There is a specific episode of Pokémon in season one of Indigo League that is remembered by many as a particularly touching example of the universe and its view of animals. In the episode, a Charmander, a fire Pokémon, is abandoned by its trainer out in the open. The main characters overhear the trainer commenting on this act of animal neglect and calling the Charmander “stupid”.
They react to this strongly partially because the information given on the Charmander is that if the flame at the tip of its tail goes out, it will die, and the area is experiencing a violent thunderstorm. After confronting the neglectful trainer, to no avail, they rush out into the, yes, dark and stormy night, to rescue the Pokémon. They are successful.
The overwhelmingly negative reaction to the situation by the main characters, who are themselves Pokémon trainers, was viewed by at least three generations of fans. The message, as I heard it, was that animals in our care are our responsibility. Further to that, they deserve our respect and caring for what they provide us.
In the case of Pokémon, it is of course a fictional world where the animals are caught or bred, then trained to engage in combat. The message is translatable to real life, however, and I believe it was heard and struck a chord with the (mostly) young viewers.
Is it any wonder vegetarianism and veganism are becoming more and more popular among the youth of the world?