eat prey animals they're not on a first-name basis with. Which makes sense, one with pet fish usually won't go after them for food, and many people keep farm animals as pets without going vegetarian.
    • Also, carnivorism among sharks is rendered as similar to alcoholism, and the sharks in the movie belong to a "Sharks Anonymous" group. The question of what they're supposed to eat instead is completely ignored.
      • Kelp, if one line from the theme park's musical is any indication. But it's not shown that the group is rational in what they're trying to do, seeing as everyone is surprised that they're doing this, and all it takes is one drop of blood...
      • It's possible the SA group isn't so much swearing off eating as trying to control the impulse to frenzy whenever they smell blood (thanks for the demonstration Bruce).
        • Or maybe they eat trash.
    • Plus they mention that non-fish (dolphins) are fair game, and sharks can eat pretty much anything...
    • The sharks only say they aren't eating fish. Bruce is the name of one of the sharks. It's also the nickname of the shark from Jaws....
    • The trope is also subverted in Finding Nemo. At one point a character points out that Whales only eat Krill, which most people don't think of as being a 'creature' and thus whales are often not thought of as carnivores (as opposed to say 'Killer Whales'). Immediately a swarm of Krill pass through the scene, screaming and 'swimming for their lives' as a whale tries to eat them.
  • The Lion King, as a film with the cycle of life and death as its main theme, does addresses this issue to a surprisingly high degree. True, Mufasa is never shown eating a single animal, and Simba pretty much becomes an insectivore; however, Mufasa makes it very clear at the beginning that lions eat animals and are part of the Great Cycle of Life, Simba practices his hunting skills with Zazu, tells Timon and Pumbaa he's so hungry he could eat an entire zebra, Nala tries to hunt Pumbaa, the hyenas finish all the available food once Scar takes over, and Timon and Pumbaa lure the hyenas away by posing as delicious wild game. It's an uncomfortable twist on the concept of governmental dominance - the monarchy not only orders you around but it might eat you also...
    • In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora has an almost out-of-character delight in pointing this out and creeping Timon and Pumbaa out. Also interesting in that the Hyenas were portrayed somewhat sympathetically.
      • In one scene in a Kingdom Hearts fanfiction, Simba calls "Catch you later!" to a gazelle he had been playing a game with. The gazelle cheekily replies, "Not if I can help it!" before bounding off.
    • Subverted in the Timon and Pumbaa series, where the duo discover a cartoony snail with an uncanny resemblance to Bing Crosby (as opposed to a "realistic" looking one) and can't bring themselves to eat him. Well, Pumbaa couldn't. Timon was more than willing to eat him even after he proved that he could talk. He only relented when the snail revealed his singing talent.
      • Is that a clever Shout-Out to that old Merrie Melodies cartoon where a young quail could not bring herself to eat a worm (whom her father spent the entire cartoon trying to grab) because he looked like (I think) Frank Sinatra?
      • Also played with in another episode featuring a visit from Simba. Pumbaa insists that despite rumors that a vicious predator is lurking around, it couldn't possibly be their lion friend. Timon is initially sympathetic but increasingly suspicious after rationalizing that there's no way Simba could sustain himself on bugs as an adult, though he just seems worried about him eating specifically him.
    • Not to mentioned bit of a research failure, as Timon ("Carnivores! Ugh!") is a meerkat. Meerkats eat other small mammals alongside their staple of insects (as well as reptiles, eggs, the occasional bird...which are clearly okay, because they're not cute).
      • Timon probably just doesn't eat other mammals. He obviously only eats bugs so it makes sense he would dislike the notion.
      • For that matter, pigs are omnivores, so Pumbaa also shouldn't have any problem eating meat if it becomes available. Heck, a warthog would probably eat baby meerkats if it dug up a nest of them while rooting for grubs.
        • Pigs aren't hunters though, they only scavenge, and being ungulates they're almost entirely herbivorous anyway.
      • Not entirely true. Warthogs are near total herbivores that eat almost nothing but grass. Most other species of pigs, particularly wild boars and domestic pigs, are very opportunistic hunters that can and will kill and eat other mammals if presented the opportunity. In fact, the US Department of Agriculture lists "eaten by feral pigs" as one of the leading causes of fatalities of lambs on sheep ranches in parts of the US where feral pig populations have become established.
      • This is a kids movie, so it keeps the on-screen blood to fights and the villain's actions.
    • Lampshaded by Timon after meeting Nala. "Let Me Get This Straight.... You know her, she knows you, but she wants to eat him. And everyone's. . . okay with this? DID I MISS SOMETHING HERE?!"
    • An episode segment features the Hyenas trying to catch and eat a circus monkey.
      • Another episode features them and the host of a naure show, who keeps giving steaks to an armadillo. They try to convince him to give them some steaks and he just kicks them off the set. He's also rather abusive toward his assistant. Eventually, they (both the hyenas and the assistant) get tire of being kicked around, and are seen at the end about to cook (and presumably eat) the nature show host, while the assistant happily films it.
  • In Lilo and Stitch, Lilo feeds Pudge peanut-butter sandwiches because if she fed him tuna sandwiches, "I'd be an ABOMINATION!" Pudge would probably get a great deal of vindictive satisfaction from eating a large piscivore, but Lilo is five and wouldn't be expected to realize that.
  • Bambi avoids the issue entirely (except where human hunters are concerned, of course), to the point where Thumper the rabbit can hang out unconcerned under Friend Owl's gaze...
    • But the original Felix Stalton novel addresses it directly. Here predatory animals and humans are not so much mean as constantly on edge. If they act rude, it's only because it is so much harder for them to find food.
  • Stick around after the end credits of Brother Bear and you'll see a deliciously nasty subversion of the "it's still okay to eat fish" approach.
  • In A Bugs Life, the black widow spider and the praying mantis get along great with all the other bugs, not even a hint that they'd be in danger. In fact, the moth was married to the praying mantis. The only animals that actually behaved like carnivores were the birds.
    • Except for the time she was talking to an insect about how her past husbands died and he was unnerved, to put it lightly.
    • Especially unnerving is the scene where Hopper attacks Manny, which should be vice versa in Real Life.
    • Then there's the whole premise. If grasshoppers swarmed an ant colony, the ants would rip them apart and eat them. A tamer version happens at the end of the film when the ants realize their strength, but still.
  • In WALL-E the titular character is shown cannibalizing other shut-down robots for parts. Any Unfortunate Implications of this are never addressed.
    • Possibly justified in that WALL-E, being a robot, isn't actually ingesting and digesting them, only grafting pieces of other robots onto himself. So it's more like organ transplants.
      • Actually, if you watch WALL-E and even the cockroach's body language is very reserved for the shot directly after that, he has to do it to survive but he does not seem to be happy about it. Oddly, he shows no such reaction to using the spare parts he has stored up in the truck.
  • The issue is mostly avoided in Bolt in which the three main characters (a dog, a cat and a hamster) are essentially treated as omnivores who eat only human food. Justified in that Bolt and Rhino have no experience outside human care while Mittens has been abandoned by her owners after being declawed and can no longer hunt effectively.
  • Referred to at least twice in James and the Giant Peach; the giant anthropomorphic bugs talk about their dietary habits in a song, and the other bugs are also distrustful of Ms. Spider. She acknowledges this to be in their nature, and then there is this exchange:

Mrs. Ladybug: (when eating the titular peach) Better than aphids!
Ms. Spider: Mhm...Better than ladybugs!
Mrs. Ladybug: What?!
Ms. Spider: Excuse...

  • Lambert The Sheepish Lion: A Disney short where a stork accidently delivers a lion to a family of sheep. It's never questioned how Lambert survives without eating the other sheep. In one scene he saves his foster mother from an evil, hungry wolf.


  • Ice Age plays it rather straight. Sid and Manny find a human baby, and decide to take it to the adults. The whole reason the baby got separated was because of an attack by saber-toothed cats, and the cats still want the baby. Enter Diego, who promises to help Sid and Manny deliver the baby to the tribe. They don't trust him, and for good reason. Throughout the film, nobody trusts Diego, and he threatens to eat Sid on several occasions. Indeed, the whole reason he's helping them is to deliver to his pack so he can eat them. He does a Heel Face Turn, and saves them from the pack. This is all well and good, makes for a happy ending, but the hell is Diego supposed to eat?
    • Diego's group of Sabre-tooths respected humans as fellow hunters; they were originally just after the human baby in revenge for the humans killing one of the sabre-tooths first; they weren't after it as a snack, per se, but only in retaliation. Apparently if Diego just told them this, then Manny could have told him that the baby's mother was already dead, and Diego could go just home since they were even.
      • Ah, but Soto wanted the baby, not the mother.
    • And at the end of the first movie, and throughout the entire second movie, Diego is seen happily hanging out with the sloth and the mammoth. Either he's fine with never eating again, or they just look the other way when he kills and devours their friends.
      • The first movie did explicitly state that Manny doesn't mind animals that kill for food.
      • The second movie also raises an interesting question when the characters talk about having a pet. Either slavery is perfectly kosher, or there are animals that are of lesser intelligence than what is generally seen.
        • There are. One's named Rudy, which also falls under the Predators Are Mean depiction (which the T-Rexes also follow - mute, only the young ones can be called "cute" - but are portrayed sympathetically).
        • Actually, Rudy seems to have been as smart as the T-Rex (which was portrayed as semi-sentient, being able to understand the mammals' language although the adults appear unable to speak it. In addition Rudy has, at least on some occasions during the final battle, appeared to understand speech, seeing as how he nurtured a grudge with Buck. Also in the third movie, Diego was shown hunting a sort of deer, one that could definitely talk and mocked him when he lost, so apparently he kept eating meat after befriending the herbivores.
        • Of course there are animals of lower intelligence. Look at Sid.
      • The third movie also parodies the vegan carnivore option by having Sid try to teach baby T-Rexes to eat fruit. When the real mother drops off a piece of meat for her offspring, they instinctively devour it, prompting a smug smile from her.
  • In Shark Tale, Lenny the Shark, a principled vegetarian who refuses to devour sapient creatures, and massive disappointment to his father, makes an unsuccessful attempt to eat a sobbing shrimp who begs for his life.
    • And in a clear case of You Fail Biology Forever, when he wants to look harmless to the fish population, he dresses up as a dolphin, even though fish are the food of choice for dolphins (Can you say "Dolphin Safe Tuna"?). It seems only sharks are afraid of dolphins. Yes, the badass predators of the deep are terrified of a dolphin, but the small little fishies don't even bat an eye. (OK, in real life, dolphins have been known to battle sharks that stray too close to their pods, but...)
      • In the shark's defense there, Dolphins do kill for fun. They'll even kill their own kind when bored, so it might be under the same attitude of a legitimate championship hunter fearing a serial killer.
      • Didn't the MythBusters successfully repel a great white with a fake dolphin?
  • In Happy Feet, the penguins themselves eat fish, which are rendered realistically. The pair of orcas encountered during the film are also treated realistically; as playful, giant dolphins that try to eat the protagonists. The Skua that try unsuccessfully to feed on juvenile penguins talk, and are depicted like bullies or gangsters. A leopard seal can speak and is treated like an intelligent, evil monster, akin to a dragon. Top this off with heavy, Anvilicious doses of Humans Are the Real Monsters and you've got yourself a very mixed bag on predator treatment.
    • In the sequel, the krill are able to talk (though not to the penguins) and realize how much life sucks on the bottom of the food-chain.
  • As an excellent example of the "Predators Are Mean" subtrope, the otherwise sweet and cutesy-wootsy Once Upon a Forest has a Nightmare Fuel ready scene in which the anthropomorphic-to-the-extreme (except for size) heroes are menaced by a terrifying, non-anthro owl. Um, hm...

Abigale: What are you going to do with me?
Owl: You'll figure it out...

