Shalom. (If you've never heard that before, it literally means "peace" in Hebrew, but I'm using it here as a greeting.) I am unable to do any of the things I do in a normal fashion and Judaism is no exception. This is the landing page for my various insane writings about Jewish law and culture and their implications on modern real and virtual life. Let's get straight to the good stuff... By the way, if you see something in italics, that means you can hover over it for a definition.
Which Pokémon are kosher?
That is, if you were an observant Jewish Pokémon trainer, which are you permitted to eat? These posts were originally published on my Tumblr blog, and I have done my best to retain all the important parts, including input from strangers; hilariously, this causes the posts to have a conversational nature to them that greatly resembles the Tanakh, a central Jewish text that is just many pages of Rabbis arguing with each other. This page is broken up into three major sections exploring three different methods of categorizing Pokémon as either kosher or treyf. These posts are potentially a little out of date, but will be updated with the release of Pokémon Scarlet and Violet.
Method 1: Tradition and Typing (80 OUT OF 890 are kosher)
First of all: yes, Judaism exists in the Pokémon universe; Meowth specifically mentions Yom Kippur in the song Nobody Don’t Like Christmas, which you can find here on Bulbapedia. this brings up a lot of theological questions (arceus echad?) but i think we can for the time being set those aside and discuss the real important stuff, like, as observant Pokémon trainers, what do we eat? (can you even be an observant Pokémon trainer? after all, Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef had a strong negative opinion on the Jewish-ness of bullfights, and many rabbis have spoken on the scriptural obligation to prevent an animal’s suffering, which to me definitely applies to Pokémon fights. maybe N is the most frum of us all)
As a guide for this post, i have followed (with some noted exceptions) this guide to Poké-kashrut that i can unfortunately no longer find a real source for because the Facebook group therein is defunct! if you have a question as to why a particular Pokémon was not included check the guide first, I pretty much agree with it! (Click on it to embiggen it.)
Individual discussions of kosher Pokémon follow...
Pidgey, Pidgeotto: this is a great place to start because they allow me to explain the kind of reasoning i’m using that will reappear throughout this list. Pidgey and Pidgeotto are kosher because they physically resemble real-life kosher birds, have uneven toe structure, and are only shown preying on insects. while i can’t prove or disprove that they have a crop or peel-able gizzard, their ground-pecking habits are known to belong to crop-having kosher birds in real life. Pidgeot, however, is NOT kosher, because its behavior is much more like that of a bird of prey, and it is shown swooping down on Magikarp aggressively in the anime.
Psyduck and Golduck: perhaps controversial, but i am going directly AGAINST the Kashrut Laws in Pokémon guide by declaring these two kosher. yes, they’re water types, and could be arguably treated like fish, but look at them; they’re ducks. they muck about in ponds and they quack, and you know what they say about things that act like ducks and quack like ducks. one can argue they resemble a platypus or a kappa, but i am unilaterally declaring them kosher. Change My Mind.
Farfetch’d is definitely kosher, and comes with its own vegetable accompaniment.
While we're on birds and ducks... Q 'n' A time! Tumblr user salvagedpride asked: A question came up among my friends and since the last question was answered... What about Chansey eggs? Are those kosher to eat?
I answered: I would say no - in real life, only eggs of a kosher animal are kosher! this is pretty easy in practice because it’s so uncommon for eggs of a non-kosher animal to be available in the first place (i’m sure someone has eaten snake egg or vulture egg, but you won’t find them at the supermarket). if only one of the parent pokemon is kosher, the egg should not be eaten when it cannot be definitely identified as a kosher species. an exception is if one parent kosher and the other is a ditto, since the ditto will never pass on its species! (when breeding entirely kosher pokemon: remember that a poison-type move renders a pokemon non-kosher, so care should be taken to rule out the possibility that this can end up as an egg move)
Tangela and Tangrowth are both kosher, but must not be trimmed on the sabbath year.
Horsea and Seadra: it troubles me to declare a seahorse kosher, but I am compelled to in this case. they clearly have fins and they can be found holding a scale item, more definitive proof of scales than many of the other fish Pokemon on this list! Kingdra is not kosher due to its extra dragon-typing.
