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
  • @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.

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