  • The movie Madagascar addresses this directly. Alex, the main character, is a lion raised in captivity, who is used to being fed steaks, and is blissfully unaware that his friends are his natural prey. After being stranded in the titular island, and cut off from his beloved steaks, he slowly goes mad with hunger and reverts to his animal instincts. Now his best friends look like steak to him, and he exiles himself to the other side of the island. At the end, the situation is resolved by Alex becoming a fish eater. Meanwhile, Madagascar's native predators, the fossa, are depicted as dim-witted, Hulk-speaking brutes.
    • And then for some reason utterly ignored in the sequel, "Escape to Africa", where most of the animals live in harmony under the rule of a benevolent pride of lions, never minding the fact that a lot of the animals under their rule are a major diet source for lions in real life.
    • The similar Disney movie, The Wild, avoided the issue altogether, except for the unusual subversion in which the film's wildebeest villain intended to turn the Circle of Life on its head by eating lion meat and "ascending to carnivorism." Of course he was more than a little cracked...
  • Kung Fu Panda also avoids the issue, since the Furious Five are carnivores or omnivores (Monkey and Crane), but all we ever see them eating is...noodles. (Granted, it's the only thing the herbivorous Po knows how to cook, and coming from a village where all the denizens are prey species—rabbits, geese, pigs, sheep, etc. -- kind of makes that a no-brainer. But still...) Even Tigress, who initially refuses Po's dinner thanks to the continued chip on her shoulder, instead eats a plate of tiny tofu. Po, of course, only eats things like cookies, peaches, and dumplings, hopefully not stuffed with meat (though, thankfully, not bamboo). The only character we can assume to truly eat meat, due to his size, personality, and mental state, is the villain Tai Lung...and rather having a bit more on his mind at the time, we never see him eat either. The fact that, according to Word of God, the villagers were deliberately designed to be prey species in order to seem more helpless and timid before Tai Lung's ravages, on the other hand, treads very close to crossing the cannibalism line of this trope—and purposefully so.
    • Kung Fu Panda is a big offender. Every animal in their version of ancient China is sentient (even the insects), making it jarring whenever it's shown carnivorous animals (Viper, Tigress, Mantis) living in harmony with the prey-species villagers.
      • Except since Tigress is shown eating tofu, and all the others eating noodles, the issue is actually avoided. It seems to be the case that the predatory animals eat meat substitutes. We're also never shown any beasts of burden pulling carts (since bulls and takins and such are also anthropomorphized), so we don't know if any non-sentient herbivores exist to be eaten.
  • This is played straight as an arrow in the original, Don Bluth-directed The Land Before Time film, in which carnivorous dinosaurs are the main villains. Petrie should technically be eating fish or carrion instead of leaves, but they pointedly avoid that issue.
    • Things get a little more awkward in the non-Bluth sequels with the introduction of Chomper, the friendly Sharptooth. The first few films where he shows up, it is made very clear that he could not possibly live with the main characters long term because of his dietary needs. However in the spin off television show, this has been Handwaved with him just surviving on insects, to justify upgrading him to main character status.
  • The scene where Mrs. Brisby, a mouse, must seek advice from the Great Owl in The Secret of NIMH is very up-front about this. The owl's home is littered with the skulls of mice the owl had eaten and the entire scene has an ominous air. Mrs. Brisby spends the entire experience scared out of her mind:

Brisby: Owls EAT mice!
Jeremy: Uh...only after dark!

    • In the book sequel, Rasco And The Rats Of Nimh, the Owl nearly kills Timothy Frisby by snatching him up to eat until he realizes that Timothy is Mrs. Frisby's son. Timothy is really, really hurt badly.
    • Additionally, the only film that plays Cats Are Mean even heavier is...
  • An American Tail, also by Bluth. Here, Cats are not only Mean, they represent the various hardships faced by the immigrants to the U.S. in the 1800's. The one "good" cat, Tiger, is a vegetarian, of course.
  • El Arca: I will survive. Warning, it may try to turn you furry.
  • Somewhat parodied in Enchanted. Giselle can call on animal friends to help her. When she does so in the real world, she gets an assortment of "city animals" (rats, pigeons, flies, and roaches) to help her clean. They work well together during the cleaning song, but once it's over, a pigeon nonchalantly turns to the roach next to it and gobbles it up.
  • Open Season: It's never explained why the other wild animals in the forest never run away in fear at the sight of Boog, who happens to be a domesticated grizzly bear. Did the animals enter some kind of truce or something? Because there's a scene where Eliot's bully, a mule deer, actually taunts Boog in front of his face!
    • Maybe they can sense his incompetence and know they're in no real danger. It's not like Boog has the skills to hunt and kill the animals even if he wanted to.
  • Incredibly epic fail in Pride which shows a vegan lioness doing pretty well until both plant and animal are depleted in the 'badlands' area where she lives after running away from her parents for them trying to force her to obey her carnivorous nature. Its essentially vegan propaganda aping the appeal of the flood of lion movies after. Also Sean Bean as a big macho lion badass probably didn't hurt funding either. In the end the entire vegan subplot vanishes to make way for a more traditional good lion/evil lion showdown as the lions from the badlands attempt to take over the heroine's pride.
  • The Over the Hedge cast don't seem to take into account the source of all the food items they take. Vincent threatens to kill RJ and naturally is the only non-human antagonist.
  • An in-movie bit in Babe, when Farmer Hogget somehow assumes Babe killed the sheep.
  • How to Train Your Dragon had the giant Green Death dragon swallow an unfortunate Gronckle who failed to give it enough food. This is hardly surprising since alot of animals have no qualms eating other animals related to them such as cobras eating other snakes, lions eating cheetahs, etc.
  • From Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse: Spider-Ham - a Funny Animal pig - seems to have no problem eating hot dogs, which is typically made of pork. Some viewers have pointed out that actual pigs will eat practically anything given to them, but one would think a humanoid, intelligent, sapient pig would know better.


  • Richard Scarry's Busytown is a bright modern town populated by anthropomorphic animals. The problem of who eats who is ignored. In fact one can find a family of jolly pigs at the supermarket checking out the butcher's selection. Yes, they are selling bacon, pork and ham.
  • Turned on its head and parodied with the Let's Meet the Meat scene in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. The cruelty, Galactic culture decides, is not in eating animals. The cruelty comes in eating animals who probably do not want to be eaten. So they breed livestock that is intelligent enough to know what's going on—and is also disturbingly eager to be devoured. The animal even goes so far as to recommend cuts of itself to the diners. (By the way, Vore Fetish Fuel?)
    • Arthur is completely squicked out by this concept ("That's not the point! Maybe it is the point, I don't care. I don't want to think about it"), but has come to terms with it by Mostly Harmless, where he meets a whole herd of these creatures, and is quite happy to discuss barbecue arrangements with them. This time it's Random who's squicked.
  • The above-mentioned Dinotopia, which takes place in a land where only about ten percent of the population is human and the rest are Intellectual Animals of all imaginable species, has a relatively clever approach to this problem. All carnivores have switched to a diet of fish and it's implied that those who can (most notably humans) have gone entirely over to veganism. The twist is that some animals refused to make the change and have exiled themselves to the Rainy Basin and Backwood Flats, where they live as their wild ancestors did (similar to The Wild in Kevin and Kell). Interestingly, this is treated by the major characters as more of an alternate lifestyle choice than a break of the rules and such characters are not vilified as one would expect. (At least, not in the book. The movie is another story...)
    • In one of the not-quite-Canon spin-off novels, a city-dwelling herbivore was shown journeying through the Rainy Basin as she was about to die, providing the carnivores with food. This act was referred to in almost religious terms.
      • though the spin-off novel is not-quite-Canon the act is cannon and even mentioned in the original book.
    • To be sure, the assurance that fish are kosher becomes a bit troubling when it becomes increasingly clear in Journey to Chandara that any species with more brains than a sponge can communicate with each-other...
    • Additionally, leathers, skins, and furs were seen in use by the Dinotopians. Readers had to wait until Journey to Chandara for the explanation: Arthur Dennison is given a new journal bound in the skin of an Intellectual Animal "whose dying wish was to donate his body to science". Um...
      • Gets even Squickier when you realize that, until the 1800s or so, books bound in human skin were not entirely unheard of...
  • Spellsinger takes the approach of making all the reptiles (save turtles) non-sapient and therefore "kosher".
    • However, the books suffer a Continuity Drift when in one book the intelligent owl eats mice but every other book in the series has them as intelligent. Either that or the owl didn't care that he was eating an intelligent creature.
      • Worse, the EXACT SAME OWL reacted with violent disgust when mice were suggested to him as a meal in the immediately previous book.
      • And one book features humans from our world eating a talking parrot. They didn't know better.
        • Don't we have talking parrots in our world?
        • Not sentient ones.
  • Not particularly avoided in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book due to perspective, as most of the major characters are carnivores. Any distaste animals have for each other has more to do with not following the Laws of the Jungle. There is a scene set during a "water truce" in which Bagheera the panther wishes he could eat branches. A young fawn pipes up that the deer would also very much like it if Bagheera could eat plants, and Bagheera is so amused by this that he agrees not to hunt the fawn once the truce is over.
    • Arguably the animals in The Jungle Book are an imitation of societal classes, with each species following the rules specific to their station because "It's in the blood". Thus predators eat meat and herbivores eat plants, just like gentry fight and rule, and peasants work and pay taxes.
    • Note that the Disney film pointedly avoids the issue, even though most of the main characters are carnivores. There is a scene in which the tiger Shere Khan is hunting a deer, but fails to catch it.
      • The Soviet adaptation, however, it is retained in full...and the fawn is very cute.
    • Bagheera doesn't shy from eating river-turtles though, who would only occur within the river. Also, said turtles are repltiles, but then so are snakes, so where is the line drawn?
  • On the Discworld some animals have human-like intelligence, due to magical effects, but it's very rare. In Moving Pictures, the cat half of the Tom and Jerry parody has sworn off mice since "Jerry" started talking, and in The Amazing Maurice And His Educated Rodents, the titular cat always offers his prey a chance to speak before eating it. Although when he was a normal cat, he ate a talking rat because he didn't know better. That's how he gained the ability in the first place.
    • The animals in Moving Pictures were only able to talk because of the influence of Holy Wood. When it's sealed at the end, and they lose their human-level intelligence the cat goes right back to chasing the mouse. Gaspode regains human-level intelligence in an unrelated incident between books.
    • What's very rare for animals to be able to speak. Werewolves and talking dogs can both talk to normal dogs, who have been shown to be intelligent. I don't know about other animals, but I do remember once when someone mentioned to Death something about humans being more important than chickens, he responded that that's a distinction commonly made by humans. Also, dogs aren't treated particularly well. For example, in Making Money, a dog became the chairman of the bank, but the employees just did what his owner said, rather than using an actual translator.
      • Because everyone knows dogs can't talk. And also, as established in The Truth, they are basically still dogs (with exceptions for special cases) and can't really think outside the kennel.
      • How "intelligent" ordinary dogs are is very up for debate: "Good boy Laddie!"
      • It's also sort of implied that everyone resorts to the "legal fiction" that the owner in question is acting according to the wishes of the dog - in other words, the owner effectively IS the translator. Of course, everyone knows this is a lie, but everyone also ACTS like it's the truth, because admitting the truth would be in bad taste.
      • Mr Slant says to Those Two Bad Guys in The Truth that via the Watch werewolf, a canine witness would be acceptable in a court of law.
        • Though it's clear that legal precedent isn't the same thing as "sane" in this setting.
    • Note that the street dogs in Men At Arms seem considerably more sentient than pet dogs like Laddie or Mr. Fusspot. Justified by the intensity of natural selection on the streets of Ankh-Morpork, where a stupid dog quickly becomes an even stupider fur muff and/or takeaway stir-fry. Also, feral dogs probably scavenge off the same refuse that made the rats from Amazing Maurice into intelligent creatures, albeit not often enough for most of them to learn to speak Human.
  • In the kids' book Tiddler, all the characters are sea creatures. Tiddler, a fish, asks a shrimp for directions at one point. Meanwhile back at Tiddler's school, the other fish kids are eating seaweed and shrimps for lunch.
  • Redwall gets very confusing on this issue. The heroes are mostly mice and for the most part, all the villains (though we never actually see them eat anyone) are mouse predators (see also Cats Are Mean). The confusion sets in when it turns out that animals who eat mice (a lot in some cases) are also found among the heroes. There's one especially strange book where the mice fight an army of ravens by teaming up with an owl and a hawk. Now if you're a mouse, is it really corvids who keep you constantly anxious rather than raptors?'
    • Not to mention that in the same book we meet a completely non-anthropomorphic Horse that pulls the Cart Cluney rides on. Can you say 'Huh'?
      • Redwall was the first published book of the series and as such is the only book that is referenced as taking place in our world, having domesticated animals or containing any reference to Christianity. This is more or less just from all of the details of the series not having been decided upon yet.
    • Naturally, it's fine to eat fish.
      • Redwall has always been rather inconsistent on vermin's eating the first book, villainous rat Cluny regards two young rabbits with hunger (fortunately, there isn't time to stop and eat them) and then later his horde seem eager to devour a family of dormice. Then later, in the book Salamandastron a band of fox bandits hanker for "roasted dormouse -- ages since I tasted that." However, in most other books vermin seem horrified at the concept of eating other mammals. (Although to be fair, this is usually when they're the ones in danger of being dinner.) In the book Rakkety Tam, a horde of bloodthirsty barbarian vermin make a habit of eating their enemies, and this is seen as particularly monstrous, indicating that this isn't normal vermin behavior. The only things set in stone are that woodlanders (good guys) don't eat birds and eggs, while vermin love them. And of course, as pointed out above, everyone enjoys fish, who can't talk. (Though as I type this, it occurs to me that if fish can talk, the other creatures couldn't hear them, and they wouldn't be able to talk out of water because they were gasping for breath...)
      • Scarily enough, there's been one eel (Snakefish) in the books which did talk. Yet the good guys have been shown hunting and eating baby eels. It's probably better not to think about this too much.
      • Even worse, what about the otter in The Legend of Luke who, having been tortured by vermin develops a charming habit of hunting and eating rats we actually see him kill one by tearing out it's throat. Of course, he gets better, but I still don?t think I would be quite as comfortable as the protagonists are in letting him babysit the kids.
    • On an unrelated note that doesn't really go anywhere, where do they get the milk for all the cheese they're always eating?
      • Noted in Outcast to be "greensap milk", the juice of a (somewhat Deus Ex Machina, but much better than the alternatives) plant's roots. The first book mentions goat cheese, but that's pretty much been retconned out.
        • Said deus ex machina may also help to explain their fondness for cheese at all, considering that recent scientific studies have suggested that mice generally DON'T like cheese all that much, (the household food they're the most fond of is peanut butter) and that it tends to be harmful to them anyway (the reason why people with pet mice may be discouraged by vets when it comes to feeding them cheese - it increases their body temperature, and large enough amounts ultimately cause them to die in a similar way to a human who has taken Ecstacy and overheated). One assumes that their version of cheese overcomes both problems.
    • On another unrelated note, while eating eggs is seen as an "vermin" behavior and probably evil, many of the meals described in excruciating detail include baked goods (like cakes) that pretty much require eggs as an ingredient.
      • Not really, there are plenty of vegan cake recipes out there. Some of them are pretty good.
  • In John Dies at the End, the two main characters are able to see ghosts. While explaining the source of this ability and its ramifications to a client and prospective love interest, John mentions a hamburger that mooed when he ate it. His business partner and longtime friend, David, silently recalls how it didn't moo, but scream:

