5 Plant-Based Characters in Media
21 May 2019
I became a vegetarian when I was nine years old, and for many years I teetered back and forth between veganism and vegetarianism. Then, several years ago, everything clicked into place for me and I committed to veganism completely.
Although veganism and vegetarianism have been growing movements, especially in the last ten years, mainstream media still seems to have not caught up with the times. In media, those who live a plant-based lifestyle are often used for comic relief, looked down upon, and treated like the idiots in the story. However, the occasional animal friendly individual has slipped through the cracks, sometimes unknown to fans. Today I wanted to pay tribute to some of those non-animal eaters from some of my favourite media sources, comics and animation.
BEAST BOY – DC UNIVERSE
Garfield Logan, aka Beast Boy, had his first appearance in DC’s The Doom Patrol #99, November 1965. He is an energetic boy with green, often depicted as furry, all over colouring, and the ability to transform into any animal he has seen. Throughout much of his adventures in the comic book world, his diet was never a subject of discussion. However, in the early 2000s Teen Titans cartoon on Cartoon Network, Beast Boy is notably a vegetarian, stating to his friend Cyborg, “dude, I’ve been most of these animals.” This quickly became a notable character trait in Beast Boy across multiple platforms, as the comic books followed suit.
DAMIAN WAYNE – DC UNIVERSE
Damian gets a lot of hate from Batman fans but I have to say, he’s definitely my favourite Robin. And that was before I found out he had become a vegetarian. In Batman Incorporated (Vol.2) #1 released in 2012, Batman and Robin go to a slaughterhouse being used by a crime ring. While there, the two save a cow, rightfully deemed “Bat-Cow”, and Robin declares himself a vegetarian after taking a liking to his new bovine friend.
AANG – AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER
Aang, the lead character in the original Avatar series, was raised by a tribe of air nomad monks. These monks taught the value of life, respect for the living, and appreciation for the world around them. The people living in this society were raised vegetarian. This is a moral that Aang brings with him throughout the series, a respect for life and a desire to do no harm, adding to his internal conflict for what he must do in the last battle with the fire nation.
LISA SIMPSON – THE SIMPSONS
While I am not a fan of the show, my dad watched The Simpsons for many years when I was a kid, and I distinctly remember the episode where Lisa went vegetarian. Season sevens episode 5 aired in October 1995, titled “Lisa the Vegetarian”. After bonding with a lamb at a petting zoo Lisa cannot bring herself to eat meat any longer and declares herself a vegetarian. This earns her much ridicule in the episode, clashing heads with schoolmates and family members, especially with Homer. Ultimately Lisa remains a vegetarian through the harassment and remains vegetarian to this day.
TISH KATSUFRAKIS – THE WEEKENDERS
Few people remember this early 2000s Disney cartoon, but I loved it. Tish was the artistic and intellectual member of her friends, and she also was vegetarian. This character trait comes up occasionally in the show but not as a point of ridicule, more so as a delightful piece of her personality.
Honourable mention, KAROLINA DEAN – MARVEL COMICS
Unfortunately I haven’t put a lot of personal time into Marvel Comics, but I am intrigued by this character. First appearing in The Runaways (Vol. 1) #1 in 2003, Karolina Dean is not only the only Marvel character on my list, but she is also the only vegan on my list. The daughter of two alien beings, Karolina possessing Superman-style powers like enhanced strength, energy blasts, flight, and the ability to get energy from the sun.
If only Todd Ingram stayed committed to a Vegan lifestyle, then he could hold his own against Karolina Dean. It’s true what they say, being Vegan gives you super powers.
So what do you think of vegan and vegetarian characters in media? Did I miss any big names from recent works? I love seeing positive representation of vegans and vegetarians in common media and pop culture, so if you have any examples of such characters please share with me in the comments below.