The newest Pokémon games feature a few moments that definitely make it seem like people are eating certain new pocket monsters.
For years, Pokémon fans have wondered whether the franchise’s lack of regular animals meant that humans in the Pokémon world sometimes ate the pocketable creatures for sustenance. While the jury’s still out for places like Kanto and Hoenn, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet definitely make it seem like trainers from the Paldea region have no beef with turning certain ‘mons into gourmet meals.
Fruits like berries, dishes like curries, and baked goods like poffins and malasadas have played a surprisingly large role in many recent Pokémon titles, where they typically act as stat-boosting power-ups obtained either by buying them from stores or by making them in mini-games. Pokémon Scarlet and Violet keep this tradition going in the new Paldea region, where people seem obsessed with sub-like sandwiches and most every town features multiple shops where specific ingredients can be purchased to make custom sandwiches with special effects.
Sandwiches are the foodstuff that Pokémon Scarlet and Violet put the most emphasis on, and learning to make different kinds of them is key to getting the most out of your hunt for treasure and rare pokémon as you explore Paldea. But the games also introduce a number of more complex prepared dishes that can be purchased in restaurants like Cascarrafa City’s Jade Palace Garden and Levincia City’s Seafood Fresco. And it’s in those establishments that Scarlet and Violet seem to imply that people are eating pokémon.
Unlike a lot of previous Pokémon games where food has tended to be relatively simple and one could easily assume that things were vegetarian, Scarlet and Violet introduce a number of involved and explicitly meat-filled dishes, like ceviche, Pawmi-shaped Salisbury steaks, and paella (de Paldea). One could make the argument that Paldeans simply have stockpiles of non-pokémon animals they use for food stored away somewhere. But certain dishes like Go-For-Broke Grill’s “Klawf al Ajilo” and Jade Palace Garden’s “Pickled Toescool and Cucumber” are hard to interpret as anything but pokémon (or at least pieces of them) that ended up being cooked to perfection.
Klawf, a Rock-type crustacean that resembles a hairy crab, and Toedscool, a Ground / Grass-type that looks a lot like the Water-type Tentacool from Generation I but is actually a mushroom that runs around on its mycelium, are two relatively common pokémon you’ll undoubtedly encounter as you play through Scarlet and Violet. Neither Klawf — the ambush pokémon — nor Toedscool — the woodear pokémon — have pokédex entries that mention anything about them being edible or about the people of Paldea hunting them down for food. But the illustration for Klawf al Ajilo (Klawf fried with garlic) depicts a massive crab claw swimming in a bowl of broth with a side of bread, while pickled toescool and cucumber appears to be a small dish full of chopped-up Toedscool legs served in an acidic vinaigrette.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that the Pokémon games have made it clear that people like consuming bits and pieces of certain pokémon and their natural byproducts. In Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal, Team Rocket famously set up an entire illegal Slowpoke tail-harvesting operation looking to sell the valuable delicacies for a profit. Those same games also introduced Miltank, a bovine pokémon whose pokédex entry describes its milk as being “enjoyed by children and grown-ups alike,” and subsequent generations gave us species like Tropius, Appletun, and Alcremie — all of which humans consume specific parts of without hurting the pokémon themselves.
Some real-world crabs can regenerate their limbs and are farmed for that very reason, and mushrooms are more resilient than we give them credit for. But the situation with Paldea’s Klawf and Toedscool is a bit different because of how intelligent pokémon generally are. Much as they might look like pieces of honeycomb or ice cream cones or anxious olives, all pokémon are sentient creatures capable of understanding human speech and forming emotional attachments, which is why the idea of eating them rubs some people the wrong way.
It’s possible that all of the food featured in Pokémon Scarlet and Violet is actually made from regular vegetables that have merely been made to look like meat or that Klawf and Toedscool happen to somehow not mind / can survive having their arms and legs chopped off. Or it could just be that trainers from every region in the Pokémon world have been chowing down on different pokémon this entire time and the Paldeans are the only people brave and hungry enough to do it out in the open.