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Vegetarian and Vegan Characters in Films: Who Is Your Favorite?

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Vegetarian and Vegan Characters in Films: Who Is Your Favorite? by Laura Frisk

©2010 Jupiterimages Corporation

Those of you who watch movies regularly have probably noticed the emergence of vegetarian and vegan characters in film in the past few years. In most movies, the vegetarian is present for a moment, having one or two lines at the dinner table to let the family know that he or she doesn’t eat meat. But more and more veg characters are coming out of the background, occupying, if not a major role, a very strong one.

Unfortunately, in many cases, the vegetarian character is portrayed as a loopy “hippie” type, someone the rest of the characters roll their eyes at every time he or she brings out a tofu loaf. But I am still excited by the appearance of that vegetarian, hushing my husband so that I can hear the words “I don’t eat meat” come out of the character’s mouth.

In Year of the Dog, when Peter Sarsgaard’s character announced that he was vegan, I think I let out a loud “Yay!” It was the first time that I had ever heard a character in a movie use the word “vegan” to refer to his or her lifestyle, and it thrilled me to no end. I must admit that I am easily entertained, but I don’t think that I am alone in this simple pleasure. Sarsgaard’s character was a full-on animal rights activist, living a vegan lifestyle and embracing compassion for all beings. I loved that movie!

I asked some of my friends to help me compile a list of movies that feature one or more vegan/vegetarian characters, and the following is what we came up with:

1. In Year of the Dog, the characters played by Peter Sarsgaard and Molly Shannon are both strong supporters of animal rights.

2. Legally Blond and Legally Blond 2 feature Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods, a vegetarian determined to fight vivisection.

3. Elijah Wood plays Jonathan Safran Foer in Everything Is Illuminated, which includes a memorably funny scene about vegetarianism:


4. In Seven Pounds, Woody Harrelson’s character is vegan, and Rosario Dawson plays a vegetarian who has a vegetarian dog.

5.  In Twilight, Kristen Stewart plays Bella Swan, a vegetarian who really enjoys her veggie burgers. And don’t forget those vegetarian vampires!

6. Colin Beaven’s role in No Impact Man: The Documentary isn’t fictional like the others listed, but I am including it anywayI was very glad to see that Colin and his wife decided to add vegetarianism to their list of environmentally friendly things to do.

7. Pieces of April features Katie Holmes as April Burns, the quintessential vegetarian trying to please her meat-eating family by cooking a turkey for their Thanksgiving dinner.

8. Albert Brooks plays vegetarian character John Henderson in the 1996 movie Mother. Some of the dialogue between Brooks’ character and his mother in the film reminded me of conversations that I’ve had with my own mother (she just didn’t get it!).

9. My Big Fat Greek Wedding features John Corbett as Ian Miller, a vegetarian.

10. The Simpsons Movie includes animal-friendly daughter Lisa Simpson.

11. In Jurassic Park, Lex Murphy (Ariana Richards) is vegetarian.

12. In RV, Joanna Levesque plays a vegetarian teenager, Cassie Munro.

13.  Igby Goes Down includes the vegetarian character Sookie (Claire Danes).

14. Shark Tale features  Jack Black as Lenny, a vegetarian shark.

15. In American Beauty, Wes Bentley’s character, Ricky Fitts, is a vegetarian.

I would love to hear about more movies that I may have forgotten to list. And leave a comment letting me know if you have a favorite movie with a vegetarian or vegan theme or character.

Who gets that veg Oscar!?

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    Midnite says...

    September 5th, 2010, 1:44 am

    In the Dinotopia live action movie, the younger brother was a vegetarian and all the residents on the island where vegetarian. When the older brother asked for a burger, he was looked at liked he was crazy for eating meat. :D

    glennlee says...

    September 5th, 2010, 10:33 am

    my favorite is The Contender with Jeff Bridges, Gary Oldman, and Joan Allen. Joan Allen plays a vegetarian, and she ends up being confirmed as vice president!!!!!! i love movies, and you have given me a list of some that i have never heard of and look forward to viewing. thank you!!!!!

    Soto says...

    September 8th, 2010, 1:49 am

    The vegetarian vampires was a nice pop cult reference but the vampires eat animals wich is cruel and wrong and they should stop… or something

    Carlos says...

    September 10th, 2010, 12:47 pm

    “Fast Food Nation”

    Jenny S says...

    September 10th, 2010, 12:49 pm

    In the movie The Last Song, Ronnie Miller (Miley Cyrus) was a vegetarian. She helped save sea turtle eggs too. :D

    Mymsie says...

    September 10th, 2010, 12:55 pm

    Ed Norton in Death To Smoochy!! He’s adorable and a proud vegan…movie is a little morbid, but a good watch. Enjoy!

    tara says...

    September 10th, 2010, 1:06 pm

    “The Last Song” main character Ronnie played by Miley Cyrus is a vegetarian. She also does her part in trying to save sea turtles.

    Bianca Ware says...

    September 10th, 2010, 1:08 pm

    I like the series ”Veggietales” ,its a bout children that involves around Vegetables, they even have books that have been made after the series.

