Peaceful, idyllic societies have a tendency to be vegetarian (if not vegan) in fiction. As often as not, these societies are portrayed as being morally, perhaps even spiritually/magically superior to our own, implying that humanity's meat-eating habit is somehow holding us back from living in a world of Crystal Spires and Togas
. Sometimes it can be downright Anvilicious
Some cases aren't so focused on the evils of eating animals so much as how circumstances might force people to adopt a vegetarian diet. See Future Food Is Artificial
for examples of this.
Races that refrain from meat-eating simply because their digestive physiology is herbivorous aren't necessarily examples of this trope — if they have
to eat plants, they're not really demonstrating moral superiority by doing so — but such species may subvert
this trope's expectations if they're violently-aggressive in spite of their diet.
Probably stems from the issues raised by Carnivore Confusion
and Let's Meet the Meat
. See also Mary Sue Topia
and Perfect Pacifist People
- Parodied by Frank Miller in Tales to Offend #1 where a woman from a typical Veganopia is rescued from a rampaging dinosaur by 'real man' Lance Blastoff. She starts to berate Lance for his unenlightened ways but is overwhlemed by the smell of the roasting dinosaur and immediately begins gorging herself on the freshly killed and cooked meat.
- The Smurfs are portrayed mostly as vegetarians, though sometimes they will be shown eating meat-based products. However, where they get the meat is anybody's guess.
- In Logan's Run (at least the movie), it seems the characters are vegan: when faced with the concept that humans once raised animals for food, Jessica remarks that "it must have been a savage world". Of course, what they don't know is that their own food source died out years ago and they've been eating frozen people for decades.
- Eternia is a Veganopia in the Masters of the Universe movie, and has apparently been that way for a very long time, to the point that Teela doesn't realize that the ribs she eats after coming to Earth are actually meat. When Man-At-Arms informs her of this fact, she's suitably disgusted. On the other hand, he doesn't seem to mind.
- He's a veteran of several wars and has probbably eaten far worse to survive.
- Subverted in Troll 2 They eat people... but only after turning them into plants.
- The United States becomes this in Escape From LA, when an uber-Christian man is elected President-for-life and imposes new laws for the "Moral America", such as no smoking, drinking, red-meat-eating, guns, swearing, non-Christian religions, or premarital sex. Anyone who disagrees is kicked out to live in Los Angeles, which has been separated from the mainland by an earthquake and turned into a penal colony. It's hardly a utopia, though. In fact, the President's plan is to use a series of EMP Kill Sats to cripple the rest of the world and conquer it.
- In Demolition Man, San Angeles has outlawed meat, along with cigarettes, alcohol, and swearing.
- The advanced alien race on K-PAX are vegetarians.
- Technology similar to the uterine replicators in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga allows people to create "vat protein" with no animals being harmed. No one is a true vegan, but when forced to eat meat from a real animal, Cordelia is distinctly uncomfortable. How "vegan" this situation is proves debatable in Ethan of Athos, where the reader is shown just where the protein in those vats comes from when the characters use the animal protein reclamation system to covertly dispose of a dead body.
- In Arthur C. Clarke's 3001: The Final Odyssey, the future human civilisation is portrayed as vegetarian and disgusted by the idea of eating animals; however, they do create dishes which imitate the taste of meat.
- In Arthur C. Clarke's short story The Food of the Gods, the fact that synthetic foods are designed to imitate the taste of meat is not mentioned in polite society, and the narrator's testimony on that point nearly causes one member of a Congressional committee to become physically ill. The narrator is leading up to an accusation that one of his competitors is producing and marketing a synthetic duplicate of human meat.
- In Samuel R. Delany's Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, the enlightened human narrator is shocked at the idea of eating meat from what had been a living animal... being much more comfortable eating vat-grown human flesh.
- Humans in James Gurney's Dinotopia are generally vegans — "No milk, no meat, and no eggs." Not that milk is easy to come by, given that the only large mammals on the island live in inhospitable mountains. And when the local cow- and chicken-equivalents are the sentient dinosaurs who make up a large portion of the population, well... They used fish as part of diplomatic terms with some T-Rexs so fish seem OK.
