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Vegetarian Carnivore

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Everyone knows tigers love tofu.
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In Real Life, vegetation isn't necessarily the best source of food. It's hard to digest, low in some essential nutrients, and requires a specialized digestive system in order to properly process it into anything useful for the animal eating said vegetation (symbiotic bacteria in the gut may even be necessary to digest some types of plants). On the plus side it's low in fat, usually easy to find, and can't run very fast. Because of this, most carnivorous animals are not well-adapted to eating plant materials (unlike herbivores, naturally).

In the world of fiction, however, this isn't the case. A normally carnivorous character can easily switch to a strictly vegetarian diet whenever they want without worrying about digestive problems. This usually occurs in shows with many Funny Animals as a means to address Carnivore Confusion by establishing a normally carnivorous animal as someone who prefers dining on a carrot to dining on a rabbit. It is often used for My Species Doth Protest Too Much characters to indicate that they have switched their diet to separate themselves from their more "predatory" associates. Or, though not as often, maybe they decide that hunting for food is too much work and decide to just switch to veggies.

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A subtrope of Carnivore Confusion and Artistic Licence Biology. Contrast Ascended to Carnivorism for when a normally herbivorous animal decides to eat meat, or Man-Eating Plant for when it's the plants that decide to switch around the food chain. Compare with Veganopia. Vampires who refuse to feed on humans are common enough to have their own trope. Being in a Predator-Prey Friendship might mean the predator invoking this.

Note: This ONLY applies to carnivorous charactersnote  that switch to eating just fruits, vegetables and other plant-based foods.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kemono Friends: There are many types of Friends based on herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores. But all of them feed on the park's Japari buns; due to this, Friends don't hunt or fight each other unless they are playing, allowing friendships between herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores.
  • Several of the carnivores including the hero in Kimba the White Lion became this trope when they are no longer allowed to eat each other under Kimba's new rule.
  • Pokémon: Pretty much all Pokémon are shown to love eating berries (mostly because they also help heal various status effects in-game). This even includes what should be strictly carnivorous Pokémon like Mightyena (a hyena), Liepard (a leopard), Arbok (a cobra) and Rowlet (an owl). This is in the series' Bible. Pokémon are forbidden from being depicted eating each other. A few early episodes didn't follow that rule, however later games do. This is an anime exclusive thing as the games have no issue discussing Pokémon dietary habits.
  • In Hyper Police there is an anthropomorphic lion named Mr. Nupu. How is he first introduced into the show? He walks into a bar, huge and bulky and intimidating in an anthropomorphic lion sort of way, and in a deep and serious voice orders.... a vegetarian stir-fry meal. Ba-dum bum!
  • In Animal Land, this is one of Tarouza's goals in order to get meat-eating animals to get along with plant-eating ones. He finds the solution in the form of the Eternity Fruit.
  • Yondemasu Yo Azazelsan had an episode where a man had supposedly taught a dog to be a vegetarian. This is subverted by the end, where it turns out he was actually lying.
  • Japolo from Shamanic Princess is a Weasel Mascot but is depicted as a herbivore.
  • Heart from You Are Umasou, at first. When he finds out he actually enjoys the taste of meat, he's horrified since he thought he was a herbivore.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • All the carnivorous characters in Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew!, with the occasional exception of Peter Porkchops's old nemesis Wolfie. This is portrayed as a serious psychological problem on Wolfie's part and eventually leads to him becoming a terrifying human-like creature called the Wuz-Wolf.
  • To avoid Carnivore Confusion, Sonic's favorite food in Sonic the Comic is bean burgers. Hedgehogs are carnivorous and are historically known as insectivores.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Subverted in a fairy tale where a little girl befriends a wolf she saved. The wolf tries to switch to a vegetarian diet (due to the girl not liking that he has to kill other animals to feed), but nearly starves himself in the process and ends up going back to his carnivorous diet.
  • In Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the bears are introduced cooking a meal of porridge. Technically bears are omnivorous, but literary scholars have pointed out that the porridge serves the narrative function of helping young readers feel less worried that the bears will eat Goldilocks.

    Fan Works 
  • Subverted in The Rise of Darth Vulcan. Thestrals are omnivores, and must eat flesh and drink blood to survive. But since this scared the rest of the pony races, they made up some nonsense about the blood hunger being a mental disorder, made it extremely illegal to drink blood or sell blood to be drunk, and forced the thestrals to use an alchemical substitute which barely keeps them alive. Needless to say, Princess Luna gets very angry when she finds out that Celestia permitted all this to happen.

