Created By: sareteni on October 28, 2011 Last Edited By: Lythande on May 16, 2016

Saintly Vegetarianism

Not eating meat is used to show a character\'s inner goodness or purity.

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Trope
This trope is when vegetarianismnote  or veganismnote  is used to indicate that the character following that diet is morally good, enlightened, innocent, or pure. Don't be surprised if the character in question also fills The Heart role.

This doesn't have to be an Author Tract, but can easily be seen as one.

If a whole culture is like this, it's a Veganopia. Related to Herbivores Are Friendly. Contrast Evil Vegetarian and Real Men Eat Meat (which assumes being a "real man" is a good thing).

Can be used to Pet the Dog for more Jerk Ass characters, showing a softer side to them.


Examples

Comic Books
  • Implicit in Superman: Birthright. Clark is vegetarian because he can see an animal's "life force". And, of course, he's the greatest superhero in the world.
  • Discussed in Watchmen. Dan discusses Ozymandias, marveling at how such a great man could do something so evil. He even remarks that he's a vegetarian. Rorshach then points out that Hitler was as well.
  • Karolina Dean, The Heart of the Runaways, is also a vegetarian.

Film
  • Sheldon Mopes/Smoochy the Rhino (Edward Norton) in Death to Smoochy. ZCE
  • Lampshaded/subverted/played for laughs: Todd Ingram, in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Veganism gives Todd his Psychic Powers ... but doesn't keep him from being a Jerk Ass.
  • Played with in S.W.A.T.. Hondo, who has some Cowboy Cop tendencies, rejects a SWAT applicant with a perfect record partly because he doesn't seem to comprehend that he may have to compromise that perfect record to be a SWAT officer, and partly because the guy orders a soy dog.
    Hondo: (to Street) How can I trust a man won't eat a good old-fashioned American hot dog?

Literature
  • Judge Dee. The Taoist monks in The Haunted Monastery are enlightened vegetarians. Subverted in that both the innocent monks and the particularly depraved villain are vegetarians (he's even noted as enjoying the food).
  • Eragon: The elves are vegetarian, and of course they're superior - just ask them. One sign that Eragon is becoming more elvish is his conversion to vegetarianism.
  • Although it's not explicitly treated as "good", Richard's enforced vegetarianism in the Sword of Truth series is believed to be a magical balance for the killing he does.
  • The Cullens in Twilight call themselves vegetarians because they eat animals rather than people, and are generally considered to be morally superior.

Live-Action Television
  • NCIS: One episode had a vegan janitor as a suspect, Abby invoked this trope to argue he had to be innocent.
  • In Star Trek, Vulcans do not eat meat and are generally considered rather enlightened.

Newspaper Comics
  • Get Fuzzy: Despite eating meat products towards the beginning of the comic's run, Rob is a vegetarian on moral grounds. He has explained on more than one occasion that he doesn't eat meat because he finds the way animals are treated and butchered into food products to be too cruel.

Religion and Mythology
  • The Bible averts this it is said that vegetarianism is weak, as both plants and animals are meant to be eaten.
    As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.
    — Romans 14:1-3, ESV
    • The book of Daniel in The Bible plays it straight, portraying Daniel and his friends as vegetarians, refusing to have meat even though they were working for the Babylonian king and could have whatever food they wanted, and even proving to their overseer that they were healthier for it. (This may also have made it easier for them to keep to Kosher laws in this period of Jewish exile, which require special slaughtering and preparation of meat and for it not to be eaten in the same meal with dairy.) He became known as a prophet, dream interpreter, and the guy who miraculously survived being thrown into the lion's den.

Video Games
  • In the Fable series, eating vegetables will make your character more pure and eating meat will make them more corrupt.
  • Dungeons of Dredmor, in its typical tongue-in-cheek fashion, has the Killer Vegan skill tree: "The power of clean living, moral superiority, and gluten-magic." It includes an "Aura of Self-Righteousness" power that deals "righteous" damage to your enemies.

Web Comics
  • Celia from The Order of the Stick is a Neutral Good Actual Pacifist and vegetarian. Because she's an Outsider, she has a different perspective on death to most of the cast (instead of an afterlife, her soul will merge with the Elemental Plane of Air), causing her to respect both her own life and those of creatures around her.
  • Marzipan in Homestar Runner is a vegetarian and the only member of the cast who isn't an idiot or a jerkass.

