Created By: Goldfritha on July 2, 2013 Last Edited By: Goldfritha on July 9, 2013

Special Diet Requirement

A character needs a diet out of the ordinary to survive.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
What with all the exotic biologies hanging about, it's not exactly surprising that some Speculative Fiction characters need to eat things not in the ordinary run of things whether food grown on other planet, or trace elements, or certain specific plants.

Truth in Television for various terrestrial animal species. Supertrope of Horror Hunger. Compare Wizard Needs Food Badly.


Examples

Film
  • The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are deliberately given a genetic mutation that prevents them from producing lysine. Without lysine supplements provided by scientists on the island, they would all die off. (Only not really, because the dinosaurs figured out a way around that.)

Comic Books
  • Gamma, one of Mickey Mouse's alien friends, survives on a diet of moth balls, or to be precise, naphthalene when he stays on earth.

Literature
  • In Andre Norton's Catseye, Kyger claims that the Terran animals can not survive without the special food he provides, explaining to a patrolman why stealing one would be folly. Later, Troy sees them hunting and eating freely in the Wild -- it was a lie.
  • In Poul Anderson's "Starfog", one clue that the ship's crew are no longer human but have speciated is the salt they use. It contains traces of arsenic and other heavy metals they need -- and find food bland without.
  • In Poul Anderson's "Sharing of Flesh", every culture on a planet practices cannibalism as a coming-of-age rite for boys. The computer deduces that because none of them have given it up despite the dangers it exposes them to, they must be biologically dependent on it.
  • In T.J. Bass's dystopic Science Fiction novel The Godwhale, the genetically modified super-soldier was deliberately made unable to synthesize five (I think it's five) of the 17 amino acids necessary for him to stay alive. This means that he is dependent on the government/ruling class to provide him with a specially-compounded bread or he will die.
  • The race of small furred aliens from the Fuzzy novels is slowly dying out when the humans first make contact with them, as their physiology demands nutrients with a specific chemical signature that's unavailable where they are living. This turns out to be proof they aren't native to the planet Zarathustra. Luckily, the humans brought a processed food to their world that contains the needed substance, and the fuzzies quickly become addicted to "esteefee".

Live-Action Television
  • Martin from My Favorite Martian in one episode reveals that he needs trace amounts of gold in his system to remain healthy. Getting the necessary diet drives the episode. (One wonders why he didn't just buy and swallow some gold leaf used for gilding?)

Video Games

Video Games
  • Mass Effect
    • The asari homeworld Thessia has such high concentrations of element zero that traces are found in their food. The codex mentions that Thessian eateries make two separate menus, one with eezo, one without, and that asari living offworld have to take eezo in dietary supplements.
    • Turians and quarians, being of a different protein structure than the other prominent members of the galactic stage have to take care not to eat foods meant for levo-protein oriented species.
    "Don't eat the nuts in the red bowls. They're for turians and quarians only. You'll get cramps."

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons. The family goes to an Ikea-like store and runs into their mascot, Allen Wrench, who is shaped like an allen wrench. It turns out that Allen Wrench is really an alien who has been enslaved by the store to sell merchandise, which he confides to the family.
    robotic voice I need tungsten to live! Tungsten!


Community Feedback Replies: 26
  • July 2, 2013
    StarSword
    See also Wizard Needs Food Badly.

    Video Games:
    • Mass Effect: The asari homeworld Thessia has such high concentrations of element zero that traces are found in their food. The codex mentions that Thessian eateries make two separate menus, one with eezo, one without, and that asari living offworld have to take eezo in dietary supplements.
  • July 3, 2013
    Arivne
  • July 3, 2013
    Melkior
    Television:
    • Martin from My Favorite Martian in one episode reveals that he needs trace amounts of gold in his system to remain healthy. Getting the necessary diet drives the episode. (One wonders why he didn't just buy and swallow some gold leaf used for gilding?)
  • July 3, 2013
    KronosFromLU
    Toys:
    • Bionicle Not quite food, but incredibly similar. Krika, after being mutated by the waters of Aqua Manga, has to absorb heat constantly from his environment otherwise his density power will go out of control and he will fade to death. It's later rendered useless when Gorast gets angry and uses her Mask of Disruption, which makes his density power go out of control anyway and he promptly fades from existence.
  • July 3, 2013
    spacemarine50
    I Am A Humanitarian is a subtrope
  • July 3, 2013
    ACarlssin
    The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are deliberately given a genetic mutation that prevents them from producing lysine. Without lysine supplements provided by scientists on the island, they would all die off. (Only not really, because the dinosaurs figured out a way around that.)
  • July 3, 2013
    ACarlssin
    Real Life (if you do real life examples): Koalas eat only Eucalyptus leaves. They don't even drink, deriving all of their water from moisture in the leaves. If eucalyptus were ever to go extinct, koalas would follow closely behind.
  • July 3, 2013
    lakingsif
    ^ I don't think there should be any Real Life examples, as many could either start arguing over whether the special diet is actually necessary to survival or not and there are, in truth, so many that come under it; like anyone with major allergies, e.g. Lactose Intolerance or Coeliac's Disease, have to really change their diet as they can't consume whole food groups - whereas people with a simple nut allergy don't have to. There are, though, more obscure allergies that you'd think you wouldn't have to be wary of because the foods aren't too common, but things like kiwi aren't required to be a listed ingredient and are surprisingly present in many foods, along with there being no specially designed food (like cereal bars advertised as not containing nuts) so this allergy, while not requiring a massive diet change, does mean you have to be much more wary when purchasing food. Good thing I mostly don't eat any food in which you would choose to add kiwi, bad thing my best friend's favourite fruit is kiwi.
  • July 3, 2013
    Goldfritha
    I Am A Humanitarian is not a subtrope because most of them don't need it.
  • July 3, 2013
    Madrugada
    I agree with Goldfritha on I Am A Humanitarian not being a subtrope.