    Films — Animation 
  • Tiger from An American Tail is a cat who is appalled at the very thought of eating mice. He does occasionally eat fish, though, making him a pescetarian, despite calling himself a vegetarian.
    Tiger: ...but what I really like is some nice—shh...—broccoli.
  • Finding Nemo has a trio of sharks (led by a great white shark named Bruce) that want to give up their fish-eating ways and become vegetarians. It's not made clear what they decide to switch their diet to, but it is shown in the film that they are struggling to make the change.
  • Downplayed in Ice Age, where Diego the sabertooth tiger, and later his mate Shira, are shown chasing herbivores (in vain), but the only thing they're ever shown eating is grapes.
  • The Land Before Time:
    • Another subversion would be Chomper. When faced with the dilemma of being friends with sapient dinosaurs that are also potential prey he decides to switch his diet. Not to veggies, but to insects.
    • An interesting variation occurs with the various pterosaurs ("fliers") in the films such as Petrie. Petrie is a Pteranodon. Pteranodons' diet consisted mainly of fish. However, Petrie and his family are vegetarians, yet it's never stated why note .
  • The Seventh Brother, a film about a group of rabbits adopting a puppy, actually averts this. While Tiny tries eating the same plants the rabbits do for a while, he begins to grow sick and weak because he just can't live on the stuff. In the end, the rabbits return him to his human owners, and his health immediately begins improving once he starts eating dog food.
  • The DreamWorks film Shark Tale had Lenny, a shark that decided to go vegetarian (even the very thought of eating meat made him nauseous). He disguised himself as a dolphin in order to prevent other fish from fearing him, even though dolphins are also predators.
  • According to Word of God, this is the case for every carnivorous animal in the Kung Fu Panda universe. Tigress, Viper, and Mantis are shown to greatly enjoy Po's homemade noodles in vegetable broth, while in the spin-off series Legends of Awesomeness, other characters, like the Croc Bandits eat apples and other fruits.
  • Heart from You Are Umasou falls under this, being a Tyrannosaurus rex raised by a family of Maiasaura. It's later subverted, in that he does switch to a carnivorous diet (though he is horrified at first that he actually likes the taste of meat), but he will still eat berries now and again.
  • The protagonist of Leo the Lion is a lion who is a vegetarian. It's never really explained why this is, but he has a song about being one. That being said, he looks horribly emaciated... which is exactly what one would expect from an obligate carnivore trying to be a vegetarian.
  • The 2012 animated movie Gummibär: The Yummy Gummy Search for Santa includes a vampire bat who drinks fruit juice instead of blood.
  • Zootopia establishes the anthropomorphic mammals don't eat each other anymore, and shows Nick (a fox) as liking blueberries, while Officer Clawhauser (cheetah) constantly eats donuts and other sweets. In Nick's case this is justified, as foxes are omnivores (and they really do like blueberries). Word of God has specified that they intentionally decided to leave insects and fish as non-sapient to allow for a socially-accepted source of protein for the carnivores.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Godzilla Junior from the Heisei (1984-1995) era of Godzilla films is shown to dine on leaves as a baby and toddler, despite the fact that it was established that Godzilla's species is carnivorous. Given that he started eating whales and presumably fish as a teenager, it seems like either he grew out of it or the species is actually omnivorous. Still got a mouth full of fangs though...
  • The titular character from Theodore Rex is a Tyrannosaurus and a "recovering carnivore". His diet mainly consists of vegetables and cookies.
  • Seven Pounds has Emily, the female Love Interest, claim her Great Dane is a vegetarian, eating only tofu and steamed broccoli. Obviously, the dog disagrees, devouring meat when offered it by Ben.