Web Original

Western Animation
  • Arthur. This becomes a major Political Correctness Gone Mad plot in the episode, "Sue Ellen Vegges Out," in which Sue Ellen becomes a vegetarian because her new "best friend" is a pig at a pig farm, and the idea of pigs being slaughtered for consumption horrifies her.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang is a vegetarian and Wise Beyond Their Years (although he sometimes still shows his playful kiddie side). He's also kind and wants to promote peace. Being raised by the highly-spiritual Air Nomads (who are also vegetarians) helps.
  • The premise of Count Duckula is that after death, Duckula can be resurrected by performing a blood ritual when the moon is full, but his assistant Igor accidentally uses ketchup instead of blood. As a result, Duckula, originally a villain, comes back as a peaceful vegetarian.
  • The cat Tiger from Don Bluth's An American Tail frees the mouse Fievel Mousekewicz from his cage, explaining that he's a vegetarian that never eats mice. Tiger is the only feline character in this work to avert the Cats Are Mean trope, actually becoming Fievel's best friend and confidante.
  • Played with in Teen Titans. Beast Boy is vegetarian because he has personally embodied many animals normally considered for meat.
  • Theodore from the 90s Alvin and the Chipmunks movies is vegetarian while his brothers are not. He's The Heart of the group.
  • Depending on the Writer, Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls is vegetarian, and the most innocent of the three. (This is despite her often shown eating meat, especially with the Running Gag of Utonium and liver).
  • In The Simpsons, Lisa is both the most intelligent and most idealistic member of the cast, and has converted to vegetarianism. Originally it was played for her learning An Aesop about moral crusading and acceptance, but since learning her lesson it's remained a part of her character.
  • In one South Park episode Stan, who is the most sensitive of the gang and issues often into animal welfare, went vegetarian. The episode ends up parodying the "sensitive" variant.

Real Life
  • At least half the New Age books on the market promote vegetarianism/veganism as the One True Path To Enlightenment.
Community Feedback Replies: 68
  • October 28, 2011
    Tuomas
    Related to Veganopia.
  • October 28, 2011
    AriHasNoLife
    An inversion related to Hitler Ate Sugar: Some people use Hitler's supposed vegetarian status as an argument that not eating meat is evil. Vulcans,arguably. Ghandi Buddha Lisa Simpson Invoked by Abby in an episode of NCIS as an argument for why a vegan janitor couldn't be the culprit.
  • October 28, 2011
    Antigone3
    At least half the New Age books on the market promote vegetarianism/veganism as the One True Path To Enlightenment.
  • October 30, 2011
    Ryuuma
    Averted in Egyptian Mythology: Seth was the mighty and badass god of storms, desert, destruction and generally bad things, and his diet mainly involved lettuce.
  • October 30, 2011
    Taelor
  • October 31, 2011
    Frank75
    Who's Ghandi Buddha Lisa Simpson? ;-)

    Averted by Jesus who ate meat.
  • October 31, 2011
    DaibhidC
    Could someone who's read it more recently decide if Superman Birthright counts? Clark is vegetarian because he can see an animal's "life force". And, of course, he's the greatest superhero in the world. But I can't recall if these two facts are explicitly linked.
  • October 31, 2011
    randomsurfer
    In Eragon the elves are vegetarian; as Eragon becomes more elvish he becomes vegetarian.
  • November 1, 2011
    LaplacesKyton
    ^^ It's implicit, but it counts. The whole point of the book is to modernize, humanize and vindicate Superman's boy scout reputation.
  • November 1, 2011
    LaplacesKyton
    Gandhi, Buddha and Lisa Simpson. Lol.
  • November 4, 2011
    AP
    • Discussed and ultimately averted in Watchmen. Dan discusses Ozymandias, marveling at how such a great man could do something so evil. He even remarks that he's a vegetarian. Rorshach then points out that Hitler was as well.
  • September 20, 2014
    Pichu-kun
    I know this is a few years old but I was gonna make a YKTTW for this concept: Vegetarians are sweet, friendly characters or sensitive ones.

  • September 20, 2014
    KTera
    • In the Fable series, eating vegetables will make your character more pure and eating meat will make them more corrupt.
  • September 20, 2014
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Western Animation
    • Arthur. This becomes a major Political Correctness Gone Mad plot in the episode, "Sue Ellen Vegges Out," in which Sue Ellen becomes a vegetarian because her new "best friend" is a pig at a pig farm, and the idea of pigs being slaughtered for consumption horrifies her.

    Also, it may or may not need to be pointed out that there's a lot of Truth In Television behind this, because many vegetarians in Real Life, especially hardcore vegans, are like the Jehovah's Witnesses of dietary lifestyles.
  • September 20, 2014
    DAN004
    Related to Herbivores Are Friendly

    BTW I believe this is Up For Grabs. Who wanna grab this before I do?
  • September 20, 2014
    Skylite
    • Aang from Avatar The Last Airbender Possibly justified because Airbender monks were very similar to Buddhist monks.
    • Played with in Teen Titans. Beast Boy is vegetarian because he has personally embodied many animals normally considered for meat.

