You have seen The Fault in Our Stars, haven’t you? I read the book a while back, but finally got around to watching the movie the other day (sniff, sniff). Aside from the gut-wrenching story (no spoilers here—did you really think a movie about teenagers with cancer was going to be a comedy?), one thing that struck me was the main character Hazel’s pronouncement of why she decided to become a vegetarian.
Now, I’ve heard a lot of fascinating stories from the real people I met when I was writing The Smart Girl’s Guide to Going Vegetarian, not to mention the many teen vegetarians (present and former!) that I’ve encountered since. But fictional VegHeads are interesting for a whole other reason—writers are using vegetarianism as a tool to create a story around their character. So what does making a character meat-free actually say about them?
In some cases, writers use vegetarianism as a symbol of intelligence or thoughtfulness. In others, they’re trying to tell you the character is quirky or hippie-ish (ugh, can we please drop that stereotype now, writers?! Of course, we are all pretty intelligent and thoughtful!). For some, it’s as simple as the fact that the actor portraying the character is vegetarian herself. And others are there just for comic relief (sigh). Below, in no particular order, are ten of the top fictional vegetarians, a favorite quote, and a little bit about them:
Hazel Grace Lancaster, The Fault in Our Stars
“I want to minimize the number of deaths I’m responsible for.”
Sixteen-year-old only child Hazel has thyroid cancer and meets her boyfriend Augustus in a support group. The people in Hazel’s life—Augustus, his parents, her parents—seem understanding about her decision.
Rachel Berry, Glee
“That was amazing. I’ve never had a meat substitute before that tasted much like real meat.”
Ambitious, Broadway-bound Rachel is the first-ever captain of her school’s Glee Club, and a vegetarian like Lea Michele, the actress portraying her. Rumor has it that there are some inconsistencies that show Rachel eating meat over the course of the show—have you noticed any?
Phoebe Buffay, Friends
“Oh, the cow in the meadow goes moo. Oh, the cow in the meadow goes moo. Then the farmer hits him on the head and grinds him up and that’s how we get hamburgers.”
The ditsy character on this show that always seems to be on reruns loves animals and is known for writing and performing eccentric songs (often to children, whether appropriate or not), like the one quoted above.
Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons
“What’s the difference between this lamb and the one that kissed me?”
Perpetually eight-year-old Lisa is the younger sister of Bart, older sister of Maggie, and daughter of Marge and Homer Simpson. The brains of the family, Lisa is a pro on the saxophone and once met steadfast vegetarians Paul and Linda McCartney at the Kwik-E-Mart.
Angela Martin, The Office
Angela: “I’m a vegetarian. What can I eat?”
“It’s all vegetarian.”
Angela: “I’ll just have a piece of bread.”
Control-freakish head of the accounting department as well as the Party Planning Committee at Dunder Mifflin has little sense of humor. At the beginning of the series she lives with her cats, by the end she is married with a baby. No word on whether or not little Philip is a vegetarian.
Elle Woods, Legally Blonde
“Hi. I’m Elle Woods and this is Bruiser Woods. We’re both Gemini vegetarians.”
This flaxen-haired California girl and Harvard Law School student (not to mention, proud Chihuahua owner) surprises everyone with her intellect and legal prowess.
Britta Perry, Community
“I may not eat meat, but I’m not gonna eat that injustice.”
Politically minded student at Greendale Community College, Britta is a former high-school dropout, Peace Corps member, and foot model who is often mocked by her classmates for her culinary choices (also, the way she pronounces the word “bagel”).
Phoebe Halliwell, Charmed
“I would like you all to know that I am a vegetarian, okay? I have never eaten any of you.”
One of the most powerful witches of all time and the youngest Halliwell sister, Phoebe is a vegetarian like Alyssa Milano, the actress she is played by.
Topanga Lawrence, Boy Meets World
“I love IHOS [International House of Salads]!”
This child of two hippies is a staunch vegetarian as a child; when we meet her again as a mom herself in the new spinoff series Girl Meets World, we learn that her commitment to vegetarianism has passed.
Todd Ingram, Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World
“Gelato isn’t vegan? ….Chicken isn’t vegan?”
The third ex-boyfriend of Ramona Flowers and current philandering boyfriend of Envy Adams; the Vegan Police take him to task on some of his less-than-veg habits. Let’s just say Todd is about as reliable a vegan as he is a boyfriend.
What other fictional vegetarians can you think of? And why do you think the writer chose to make them vegetarians?