- Material in subsequent books (including a mammoth being milked in Journey to Chandara and mentions of shellfish catching in Hand of Dinotopia) suggest that most of Dinotopia is actually pescatarian.
- In Frank Herbert's Con Sentiency series, most people no longer eat animals for meat. Meat (or at least protein) is produced in flesh vats.
- The future humans in Anne McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang universe are all vegetarians, except for some "backward" mutants.
- The elves in Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle are revealed to be vegans. Which is rather funny, considering the first elf introduced in the series was wearing leather armour. According to Word Of God, said leather-wearing elf doesn't give a flying nut about her culture's stigma of using animal products, though she does not eat meat.
- Subverted with the Galactic Federation from John Ringo's Legacy of the Aldenata, who are all not so much vegetarians as outright herbivores, and are in fact incapable of killing a living animal (a major plot point). The Darhel, one of the four races that make it up, are very obviously naturally carnivorous, with sharp, needle-like teeth. All of them are technologically far more advanced, claim moral superiority, except the Darhel have had a 5000 year long stranglehold on GalFed politics and economy, treat the most populous member race as slaves, and, since shortly after contact with humans was made, have been systematically sabotaging human attempts to fight off the omnivorous alien hordes in order to keep our numbers down or exterminate us altogether.
- From Animorphs:
- The Andalites turn out to be a subversion. They evolved to be herbivores and are initially disgusted at the idea of eating flesh, and, while not pacifists, they are portrayed as a heroic race fighting to defend the galaxy from the evil Yeerks. But those on Earth seem to not have any moral qualms about eating meat, especially since in human form they are rather overwhelmed by taste and try to eat anything. Also, it becomes increasingly clear over the course of the series that they're not as morally pure as they first appear.
- The Hork Bajir are a straight example, of the Noble Savage variety. Before the Yeerks enslaved them, they were stone age herbivores with no concept of war. They eventually do learn to defend themselves, but remain among the more unambiguously good characters in the series.
- The peaceful Eloi in H. G. Wells's The Time Machine were vegans. (However, they weren't especially bright.) They didn't have much of a choice though, since all other animals were (at least locally) extinct by then. Not to mention that the Morlocks treat them as cattle.
- In his Island of Dr. Moreau, the strict Laws under which the beast-men live forbid them from consuming meat. This isn't imposed for moral reasons, but because their creator fears (rightly) that tasting flesh will accelerate the mental reversion of any beast-man that was created from a carnivore.
- In the Mercedes Lackey/Piers Anthony novel If I Pay Thee Not In Gold, one of the societies the heroine encounters is like this. Subverted in that their better health and such is just an illusion. They wear masks to hide their age, and the elders "go on a quest" when they reach a certain age. (Actually they die and the bodies are hidden.)
- In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien's Elves, nature spirits (Beorn, for ex.), and Maiar tend to be like this, as was Beren. They generally favour bread and milk rather than vegetables, though.
- Beren is specifically said to have given up meat because of the aid animals gave him during his adventures. The Laiquendi or 'Green Elves' also seem to be vegetarian but the Noldor and Sindar most certainly are not as hunting is a favoured pastime and the Valar include Orome, a huntsman.
- The Mirkwood Elves (who are partially Laiquendi) are also hunters. In fact, it's the agricultural elves which are hard to find in Tolkien's work - which makes vegetarianism very problematic.
- Many Fairies in Artemis Fowl are vegetarians, and, if their society is not a utopia, they certainly think it is better than human civilization. Objectively it is not so different from human civilization. Some fairies are dim-witted, some are noble, some shallow, and some treacherous.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Ithorians, a.k.a. "hammerheads". They're pacifists who don't eat meat and tend to sentient trees. It's also averted by Yoda, who despite being an old wise Jedi, has more issues with Luke's artificial food than with actual meat.
- Another example are the Advozsec who are all vegetarians as they can't digest meat.