    Literature 
  • Arashi no Yoru ni has this as a driving conflict of the plot, because the wolf Gabu is a carnivore but doesn't want to eat his goat friend, Mei. He tries to avoid eating meat, but finds he can't do it.
  • The titular giant in The BFG. While his species is carnivorous, he has decided to eat a nasty-tasting vegetable called a "Snozzcumber" instead since he finds the idea of eating children appalling. Interestingly enough, it's the only other option he has besides eating humans since no other plants grow in Giant Land.
  • The good-guy creatures of the Redwall series are mostly vegetarian, save the occasional fish or shrimp. This is plausible for the likes of mice and squirrels, but not for shrews or otters.
    • The badger characters are also shown to have a mostly vegetarian diet. Like bears, badgers are actually omnivores and fruits and vegetation do take up a good portion of their diet along with insects and worms.
  • Children of Steel had Terease, an anthropomorphic leopard raised by vegetarian humans. She took vitamin supplements at home but couldn't find them on the Astra, by the time Raj practically forced her to eat meat she was severely emaciated.
  • Discworld:
    • The Wowhawk is a special kind of bird of prey, "always on the lookout for the vegetarian option''.
    • A vegetarian spider is briefly mentioned in the discussion of Discworld genetics; the wizards experimented with breeding fruit flies and peas, but misunderstood the basics, and said spider ate the buzzy green thing that resulted.
  • Invoked but averted in The Unadulterated Cat, also by Terry Pratchett. The entry for "the green, organic, whole-earthbox cat" features a vegan couple who worked out "a vegetarian diet with occasional treats of fish" for their Siamese, and were blissfully unaware that it had consequently become one of the most dedicated hunters in the area.
  • The children's book Piranhas Don’t Eat Bananas is about Brian, a piranha that likes fruit, much to the annoyance of his friends, who insist that they have to eat meat.
  • In the picture book Wolfie the Bunny, the adopted baby wolf Wolfie devours the carrots fed to him by his adoptive rabbit family, despite the repeated insistence of his adoptive sister Dot and her friends that "He's going to eat us all up!"

    Music 
  • Referenced in the song "I Know I'm A Wolf" by Young Heretics:
    Yes, I know I'm a wolf
    And I've been known to bite
    But the rest of my pack—I have left them behind
    And my teeth may be sharp
    And I've been raised to kill
    But the thought of fresh meat, it is making me ill
    So I'm telling you that you'll be safe with me

    Myths & Religion 
  • In a famous Korean myth, a tiger and a bear wanted to be human and, in order to do so, they had to eat nothing but garlic and herbs for 40 days. The tiger could not and gave up, while the bear persevered, became a woman, married a semi-divine being, and gave birth to the founder of the first organized Korean state. Note that bears are actually omnivores that can digest vegetable matter while tigers are obligate carnivores. This doesn't mean they can't digest plants at all, just that they need nutrients that aren't found in a strictly vegan diet, the big one for felines being taurine. (Perhaps more to the point, garlic and related plants like onions are actually fairly toxic to cats; their livers can't deal with it.)
  • In The Bible, Isaiah prophesies that when the Messiah comes to reign, "the lion shall eat straw like the ox," and animals will live together in peace.
  • According to some Young Earth Creationists, carnivorous dinosaurs such as Tyrannosaurus rex were (or once were) herbivores. When asked what the T. rex's razor-sharp teeth were used for, they replied that they were used for cracking open coconuts.
    • "Answers In Genesis" states that they either ate things like watermelons, or had different dental equipment before the fall of man (...long story there).
    • There's a common creationist belief that T. rex was a herbivore because its teeth are shallow-rooted and thus tooth breakage would be a major problem for the animal. Before you point out that tyrannosaur teeth have roots twice the length of the crown and were firmly rooted in the jaw, consider this question: Why would tooth breakage be an issue for an animal whose teeth constantly regenerate throughout its lifetime?
    • Parodied here.
  • Gilgamesh found a flower with rejuvenation properties, but it was eaten by a snake while he took a bath. It's believed that this is a "Just So" Story meant to explain why snakes shed their skin.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the 90s Canadian kids show Chicken Minute there is a fox named Minute that became vegetarian since start living in the same shack with a hen named Chicken Mama. He switch to eat popcorn, like a friend of theirs, Anatole Bonbon, an alligator.
  • In Jim Henson's Dinosaurs, Robbie Sinclair, the son of a megalosaurus and an allosaurus, converts to herbivorism in the episode "I Never Ate For My Father". Earl is initially outraged, but learns to accept it. (This is a series where a major character is a carnivorous triceretops, so it seems diet is entirely a matter of choice.)
  • In Sesame Street, a character who appeared regularly in the 1990s was Chicago the Lion, who was vegetarian and whose Trademark Favourite Food was broccoli.
  • Galli Galli Sim Sim, the Indian co-production of Sesame Street, also had a vegetarian lion, Boombah.

    Video Games 
  • In the very first Donkey Kong Country game, the crocodilian Kremlings stole the Kongs' Banana Hoard for its nutritional value. This is never brought up in later games, where the Kremlings and other villains take the bananas to distract the Kongs from their bigger schemes (Donkey Kong 64) and/or to exploit the magical powers of the fruits (Donkey Kong Country Returns). In regards to the first game this was Accidentally Correct Writing considering crocodilians do occasionally eat fruit, including bananas.
  • Many adaptations of Snake have the snake eat only fruit, mushrooms etc. instead of other animals, presumably to keep it sympathetic. Examples include Hyper Viper, AxySnake or Super Nibbly. In reality, snakes are exclusively carnivores.
  • Noodle, the snakey protagonist of Snake Pass, is stated to be a vegetarian by the loading screen tips.
  • In the Flush Force app, the favorite food of Twin Grin, a two-headed shark, is apples, despite the fact that fish is an option to feed the Flushies.