We always do a crappy job telling the story. We can never make people understand what it's like or why John kept eating that screaming hamburger, down to the last bite.

    • On a related note, Deadhead from the Wild Cards novels channels the memories of any creature whose flesh he eats. When fed a hamburger, he started to moo...
  • Subverted in the children's book-turned-anime Stormy Night (Arashi no yoru ni). The story features an unlikely friendship between a wolf and a mountain goat, and the wolf being a carnivore is actually one of the main points of the story. (He is always fighting down the urge to eat the goat, while the goat is painfully aware of this). In the anime the wolf gives up goat meat, but keeps on preying on (sapient) animals such as mice; the goat is not happy about this, but accepts it as inevitable, knowing full well that his best friend would starve to death if he stopped eating meat entirely. In the book they die together.
  • The Katurran Odyssey by Terryl Whitlatch is a wonderfully illustrated, underrated, and highly recommended illustrated novel that has but one flaw. It is really confusing about this issue. It doesn't even stick consistently with what generally appears to be an attempt at the usual "Carnivores Are Mean" (only herbivores can talk) with a "What Measure Is a Non-Cute?" chaser (well, some carnivores can talk - if they are cute) approach. Birds can't talk or act human-like at all...except when they can. Similarly, none of the carnivorous mammals talk or act any differently than their real-world equivalents...except when they do. In the very, very beginning, there's talk of "Pred-folk" and "Prey-folk", indicating that all animals can talk, but this is dumped almost as soon as our hero leaves the big city. There is also a Fossah worshipped as a god by the Lemur tribe and a mention of an ancient menagerie of fierce monsters. Plus, the Golden Monkey kingdom seems to be built on Furry Confusion.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia first mentions this in Prince Caspian, when the heroes kill and eat a bear but mention they were worried about the possibility it may have been a talking bear (it wasn't). Later, it becomes a plot point in The Silver Chair, where the heroes suddenly become repulsed when they learn that the venison that the seemingly friendly giants have served them was once a talking deer who begged for mercy. Fortunately, since Aslan Thinks Of Everything, Narnia has dumb animals as well as talking animals, and the latter consider the former to be more different from themselves than humans are from dwarves.
    • There are interesting distinctions raised during the Talking Stag scene: Jill, who's never been to Narnia's world before and hasn't really absorbed the idea, just feels sorrier than normal for the stag and thinks the giants are "rotten" for killing it; Eustace, who has a little more experience with talking animals, including as close friends, is "horrified" in the way "you would feel about a murder"; but Puddleglum, who's native to Narnia, considers himself to have been made a cannibal and takes it as a curse from Aslan for messing up their mission so badly.
      • Puddleglum almost seems to think that there's no way to atone for what they've done, even though it was accidental, without ending their lives.
    • Note that the Talking Animals in Narnia don't always stick to their mute relatives' ecological niches, as when Mr. & Mrs. Beaver share a trout dinner with the Pevensies, rather than dining on leaves and bark. And adults (at least, the males) of every species enjoy beer and wine.
  • Watership Down takes the "fact of life" approach without flinching: all animals can communicate (although not all that well in some cases), but predators nevertheless hunt and kill prey. They aren't portrayed sympathetically, but that's not because they're inherently evil - it's just because the heroes of the book are rabbits.
    • Interestingly, dogs are portrayed in a far more negative light than Cats Are Mean. Aside from a character in a folktale - who is a drooling idiot compendium of every distasteful canine trait going - they are vicious monsters who don't talk. The cat is a right bitch, but at least she gets to speak her mind intelligently.
      • I read it exactly the opposite: the dog is a dumb beast, driven only by instinct to react the way it does. The cat is a consciously evil and vindictive creature. Only the humans come off as greater villains in the book; even General Woundwort had a cold-blooded sense of discipline and is respected by his followers.
    • This might be justified, actually. In Real Life canines tend to be far better hunters than felines when rabbits (and rats) are involved, for the simple reason that it's dangerous to hunt something that's as big as or sometimes bigger than you. Dogs, which are (usually) much bigger, don't have that problem.
      • The fact that dogs are pursuit-hunters, while cats are ambush-hunters, may also skew the rabbits' notion of what these predators are like. Many rabbits will have eluded pursuing dogs successfully, and brought home tales of their stupidity on the one hand (because those particular rabbits got away) and their Super-Persistent Predator determination on the other. Rabbits attacked by cats would either die instantly, or come home with tales of a calculating, treacherous foe who, nevertheless, wasn't brave enough to fight fair after its first pounce missed.
      • Actually, cats are usually considered the better hunters, and taking down rabbits (especially baby rabbits, but adults too) is routine ca behaviour. The cat may be portreyed as more evil because cats will frequently refrain from killing their prey until after they've played with it.
  • This is a major issue in the Brazilian Just-So Story "The Deer and the Jaguar Share a House". Not only does the jaguar commit the dreadful faux pas of bringing home a dead deer for dinner, but the deer hunts and kills another jaguar (with the help of an anteater).
  • In the Obernewtyn Chronicles most of the humans who are aware that animals are sapient (they can only communicate telepathically) become vegetarian. The animals, however, seem to accept the predator-prey relationship as perfectly natural.
  • The protagonist in The Beasts of Barakhai runs into this problem when the first thing he does when he's sucked into an alternate universe is kill and eat a rabbit. To his horror he learns that all the denizens of Barakhai involuntarily spend 12 hours a day shapeshifted as sentient but mute animals, and he just ate a "sweet old woman". Cannibalism when in beast form was a symptom of insanity and the highest crime in the land.
  • Tad Williams' novel Tailchaser's Song stars cats and matter-of-factly has them eating smaller mammals that can also talk without portraying them as villains. He still gives into Cats Are Mean a little bit, though: the one time when a cat is about to eat a squirrel, the hero-cat saves it and reunites it with its squirrel lover. Through this act he forges a temporary truce between squirrels and cats, which he realizes is unnatural and unsustainable. In the end, the cats designate a section of the forest where the squirrels will not be hunted, but warn them that everywhere else they'd "better watch their tails."
  • The Cowardly Lion, the Hungry Tiger, and others in the Land of Oz series tend to be examples of "the carnivore can go vegetarian if he really wants to". Granted, living in a magical land probably alters certain biological rules that would apply in our world.
  • In Wicked, The Wizard Of Oz from the (not quite so) Big Bad's perspective, there are animals and then there are Animals, who talk. Humans and Animals eat animals and use them as beasts of burden.
  • Daine, the main character in Tamora Pierce's Immortals books, suffers from Carnivore Confusion. She's a "wildmage" who, among other things, can turn into any animal she wants. Before she started to learn about her magic, she grew up eating meat like anybody else, and continued to hunt and eat meat for a long time after discovering it—she says at one point that she doesn't see why this would surprise anybody, since animals kill and eat each other all the time, and it's not as if she kills for sport or uses her magic to lure prey towards her. This changes, however, after a bad experience or two when she herself is pursued in animal form by hunters—game meat becomes Nausea Fuel for her, and she can't stand to eat it anymore, having felt what the animal went through. She doesn't object to it in principle or try to stop other people; she just literally can't stomach it herself. It's mentioned that she gets by okay with domesticated meat by never bonding mentally with any farm animals, and how she feels about fish or insects isn't mentioned.
  • The Medieval work the Roman de Renard (the stories of Reynard the Fox) are an early example of this, and probably the major inspiration for Redwall. Although No Cartoon Fish applies, most other animals are sapient and you have a situation where they are ruled by a Lion and other nobility are carnivores but others are herbivores. The logic seems to be that since Aristocrats Are Evil in the real world, it isn't that odd that characters would be perfectly willing to kill and eat their fellow subjects.
  • The frumious bandersnatchi of Jinx in Larry Niven's "Known Space" stories were bioengineered by the tnuctipun and sold to the Thrint Slavers as meat animals. Actually, the tnuctipun did not tell their "customers" that the bandersnatchi were intelligent, and working as spies and saboteurs waiting for the balloon to go up. It is not clear how they, unlike most intelligent species in the ancient galaxy, survived the Tnuctip Revolt.
    • The humans who find all this out are Very Upset. "An intelligent food animal...Hitler would have run retching."
    • This survives in a toned-down form in the "present", where the bandersnatchi earn their interstellar credit by selling hunting licenses. Licenses to come to Jinx and hunt THEM.
  • While there aren't any talking animals in the Codex Alera (well, there are the Canim, but they're a different species), the Predators Are Mean subtrope is present in full force in Furies of Calderon. The two tribes of Marat who attack the human settlements have predatory Bond Creatures (wolves and terror birds), while the two that eventually ally with the humans have more herbivorous ones (ground sloths and horses).
  • In The Wild Road, a book where most of the protagonists are feral cats, all or at least most animals can communicate with each other, but they largely befriend only members of their own species, and try not to talk to prey. However, the Majicou has a fox (Loves a Dustbin) and a magpie (One For Sorrow) as comrades, who help the hero of the story, Tag, and his friends, and they form a tight companionship (although Tag and Loves a Dustbin are quicker to become friends than he and One For Sorrow, since the latter taunted Tag in his kittenhood, causing him to try to eat him more than once). The line "You can't eat your friends!" is brought up first by One For Sorrow, then by Tag at the end of the book when One For Sorrow dies, and his last request is for Tag and his friends to eat his body so he can always be with them. They do.
  • Frequently averted with predatory species in the Star Trek Novel Verse. The Pahkwa-thanh (like Dr. Ree in Star Trek: Titan) have always considered their prey animals sapient. They don't eat humanoids and "civilized" beings, not because they have an objection to it as such, but because it would be rude. Humanoids don't consider themselves part of nature; to eat them would be impolite, which Pahkwa-thanh are not. If you think you're prey, though, they'll happily eat you. The Frills are another more-or-less-friendly race that is happy to eat sapient prey. Both Frills and Pahkwa-thanh, it should be noted, are Federation members, and thus allied with the heroes. For a less pleasant sapient-meat eater, there's the Fethetrit. They consider slow consumption of a sapient being, while keeping them alive as long as possible, to be sport.
  • This seems to be averted in the Warrior Cats series with the cats being the only sentient animals. Dogs are portrayed as dumb brutes; foxes are sly, vicious predators; badgers kill mercilessly; and prey species (rabbits, voles, mice, birds, fish) are unintelligent, so it's okay to eat them. However, in The New Prophecy, it is revealed that other animals also communicate and are somewhat aware. They meet a badger who speaks the cats' language, as well as the languages of foxes and rabbits. You might think this would raise eyebrows about what the cats have been eating all along, but it's stated that, while badgers can be intelligent as a plot device, rabbits are stupid and don't talk about (read: think about) much of anything at all.
  • Thinking about it, this is present in Twilight, and hence a great many Follow the Leader supernatural novels which feature a vampire dating a human.
  • In The City by Clifford Simak, the final parts are that Earth is inhabited by sentient dogs (and other creatures), and synthetic meat is provided for the carnivores.
  • Dealt with in a shockingly matter-of-fact manner in Charlotte's Web. Charlotte is unquestionably a loyal friend to and protector of Wilbur the pig. But she is also a spider, so at the end of the day there's no getting around her cold-blooded willingness to kill smaller creatures for food. She shows Wilbur how she hunts on her web: she bites a fly that has become trapped in the sticky strands, injecting it with venom, and then spins a cocoon around it so that she can store it for a future meal. Wilbur, who has himself been saved from being turned into bacon by Charlotte's efforts, is understandably horrified; he makes Charlotte promise not to eat the fly until after he has left.
  • The Harlan Ellison short story "Quicktime", from the anthology Angry Candy, deals with this trope. In a Feudal Future society, Lord Garth escapes an army of rebellious peasants through a time-machine programmed to travel into the early age of dinosaurs. The scientist who invented the time machine assures Lord Garth that he will be safe because the dinosaurs in the time he will be sent are all herbivores and will not eat him. As Lord Garth learns too late, the only way for an herbivorous dinosaur to learn whether something is edible is to bite into it and spit it out if it isn't palatable. He doesn't get eaten, but he's no less dead.
  • Averted in Cerberon. The intelligent carnivores don't have a problem with eating other intelligent species. As far as they're concerned, meat is meat, regardless of the source. They do avoid outright cannibalism, but eating a half-human hybrid of their own species doesn't seem to count as cannibalism to them.

