As a plant-based diet become more popular (3.4 percent of Americans are vegetarian or vegan, at last count), so do their representations in fiction. Don’t believe us? Here are nine fictional vegans and vegetarians fighting the good fight – whether it’s between the pages of a novel or onscreen.
1. Hazel Lancaster, “The Fault In Our Stars,” by John Green
The protagonist of the young adult novel and critical and commercial success “The Fault in Our Stars” suffers from stage four cancer throughout the story. As she comes face to face with her own mortality, as well as the mortality of those around her, she remains a stalwart vegetarian because, as she says she “wants to minimize the number of deaths (she) is responsible for.”
2. Jonathan Safran Foer, “Everything is Illuminated,” by Jonathan Safran Foer
Author Foer not only named the protagonist of his debut novel after himself; he also made the character Jonathan a vegetarian, something that emerges, rather uncomfortably, when Jonathan is dining in Ukraine and, after succumbing to a battery of questions about his diet, ends up having to order “a potato on a plate.”
3. Temperance Brennan, “Bones”
Temperance Brennan, nicknamed “Bones,” is a forensic anthropologist at the fictional Jeffersonian Institute in Washington D.C. After seeing how pigs are slaughtered over the course of a criminal investigation, Brennan vows to become a vegetarian.
One wonders if her portrayer, Emily Deschanel, had anything to do with this character decision as Deschanel herself has eaten a vegan diet since high school, when she read John Robbins’ “Diet for a New America.”
4. Rachel Berry, “Glee”
Rachel Berry may be another character whose portrayer had something to say about her diet, as both Rachel and Lea Michele are nominally vegan. Fans have noticed some inconsistencies on the show, when Rachel, for example, eats pizza or prepares duck, but Lea Michele has admitted to Shape that she’s an “on-and-off” vegan, too.
5. April Burns, “Pieces of April”
Usually, vegetarianism or veganism in a fictional context is just one part of a character, but in “Pieces of April,” it’s an essential part not only of Katie Holmes’ April but of the plot as a whole: the film tells the story of the vegetarian April’s journey to cook Thanksgiving dinner for the family she has never gotten along with. Her vegetarianism is just one of many things that makes April stand out from the rest of her family.
6. Ian Miller, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”
The highly quotable “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” features John Corbett as Ian Miller, the vegetarian fiancé of Nia Vardalos’ Toula. While his diet poses no problem for Toula, her “big fat Greek” family is horrified, particularly her Aunt Voula, who then, suddenly, seems placated and says, “That’s OK, I make lamb.”
7. Phoebe Buffay, “Friends”
Phoebe has long been one of our favorite TV vegans, from her songs in favor of plant-based living (“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.”) to the stress of dealing with people who don’t care about her lifestyle, including future husband Mike’s family, who make veal for dinner when she comes to visit.
While Phoebe briefly deviates from her vegan diet while pregnant (but only after Joey becomes a vegetarian, so that she can consume only what he would normally be eating and thus feel like she isn’t contributing too much to the global meat consumption average), Phoebe is generally a stalwart supporter of the plant-based way of life.
8. Mr. Copeland, “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter,” by Carson McCullers
Mr. Copeland’s vegetarian character in “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” actually very interestingly makes a concession that many plant-based eaters wouldn’t. When asked if he minds if his collard greens are cooked in meat, he says that while “for purely private reasons” he is a vegetarian, he is not bothered by this.
This reminds us of a lot of times when people have offered to serve us a portion of chicken soup without chicken in it, and it says a lot about Mr. Copeland’s character that he accepts rather than argues.
9. Mr. Spock, “Star Trek”
Apparently, the plant-based way of eating transcends interplanetary borders: Vulcan Mr. Spock was a vegetarian – makes sense, when you know that the Vulcans live with a philosophy of logic and nonviolence. It also makes sense that Spock was rather upset when he realized he had “eaten animal flesh and enjoyed it” in the episode, “All Our Yesterdays.”
Did we miss any of your favorite TV or book vegetarians or vegans? Share them with us on Facebook!
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