Animals are (sorry to all the vegetarians out there) essentially food. However, Gamp's Law of Elemental Transfiguration states that you can't conjure / transfigure the inedible into the edible. Do animals in living form count as not being food yet or are they just not edible?

Somewhat related thought which just popped up: Do animagi revert to their human form when killed, and if they don't, is eating them, knowingly or unknowingly, counted as cannibalism?

  • 1
    Shapeshifting after death
    – Kreiri
    Jul 15, 2014 at 7:56
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    With a bit of determination and enough ketchup, damn near anything is edible, even if it's not "food". It may not be digestible, and it may seriously injure you in the process, but if we're splitting hairs...
    – phantom42
    Jul 15, 2014 at 13:07
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    hpmor.com has a lengthy discussion about how freaking dangerous transfiguration can be, if you think logically. Transfiguring something to a liquid or gas would be deadly for everyone in the vicinity after the effects wear off and you end up with particles of whatever was transfigured, in your lungs.
    – vsz
    Jul 15, 2014 at 14:20
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    @phantom42, mineral oil might be required instead of ketchup
    – Brian S
    Jul 15, 2014 at 14:21

1 Answer 1


I believe this quote answers your Question.

As per Hermione

Hermione: "It’s impossible to make good food out of nothing! You can Summon it if you know where it is, you can transform it, you can increase the quantity if you’ve already got some..."

For instance the spells Molly Weasley uses to cook with would surely involve the preparing of Animals and then the cooking of them into food.

It appears I was misled by the question body and did not answer the title question.

As I see it a Transfiguration would last through an animals death as it is not a part of the animals magic it is to do with the caster. For instance you could transfigure a Cup into a Gerbil (inanimate to animate - Cornelius Fudge does so in front of the Prime Minister). When you transfigured you change the structure of the object/being (not limited to inanimate) into the new object. As far as the magic itself goes it is the most scientific of the magic that we see by which I mean it requires the most precise actions to achieve a desired result.

"When Transfiguring, it is important to make firm and decisive wand movements. Do not wiggle or twirl your wand unnecessarily, or the Transfiguration will certainly be unsuccessful." —Emeric Switch, A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration.(pottermore)

-The following has no found canon quotes as of the moment so please do not take it as complete truth refer to the comments for a discussion with the esteemed HP answerer @alexwlchan.

It's worth noting that Transfiguration is not permanent which means you couldn't transfigure a piano into a cow and then cook and eat the cow as at some point it would turn back into a piano. That would be bad.

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    “Transfiguration is not permanent” – source?
    – alexwlchan
    Jul 15, 2014 at 8:19
  • @alexwlchan I'll have to have a look. I'm relatively sure I saw it somewhere but now I'm thinking it might have been in HP:MoR Jul 15, 2014 at 8:25
  • @alexwlchan I can't find anything on it other than other people posting it without sources, HPLexicon mentions nothing about permanence. It is also possibly for something to be permanently stuck half transfigured, this could mean that transfiguration is only permanent when gone wrong or is always permanent and when it goes wrong is harder to undo. There is also a branch of magic called untransfiguration focussed on the reversal of transfigured objects (from the shady source of HP wiki though but definitely believable although we see none of it in early years possible newt level class) Jul 15, 2014 at 8:34
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    You could carve a piece of meat from a live cow and eat it raw. Would that piece of meat taste like piano, or would it turn back into part of the piano upon cutting it off? I doubt that JK thought about these ridiculous fringe cases so I'll understand if this remains unanswered.
    – SBoss
    Jul 15, 2014 at 8:45
  • IF what I said was true then it would behave and be as a cow for as long as the spell lasted. Jul 15, 2014 at 8:47

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