Live-Action TV

  • Subverted, handwaved and lampshaded a lot in various Muppet productions, usually involving the Swedish Chef:
    • In an episode of The Muppet Show the Chef tried to make a Thanksgiving dinner. Trying to make turkey doesn't work since the turkeys can talk; trying to make pig stew is as bad, with pigs in the cast. He goes for "veggy weggy stew" but the vegetables can talk and fight him. In the concluding scene the Thanksgiving dinner consists entirely of vitamin pills.
    • In another episode he tried to boil a Lobster until the Lobster's brothers rode in Mexican-Bandito style, shooting up the kitchen with their revolvers and rescuing the main course.
    • He had a similar problem making Christmas dinner for A Muppet Family Christmas. The Chef invited the Turkey (from Dorchester, MA) for dinner. The Turkey convinces the Chef to roast up Big Bird instead. Big Bird unwittingly saves his own life by befriending the Chef, and in the words of this reviewer, "The Chef ends up preparing shredded wheat and cranberry sauce, which is terrific. Until the cranberries start singing 'Silent Night'..."
    • In The Muppet Christmas Carol, Rizzo the Rat is about to eat some vegetables prepared by the Swedish Chef...but they join in song, and he shakes his head and relates his mother's advice: "Never eat singing food."
    • Then there was the frog's legs skit, the duck soup episode...once his spaghetti tried to crawl away from the plate while he was checking on the tomato sauce, and ended up attacking him when he slapped it back. Another time, bread dough started inflating and finally took him over. And each and every time it was absolutely hilarious.
    • In Muppet Treasure Island, Mrs Bubberidge the innkeeper announces tomorrow's special is "roast suckling..." and when the appalled pigs turn to her, she concludes "...potatoes". And then she has to apologise to a talking potato...
    • In the Julie Andrews episode number The Lonely Goatherd, one must wonder what the lonely goat herded (especially since no flock was shown on screen).
      • Well, no wonder he was lonely!
    • Averted altogether on Sesame Street, where the issue is simply avoided. When Elmo inquired about what wild animals eat, he was told about herbivores and insectivores, but meat-eaters were never discussed, even though (talking) tiger and lion Muppets were right next to him.
  • In Dinosaurs, everyone (except, ironically, humans) acts like people, which means the characters will frequently have conversations with their meals.
  • There was a Tales from the Darkside episode called "Your Weight Is Over" that took this concept to the very extreme. A malevolent "diet company" gave a woman the power to hear food talking. Any food, vegetable, or animal. So whenever she bit in, it screamed. She starved to death in the end.
    • Puzzling, in as much as fruits (and many so-called vegetables, such as tomatoes and eggplant) are not whole organisms; they are in effect fertilized ovaries, deliberately cast off by a plant in order to facilitate its reproduction. Even if you pluck an apple from a tree instead of waiting for it to fall, you're not killing (or indeed hurting) anything. The seeds are designed to pass through an animal digestive tract unharmed and viable.
      • If you think about that too hard, especially in the context of sentient apple trees, you get a whole different kind of Squick (see Equal Rites).
      • Processed meat certainly wouldn't be able to speak, either, so both must just be a trick.
      • Fresh vegetables can feel "pain" much better than processed meat. Animals feel pain via nerve cells, which are dead at that point. The vegetable's equivalent damage-recognition system (which is based on hormone changes and cell membrane voltage) is fully functioning while it's fresh. Of course, vegetables do not have central nervous systems to process the sensation, so the point is moot unless you have an aversion to damaging food in general.
  • An especially odd example: During one of his Headlines segments, Jay Leno showed a newspaper article with tips for a fun camp-out. The picture for the article showed three anthropomorphic marshmallows roasting an inanimate marshmallow over a fire. Nightmare Fuel, indeed...
  • Possibly the most disturbing (and, yes, Nightmare Fuel) variation of this trope: TV Funhouse. The whole show is basically a satire of kid's shows. Except for one human, most of the cast are animals. Some of the animals are played by puppets, others by actual animals. In one episode, all the animals went to this restaurant where the whole gimmick was that you eat what you are. The cats can eat cats, lobsters eat lobsters, and so on. Get ready for this, because I'm leading up to the disturbing part, which will be the very last three words of this entry. Remember, some of the animals were played by puppets, and others were played by real animals. And the theme of the restaurant was that you eat your own species. Well, they had a real life pig, and real food, and they showed the pig eating bacon.
    • Pigs are omnivorous and happily eat anything. It's not disturbing that they fed a pig bacon, as non-sapient creatures have no morals to have qualms with cannibalism, anymore than the rest of the scene is disturbing.
    • And among livestock, pigs are infamous for cannibalism, especially eating their own young.
      • So you know that bit at the beginning of The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy falls into the pigpen and everyone panics? The reason for that is because it's fairly common for pigs to eat their keepers if given the opportunity. A pig eating bacon is barely a squick.
    • Also, in case you weren't aware of this, there are plenty of animal farms that feed suet (leftover bonemeal and unedible or unwanted animal parts) back to the animals. In some countries this is illegal or at least restricted (e.g. feed cow suet to the pigs, pig suet to the cows, or somesuch). The main reason to avoid this (like cannibalism, aside from the moral implications) is that same-species feeding makes it easier to contract diseases from the food.
      • Just because something sick and wrong is common, does not stop it being SICK AND WRONG.
    • Forget the pig eating one episode Robert Goulet accompanied them to the restaurant and, presumably, had some long pork chops.
  • One sketch on The Young Ones had a couple of rat puppets chatting in the background. Spotting them, and apparently not understanding their language, Rick smacks one with Neil's guitar, killing it. A quick scene of the surviving rat eating the dead one follows, in which it Hand Waves this trope, remarking: "It's what he would have wanted".
  • On Arrested Development the Bluths' Frozen Banana stand has as its mascot Mr. Banana Grabber, a giant talking banana that steals and eats regular-sized, non-talking bananas. The implications are not lost on Michael.

Michael: Why would a banana grab another banana? I mean, those are the kind of questions I don't want to answer.

