In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "A Matter of Honor" Commander Riker participates in a Federation-Klingon officer exchange program. The evening before his transfer he gorges himself on Klingon delicacies, presumably to prepare his digestive tract for what's to come. Everything he eats--- heart of targ, pippius claw, gagh, etc. seems to have come from the living flesh of some animal. Onboard the Klingon vessel Pagh no one seems to eat anything but meat.

All this suggests the question: Are Klingons obligate carnivores? That is, do they require nutrients found only in animal flesh and therefore must eat meat to survive?

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    Apparently not, Michael Dorn is a vegan.
    – NominSim
    Nov 23 '12 at 6:53
  • The two paragraphs seem to ask different questions. In the first it seems you want to know whether their diet consists exclusively of meat, but that's not the question you ask in the second. As some would say: Elaborate.
    – Junuxx
    Nov 23 '12 at 10:10
  • As a side note, startrek.com ran a "Ask a Klingon" column a few years ago. The Klingon in question was attached to the Klingon embassy on Earth. While he didn't think much of human food at first, he grew a great fondness for pork, which he wanted to bring to Qo'noS.
    – MPelletier
    Nov 23 '12 at 16:07
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    @Junuxx There is no question in the first paragraph, rather it establishes a preference for animal protein among the warrior class. I'm asking if this is a fundamental need of Klingons as a group, rather than an aesthetic choice, or a lifestyle, or a cultural preference.
    – Kyle Jones
    Nov 23 '12 at 17:00

I have come to the conclusion that Klingons are not obligate carnivores. I reached this conclusion by first observing that Klingons and humans are in fact the same species. From the Wikipedia article on species:

In the study of sexually reproducing organisms, where genetic material is shared through the process of reproduction, the ability of two organisms to interbreed and produce fertile offspring of both sexes is generally accepted as a simple indicator that the organisms share enough genes to be considered members of the same species. Thus a "species" is a group of interbreeding organisms.

In the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Children of Time" we see the product of several generations of human-Klingon interbreeding with hybrids of both sexes present. According to the definition above, Klingons and humans despite morphological differences are "a group of interbreeding organisms" and thus are a single species.

Since humans aren't obligate carnivores, then neither are Klingons. If some Klingons have dietary preferences or restrictions due to excessive inbreeding or environmental pressures, then the traits are simple variations within the species rather than innate traits.

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    Ha. By that rate 90% of the races in the alpha quadrant, if not the galaxy, are of the same species.
    – Xantec
    Jan 1 '13 at 4:45
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    @Xantec Well, maybe. Spock and most of the other hybrids might have been mules. One-shot deals, unable to reproduce. But "Children of Time" removed all doubt with regard to Klingons and humans.
    – Kyle Jones
    Jan 1 '13 at 4:49
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    @KyleJones Infertile offspring aren't the only possibility for interspecies breeding, even just on Earth...
    – Izkata
    Jan 1 '13 at 4:55
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    We do know that Human-Okampa offspring are able to reproduce as well from Before and After. Also, the occasional female mule has produced offspring when bred to a pure-breed horse or donkey.
    – Xantec
    Jan 1 '13 at 5:30
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    It plants and bacteria, of course, cross-breeding between species (i.e. genetically very dissimilar organisms) is much more common. Here reproductive isolation is accomplished by geographic factors more often than genetic. I certainly find it improbable that an obligate carnivore species and an omnivore species could interbreed, but it is not as impossible as you make it out to be. The Klingons could well have suffered a bottleneck effect, where only a few progenitors of their species survived some disaster.
    – Adamant
    Mar 7 '16 at 7:08

It's difficult to say, they do eat a lot of meat (at least the warrior class does), though this is not definitive.

On this site I found reference to the fact that Klingons cannot absorb nutrients as easily as humans can, which means more live food (though not necessarily meat) in their diets rather than preserved foods.

This would explain a strong preference for (live) meat as opposed to non-meat foods or preserved meat, but probably not obligate carnivores.

  • I find that dubious. A major reason to cook food is to make it chemically easier to digest. Another to kill parasites. I'd suspect klingons treat everything like raw sushi because they prefer the taste and their stomach acid and enzymes can destroy everything. May 29 at 20:31

Remember Worf survived for a time on star fleet ration packs and had a fondness for prune juice neither of which were animal products.

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    This is a couple of nice finds. The latter doesn’t necessarily prove the point one way or the other but the former might. Could you edit this answer to expand more on it? What episode/s was this shown in? Any evidence for what the ration packs contain? Etc.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    May 28 at 10:37

If you're interested in things that only appeared in novels, A Burning House describes a popular Vulcan restaurant in First City on Qo'nos. (The Vulcans, as you probably know, are vegetarians). According to the Memory Beta page, it "catered largely to Vulcanoids in the Klingon Empire's capital city, but also had a share of Klingon customers".

This doesn't really answer whether Klingons can survive with no meat, but it does show that they can eat meals that aren't meat, and at least some of them enjoy it.

  • I don't really think this addresses the question. Humans are capable of eating grass but that's not the same as saying that they could survive on a cow's diet
    – Valorum
    May 29 at 13:53

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