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Old June 10 2014, 06:19 PM   #1
Vandervecken
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Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

Just wondering. Everything they eat seems to be from an animal of some kind, although it's hard to tell with some of their grub.

Worf drinks prune juice, and Klingons drink blood wine (described as twice as potent as whiskey, so assuming we're talking about 80% alcohol-regular-store-whiskey, blood wine is as alcoholic as high-alcohol moonshine, around 160% alcohol). I don't know what blood wine is actually made from. The main point for me here is that this seems to be as close as Klingons get to ingesting anything that's not of animal origin.

If Klingons are obligate carnivores, that would go a long way toward explaining their aggressiveness. They should be predisposed by their hormones and brain structures to regard other aliens as prey and then, by extension, slaves.

I'm pretty sure that whatever Work changed into in the TNG episode "Genesis" is intended by the writers to be something in the direct Klingon evolutionary line. I know we saw crewmen become things that are notably not in any direct phylogenetic lineage (which actually bolsters the whole viral transductor triggering introns idea, rather than the silly false evolution concept that the episode sometimes seems to verge on), but my impression was that this was supposed to be the Klingon equivalent of whatever hominid Riker became. Worf sure seemed entirely carnivorous to me as that possible Klingon "ancestor," suggesting that that's all their (Klingons as we know them in the 24th century) digestive tracts can deal with in any significant amounts.

Well, if anyone knows better, or has other opinions, I'd be interested in reading.
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Old June 10 2014, 06:47 PM   #2
Timo
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

All I can add is that the community of the Carraya prisoners in "Birthright" put some emphasis on cultivating the land - swords to plowshares was very graphically and literally done in that episode. Whether that's a learned trait that actually inconveniences the Klingon physique, or something that agrees with the Klingon stomach, we don't know.

It did seem as if Klingons were about to out-farm the Feds on Sherman's Planet, but they might have done that just for show (perhaps the planet had native life, and the goal was to please them?) and wouldn't have touched the produce themselves. Or they they might have tried to defeat Federation farmers by industrializing Sherman's, or turning it into a highly efficient hunting ground. Carraya is a less ambiguous case.

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Old June 11 2014, 12:23 AM   #3
JirinPanthosa
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

It would be cool if the Klingons were canonically incapable of digesting vegetable matter. But as Timo pointed out, Birthright seems to contradict that.

I see it as more a Ted Nugent situation. Eating an animal amplifies the pride they get from having killed it. They do seem like they started out as hunter/gatherers, without ever settling down and learning to farm, which would explain why they have a constant need to go out and conquer.
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Old June 12 2014, 03:17 AM   #4
USS Triumphant
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
They do seem like they started out as hunter/gatherers, without ever settling down and learning to farm, which would explain why they have a constant need to go out and conquer.
One of the theories put forward by some TrekLit that I'm rather fond of is that the Klingons were conquered by another species at a point in their development earlier than our own at present - maybe something like their medieval times, maybe even earlier. And while they ultimately repelled/defeated their conquerors and ended up with access to their warp-capable technology, they never developed much socially beyond where they were when conquered.

Doesn't really address the OP question about their diet, but it does explain their aggressiveness in two separate ways - both by their own native social developmental level, and by the conquering habit demonstrated to them by their conquerors.

My educated but decidedly non-canon opinion is that they are probably omnivores, but with a higher dietary protein requirement than humans.
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Old June 12 2014, 03:41 PM   #5
Vandervecken
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
It would be cool if the Klingons were canonically incapable of digesting vegetable matter. But as Timo pointed out, Birthright seems to contradict that.

I see it as more a Ted Nugent situation. Eating an animal amplifies the pride they get from having killed it. They do seem like they started out as hunter/gatherers, without ever settling down and learning to farm, which would explain why they have a constant need to go out and conquer.
Yep, I did forget about Birthright. Oh well.
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Old June 12 2014, 03:47 PM   #6
Ensign_Redshirt
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

USS Triumphant wrote: View Post
JirinPanthosa wrote: View Post
They do seem like they started out as hunter/gatherers, without ever settling down and learning to farm, which would explain why they have a constant need to go out and conquer.
One of the theories put forward by some TrekLit that I'm rather fond of is that the Klingons were conquered by another species at a point in their development earlier than our own at present - maybe something like their medieval times, maybe even earlier.
You mean the Hur'q?

http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Hur%27q
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Old June 12 2014, 06:55 PM   #7
Timo
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

Yeah, just like USS Triumphant suggested, and some noncanon stories expand upon, Kahless the Forger of the First Sword might have been involved in driving away the Hur'q. Sure, Klingons could collate several of their historical heroes from different eras into one character, but it is equally possible that this is the literal truth, and the Hur'q ruled over an early iron age Klingon realm.