  • In a rather silly Did Not Do the Research case, Animal Planet's Weird, True and Freaky featured a story on chimpanzee "cannibalism." Anyone familiar with chimps knows that the males tend to kidnap and eat the infants of rival troops. Shocking, yes, but that's not what the story is about. It's about chimpanzees, apes, hunting for monkey meat. And the narrator says it's cannibalism. That's just about as cannibalistic as a polar bear eating a seal! It also reaches Unfortunate Implications, as many people in Africa regularly eat bushmeat (see the real life examples below)

Newspaper Comics

  • Pogo played around with this trope a lot, especially in its earlier days. The animals went back and forth between viewing carnivorism as no big deal ("I dunno, Pogo...sounds kinda good.") and treating it as cannibalism.
    • The prime example here is Albert the Alligator, who in the early days of the comic would sometimes end up swallowing smaller animals by accident (they were usually saved, though) and would sometimes be accused of eating someone if they went missing. He'd sometimes threaten to eat the small critters if they annoyed him, and at one point even chased after the villains with a knife and fork, as revenge when they'd tried to eat Pogo—but he never actually went through with it. He pretty much stopped doing this in the comic's later years, but he'd still cheerfully mooch off his friends and eating their food.
    • The villains of the comic were more openly carnivorous, especially Wiley Catt and Seminole Sam, who would at times try to cook and eat the smaller animals, such as Pogo.
    • The other characters would (in addition to cakes, biscuits and other types of snack food) eat fish, who were mostly portrayed as non-sentient...though in one very early story, Pogo and Howland Owl are getting into a discussion while fishing, resulting in the same fish getting pulled in and out of the water a number of times...until it asks, in an annoyed tone: "Is you fishin' or just hossin' around? Make up yo' minds! I ain't got all day!"
  • In a Far Side strip, a chicken serves her bedridden husband a bowl of soup, saying, "Quit complaining and eat it! First of all, chicken soup is good for a cold, and second, it's nobody we know."
    • Gary Larson seemed fond of exposing this trope. One strip has a cow saying to her friends "Hey, we really DO taste like chicken" after trying a hamburger; another has the cow's friends saying "You're SICK, Jessie! Sick, sick, sick!" while said cow is running a barbecue grill. Funny at age 12, rather disturbing now...
    • The Far Side also features the animal addiction-recovery organization "Maneaters Anonymous".
      • This idea is used in the same darkly humorous fashion in a Robot Chicken segment, where two bulls munch slowly on hamburgers made from their friend and commend how good he tastes.
    • The illustrated short story There's A Hair In My Dirt! by the same author, is an especially brutal mockery of this trope. The 'beautiful forest maiden' Harriet, on her way home from a stroll through the forest, encounters a snake attacking a mouse. She grabs a big stick and bashes the big bad vicious snake to death, then cuddles the poor helpless little mouse until it recovers, upon which she releases it back into the meadow. Good having triumphed over evil, the forest is now a safer place for all woodland creatures! Well...not quite. Turns out the mouse was carrying deadly diseases. As mice tend to do...which is why it's actually a good thing that snakes keep the population in check. And so 'one fine spring morning Harriet, delirious with fever, stumbled out of her little cottage, fell over, and died.'
    • There was a series of full-page color strips from Cows of Our Planet, and every age of evolution includes at least one cow-thing, leading to the future, where the whole world is ruled by cows. And there's a burger restaurant behind a wax museum full of butchers.
  • The straight version is played deliberately for laughs in Sherman's Lagoon, as part of its championship of 'uncute' critters: the two starring sharks eat other anthropomorphic fish regularly, usually after chatting for awhile. They also frequently go after humans—which they call "hairless beach apes"—as well, 'fishing' for them using lines cast onto the beach. Numerous strips discuss the best baits for the various types of human.
  • Played straight in Pearls Before Swine...except that the predator crocs are altogether too stupid to catch their prey, Zebra, even though he lives right next door. They survive in the meanwhile by devouring fried chicken and other fast food.
    • They doubled the fun when some lions moved into the house on the other side of Zebra and the wives are very competent hunters. Fortunately for Zebra, the lions went through a divorce and the husband scored big in the settlement. Got both the house and the wives have to ship a crate of meat each week.
      • Genius Bonus: Male lions don't hunt. Lionesses do all the work, and then the males bull in and take their fill (giving us a literal grounding in the phrase "lion's share"); the females and cubs can take from what's left when the males are done.
    • Pig apparently really likes bacon. He was kicked out of the Pig Fraternity for enjoying BLTs, which gave the first Pearls collection its title.
  • In Garfield, Garfield has eaten (or tried to) birds, fish, and flowers that are often shown to be as intelligent as he is even after holding conversations with them, and also has no compunctions whatsoever about squashing talking spiders (and their grieving families.) For the most part, Garfield will eat anything but mice, established within the first week of the strip's creation. ("Show me a good mouser, and I'll show you a cat with bad breath.") He also abhors spinach (especially cooked spinach) and raisins (even in cookies). A certain strip has Garfield facing the ghosts of all the animals he's eaten, including what looks like a cow or a horse. (It's probably meant to be a cow [beef lasagna], given its split hooves, although if he's ever actually eaten cat food, a horse might be possible as well.) Meanwhile, the protagonists of U.S. Acres are herbivores, with predatory animals appearing only as villains, unless you count Booker's fruitless pursuit of a worm which sometimes appears more intelligent than he is—although, in "The Worm Turns", Sheldon the ambulatory egg mentions that he's planning to have quiche for dinner...
    • The front cover of Vol. 4 has Garfield about to have two eggs sunny-side up (truly a meal of epic proportions), when he sees that Booker, wings crossed and glaring at him, is standing there with Sheldon. The back cover has him running with his plate as Sheldon chases him, Booker riding on top and brandishing a fork...
  • Wagner from the Finnish newspaper comic Viivi & Wagner is an anthropomorphic pig - whose favorite foods include bacon and ham.

Tabletop Games

  • AD&D Planescape Kings of the Wild accessory: The creatures of Beastland hunt and eat each other - c'est la vie. Because the possibility of being devoured by Owl is just part of what it means to be Mouse. Moreover, to kill an animal without subsequently eating it is "the ultimate insult" to the whole species (and possibly all other species under the same Beast Lord's rule). "Predators Are Mean" was invoked once, and even this ultimately was the stupid mortals' fault. Initially at least the Beast Lords themselves (who can assume humanoid form) were exempt from the menu, but times changed. On the other hand, Mouse Lord, being the ultimate "sneaky rodent", is so good at hiding and escaping that only Owl Lord can hunt him down.
    • Unknown if it's been retconned since or not, but the Beastlands had a sort of 'Valhalla-esque' vibe - anything that died there(whether eaten or not) would revive the next day. Thus Mouse Lord being eaten by Owl Lord isn't so much utterly destroyed as inconvenienced for a few hours, maybe a day.
      • You mean eaten alive then inconvenienced for a few hours?
  • Subverted in the Ravenloft setting's domain of the Wildlands, where all the Talking Animals have a mean streak regardless of ecological niche.
  • Also AD&D Example but not involving animals, its quite common for Exclusively Evil Races to eat anything not their race, like Giants, Orcs or Goblins. On a more horrifying extent, Illithids even breed and enslave Anything That Moves as tasty snacks and workforce. Also in one Novel its stated that humans make bad slaves for drow, because they are way to prone for rebelliousness, but they are quite useful for trade connections or if you run low on other food...
  • The Lunar Exalted in Exalted have the innate ability to assume the form of animals. They acquire new forms by killing an animal of the appropriate species (presumably after hunting it down themselves) and drinking its fresh blood in a very literal case of "you are what you eat". And given the right charm, they can use this trick with humans as well...
  • Averted in the "furry RPG" Ironclaw, where only mammals and birds are anthropomorphic, leaving reptiles (lizards, dinosaurs, dragons) as the beasts of burden and livestock.


  • Taken to the extreme in Thorbjörn Egner's Dyrene i Hakkebakkeskogen (The Animals Of Hakkebakke Forest), one of Norway's most popular children's plays ever. By popular vote, the animals pass a law banning carnivorism. One of the animals who supports the law is the alpha bear (brown bears admittedly eating plants for 80% of their diet), while one of the animals who opposes it is a hedgehog (which eats invertebrates and small vertebrates).
    • Carnivorism is played much like alcoholism here too, as the fox, who had been the main antagonist up to this point, turns to stealing meat from the nearest farm to get his "fix".

Video Games

  • Web-based pet sims often have this problem. For example, carnivorous Neopets can and do eat other Neopets (a specific example is the abandon with which lupes eat chias), despite all of them being sentient. Like Pokémon, there used to be "normal" animals such as fish and cows to give milk but, except for some outdated materials such as items of encyclopedia pages, this practice is being phased out.
  • Beyond Good and Evil has anthropomorphic pigs, cows, and goats, among others...and a freezer area full of rotting beef. And a place called the Slaughterhouse. And Pey'j, a pig, seems to be the subject of several jokes about being eaten.

Pey'j: Thanks, Jade...if it weren't for you, I would've ended up on a plate with an apple in my mouth!
Jade: Cut it out. You're making me hungry!

    • Since you handily collect species information about every animal in the game, it's worth noting that Pey'j is "Sus sapiens" (wise pig), parallel to "Homo sapiens" (wise man). So it's reasonable to guess that regular animals and their anthropomorphic analogs are completely different species and that it's fine to eat the non-intelligent kinds.
    • There's also an anthropomorphic shark who brags about his ability to devour "a family of five" in record time, along with his family's achievements in this area. A family of five what is never addressed.
  • In the Super Mario Bros. series, the Mushroom Kingdom is mainly inhabited by anthropomorphic mushrooms like Toad. Then in the Paper Mario games, it's discovered that normal mushrooms are also the Mushroom Kingdom's main food source! And there's also a pig who runs a hot dog stand...
    • Remember that this is the Paper Mario series, so it's probably deliberate.
      • Mario is friends with Toad, stomps Goombas, and eats big mushrooms and 1up's.
        • It's never explicitly stated they're mushrooms; the Super Mario Brothers Super Show depicted them as midgets with no noses and mushroom hats. If this is true to the series, then the residents of the Bean Bean kingdom aren't beans who eat beans, they're green people who love eating beans. It makes sense that they're humans when you consider Peach is a human, as well as the fact that her Grand Mother was a Toad in SMRPG.
  • Spore pretty much averts this entirely—as a Carnivore or Omnivore creature, you can socialize with the same creatures you are capable of killing and eating. The same holds true in the Tribal stage, and any other tribes don't seem to mind if you're slaughtering other sapient creatures and consuming them. (Not averted so much if you're playing Tribal as a straight carnivore and offer a gift basket of meat to a tribe of herbivores...)
  • Animal Crossing, being Animal Crossing, totally avoids this. At least, for 364 days of the year. The sole exception is the "Harvest Festival", wherein everyone in town gathers at the wishing well for a great big Thanksgiving-esque dinner with no turkey. The only food there seems to be stuffing, vegetables, and the like...with the exception of one big, empty platter. As it turns out, the "guest of honor", a turkey named Franklin, has been in hiding ever since he got a letter from the mayor.

Franklin: "We cordially invite you to be the main guest at our annual Harvest Festival. Heh heh heh hoorf..." What's wrong with that?!? I can even see where the word "dish" was erased and then replaced with "guest!"