Goldeen and Seaking: honestly, the fish Pokémon are the most annoying to classify here, because traditionally scales are meant to be visible to the eye to count for kosher purposes, and almost none of them have that!! however koi are kosher, so for now, they stay
Tauros and Miltank are kosher.
Magikarp is kosher, but Gyarados is not, because it is incredibly scary (and considered a bird for purposes of this list).
Chikorita, Bayleef and Meganium are all kosher - some of our first Grass types (aside from Tangela) that aren’t mixed with a forbidden type! the weirdest implication of grass types for me is that it is perfectly kosher to snap the leaf off a bay plant in real life, but IMO it absolutely would be forbidden to do so from a Bayleef because of the noahide prohibition on eating from a living animal.
Bellossom: kosher. i imagine it tastes a bit allium-ish because of its family (and it’s the only member of the Oddish family that is kosher, so maybe a great aromatic?)
Hoppip, Skiploom and Jumpluff: kosher, make teas out of them. I chose to prioritize the grass-type over the flying.
Sunkern and Sunflora are kosher.
Remoraid is kosher. I was undecided on this at first; its proximity to Octillery, a blatantly non-kosher Pokémon, is suspect, and also it’s a gun, which is weird. but i looked it up and suckerfish are considered kosher!
Delibird is kosher due to minhag, and is the only ice type that is fully so, according to the guide.
Stantler: kosher, in my opinion. the split hooves are only visible from some angles and in some sprites. Consult your local Rabbi.
Treecko, Grovyle and Sceptile are technically kosher, but it makes me feel kind of gross, because eating lizards doesn’t feel like it’s in the spirit of things, so this might change later. On that note... Tumblr user imperatorsapphiosa asked: Okay here’s a question, is there a Marit Ayin concern regarding treecko, grovyle, and sceptyle? Since they appear similar to prohibited creatures even if strictly speaking they aren’t?
My answer: i think marit ayin would become immensely complicated in the world of pokemon, where creatures that are superficially similar can be kosher or non-kosher based only on type. in real life you are unlikely to mistake a kosher animal for non-kosher except in cases of fish and highly processed food (the classic chicken schnitzel VS veal idea that caused fowl/dairy to become outlawed among many ashke jews) but in the poke-world you can easily mistake a stantler (kosher) for a sawsbuck, or a tauros (kosher) for a bouffalant! i think the amount of permissible pokemon would be easily cut in half if we started applying marit ayin. the primary question for me is whether, for example, eating lizards is highly associated with gentiles in the poke-world, and a Jew who eats a treeko, grovyle or sceptile is likely to be mistaken for them.
Further thoughts... marit ayin not only depends on what is commonplace among gentile society for jews to be compared to, but what is commonplace in jewish society! for example in israel it is commonplace to find “bacon cheeseburgers” that are made with turkey or lamb bacon and non-dairy, parve cheese. it’s not considered marit ayin to consume this because people know that these accomodations are in place for kosher jews.
what i mean here is: if treecko are common enough that a jew eating a lizard can be presumed to be eating a treecko, and thus remaining kosher, instead of a shiny charmander or a flygon or something else green and lizardy, not kosher, then marit ayin may not come into it at all. and although they’re meant to be rare in the main games, treecko are really fucking common in my area in pokemon go, so maybe?
Lotad, Lombre and Ludicolo: kosher, but make sure your Ludicolo hasn’t been doing any mixed dancing first.
Seedot is kosher but its evolutions aren’t.
Taillow and Swellow: kosher, but caused me to google things like "are swallows kosher” and get a bunch of weird shit in my results
Shroomish is kosher, but make sure it doesn’t know any poison moves first.
Cacnea is kosher.
Swablu is probably kosher but it’s on thin fucking ice, what with evolving into a Dragon-type and superficially resembling a parrotlet. Can’t get a good look at its feet, so for now it stays!
Feebas is kosher because it’s based on a kosher fish.