    Web Original 
  • The Dro discusses this trope and the problems it can cause in this video, as a response to some other animal owners who feed their carnivorous animals vegan diets.

    Web Comics 
  • The titular characters of Ozy and Millie appear to be vegetarian foxes, though it's not mentioned much, there's one strip where Millie's mom orders vegetarian soup and the clerk makes a big deal out of it. And Ozy's dragon dad prefers to roast tofu knights.
  • Raine Dog is vegan, apparently Dana Simpson likes to insert that into her comics.
  • In Meadowhawk a modern dragon muses on what his medieval ancestors would think of them eating tofu-and-broccoli stir fry.
  • In Kevin & Kell it's unusual, and generally frowned upon, but happens now and then.
    • Bruno, a wolf, becomes a closet grass-eaternote  under the influence of his herbivorous girlfriend and then goes openly "trans-diet" and has several stomachs installed surgically.
    • Sheila, Kell's near-identical cousin, went through several alternative lifestyles that included herbivorous diets. However, when she is first introduced, she has already become a "born-again meat-eater".
    • Original description of the strip on CompuServe Funnies Forum stated that at home Kell cooks tofu making it look like meat products for herself and Rudy. This idea was never mentioned in the stripsnote  and after a while disappeared from the description.
  • In The Perry Bible Fellowship, Scorchy is similar to the Futurama example below, but even sadder due to happening voluntarily — Scorchy is a dragon who told a little girl they'd stop eating people, and after getting caught one too many times, finally hold themselves to it. Scorchy wastes away, content with her happiness, as she feeds them leaves without noticing Scorchy dying in front of her.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in an episode of Futurama. An Animal Wrongs Group claims that they have taught a lion to become a strict vegetarian, in response to Leela pointing out that while humans eat meat, so do animals. The lion in question looks very sickly and lets out a single pathetic-sounding cough.
  • An episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy featured an old lady and her pet spider. Said spider was shown to love eating melons.
  • The Smurfs are shown to be mostly vegetarians in their cartoon show appearances, but have on occasion eaten meat-based products. Though it does make you wonder where the meat actually comes from.
  • Parodied in an episode of Sponge Bob Squarepants. In the episode, the Flying Dutchman reveals that he devours people when they are shown to be lousy members of his crew. Spongebob remembers that he still has one wish left and wishes that the Flying Dutchman was a vegetarian and therefore wouldn't eat them. The Flying Dutchman then just turns them all into fruit so he can eat them.
  • Subverted by The Goode Family's dog Che. They think he's a vegetarian but he's actually responsible for a lot of missing neighborhood pets.
  • One episode of Johnny Test had a ladybug that loves to eat flowers.
  • In the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Rock N' Roar", when Buster gets a pet T. rex, which he names "Rover", he tries raising him to eat vegetables, since he has no meat byproducts. This doesn't work at first, and Buster is willing to sacrifice himself to keep Rover from going hungry, but Rover can't eat his own surrogate parent, so he agrees to let Buster feed him large amounts of vegetables.
  • Ginger, the cat who co-owns the village shop in Peter Rabbit is vegan, although he does like cakes. Presumably the same goes for his canine partner Pickles. (Not the case in the original book, where they simply think eating customers is bad for business.)
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: While this isn't especially prominent in the show as a whole, a few examples have cropped up, especially in the earlier seasons.
    • In "Griffon the Brush Off", Gilda — who, as a griffon, is a combination of two animals that are both obligate hypercarnivores — is shown casually eating apples and sugary sweets.
    • Generally speaking, ferrets — which, like other weasels, in real life eat meat and nothing else — have a tendency to be shown snacking on bowls of celery, carrots, nuts and leafy greens alongside the rest of Fluttershy's menagerie of woodland critters.
  • In Gigantosaurus, all the carnivorous dinosaurs are capable of eating plant material and nuts, including the titular character who is a Giganotosaurus.