    Sam says...

    September 10th, 2010, 1:11 pm

    Woody Harrelson is actually a vegan in real life, not just his character…

    bianca ware says...

    September 10th, 2010, 1:16 pm

    How about the 2005 movie called ”Shooting vegetarians”, it’s a comedy movie that involves a rock band star that happens to be a vegetarian.

    bianca says...

    September 10th, 2010, 1:20 pm

    2005 comedy movie called ”shooting vegetarians”, it’s just a comedy movie that involves a rock band guy who is a vegetarian.

    bianca says...

    September 10th, 2010, 1:26 pm

    The fresh vegetable mystery, it’s a movie that involves talking vegetables who have faces. The movie was made in 1939

    bianca says...

    September 10th, 2010, 1:35 pm

    Wallace &gromit in the curse of the were rabbit.

    NICOLE says...

    September 10th, 2010, 2:20 pm

    Thanks for the list! I added the ones I haven’t seen to my Netflix cue.

    Amber says...

    September 10th, 2010, 4:31 pm

    Sophia Bush in John Tucker must die is my favorite. Her character was great and very funny,

    Matty says...

    September 10th, 2010, 4:58 pm

    I really enjoyed Sarah Jessica Parker’s Character in “Did You Hear About the Morgans?”

    I watched this movie just at the time when I was first becoming a vegetarian, and a bit of an activist for Animal rights, and her character in this movie is actually what pushed me into becoming a member of Peta, and becoming more activity involved!

    FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER =) @MattyDB

    kathrin says...

    September 10th, 2010, 5:26 pm

    who put kristen stewart on that list? the character isn’t a vegetarian. did no one here read the book??? she eats meat in the books and the movies just screw that up. anyway, I would still doubt that the burger she eats in that restaurant in the first movie is a veggie burger. looks quite like meat to me. and calculate the possibility of being served a veggie burger in a small american restaurant in a town like forks…seriously!

    Timek says...

    September 10th, 2010, 5:31 pm

    Woody Harrelson and joaquin phoenix
    go Vegan

    Forest says...

    September 10th, 2010, 5:31 pm

    One of the Seven Evil Exes in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is vegan and has vegan super powers!

    tierney says...

    September 10th, 2010, 5:32 pm

    Ronnie in “the last song” is a vegetarian too!

    Amanda says...

    September 10th, 2010, 5:33 pm

    I vote for Lenny, the vegetarian shark in Shark Tale. Talk about going against your nature! He has it the hardest.

    Debbie Frayne says...

    September 10th, 2010, 5:48 pm

    One you missed, which is almost unforgivable is ‘Barnyard’. It’s only an animation but at 86 mins in total, a full length movie.
    My guess is that vegans don’t bother to watch it, as the main character is a cow called Otis, but the farm that Otis lives on is owned by a vegan farmer.
    This movie is so darn funny, it’ll have you in stitches, especially the part when the farmer gets knocked out and Otis dancing and taking the mickey.
    This movie should WIN!!!
    I’ve bought about 4 copies or so and give them to relatives with children, but I think the audults would enjoy the movie more, especially vegan / veggie ones.
    Barnyard gets my vote, without a doubt.
    It’s on DVD and is produced by Paramount and only £3 at supermarkets.

    Dee says...

    September 10th, 2010, 5:55 pm

    Alison Lohman’s character in Drag Me To Hell was vegetarian. She had to sacrifice an animal in an attempt to save her own life (didn’t work) but no animals were harmed in the making of the movie and it did go into her conflict about the task. She refused to do it and then she became desperate. Her sacrificial offering was a comment on how humans typically will save their own before an animal no matter how much they care for animals and animal rights.

    Brianna says...

    September 10th, 2010, 5:57 pm

    In the new film “Eat Pray Love” James Franco’s character is a vegetarian, which makes him 10 times cuter =)

    Helen Engelen says...

    September 10th, 2010, 6:07 pm

    1970′s hilarious film: “Nuts in May”.
    Also Pamela pretends to be a vegy in many scenes in “Gavin & Stacey”, so a hot topic in this comedy too!

    Marcela M> says...

    September 10th, 2010, 6:26 pm

    Tea Leoni plays Julie Mott in Bad Boys. she is a witness of a crime. she is vegetarian… :)

    Paulie says...

    September 10th, 2010, 6:29 pm

    Molly Shannon in ‘Year of the dog’!

    JJ says...

    September 10th, 2010, 7:38 pm

    Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.
    Anyone remember 4th evil ex-boyfriend? He’s vegan :)

    Alex de NICE (fernch riviera) says...

    September 10th, 2010, 7:38 pm

    SARAH CHARLKE who plays ELLIOT REED in the sitcom SCRUBS. We figure this out when she’s looking for a roomate. It’s besause the actress is a real vegetarian.

    About Twilight, it’s not Bella who is vegan, it’s the author Stefenie Meyer. And in the scene at the restaurant that’s her ,who plays a very small part, and order a vegan meal.
    I agree with the “vegan vampires” because in that case it’s survival. I mean nobody blames lions when they kill to eat. I thing in this story it’s the same.