    Example: In T.J. Bass's dystopic Science Fiction novel The Godwhale, the genetically modified super-soldier was deliberately made unable to synthesize five (I think it's five) of the 17 amino acids necessary for him to stay alive. This means that he is dependent on the government/ruling class to provide him with a specially-compounded bread or he will die.
  • July 3, 2013
    GKaiser
    Gamma, one of [1]'s alien friends, survives on a diet of moth balls, or to be precise, naphthalene when he stays on earth.
  • July 4, 2013
    Chernoskill
    Film

    In Dune, after Atreides mentat Thufir Hawat is captured by the Harkonnen, he is administered a poison that kills him unless he milks a cat and drinks it's milk every day.
  • July 4, 2013
    SharleeD
    The race of small furred aliens from the Fuzzy novels is slowly dying out when the humans first make contact with them, as their physiology demands nutrients with a specific chemical signature that's unavailable where they are living. This turns out to be proof they aren't native to the planet Zarathustra. Luckily, the humans brought a processed food to their world that contains the needed substance, and the fuzzies quickly become addicted to "esteefee".
  • July 6, 2013
    randomsurfer
    The Simpsons: The family goes to an Ikea-like store and runs into their mascot, Allen Wrench, who is shaped like an allen wrench. It turns out that Allen Wrench is really an alien who has been enslaved by the store to sell merchandise, which he confides to the family.
    robotic voice I need tungsten to live! Tungsten!
  • July 6, 2013
    earnest
    This is a supertrope to Horror Hunger. Most examples there are of creatures or beings who can't avoid consuming (parts of) people.
  • July 7, 2013
    Arivne
    Namespaced and italicized all of the examples that needed them.
  • July 7, 2013
    DAN004
    Would it be related to Fantastic Drug?
  • July 7, 2013
    arbiter099
    adding to the Mass Effect Example:
    • Turians and quarians, being of a different protein structure than the other prominent members of the galactic stage have to take care not to eat foods meant for levo-protein oriented species.
    • "Don't eat the nuts in the red bowls. They're for turians and quarians only. You'll get cramps."
  • July 7, 2013
    GKaiser
    Clarification: Gamma is a comic book character (mostly, if not exclusively in italian disney works). I moved the entry.
  • July 7, 2013
    Goldfritha
    Please read about Example Indentation before editting. I just had to clean up someone's editting this YKTTW to be wrong.
  • July 8, 2013
    Arivne
    Corrected the incorrect Example Indentation in the Mass Effect example.
  • July 8, 2013
    Melkior
    Literature:
    • Similar to the film, in Dune when Atreides mentat Thufir Hawat is captured by the Harkonnen he is given a poison but secretly. His food is then secretly laced with the treatment which will prevent the poison from affecting him but the poison remains in his system. The idea is to make sure he dies if he ever betrays the Harkonnen.
  • July 9, 2013
    Melkior
    Literature:
    • Inverted in The Witling by Vernor Vinge. The humans who are trapped on an alien planet know that they are being slowly poisoned by the high concentration of heavy metals in all of the food, which the aliens are unaffected by.
  • July 9, 2013
    AgProv
    In Michael Moorcock's Elric Saga, the hero Elric requires a special diet of rare herbs and other things just to stay alive and envigoured. All this ends when he wins the hell-sword Stormbringer, which provides his energy from then on.
  • July 9, 2013
    StarSword
    Suggest altering the pothole on "different protein structure" to Mirror Chemistry.
  • July 9, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Not sure if this counts:
    • On Gor the Kur race can only eat meat. Once when they claimed to have become vegetarian (and were thus no harm to humans) they were challenged to eat a loaf of bread. One did, and immediately vomited it up.

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