  • September 20, 2014
    SWFMax
    Added tag "Description needs help". Also, this should probably forbid real life examples, because it would be pretty controversial.
  • September 20, 2014
    Alucard
    Contrast Evil Vegetarian.
  • September 20, 2014
    Gilliam414
    Possible rename to Venerable Vegetarianism for Added Alliterative Appeal ?
  • September 20, 2014
    Chabal2
    Judge Dee: The Taoist monks in the The Haunted Monastery. Subverted in that both the innocent monks and the particularly depraved villain are vegetarians (he's even noted as enjoying the food).

  • September 21, 2014
    Antigone3
    I'll grab this one, Dan. It'll be tomorrow before I can finish cleanup, though.
  • September 21, 2014
    Astaroth
    • Celia from The Order Of The Stick is a Neutral Good Actual Pacifist and vegetarian. Because she's an Outsider, she has a different perspective on death to most of the cast (instead of an afterlife, her soul will merge with the Elemental Plane of Air), causing her to respect both her own life and those of creatures around her.
  • September 21, 2014
    StarSword
    Film:
    • Played with in SWAT Hondo, who has some Cowboy Cop tendencies, rejects a SWAT applicant with a perfect record partly because he doesn't seem to comprehend that he may have to compromise that perfect record to be a SWAT officer, and partly because the guy orders a soy dog.
      Hondo: (to Street) How can I trust a man won't eat a good old-fashioned American hot dog?
  • September 21, 2014
    KomodoClassic
  • September 21, 2014
    StrixObscuro
    Comic Books
  • September 22, 2014
    Pichu-kun
    • Depending On The Writer Bubbles from The Powerpuff Girls is vegetarian. This is despite her often shown eating meat, especially with the Running Gag of Utonium and liver.
    • In one South Park episode Stan, who is the most sensitive of the gang and issues offen into animal welfare, went vegetarian. The episode ends up parodying the "sensitive" variant.
  • September 22, 2014
    Arivne
    • Capitalized the title.
    • Completed the Laconic.
    • Corrected spelling (characters -> character's).
    • Examples section formatting
      • Added a line separating the Description and Examples sections.
      • Sorted examples by media and added media section title(s).
      • Added a space between asterisks and the first word following them.
      • Namespaced and Blue Linked Creator names.
      • Namespaced, italicized and Blue Linked work name(s).
  • September 22, 2014
    justanotherrandomlurker
    Newspaper Comics
    • Get Fuzzy. Despite eating meat products towards the beginning of the comic's run, Rob is a vegetarian, and has explained on more than one occasion that he doesn't eat meat because he finds the way animals are treated and butchered into food products to be too cruel. On some occasions, we see that Rob's diet also affects Bucky and Satchel's diets as well; one time while Rob was away, Joe made them some jerk chicken as a treat.
  • September 23, 2014
    Pichu-kun
    • Played with when it comes to Elmer Fudd. He's an antagonist but stated in The Rabbit Fire he is vegetarian but hunts for sport. He's more Affably Evil than an actual villain.
  • September 29, 2014
    DAN004
    Are you there Mr. Antigone?
  • September 29, 2014
    hbi2k
    There are more than a few Zero Context Examples that need fleshing-out. Just saying "[character] is a vegetarian" (or worse yet, just naming the character without even saying that much) isn't enough; their vegan or vegetarian status needs to be offered as evidence of their moral character.
  • September 29, 2014
    Antigone3
    Still here, Dan.
  • September 29, 2014
    Antigone3
    Elmer Fudd doesn't count for this, IMO. He may be a vegetarian, but I know people who would ding him for being a sport hunter — thus killing "for fun" instead of for survival.
  • September 29, 2014
    DAN004
  • September 30, 2014
    Antigone3
    Real Men Eat Meat doesn't have moral implications, though — unless "being macho" is defined as morality.
  • September 30, 2014
    hbi2k
    ^^ and ^: I'd say "compare and contrast"; Real Men Eat Meat generally casts carnivorousness in a positive light insofar as being a "real man" is depicted as a positive trait, which contrasts the negative light cast on it by this trope. But it's certainly possible for that trope to overlap with this one in works that depict traditional masculinity in an unfavorable light, e.g. conflating it with barbarism.
  • September 30, 2014
    dexterian120
    Added in e bit about petting the dog.
  • October 1, 2014
    Antigone3
    ^^ Good point, hbi2k — added that to the description.
  • October 9, 2014
    DAN004
    Description needs fleshing out.
  • October 14, 2014
    DAN004
    Bump?
  • October 20, 2014
    DAN004
    Bump again
  • November 3, 2014
    DAN004
    Is Antigone there?
  • November 13, 2014
    DAN004
    Uh...
  • November 13, 2014
    Duncan
    Marzipan in Homestar Runner is a vegetarian and the only member of the cast who isn't an idiot or a jerkass.
  • December 15, 2014
    Elle
    The book of Daniel in The Bible portrays Daniel and his friends as vegetarians, refusing to have meat even though they were working for the Babylonian king and could have whatever food they wanted, even proving to their overseer that they were healthier for it. (This may also have made it easier for them to keep to Kosher laws in this period of Jewish exile, which require special slaughtering and preparation of meat and for it not to be eaten in the same meal with dairy.) He became known as a prophet, dream interpreter, and the guy who miraculously survived being thrown into the lion's den.
  • December 16, 2014
    troacctid
    • Dungeons Of Dredmor, in its typical tongue-in-cheek fashion, has the Killer Vegan skill tree: "The power of clean living, moral superiority, and gluten-magic." It includes an "Aura of Self-Righteousness" power that deals "righteous" damage to your enemies.
  • December 16, 2014
    Generality
    • Although it's not explicitly treated as "good", Richard's enforced vegetarianism in the Sword Of Truth series is believed to be a magical balance for the killing he does.
  • January 2, 2015
    Antigone3
    Sorry to have left this — had some computer issues, and lost track of a few things.
  • January 2, 2015
    troacctid
    Make sure that Saintly Veganism is a redirect. Probably Saintly Vegetarian and Saintly Vegan too?
  • January 18, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump
  • February 12, 2015
    DAN004
    Hats, maybe
  • February 13, 2015
    hbi2k
    Still has Zero Context Examples that only say "[character] is vegetarian" (or just "[name of character]") without explaining how it's used as evidence of their moral character.
  • February 13, 2015
    TyeDyeWildebeest
    • The premise of Count Duckula is based around this. After death, Duckula can be resurrected by performing a blood ritual when the moon is full, but his assistant, Igor, accidentally uses ketchup instead of blood. As a result, Duckula comes back as a peaceful vegetarian, rather than a murderous monster.
  • February 16, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ is Duckula even saintly?