    Pooja says...

    September 10th, 2010, 10:30 pm

    In Ratatouille, the eponymous dish is vegetarian.

    Nicole says...

    September 11th, 2010, 4:39 am

    It’s not a movie, but in the tv show “JAG” the main character Lieutenant Commander Harmon Rabb Jr. , is a vegetarian and several times over the 9 seasons are his reasons and diet discussed. You can find DVD’s at Walmart now, by the way.

    Laura says...

    September 11th, 2010, 6:11 am

    Scott Pilgrim vs The World:

    Todd Ingram, Ramona’s third evil ex who possesses psychic powers as a result of his vegan diet.

    Barbara says...

    September 11th, 2010, 10:04 am

    oh, lenny!

    Margarita says...

    September 11th, 2010, 12:16 pm

    Ozzymand from watchmen just rules!!!!!

    libby says...

    September 11th, 2010, 1:01 pm

    “You don’t eat no meat! *pause* That’s o.k. I’ll make you some lamb.” The funniest comedy ever with a vegetarian character who is graciously introducing his eating habits to his new family-in-law. Plus funniest comedy ever! (John Corbet is a pretty good looking veggie on the eyes. Hubba-hubba)

    libby says...

    September 11th, 2010, 1:05 pm

    Sorry so funny i forgot the movie! My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

    Midnite says...

    September 13th, 2010, 12:55 am

    In the 2005 movie ‘Sky High’, Danielle Panabaker played Layla, a vegan, an animal activist, and a enviornmentalist, with the ability to understand aand control the growth of plants with parents who were the same. Though, her mother speaks to animals instead.

    Ashley says...

    September 13th, 2010, 6:52 am

    I love in the movie “Did You Hear About the Morgans” when Sarah Jessica Parker’s character declines bacon and eggs for breakfast, saying that she is actually a vegetarian and a member of PETA

    Noemi says...

    September 15th, 2010, 3:14 am

    I love Sarah in the tv serie CSI Las Vegas! She is vegetarian in tv and in real life :D

    felicia says...

    September 15th, 2010, 8:41 pm

    an episode of southpark stan stops eating meat when they learn where veal comes from

    Meg says...

    September 21st, 2010, 7:49 pm

    In the TV show Veronica Mars, Mac’s boyfriend Bronson (played by Michael Mitchell) is a vegan and animal rights activist. There’s even an episode that addresses vivisecion

    Grace Horvath says...

    September 25th, 2010, 10:39 am

    I love Rob Shneider’s character in Grown Ups!!

    Kristin says...

    December 15th, 2010, 3:49 pm

    In Grandmas Boy (which is hilarious) they got to a vegan restaurant and David Spade (Shiloh) is their vegan waiter and gets kinda ticked off about them making fun of vegans.

    ratdog says...

    December 17th, 2010, 5:03 pm

    Spock?

    Wendy says...

    April 22nd, 2011, 11:36 pm

    I know it’s a cartoon, but it still mentions somebody who’s vegan. Johnny Test has a character: Dark Vegan.

    Katie says...

    March 9th, 2012, 1:10 am

    Topanga Lawrence from Boy Meets World (1993-2001)

    nicole says...

    March 19th, 2012, 9:43 am

    Shaggy from Scooby Doo is supposed to be a vegetarian.

    Julie says...

    June 28th, 2012, 7:32 pm

    in the french film “the green beautiful” by colline serreau all the habitants of the little planet are vegetarians. when the woman came down to earth, she saw a shop where meat was sold and she thought it was an exhibition of cadavres. it’s a pretty funny film, very provocative, very ecological thinking. i enjoyed it and already watched it 3 times ;)

    Mushroom13 says...

    July 26th, 2012, 6:46 pm

    The central character of ‘Bunny and the Bull’ is vegetarian – he gets some stick for his ideals but he sticks to his views, and the subject’s beautifully handled :)

    87books says...

    November 7th, 2012, 11:10 am

    There’s a new film with a vegan: “The perks of being a wallflower.” She’s a bit unsympathetic as a vegan, but that appears to be her entire rigid, intellectual character.

    Patti says...

    January 7th, 2013, 10:22 pm

    In the live action adaptation of Samurai X (Rurouni Kenshin), one of the villains who fought with Sanousuke was vegetarian. He lost in the end, but he gave Sanou a pretty good fight. :)

    efe says...

    January 17th, 2013, 8:18 pm

    “Birds of America”
    Jay is a vegan.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1029134/

    AJ says...

    March 6th, 2013, 4:48 am

    In the series Teen Titans, Beast Boy (who is one of the Teen Titans who can change into any animal) is vegan. There’s often a reference to this fact, as well as tofu burgers and tofu this, that and the other. In one episode when the team is invited to a meal, he asks if it’s animal free.

    Borin says...

    March 14th, 2013, 1:50 pm

    You forgot McGuyver! :D

    Bruce says...

    January 19th, 2014, 4:49 am

    Bruce the vegetarian/vegan shark from Finding Nemo?

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