- The Kindar in the Green Sky Trilogy. Justified somewhat by the fact their social structure was engineered since day one to make violence of any kind unthinkable. Their Erdling brethren are omnivores, mostly because their underground-dwelling condition isn't conducive to harvesting and agriculture. This also features as a game mechanic in the video game adaptation; Kindar take a hit to their spirit stat if they eat meat while Erdlings are unaffected.
- In the (rather odd) novel Cat Karina, eating meat or working metals are both illegal in the far future, presumably to discourage a return to technological warfare. Nevertheless, the most popular food is the "tortuga": a type of turtle, presumably genetically engineered, which grows a spherical, softened shell after breeding and is marketed as a delicious fruit.
- In Anne McCaffrey's Dinosaur Planet, vegetarianism is legally mandated by The Federation, to such a strict degree that omnivorous species must unanimously swear off meat or be kicked out of the FSP. "Reversion" to hunting for meat is portrayed as a heinous crime, and leads to mutiny when the heavyworlders indulge in this forbidden practice.
- In the Planet Pirates series in the same 'verse, it's not quite so hard-line. Fish are eaten on colony worlds, while the heavyworlders and Seti ignore the rule on their own worlds. "Don't ask, don't tell" seems to be the effective rule.
- In Umberto Eco's novel Baudolino, during their journey, the main characters pass through a village of gymnosophists, people who wear no clothes, have no possessions and eat only fruits that grow naturally.
- The society in the Uglies trilogy is at least vegetarian; upon arriving at The Smoke, Tally is disgusted by the main course meal of rabbit stew because eating meat is seen as cruel and uncivil in her home society.
- S.L. Viehl's Jorenians—despite being pastoralists descended from predators—are vegetarians (although Xonea Torin tries shrimp alfredo with scarcely a comment in Beyond Varallan). Zigzagged in that they're portrayed as both a Superior Species (if mainly because Terrans are rabid xenophobes and hypocrites in the Stardoc-verse) and a Proud Warrior Race (albeit one wearing the Cultured Warrior hat).
- Left Behind's Kingdom Come has everyone in the Millennial Kingdom (including the animals) go vegetarian. The meat restriction was only lifted for the wedding feast at the beginning of the Millennium.
- In The Rings of Saturn, the time-traveller protagonist notes that the meals in the future don't see to contain any meat (on the other hand, the future people are sure fond of giving their food space-themed names.)
- The leading civilization on the titular planet in K-PAX is described as this by prōt, the mental patient very convincingly claiming to be a visitor from said planet.
- Star Trek
- Vulcans — which serve as the "morally-superior" race, at least in their own minds. However there are plants, and then there are Vulcan plants. In a Star Trek novel set on Spock's homeworld, the characters are attacked by a mobile, shrieking, prey-stalking carnivorous plant native to the region ... and after it's been phasered to death, Spock eats some of it. One of the early TOS novels postulated that Vulcans were vegetarians partly because the herbivores previously used as meat died off during Surak's time. The most common reason given for their vegetarianism is the same one that led them to pacifism. They are such a violent and destructive race that they have to go to extreme lengths to not destroy themselves/conquer the universe/destroy the universe.
- Riker eats eggs (Owon Eggs), Heart of Targ, gagh (live and dead), pipius claw... but claims people have moved beyond enslaving animals. Perhaps this refers to raising livestock as opposed to wild animals.
- Veganism seems common on Federation ships due to access to replicators that can create very convincing meat substitutues, avoiding the need to keep the real stuff in storage on long voyages. Attitudes about veganism vary widely, from disdain toward the concept of eating meat — like Riker claiming they don't enslave animals for food anymore, to acceptance — like Picard importing genuine seafood at what was implied to be great expense to eagerness: Dax and other patrons of Klingon cuisine complaining that their gagh is too dead.
- In an episode of Sapphire And Steel, humans from the far future are all vegan. Perhaps atypically, this has nothing to do with any sense of immorality about eating meat: humans of the future find animals disgusting and unclean and have exterminated all of them.
- Along vaguely similar lines, eating meat (or at least beef) is illegal in the near-future world of Sea Quest DSV, it seems, because the ecologically-minded folks of the late 2020s did not like the atmospheric implications of keeping large numbers of cows around.