    • While Franklin is never actually eaten (it's Animal Crossing, after all,) the implications of the whole thing make this grade-A, prime-cut Nightmare Fuel.
    • The rest of the year, there are several different foods available for the villagers to discuss in their mix-'n'-match randomized dialogue, and the game goes to very careful extents to make sure to specify that every food that could possibly contain meat is either a "vegetarian" version or made with fish. Examples include salmon ravioli and vegetarian meatloaf. At least, in Wild World and City Folk. The first game wasn't so careful. Giant cow talking about hamburgers, anyone?
    • In City Folk, at least, the villagers seem to genuinely want to welcome him; they'll say something that sounds bad, such as 'I can't wait for dinner with our guest', then follow it up with 'I even researched his culture's food and made some so he'll feel more at home'. Mayor Tortimer is really the only one being truly creepy about it.
  • In the casual Hidden Object Game Mushroom Age the first era you travel to is Dinosaur Age, where you meet a T-rex. He has a toothache, and the game character explains that it's from eating meat and that he should only eat fruits and vegetables. The puzzle following is sorting the things he "should" eat from the things he "shouldn't".
  • Banjo-Kazooie isn't subject to only carnivore confusion, as everything, from the eggs used as ammunition to the orange given to a hungry monkey, is alive, sapient, and capable of Speaking Simlish. Making it worse/better is that most of them are rather accepting of their fate; for example a fish that can be rescued in the second game that isn't even mildly annoyed it was about to be cooked and eaten before the plot arrived.
    • Made worse by the fact it was canonly his pet goldfish.
  • High up on a cliff in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, if you kill a guard, buzzards may feed on his corpse. If you then kill the buzzard and collect its meat, you get a bigger dose of stamina from consuming it.
    • This quite literally comes back to haunt you when facing The Sorrow, as the spirits of all the people you killed up to that point march along the river towards you. If you ate the meat of a a buzzard that scavenged off a guard, he'll come shuffling towards you, crying "You ate me!"
  • Brought up by Arcueid Brunestad in Tsukihime. When asked by the main character why she, a vampire, didn't eat humans, she asks him if he would eat animals if they could talk to him. The interesting thing about Arcueid is she's been Raised by Wolves so literally came up with this value by herself.
  • Furcadia makes it clear that the major non-sentient lifeforms in the planet suitable for food are fish and birds, yet there is a playable sentient bird-race...
  • The classic Ritman/Drummond graphic adventure Head Over Heels, as well as being one of the cutest games ever (check out the remake on RetroSpec), has save points in the form of Reincarnation Fish (I said it was cute) which "like to be eaten ? there have been reports of them jumping onto plates".
  • The game Lugaru has wolves and rabbits, both heavily anthropomorphised. In the game, the wolves state their desire to enslave and eat the rabbits on the island of Lugaru; for some time, apparently, the wolves and rabbits lived in balance, but in the game the rabbit king turns traitor to the wolves in the attempt to save himself and his family, forcing the main character (a rabbit) to kill all the wolves.
  • Played straight in Abe's Odyssey (and its sequels). The glukkons want to use their cheap labor as a cheaper filler for their new taste sensation.
  • In the Jak and Daxter series, the majority of the Talking Animals are either reformed Lurkers or ottsels like Daxter. However, there is one bird named Pecker. There's a scene in the racing spin-off Jak X where he sees Blitz eating poultry and objects, saying that that could be his uncle. So apparently macaw expies are food in that universe.
  • A short instance in Terranigma finds your character, Ark, trapped in an icy cave with a talking goat. . . and the goat's dead husband. The next morning the goat asks if you are hungry and would like some breakfast, before walking over to her husband (complete with dramatic music cue).
    • The goat claims they must do what they need to survive, and the world would be without another goat otherwise. Ark becomes distraught and decides against the offer, disgusted. The goat informs him that he, "must be stronger". Shortly thereafter. . . the goat opens up a new area by ramming into it, and the character can climb to safety, the goat informs him she will make it out later. She doesn't. If you go back to the same area later, you will find not one, but two dead goats. She cannibalized her husband for nothing
  • Periodically shows up in Touhou. Mystia Lorelei the sparrow youkai is frequently subjected to poultry jokes, starting from her debut in Imperishable Night, where both Yuyuko and Remilia apparently feed on her in their respective storylines. In side material, Mystia is sometimes seen shilling grilled lamprey as an alternative to poultry.
  • The setting of Hatoful Boyfriend is a world in which sapient birds have become the dominant civilization. Our heroine is a human hunter-gatherer who lives in a cave and can't sit still in class without some red meat. Nobirdy seems to mind.
    • At the summer festival, if dating Ryouta, they go to a yakitori stand for dinner. Afterwards, Ryouta provides a possible Hand Wave by commenting on the differing rates at which different birds are becoming intelligent.
    • Given a dark twist if you date Dr. Iwamine, who murders Yuuya and sends the heroine his roasted body as a Christmas feast.
    • Yuuya's route has a mention of the rumors about the poultry in the cafeteria and the quill pens sold in the store. Turns out some of both are made from the bodies of students who have disappeared.

Web Comics

  • One Ozy and Millie strip features a character lampooning vegetarianism, but characters range from foxes to sheep to cows.
  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, all critters fall into three groups, non-sapient animals, Beings and Creatures, with the ones higher on the hierarchy eating the ones lower. Causes clashes every now and then, especially due to some Creatures taste for sapient Beings. And did we mention the cow character whose favorite food is...hamburgers?
  • In a pre-Art Evolution, SBAHJ-grade panel of the Web Comic Fur Will Fly, an anthropomorphic rooster is pictured eating regular chicken legs. It is later attested that there are "evolved" and "non-evolved" versions of animals, but still...
  • Jack plays it extremely straight. All the furries are considered herbivores. Eating meat is explicitly equaled to cannibalism. Dwelling on sick meat-related fantazies and later giving in to them earns two characters a demonic rank of Sin of Gluttony.
    • "Synth-meat" is mentioned briefly as being the only legal alternative.
  • The above-mentioned Kevin and Kell, for those who aren't familiar with it, is about a "mixed marriage" between a rabbit and a wolf. As such it addresses this issue with surprising frequency and from several different angles. Kell, the wolf, runs "Dewclaws Fine Meats" and previously worked for HerdThinners Inc., two predatory corporations that hunt other animals and sell the meat. Young carnivores are specifically taught not to talk to their prey, as it may result in befriending them. However, you need to eat the animal that you kill, otherwise it's murder.
    • There's also a rule that states that predators are unable to track down and eat specific prey, meaning they can't kill an eat anyone they know, or have business dealings with.
    • In a post about a Gender Swap comic for April Fool's day of 2007, Holbrook mentions that there would be a considerable power imbalance if "Kelly" was the predator and "Kevina" was the prey. He admits that George and Danielle are a couple with a female prey species and a male predator, but notes that they're secondary characters. (It probably helps that Danielle was originally a human, meaning that she's not instinctively scared of George and she eats meat).
  • In Freefall, the only furry is a she-wolf, and she has been shown to eat other animals. She justifies this by explaining nature's natural food cycle, but later on she seems to just go to restaurants instead.
  • In P.S.I., the only non-sapient land animals are insects. This has obvious implications on the food supply in the comic's universe.
  • The Suburban Jungle follows the 'fact of life' approach. Except in specific situations, such as the workplace, or a specifically 'No Predation Allowed' bar, it's basically A-OK to eat each other. Although you might expect a girl to get cross if it turns out you accidentally ate her date.
  • The Shivae has this as an important, if not main issue: most characters are non-anthropomorphic animals, the protagonists are predators, and all carnivores seen so far are sapient (and mostly sympathetic). Herbivores seem to be split between sapient and non-sapient within each species, and sapient herbivores show little respect or concern for non-sapients, even those part of their own herd, and allow predators to hunt the latter. It is considered taboo to kill another sapient animal, but since they can all communicate with each other, it's easily avoided. Then the very anthropomorphic colonists show up, and for some reason can't communicate with the non-anthropomorphic cast members, who they consider to be all dumb beasts...oh, and did I mention their society is advanced enough to have guns?
  • The Cyantian Chronicles: (Same artist/author as Shivae) Due to genetic engineering done by a long dead alien race, ALL sapient anthropomorphic Cyantians are omnivores. Only non-sapient prey species are consumed and an anthro wolf eating an anthro rabbit is still cannibalism. It is notable that a rabbit that eats mostly meat will have digestive troubles and hormonal imbalances. The same applies for carnivores that eat too much veggies.
    • One character, Rama, the series Complete Monster, inverts it, threatening to eat a sentient rabbit if she doesn't meet his expectations.
    • this is essentially the same set up for the Antreyki in Triquetra Cats.
  • A variation occurs in in this Schlock Mercenary strip, which takes place after a very near tragedy occurred between two species who didn't recognize each others' sentience. But, hey, "Food that talks is not food". Schlock looks for loop-holes. Sometimes, he doesn't even bother with the pretense.
    • If it's an enemy it's not food.
    • Tropers and Schlockites beware: ordinary animals (and for some time, a computer on Luna) are sentient, but humans, aliens, most A Is, and special animals are sapient.
    • On a previous arc, the mercs dealt with a species that was illegally selling their own (non-sapient) young as delicacies. In their defense, they are quite delicious.
    • In general, though, Schlock has no problem with eating his enemies alive (and why should he, if he doesn't have a problem shooting them), and him doing so frequently played for laughs. He does get a bit weirded out when he's forced to eat his allies from the neck down to keep going during Schlocktoberfest 2001, but he still goes through with it.
      • He also had only 5 cryokits for 29 people, so he had to trim them down a bit.
    • Played for Laughs with an amphibian "beach monster" who tried to eat Tagon, but armor and sidearm turned the table. And speaking of the table, that's what the next few pages were about. To the reverend's frustration, they didn't analyze the creature's brain to determine whether it was sapient before Schlock ate it. And then we see other "Whalelings" start a poetry night without him. After the Toughs left, we see the First Contact of local humanoids with Whalelings - apparently a nearby volcanic eruption (for which Toughs also were responsible) and finding broken skeleton of their relative helped them to adopt more cautious approach to everything out of water.
  • Suicide for Hire features a Lampshade Hanging when Arcturus and Hunter, a mouse and a fox respectively, discuss milk: "You know of any wild animals that continue drinking milk not only after infancy, but from a source not even of its own species?" A caption in the border between panels reads: "To anal-retentive assholes like myself: You know what I mean. STFU."
  • In Faux Pas all animals are non-anthropomorphic, but as they have grown up in a studio animal training center, they have learned to see each other as friends instead of prey; besides, there's plenty of chow for the foxes and cats (the origin of which they refuse to think about). However, some confusion ensues when the wild vixen Cindy joins the gang, and when her cousin Dusk appeared to have eaten one of the (named) rabbits (relax it was an unnamed mouse).
  • This is a plot point in Digger, who tells the Shadow Child that it is wrong to eat anything that can talk: Hyenas, meanwhile, do not share this belief and this literally ends in much confusion.
  • One of the filler strips of SSDD shows why this would not happen if there were sentient versions of animals as well as non-anthropomorphic ones.
  • In TallyHo the main characters are a fox and a hound. The fox is a carnivore but is only ever shown eating human food he has obtained somehow. He even points out to a frightened rabbit that thinks she's about to be eaten that he prefers his meat "batter-fried in 30 herbs and spices and served in a paper bucket".
  • In Gene Catlow, Word of God says that all meat comes from donors—furries who donate their mortal remains to be processed as food, much like Real Life organ donors. This is explicitly mentioned in the fanfic The Basalt City Chronicles, where Eugene Catlow says he wishes he could thank the donor of the meat he is eating for keeping himself in good shape.
  • 21st Century Fox (webcomic) originally had the carnivores eat meat (a fox, for instance, once took down a lion and made him into "lion jerky"), but when a law was passed that made it illegal for people to eat other people, they had to rely on S.P.A.M. (Scientifically Produced Animal Matter). When said law was repealed, people were quite pleased with the good-tasting S.P.A.M.
  • Mr. Rex from The Perry Bible Fellowship.
  • Thingpart 67.
  • Doc Rat Regarding the Meat Truck.
  • The Kenny Chronicles seems to avert this, herbivorous Tarneki seem to have no problem with their non-anthro cousins being on the menu.
  • In Horndog, Tommy, a rat, and Leonard, a cat, engage in a conversation about Tommy's fear of being eaten. Also, a recent storyline involves Charlene becoming romantically involved with a Jewish lesbian mouse, which gives new meaning to the phrase "eating pussy".
  • Played very straight in Housepets.
  • In Sluggy Freelance Trog tries very hard to stop Aylee (an alien like from, you know, Alien) from eating humans. The cast at one point have an intervention for her in which she eats John a man who went through cannibals anonymous. A strip later Torg enrolls her in the program. She eventually stops eating humans just in time for Riff and Torg to get trapped in the 1999 annual cannibal convention. Torg realizes trying to change Aylee's nature is pointless and unleashes Aylee on the cannibals this fails but they all survive due to a damn heroes moment. ironically a few arcs later Aylee transforms into a dragon that eats potatoes nullifying the whole process. As far as we know she hasn't eaten humans since.
  • This Brawl in the Family strip puts an anthropomorphic fish into Animal Crossing. He is not impressed.
  • Panthera gives us this gem about a freshly killed deer.
  • Daddy Long Legs takes the last approach, with predation being unpleasant but still a part of life. Things can still get really awkward from time to time, though- mostly in that Harvestman's favorite food are aphids, same insect as Crane's nanny.
  • Frequently brought up in Subnormality as, despite being higher in the food chain than people, the Sphynx frequently holds discussions with people and integrates into modern society as best she can. Especially notable in that she later becomes good friends with the Pink Haired Girl (and even goes as far as saving her life in a more recent comic), yet continues to eat humans regularly.
  • In Wereworld, it's taboo for weres to eat weres, but non-sentient animals are fair game, even related species (like Were-cats hunting down normal big cats). In the latter case, it's considered weird, but not strictly taboo (A footnote explains that it would be like a human snacking on primate meat).
  • Chuckle-A-Duck has bacon. "And besides, I doubt it's anyone we know."
  • Junior Scientist Power Hour with "Crabfriend".

