This topic came up when I was thinking about the movie Moana. Absolutely amazing movie and I totally recommend it. But what got me thinking so much is that she has a pet pig named Pua. She loves this pig so much that she almost dies trying to rescue it from drowning. However, in another scene she is eating from a bowl and she says “yum good pork!” then immediately looks down at her pig who looks horrified and says “sorry”.
Talk about disassociation.
Which got me thinking about how vegetarians and vegans are portrayed on TV since we don’t see them very often, even when it makes sense for a character to be veg.
The first time that I can remember coming across a vegetarian character was Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons. Turning Lisa into a vegetarian was mostly due to Paul and Linda McCartney agreeing to be on the show under the condition that Lisa become a vegetarian and stay one. There was an episode later where she questioned her vegetarianism by eating insects until she had a dream where the insects showed her that they were living beings too. (FYI people are actually making and selling cricket flour…yes that’s flour made from ground up crickets). Lisa is often portrayed as a goodie-goodie political activist.
Then I moved onto Friends and Phoebe was a vegetarian who craved meat while she was pregnant (I’m not even going to get into that) and we all know her as the off the wall hippie.
Either my memory is failing or they’re not portrayed very much, but the first vegan I can remember is Ryan from Last Man Standing. He is of course the black sheep in a family (married into) full of meat eaters. Tim Allen plays Mike, his father-in-law who is a gun-toting, hunting, meat-eating conservative to Ryan’s extremely liberal character. Many hilarious ‘discussions’ ensue. They had take out for family dinner in one episode and Ryan says (paraphrasing) “dibs on the tofu scramble!” which Mike says is the most unnecessary dibs ever. (Side note: this show is awesome and I’m very sad it was cancelled and hope it gets picked up by a different network.)
Another vegan came in Parks and Rec in the episode where Pawnee and Eagleton merged and we got to meet Ron, Eagleton’s park’s director and see him interact with Ron, Pawnee’s park’s director that we all know and love. Eagleton’s Ron is the exact opposite of Pawnee’s Ron Swanson. Eagleton’s Ron is a tea-drinking, sandal-wearing, yoga-nut vegan working to full freegan-vegan.
Funny thing about that actor, Sam Elliot, who is Eagleton’s Ron, he now plays a rancher on Netflix’s The Ranch. He finds almond milk in his fridge and says “show me the tit in an almond”. Which I find hilarious because it’s so weird to think of a grown man drinking milk from a tit, and secondly, in the same scene Ashton Kutcher‘s character, Colt, says that almond milk is healthier for you….this is a show about people who own and run a ranch and their flat out saying animal products aren’t as healthy.
Anyway, from seeing how all of these characters are portrayed it’s all very similarly. Vegans for sure are usually shown as so over-the-top, passionate liberals that no one wants to be around them. Veganism usually goes hand in hand with human rights and environmental conservation which is “seen” as a more liberal outlook but you can’t tell me there are no conservative vegans. Now that would be an interesting TV show, the Right-Wing Vegan. Vegetarians are portrayed as slightly more sane, but with a hippie element.
Hopefully with the increase of veg people in this world and the fact that that number keeps growing, we’ll start to see more vegans/vegetarians in a positive light.
Who are some vegan/vegetarian characters that are your favs?