    Btw context for Aang: he's a vegetarian and he's Wise Beyond Their Years (although he sometimes still shows his kiddie side), and he's also gentle and kind and aims to promote peace. Being raised among the highly spiritual Air Nomads helps.
  • March 8, 2015
    DAN004
    Added context for ATLA
  • March 8, 2015
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • The cat Tiger from Don Bluth's An American Tail frees the mouse Fievel Mousekewicz from his cage, explaining that he's a vegetarian that never eats mice. Tiger is the only feline character in this work to avert the Cats Are Mean trope, actually becoming Fievel's best friend and confidante.
  • March 8, 2015
    MorningStar1337
    Some Fridge Logic abounds from this mindset thought especially considering that plants are living beings too (granted they're not sentient so they are more likely to fall to What Measure Is A Non Human that animals)
  • March 9, 2015
    DAN004
    ^ try telling that to Real Life vegans.
  • March 9, 2015
    Gowan
    If the Cullens from Twilight can call themselves "vegetarians" because they're eating animals instead of humans, then I don't see why eating plants wouldn't be morally superior to eating animals, even though all are living beings. (Also, there are people who only eat fruit, as not to harm any creature - fruit is intended by the tree to be eaten.)
  • March 9, 2015
    LadyEvil
    • PETA made a parody of Cooking Mama that makes cooking a turkey look much more gruesome than it is. It comes with a bonus that says "Thanks to you, Mama now loves animals!" The Mama is shown wearing an apron that says "Go Veg" and "Powered by Tofu". Of course, it's PETA, what do you expect?
  • March 14, 2015
    TairaMai
    • In Star Trek, Spock was sent back in a planet's past "All Our Yesterdays". Vulcans are vegetarians, but where Spock is sent is back in the planet's ice age. The Girl Of The Week, Zarabeth, has killed an animal and that was the only food. McCoy, seeing Spock angst over having "eaten animal flesh" tells Spock that he's regressing back to the primitive Vulcan of long ago.
  • April 21, 2015
    DAN004
    Bump for now, I can't be sure about who's managing this lol.
  • May 12, 2015
    Lythande
    I've been looking for this trope off and on for years.

    May I suggest adding that it implies either goodness or purity? The connection with purity is arguably as strong as with goodness but may fit a True Neutral better than Good at times. In most cases they will overlap, of course, but I feel that with Pure Is Not Good there may be potential for interesting examples of characters who are objectively evil showing that they feel themselves to be morally superior (or even holy) through vegetarianism.
  • September 15, 2015
    Pichu-kun
  • March 13, 2016
    DAN004
    Yo, bump
  • April 8, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump because some ignorant made a duplicate
  • April 8, 2016
    Pichu-kun

    Why is the Arthur episode written under Political Correctness Gone Mad?
  • May 16, 2016
    DAN004
    Bump?
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