Initially, I wrote: Tropius is kosher by virtue of being a plant but I feel SO weird about it and I also think you should probably not pull a banana off its neck and eat it (see above, about the Bayleef). Tumblr user salvagedpride asked: Tropius, unlike Bayleaf, has fruit that is designed to be specifically picked and eaten in that universe by Pokemon and humans alike and does not injure the Pokemon. Bayleaf's leaf, on the other hand, is not designed to be picked and would injure it to be picked. Would that possibly change the comment on eating the bananas?
I answered: in this case we can’t class tropius as a vegetable OR an animal (i have been treating Grass type pokemon as a hybrid of both) we have to class it as a fruit tree. this means tropius’ fruit might be orlah for the first 3 years and no one is allowed to eat them or derive benefit from them. then on the fourth year many people (there is disagreement as to whether this applies outside of Israel, and i don’t know if Tropius are native to Israel) consider the fruit sacred and there are various rituals around how to deal with it. so with this new information, i will edit the original post to say TROPIUS’ FRUIT ARE KOSHER TO CONSUME WHILE THE TROPIUS IS STILL ALIVE, as long as you don’t pick them on shabbat. Here is info from Bulbapedia on Tropius fruit consumption being common!
Turtwig and Grotle are kosher, though Torterra isn’t because of its dual typing.
Cherubi and Cherrim are kosher. if you make them into wine, a Rabbi must be present.
Leafeon is technically kosher, which is probably the weirdest one yet. :( Tumblr user keshetchai chimed in around this point:I disagree with typing leafeon as kosher. Grass type or no, it has FOUR LEGS and no cloven hooves! None of the eevielutions should be kosher. (Also if grass types ARE plants, then isn’t it fine to eat off them directly? I thought the issue of not eating from a live animal was about avoiding the consumption of blood, which plants do not have.)
I replied: while I agree with you that eating a leafeon is creepy, the Video Game Rabbis before us (whoever made this graphic) have clearly declared pure Plant-types as kosher and who am i to argue with them? also i agree with tumblr user @hachama who says not eating from a live animal is (also or entirely) an issue of causing undue cruelty and the fact that an animal (or in this case very animal-esque plant) which has not been killed at all has, by definition, not been killed in a kosher method
Tumblr user keshetchai responds: You and @hachama are right in that I suppose the issue of ever min hachay, “limb from a live animal” assumes that a leaf type’s body includes limbs?
Shaymin is kosher, but NOT its sky forme, because that clearly just turns into a puppy dog, and we need to have standards.
Snivy, Servine, and Serperior: kosher, though I imagine discouraged by Rabbinic sources, due to being a snake.
Pansage and Simisage are kosher. y’all eat apes??
Pidove, Tranquill, and Unfezant are all kosher birds. These seem like a pretty good option as far as fowl go.
Petilil and Lilligant: kosher!
Basculin: kosher despite its resemblance to a piranha; an interview explicitly states they are based on a bass.
Maractus: kosher, bringing the number of kosher cactus Pokémon to two!
Ducklett and Swanna: kosher. an internet rabbi says you can eat swans, and i believe himz
Vanillite, Vanillish, and Vanilluxe: “Kosher to lick” according to the guide, so they’re here, but I am disquieted by the idea that they are still alive during the licking; that seems explicitly forbidden. Tumblr user keshetchai asks, continuing the discussion of ever min hachay from above: why can you lick certain Pokemon??
I responded: i’ve been thinking about this all night (yes. i live like this. thank you) and here are my most plausible answers:
Tumblr user darbec came back to save me from my torment and said: Technically the ‘ice cream’ on the vanillite line isnt actually ice cream. Its just powdered snow that the icicle body uses to look like ice cream because of pokemon logic. Sorry to rain on everyones parade, but being needlessly semantic can be important when dealing with a massive group of peoples dietary requirements in a fictional world intended for a child audience.
They helpfully included this peeled Vanilluxe image. GREAT NEWS, EVERYONE! YOU CAN LICK VANILLUXE BECAUSE ITS “ICE CREAM” IS NEITHER A PART OF ITS BODY OR ALIVE!
Deerling and Sawsbuck are NOT KOSHER. i don’t like this any more than you do, but close examination has shown they have fully UNcloven hooves. They are horses.
Alomomola are kosher (and so are IRL sunfish). Great news for people who want to eat Luvdisc but can’t find any fucking fins on those things.