Web Original

  • Pork. It's okay, they're cool with it.
  • Darwin's Soldiers mostly avoided this trope for the first RP as all meat was fish. The second RP got a little sticky with Aisha wanting a meatball sub and slabs of meat hanging in the walk in freezer. The third RP also mostly avoided it as well.
    • However, Word of God is inconsistent on this matter; Serris said that anthro and "normal" animals exist and eating "normal" animals was acceptable. But he has also said to assume all meat is seafood.
  • In Felarya, most characters eat humans, yet are really nice otherwise. It isn't odd for the predators to exchange words with their prey.
  • The Furtopian Hoofer Revolution embodies this trope. The entire hoofer revolution of 2010's April fool's day forum take-over revolved around this trope as its theme; the ungulates and other herbivores rebelling against the carnivores. Further hilarity ensued once a herbivorous fox, a carnivorous rabbit, and a number of shape-shifters came into play, adding to the confusion.

Western Animation

  • The Flintstones has a weird case with their animal appliances. The animals talk and are apparently sentient. There's also non-intelligent animals as well, though, such as Dino.
    • In a strange Flintstones episode called "The Snorkasaurus Hunter", Fred and Barney hunt a Snorkasaurus who turns out to be intelligent and able to speak. Wilma and Betty befriend the creature, who becomes the Flintstones' servant. Wilma refers to the Snorkasaurus as "Dino". Previous episodes had already established the Flintstones pet, Dino, who looks very similar to the talking Snorkasaurus Dino that most viewers are familiar with.
  • Subverted very nastily in an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures: The gang spends the episode hung up on the moral quandary of eating hamburgers and other foods made of meat (all the major characters are animals). In the end, they resolved to simply become vegetarians. This works out fine until Buster sits down to eat a carrot. The carrot suddenly sprouts a face and limbs and begs not to be eaten. Buster, realizing there's no way to win here, just sighs and eats the carrot anyway.
    • Another episode (or was it the same one?) had Plucky show what Thanksgiving is like at his home. Yes, the whole family, Ducks all, is shown about to have turkey.
  • Overcome in The Animals of Farthing Wood by the Oath of Mutual Protection, where the animals promise not to frighten, bully or eat each other during their journey to White Deer Park.
    • However what happened before and after they got there is depicted as a brutal fact of life; in the cartoon series when we first meet the leader of the group, Fox, he is asked a question by a group including a rabbit and has to put down a dead rabbit he is carrying in his mouth before he can answerer. And when they get to White Deer Park, whilst the Farthing Wood animals continue to uphold the Oath amongst one another, the other animals of White Deer Park are not bound by the Oath and as such many of the smaller Farthing Wood animals are killed and eaten during the series.
      • And, as Adder is quick to point out, the Oath doesn't apply to eating the animals of White Deer Park either.
  • In some stories, human/animal shapeshifters angst over eating meat. Beast Boy in the animated series Teen Titans said it best: "I've been most of those animals!"
    • ...And then later he threatens to eat some talking tofu. Because he's a vegetarian.
    • Coming at it from another direction, there are characters who pointedly avoid transforming into livestock...
  • The Futurama episode, "The Problem With Popplers" has addresses this several times. First, there's a bunch of hippies trying to enforce vegetarianism. Leela points out eating meat is a part of nature, and the hippies point to a lion they taught to eat tofu. It's sickly and looks like it'll fall over dead at any second. Also the main characters casually bring up a few animals they eat in the future that are not usually thought of as food here in the present, such as parrots.
    • The real meat of the episode however focuses on popplers, which resemble popcorn chicken, and are apparently delicious. Everybody happily devours the things until one hatches, and they realize that popplers are the eggs of the Omicron Persei 8 people.
      • "When my species grows up, we eat our moms!"
  • Interpersonal relationships in some children's series sometimes get a little...odd...if adults think about them too long. For instance Franklin, where the cute turtle and goose and rabbit are bestest buddies with the equally cute bear and fox, or Little Bear, in which the titular hero hangs out with a duck and a chicken...and a cat, and an owl. (Also a human girl, but that's a whole 'nother story...)
    • While the characters are anthropomorphic to an extreme, it's still rather odd to realize that, in Arthur, Sue Ellen, a cat, is taught by Ratburn, a rat. But they seem to get along just fine.
  • The excellent Looney Tunes short "Birds Anonymous" may be the earliest example of the "predators can just quit eating animals" trope. Sylvester joined the titular group, then suffered hard while going Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere due to lack of bird flesh. In the end, the president of Birds Anonymous ends up chasing Tweety as well.
    • Sylvester decides to stop eating birds in at least one other cartoon, but only birds go off his list. Considering how much trouble Tweety hands him, it's hard to fault his decision.
    • And you guys are all forgetting about the elephant in the room, namely that even though Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck are sapient, humanoid animals, a massive chunk of their cartoons involve people trying to murder and/or eat them. They don't usually succeed, but it's still disturbing when one thinks about it, and it makes one wonder why this aspect of the Looney Tunes mythos hasn't been deconstructed yet.
      • In Daffy's debut, Porky's Duck Hunt, Daffy is closer to a Talking Animal as opposed to Porky being a Funny Animal. Daffy went through an Anthropomorphic Shift later on, but WB directors still did cartoons where Porky was out to hunt Daffy for food in spite of them both being Funny Animals.
  • Speaking of, in the The Looney Tunes Show episode "Sunday Night Slice" Bugs and friends go to a BBQ restaurant after their favorite pizzeria closes. Daffy orders pork ribs and pulled pork sandwiches, which offends Porky, but he doesn't catch on when Daffy points out that Porky himself eats pepperoni.
    • Later in the episode, Porky actually finds out the truth about pepperoni and is horrified...but still has a hard time ordering plain pizza.
  • Brandy and Mr. Whiskers handles this in a surprisingly brutal way for a Disney TV series. While predators are usually handled as villains, not all of them are entirely bad. Some are just annoying or indeed just doing what they were born to do. Even more startling is that some of them actually succeed. In a particular unexpected example, an entire rodent family is eaten by a crocodile in a slightly Anvilicious Aesop - but it's still played for laughs.
  • In both his SatAM and Archie comics incarnations, Sonic the Hedgehog has a prominent fondness for chili dogs. As non-sapient animals are rarely portrayed in the series, where the meat comes from is a bit of a mystery.
    • As far as I recall, "non-sapient animals" is limited to Muttski. Who's a robot now. Possibly this explains where the meat for his chili dogs comes from.
      • There are multiple episodes showing non-sapient rats, birds, and fish. There are also the terrapods (though intelligent, they're non-sapient). And in "Ghost Busted", Sonic mentions the headless ghost rides a non-sapient buffalo.
    • Let's not forget that that the guy running the chilidog stand is a pig, in both of the episodes featuring chilidog stands.
    • Assuming it even is meat...The lack of livestock in the village and the presence of a chilidog machine that produces edible chilidogs 10 year after the city was abandoned/taken over, combined with the food replicator from Sonic & Sally all tend to point to the idea that the chilidogs are either Star Trek food constructed atom-by-atom, or are vegan hotdogs and vegan chili.
      • Or, maybe that's what really happens to the biological components when someone is roboticised...
        • Poor Uncle Chuck...And Bunny's arm and legs...And Tails' folks...And Mutski...And Cat. And Auri's friends...And about 3/4 of everyone else on the planet...
  • Father of the Pride plays with this. The main character is a lion who's best friend is a Gopher who's name is "Snack". At one point, Snack's girlfriend (also aptly named "Candy") dumps him, and to protect his feelings, tells Snack that he ate his girlfriend instead.
  • In an episode of CatDog, Dog tries to answer the question of where meat comes from. He explains how there's a guy who plants meat plants—meanwhile, Cat just explains slaughter. Of course, Dog goes crazy at the idea of eating sapient beings, who he thinks are friends, and turns vegan. Then, Dog starts to become delusional as he imagines that vegetables are his friends. After all that, Dog then tries to eat Cat, because he's not his friend but his brother. Fortunately, the guy who plants meat plants appears and solves the problem.
    • Not enough Nightmare Fuel? Cat and Dog share bodies, so if Dog eats Cat, he eats his own body.
    • Well, they only fell pain in their half, so they have their own bodies, but they meet in the middle, 'coz they're conjoined. So Dog would have only eaten Cat, which just leaves Dog and his half of the body...
  • Addressed in a rather interesting manner in one episode of the new George of the Jungle cartoon series; George proclaims himself to protect the animals of the forest, which frequently results in the "Predators Are Mean" approach, with them being beaten up by George. However, in one episode he rescues a bird from a snake that was strangling it, causing the bird's family to reward George by carving his face on the mountainside. However, near the end of the episode, we hear the snake's side of the story, and it turns out that the bird was going to steal and eat the snake's eggs, and the snake's actions were thoroughly justified. The bird family promptly reverses the carving and flees once their facade of innocence is ruined.
    • On another occasion, George helped the carnivores give up meat, turning them into hippies. By an unfortunate coincidence, Ursula and Magnolia were teaching the herbivores to stand up for themselves, turning them into a vicious gang. Luckily, when it's pointed out that there won't be enough vegetables for everyone, the carnivores snap and the food chain is restored.
  • In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Fluttershy has to gather food for all the animals under her care, including fish for a group of otters. In an earlier episode she's seen waving to a bunch of smiling fish, indicating the fish have some variant of sentience. One wonders how she manages that kind of dissonance.
    • The ponies supposedly eat hot dogs. Applejack's farm raises pigs. Let's hope we never find out the connection between these two things.
      • Lauren Faust eventually explained both of those: vegetarian hot dogs and the pigs work for the ponies because apparently ponies like truffles. This is fine and good, but it doesn't explain how in "A Bird In The Hoof", you clearly see a sandwich with a pink slice of...SOMETHING.
  • The ending of A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving has Snoopy and Woodstock, the latter of whom is a bird, sitting down to have a turkey dinner. The bonus feature on the special's new DVD release has Bill Melendez admitting even he thought that scene was rather morbid.
  • Wonder Pets tends to go out of its way to avoid this issue entirely. No matter what animal the Pets save, they are given a gift of celery, implying that everyone eats celery. It got to the point where, in the Circus episode (which was already plenty weird) a lion cub was seen eating nut cereal and celery.
  • In Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends, Spiderus is the only spider that is known to have eaten other bugs. He seems to have dropped the practice after getting married to Spindella. Additionally, the kids encounter a frog named Felix who refuses to eat bugs and enjoys eating berries. Though Felix's parents, particularly his father, are not happy about this ("Bugs are food!"), they eventually settle things with the community of Sunny Patch, the father even agreeing that he might try some of those berries.
  • The Fairly OddParents ' "Crash Nebula" episode has the hero, Sprig Speevak, tell his alien classmates a story about the time he rescued an alien princess, which included a part where his kid sister Sprout calls him in for dinner, which is turkey, and it makes the alien turkey mad, so Sprig revised that part to Sprout telling him that their mom made the turkey a sweater.
  • The Goode Family subverts the vegan carnivore subtrope. Rearing the family dog on a soy-bean diet has made it so starved for meat that he takes to eating all of the neighborhood pets.
  • Confused? Not if you're watching the new Jim Henson series on PBS Kids, Dinosaur Train. This series seems to go out of the way to talk about the differences between herbivores and carnivores. The dinosaurs that are carnivores, however, do seem to have come to an unspoken agreement to not eat fellow dinosaurs.
    • While they're alive, anyway. Buddy, on discovering he's a Tyrannosaurus, also discovers that he likes carrion, and in another episode, Annie explains that the T-rex family migrates to follow the herbivores, because "they eat plants, and we eat them".
  • In an episode of Krypto the Superdog, Krypto and his cat friend Streaky (who also has the same powers) are exposed to red kryptonite and turn into fish versions of themselves. Not only are the sharks portrayed as being mean bastards preying on innocent fish, there's actually a DOLPHIN who is APPALLED that Streaky eats fish, and even has the nerve to call him (along with a bunch of other fish who find out the truth) a "fish eater". Both Carnivore Confusion AND You Fail Biology Forever since both dolphins and whales are treated as if they are related to fish. It's even worse when you consider that Dolphins feed primarily on fish.
  • Back at the Barnyard - the fact that some of the cast of barn animals include a dog and a ferret, tends not to bother the others at all. However, Freddy the ferret does very frequently fantasize eating his best friend, Peck (who happens to be a chicken), but tries to maintain a vegetarian diet (the producers seem to disregard the fact that ferrets are obligate carnivores and completely lack the ability to derive nutrition from plant matter). In one hilarious scene, Otis the cow is seen EATING A SALAMI SANDWICH, but later turns out it's just veggie salami.
    • The fact that the entire cast are intelligent, talking animals raises the further question about the morals of human meat consumption, and why other equally intelligent barn animals don't try to avoid this fate.
      • The farmer is a total vegan.
      • There's even an episode where Freddy, who can't remember the night before, is put on trial and banished for allegedly eating Peck.
  • The Christmas Special Christopher The Christmas Tree uses the Predators Are Mean model. A group of Woodland Creatures take up residence in the eponymous tree, specifically seeking shelter from foxes and weasels. The only time said fox and weasel show up, however, all the other animals are out looking for food, so they simply taunt Christopher and leave.
  • Drives the whole plot of The Penguins of Madagascar episode "The Falcon and the Snow Job". Kitka the falcon crash-lands in the zoo and instantly catches Skipper's eye; however, everyone else is uncomfortable due to her diet. To allay their concerns, Kitka swears not to eat any of the zoo's residents, but still ends up accused of snatching Julien. In the end, Skipper successfully Clears Her Name, and she insists she only ate one squirrel outside the zoo...then coughs up Fred. Cue Skipper's "I think we should see other people..."
  • Vuk the Little Fox is one of the most brutal aversions in the history of children's cartoons: many animal characters, even those who have spoken lines, or even names, are killed and eaten by the main character, a fox.
  • One episode of Tom and Jerry Tales had Tom enthusiastically meeting a group of lions during an African safari. Unfortunately for him, the lions thought their "cousin" would make a good meal.
  • The inhabitants of the Candy Kingdom in the Land of Ooo in Adventure Time are sentient candy. Every building and even the streets are made out of candy too.
  • In Thundercats 2011, Third Earth's World of Funny Animals depicts Thundera's Cats not as obligate carnivores, but omnivores like humans. They eat meat, presumably non-sentient species, but the Fishmen sailors from "Ramlak Rising" have no qualms about eating other the Cats. Indeed, the ship's cook has designs on stuffing the Thunderkittens, and when the Fishman Captain Tunar says he would have let the Cats eat his own first mate had he known they were such competent fighters, he's not entirely joking. In a subsequent episode, the Cats leave nonanthropomorphic fish-skeletons as food scraps, while an enemy Lizard Folk muses on the idea of eating the Cats roasted.
  • A stunningly brutal aversion in a one-off gag on Tuff Puppy. When looking into Kitty's past, they see her sixteenth birthday where her mother hired a very sentient (yet normal sized) mouse magician, Kitty ate him without even a second thought, understandably squicking out the partygoers.
  • Veggie Tales has a world populated by talking vegetables and fruits, in which there are pies and popcorn balls as food, and apparently "apple choppers". It was confirmed in the commentary for Duke and the Great Pie War (and demonstrated in Jonah) that there are non-sentient fruits and vegetables in their world as well.
    • In their version of Daniel and the Lion's Den, a cucumber is tossed to lions.

