In recent years, we’ve seen more and more fictional characters decide to exclude animal products from their diets for ethical reasons. These narratives, books, movies, and shows indicate that the vegan movement has gained enough ground over the years to find mention in popular culture. Here are some of our favorites, all choosing kindness over cruelty.
Lisa Simpson, The Simpsons
Lisa Simpson from the iconic show The Simpsons has been shown to eschew meat on more than one occasion. Often portrayed as the family’s voice of reason, Lisa’s choice to not eat lamb during the episode “Lisa the Vegetarian” puts her in a moral dilemma because she is surrounded by meat-eaters. Aired in 1995, the episode portrays Lisa sympathetically struggling to give up meat, mirroring the real agonizing choice many people face. It marked one of the first times vegetarians saw themselves honestly depicted on television, beyond one-dimensional stereotypes.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
The series Scott Pilgrim vs. The World deserves a mention for probably the most number of times the word “vegan” is used by characters. One of them, Todd Ingram, is a vegan who gains his psychic abilities because of his vegan diet, and most of the references are satirical. They even have mentions of “vegan police” and a “Vegan Academy.” Though not always shown in a positive light, we’re happy to give them points for thinking that vegans deserve superpowers.
ARIEL, LITTLE MERMAID
Ariel — like us at GenV — counts fish and crustaceans among her best friends. So, it only makes sense that Ariel extends her friendliness to all the fish in the sea, isn’t it? We think so. When offered fish to eat while she was on land, she was unwilling to do so. But she has been shown eating seaweed. Ariel will never go short of zine, iron, iodine, or antioxidants!
SPOCK, STAR TREK
The Vulcan philosophy embraces non-violence and theirs is a herbivorous race. Spock is often described in canon as a herbivore. This makes us believe that Spock was definitely vegetarian, and quite possibly vegan. One fan site mentioned that Vulcans in the Enterprise episode ‘Broken Bow’ remarked that humans claimed to be enlightened and still ate animal flesh.
In the sci-fi Netflix series Travelers, set centuries in the future, everyone is vegan. The storyline revolves around travelers who journey back in time to save humanity. This vegan future is linked to the dwindling human population, likely due to wars and a changing climate, impacting the farming of animals. The show delves into the evolving relationship between future humans and other species, emphasizing a shift in consciousness. Reddit discussions highlight moments in the show where characters mention veganism, such as one character’s shocking discovery of bacon in a fridge, leading to profound emotional reactions. The series explores the idea that a vegan lifestyle becomes predominant in this future world, possibly as a result of these significant changes and an altered perspective on our connection with animals.
REI AYANAMI, NEON GENESIS EVANGELION
Classic anime hit series, Neon Genesis Evangelion, revealed one of its characters as vegetarian/vegan. Rei Ayanami, one of the first Kuudere anime characters, asks for her ramen without pork and is also shown to not eat food that has meat in it.
MORTY, RICK & MORTY
Genius scientist Rick and his grandson Morty go on many adventures together and subtly highlight societal injustices in this satirical comedy series. In one episode, Rick tells Morty he is being hypocritical if he’s eating animals and tells him to put his money where his mouth is. Upon realizing, Morty upon screams “I’m a full-on vegan now!” Welcome to the club, Morty.
THE LAST JEDI, STAR WARS
The Last Jedi introduces several non-human characters, including porgs, fathiers, and vulptices, mirroring animals who are used for human desires. Whether it was Chewbacca’s moment of empathy for porgs where he decided to not eat them or the scene where Rose and Finn liberate the horse-like farthiers from cruel captivity, the film has subtly weaved in animal liberation themes into the Star Wars universe.
ROBIN BYRNE, BEWILDERMENT
In this beautifully written novel by Richard Powers, nine-year-old Robin is a warm-hearted, sensitive child, dedicated to protecting animals and preventing extinctions. Like so many children, he knows injustice when he sees it, and has pledged to follow in his late mother’s footsteps as an ethical vegan and environmentalist.
WHO HAVE WE MISSED?
While these are a few of our favorite fictional vegans, we know there must be many more out there. Do you know of any vegan representations in popular culture?