    Real Life 
  • In the United Kingdom, a cat named Dante developed a strange and inexplicable aversion to meat, and only eats vegetables and fruit: very unusual indeed for felines, who happen to be obligate carnivores. Dante's owner in fact has to hide pieces of meat into his food to make sure he gets the nutrients he needs, though he's been known to leave them behind if he tastes them in his meals.
  • The Giant Panda is a classic Real Life example. It's really an omnivore, and has a digestive system better suited for eating meat. However, its main diet consists of bamboo. This is because bamboo is plentiful and easy for the slow-moving panda to obtain as a food source rather than expending all of its energy chasing after prey. Their very inefficient digestion of bamboo makes them even more unsuited for hunting afterwards. So despite their reputation giant pandas will eat meat if given the opportunity, as shown in video of a panda eating a cow. This is one example of a species that evolved to be too specialised.
  • Some individual alligators are known to eat fruit. No one is quite sure why, and the alligators do still mostly eat meat when given the chance, but scientists think it may be an adaptation for when food supplies are low (and might help explain how crocs have survived as long as they have). Captive alligators seem to enjoy eating watermelon as part of enrichment. Some prehistoric crocodilians were, in fact, herbivorous.
    • Many other carnivores like to supplement their diet with plant material of some fashion, the most famous being dogs and cats occasionally eating grass to settle their stomachs (or to deworm them).
  • There's at least one known example of a vegetarian lion that lived 9 years. Note that this could never have happened in the wild. Cats—including lions—are obligate carnivores (which means they need nutrients that are simply not found in plants) and hypercarnivores (meaning that more than 70% of their diet is meat). The diet of the "vegetarian lion" therefore contained many artificial supplements. (Certainly taurine, for a start; cats that don't get taurine in their diet go blind.)
    • And the it should be emphasized that the operative word here is "vegetarian" not "vegan." This particular lion relied heavily on milk, sometimes the milk of other carnivores which is sort of cheating. And as mentioned above supplements were also key to this.
  • Pet foods for dogs and cats typically contain a lot of vegetable matter, albeit processed for easy digestion by a carnivore. Both are mildly omnivorous. Dogs can even be trained to eat vegetarian foods, though this is best done with the advice of a veterinarian to ensure they get the nutrients they need. Otherwise the dog's health is going to be put at risk.
  • Many paleontologists believe that the cave bear was almost entirely herbivorous, much like the panda, as evidenced by their dentition and isotope analysis. Also like the panda, however, it may have eaten meat if given the opportunity.
  • Bagheera kiplingi, the only known mostly herbivorous spider. It sort of cheats, though; it actually feeds on protein-rich pods growing on certain kinds of Acacia tree, which are meant to be eaten by symbiotic ants.
    • Some jumping spiders, especially the Portia Spider, have been observed feeding on nectar.
  • The aardvark cucumber is a species of plant that has evolved a mutual relationship with the aardvark, which eats the fruit for the water, defecates the seeds and buries it. This is interesting because the aardvark otherwise is an exclusive insect eater. Carnivores can actually be preferred seed dispersers over herbivores because they can't chew up or fully digest the seeds, and it's possible that avocados evolved their fatty flesh and durians evolved their intense odor to trick carnivores into eating them.
  • There is, believe it or not, a partially herbivorous shark. The bonnethead, a type of small hammerhead shark, regularly eats seagrass and in some cases it constitutes up to half of their diet.
  • Perhaps the most bizarre real-life example of this trope is the pitcher plant Nepenthes ampullaria. Unlike most pitcher plants, its pitchers are low and wide, and grow straight out of the ground. They rarely catch insects, but instead collect leaves and other plant debris falling from the trees, which are then digested by the plant. That's right, this is a carnivorous plant that has become a detritivore.
  • This tragic tale of a captive fennec fox named Jumanji, who was owned by a vegan blogger. She acknowledges all his health problems such as hair loss and blindness; however, she refuses to accept that the unnatural diet is the cause of it!
    • Similarly, much like the above, there have been stories of some vegans trying to convert their carnivorous/omnivorous pets to such a diet, much to detriment of their pet's health. Like the above, it often doesn't end well, as the story of one kitten will tell you. What really doesn't help the latter case is that potatoes are toxic to cats. Hopefully, the owners learned from this.
  • Therizinosaurs are currently believed to have been herbivorous theropods that evolved from hypercarnivorous Maniraptors.
  • Despite their close resemblance to the carnivorous dromaeosaurids a.k.a. raptors, troodontids are believed to have been omnivores due to the shape of their teeth.
  • Despite their fearsome reputation, some types of piranha are omnivores or even outright herbivores. Tometes camunani, for example, lives solely off riverweeds.
  • Over half the maned wolf's diet consists of vegetation, including sugarcane, tubers, and fruit. Hell, one particular fruit is known as the wolf apple because of how much maned wolves like to eat it.

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