We have seen how aliens abduct primitives for labor. The Hur'q may have used the Klingons as mercenaries, meaning they taught the Klingons quite a few things about spaceflight technology and weaponry (knowingly or unwittingly), and paid the price. Larry Niven's disciples use the same sort of story for the Kzinti, making them the former mercenaries and current masters of an advanced species called the Jotoki.

Naturally, the Hur'q may have left in less dramatic circumstances than the Klingons want to believe. But when Kahless said he could be found at a distant star, he may have meant "I'll take this commandeered Hur'q ship there and make short work of their supply center, so they have to withdraw sixty parsecs and Qo'noS will cease to be a profitable serfdom for them" and his ignorant iron age brethren, having none of the mercenary training, read it as a prophecy.

Our canon information on the Hur'q is lacking, though. The facts would also fit a smallish plundering party that visited Qo'noS long after the death of Kahless and never had much impact on the Klingon culture, beyond stealing the famous sword... "Sword of Kahless" tells us that the titular weapon comes from the 9th century, while the Hur'q stole it in the 14th, but it's pure speculation whether Kahless lived in either of those centuries or was in any way associated with either the sword or the aliens.

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Old June 13 2014, 02:38 AM   #8
TheGoodNews
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

Wasn't there an episode where Worf was enjoying poorly replicated pasta one time, to Geordi's disgust?
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Old June 13 2014, 06:37 AM   #9
Nerys Myk
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

Memory Alpha mentions a fruit called Zilm'kach
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Old June 13 2014, 04:13 PM   #10
JirinPanthosa
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

I like the idea that Klingons were once conquered by a more powerful race and drove away their conquerers. That also jives with the Klingon mythology that the Klingons killed their Gods.

@TheGoodNews

Are you referring to the episode where Riker cooked for everybody, and everybody hated it except Worf loved it? I don't know what episode that is, but I think it's season 6 or so.

Edit: After a quick google search, that is from Birthright from a replimat on DS9. I haven't found the episode I was thinking of yet.

Reedit: The episode I was thinking of is Time Squared.

Worf really likes terrible food.
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Old June 13 2014, 04:39 PM   #11
Armored Saint
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

I would say it's essentially cultural like Vulcans and vegeterianism. Vulcans are raised to be non-violent, Klingons are raised to be hunter.
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Old June 13 2014, 05:03 PM   #12
Draculasaurus
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

I'm not sure where, but I have a vague idea that Martok may have mentioned farming when talking about the Ketha Lowlands.
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Old June 13 2014, 05:24 PM   #13
Enterprise1701
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

KRAD's I.K.S. Gorkon/Klingon Empire novel series mentions several farming planets in Klingon space. I find that description to be necessarily and logically extrapolated from canon. In addition, A Burning House has Leskit and Kurak dine at a Vulcan restaurant on Qo'noS.
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Old June 13 2014, 09:54 PM   #14
varek
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

Nerys Myk wrote: View Post
Memory Alpha mentions a fruit called Zilm'kach
One of Keith de Candido's Klingon novels, A Burning House, tells about Pheben III, a farming world http://memory-beta.wikia.com/wiki/Pheben_III

So, Klingons could eat other foods.

But, as pointed out, their culture prized the hunt, to make their people aggressive.
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Old June 13 2014, 10:01 PM   #15
Nerys Myk
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Re: Are Klingons obligate carnivores?

Draculasaurus wrote: View Post
I'm not sure where, but I have a vague idea that Martok may have mentioned farming when talking about the Ketha Lowlands.
Memory Alpha says it's from "Once More Unto the Breach".
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