Real Life

  • Truth in Television. Most animals don't give a damn how we classify them, and will gladly eat other animals that are under similar classifications. Raptors eat smaller birds, fish will eat fish, and yes, most bird will peck whatever left over food you leave lying around, even chicken. Mammals eat other mammals all the time. Most humans eat pork and beef, which are both mammals similar to humans.
  • Human meat was once known as long pig.
  • Chicken farmers have to check the hen houses every day because if a egg sits too long and doesn't hatch, the hen will eat it, and like the taste so much she will eat every egg she lays from then on in.
  • The "carnivores are mean" subtrope is so damn pervasive, wildlife centers and nature magazines are often deluged with calls and letters from hysterical bird lovers (really?) asking what can be done about the mean hawk eating all the poor little house sparrows. Seriously. For the record, backyard hawks and cats (don't forget that Cats Are Mean too) mostly go after Eurasian House Sparrows anyway. House Sparrows, for those not in the know, are an invasive species in the Americas who have wreaked havoc on native species. Fortunately they're so used to living around human houses for safety that they're almost too easy for predators to hunt.
    • Speaking of backyard birds, this article, recently published in Audubon magazine, theorizes that one painting brought the Blue Jay of all animals under the Carnivores Are Mean banner. This isn't anything new for Corvids (poor crows; they're like the hyenas of the avian world), but it's weird that the one member of the family generally agreed to be the prettiest is under this big tent too.
  • Paleoartist Mark Witton has brought this subject up for discussion in his online portfolio/blog. The discussion, which has been rather lively so far, accompanies his admittedly surprising illustration that depicts carnivorous scavenging behavior in ceratopsians. Even though he explains the thinking behind the piece, several posters can't quite wrap their heads around the idea of a meat-eating Styracosaur—which just underlines his point.
  • This editorial, found (naturally) on the Failblog.
  • Have you ever heard of David Pearce? The Abolitionist Project? This Tetrapod Zoology post will explain all. Or try to.
  • "Mad Cow disease" became the issue it was, in the UK, thanks to the ground up remains of other animals being included in the feed for other cows, without the treatment that European feed got that destroyed the responsible prions.
    • For that matter, some types of animal feeds have warnings about not feeding to other animals because of certain by-products.
  • What is in fish food? Fish. Or at least, the parts that don't get sent to the shops or restaurants. This conveniently explains why it's so common for cats to sometimes eat the stuff.
    • Then again, the food pyramid tends to be a lot taller in the sea than on land, allmost anything as large as a small fish or bigger is carnivorous.
  • Perhaps the closest Real Life example not involving humans is the case of olive baboons, which sometimes play with baby vervet monkeys as infants. When fully grown, mobs of male olive baboons are quite happy to catch and eat the vervet monkeys who'd been their childhood playmates.
    • It's kinda the same with people who live on farms. Children sometimes play with the chickens and lambs and such...and then they get eaten. Of course, some are digusted/horrified at this, so refuse to eat them, which is normal.
  • It isn't unheard of for a predator to become attached to another animal they're supposed to eat naturally. Of course, this usually doesn't mean they swear off eating the species, just the individual.
  • There was a vegetarian lion once.
  • Cows, deer, elk,pandas, elephants and hippos have all been observed and in some cases even filmed eating meat, which in the case of hippos sometimes included other hippos. Perhaps instead of thinking of these animals as strict vegetarians we should be thinking of them as mostly vegetarian?
  • Polynesian dogs were used as food sources and were fed a vegetarian diet, as this article explains about the Hawaiian Poi Dog.
  • How many of us have seen a BBQ restaurant with happy pig mascot, merrily serving up his kin on a bun for our dining pleasure?
    • Try a BBQ restaurant with a happy live pig as its mascot. The pig lying content outside while its owners cook others of its species inside.
  • Paul the Octopus, just imagine how would it feel being well-kept in captivity when many individuals of your keepers' species happily eat other members of your species as a delicacy, and on top of that, half humans want to protect you and side with you and the other half want to cook and eat you for correctly "predicting" their team's loss in the FIFA World Cup 2010. The Spanish government even promised that should Spain emerge victorious of the World Cup final (as "predicted" by Paul the Octopus) the paella dish would not be served with octopus for a month.
  • While adult humans are (almost) immune to Carnivore Confusion, most children are horrified when they first learn (or figure out) where meat comes from. Even adults are not completely free from it - people tend to be squicked out by eating animal species that are, in the given culture, usual pet species or otherwise held in high regard. That's the reason people in the West often think that eating cats, dogs, parrots, small mammal pets, or horses is terrible (though horse is eaten in France), while it's perfectly fine to eat pigs, which are at least as intelligent as any of the above, and certainly more similar to humans socially.
    • Pets are seen as part of the family. Pet species have been bred to become part of the family. The concept of someone eating dog or cat meat is akin to someone eating your adopted brother, sister, or kids. Universal prey species are generally immune from being thought of in such a manner because they're rarely kept as pets. Livestock such as cattle and pigs have been bred to be less intelligent and more tastey then their wild counterparts.
      • Well, FYI guinea pigs were kept and bred for eating originally in South America (courtesy of The Other Wiki), so are we supposed to think that we "adopt a brother" just to plan to eat him later on originally? in most societies where cats and dogs are eaten, they aren't taken from someone, but are raised just for the purpose, similar to the reason I won't want to eat your dog... And about the bred for stupidity comment, when breading, the trait to look for is obedience rather than less in intelligence. The sheer notion that obedience=stupidity is totally human centric and doesn't make much sense in natural content.
        • In my societies where cats and dogs are eaten, they aren't raised just for the purpose, but are taken (stolen) from someone (who raise them as pets and most often quite treasure them), since raising a cat or dog well is much harder than the profit it provides. Many people come to hate the food after their pets are stolen.
    • There are semi-vegetarians who classify meat sources by how intelligent they are believed to be (although how accurate these beliefs are vary, especially as science marches on). There are many people who will eat fish but are squicked out by the thought of eating squid/octopus.
  • In Western societies, the Great Apes are considered to be highly intelligent, and their close resemblence to humans make the idea of eating them seem to most people almost equivalent to cannibalism. This is far from the case in the regions of Africa where apes originate. There, they are commonly eaten—and referred to as "bush meat"—despite various laws and protective regulations forbidding the practice. The current best explanation of the origin of HIV/AIDS is that it mutated from SIV (Simian Immunodeficiency Virus); and was first contracted through the practice of eating "bush meat", due to the physiological similarity between humans and apes.
    • It's not unheard of for humans to end up in the "bush meat," too.
    • Actually quite a few African cultures had cultural taboos against eating chimpanzees, bonobos, or gorillas. However, with all the wars, droughts, and economic depression that Africa has suffered in recent decades, many people have been forced to choose between either abandoning their taboos or starving.
  1. In Real Life, pigs and wolves are both omnivores, eating both plants and other animals. Wolves will prey on any animal, pigs included, if the danger to themselves is low and they stand to gain enough from their efforts.
  2. Non-exclusive scavenging and predation is rarely used in fiction. In Real Life, lions scavenge off hyena kill more often than vice versa.
  3. That might be because of ikizukuri, a variety of sashimi in which the fish is still alive when the dish is served. The way the characters imagine the Magikarp sashimi is exactly the way ikizukuri is served.