- Doctor Who: In the successful hippie commune of the Third Doctor serial "The Green Death", the local Marty Stu is on the hunt for a mushroom that tastes like meat, with the implication that it would eliminate the need for meat, and therefore meat-eating altogether.
- Jack Vance maliciously subverts this in The Book of Dreams by describing a world in which a colony of fanatical human vegetarians degenerated into mindless grazing animals.
- Some Christian sects believe the Garden of Eden was like this prior to the apple incident. Some believe that a post-Armageddon world would be the same.
- In GURPS Transhuman Space, "fauxflesh" has led to The European Union becoming a slight Veganopia. The absence of "fauxfish" means that there's still aggressive aquaculture, though.
- Fauxfish exists, it's just more expensive than the real thing, while fauxbeef, -pork, and -chicken are all cheaper. And the aquaculture Mega Corps have spent a lot on memetic engineering to convince people that a slab of fauxoyster just isn't the same as prying a real one out of its shell.
- Subverted in Traveller where the K'kree are fanatics devoted to annihilating all carnivores.
- Their definition of carnivore being "any organism that feeds on animals in any way whatsoever". This includes fungi and bacteria.
- It's implied that the Tau of Warhammer 40,000 are like this, and indeed may have evolved from plains-dwelling grazing animals, though more in expanded universe literature then the actual game. Most prominently in the form of the Alien Lunch served in one of The Last Chancers novels, Kill Team.
- Inverted with the Wood Elves in The Elder Scrolls universe, who religiously are obliged to follow the "Green Pact" and only eat meat to protect their sacred plants. Culturally, they are also obliged to eat their fallen enemies after killing them in battle.
- Harvest Moon games all take place in a pescatarian society (i.e. they eat fish, but not meat). Of course, since the idea of the game is to make you care for your animals, it would be a little cruel to be able to eat them as well.
- Subverted by the Quarians of Mass Effect. Quarians are stated to be naturally omnivorous, but subsist on a vegan diet. The Quarians live on a fleet, and raising animals for food is less than optimally space- and energy-efficient. The Quarians are not exactly a Proud Warrior Race, but live in a state of perpetual martial law, and their entire society is geared towards the day when they can reconquer their homeworld.
- As a result, Quarians who can get their hands on meat will gorge themselves. Their severely weakened immune systems (due to generations of life in sterile environments) will promptly rebel, but Quarians just don't care about that.
- In the space arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space, Arthur asks Guenevere if she's ever wondered why some flavours are named after animals. She doesn't want to know.
- Subverted in Johnny Test when Johnny comes across a Veganopia that is revealed to be so only because they trash other planets. (But the Big Bad Alien's daughter decides that this was against the spirit of their society, so it may turn into a true Veganopia later.)
- It is suggested that the Air Nomads in Avatar The Last Airbender were vegetarians*, due to the belief that all life is sacred.
- Being ponies, it makes sense that the ponies (and for some reason, dragon) in the My Little Pony series* are all primarily vegetarians, though they do seem to enjoy dairy (chocolate milk) and eggs.
- Pinkie Pie mentions once that she likes hot dogs. No mention whether these hot dogs are meat-based or not.
- Real-Life Exception (sort of): The ancient Assyrians were a culture of almost-vegetarian agrarians and a cruel warrior race who brutally tortured and killed those they defeated.
- The entire Columbian exchange provides a notable aversion: Most peoples in the Americas were quite carnivorous. One result being that, as the carbohydrate crept into these peoples' diets (often by force), an increase in diabetes.
- Given the rising human population, many scientists are predicting that the world will have to drastically if not totally reduce the amount of meat produced due to it being an extremely inefficient way of producing food in terms of land and energy requirements. Of course, this seems more like a dystopian scenario than a utopian one.
- Feeding grains to cows is inefficient. Letting them graze grass, especially in unarable areas (most of the world), is efficient.
- An inversion similar to the above: about 1/3 of the Earth's population are vegetarian, not by choice; they just can't afford to regularly eat meat.
- One of the most common tenets of ascetic living (regardless of creed) is forgoing meat and other animal derived foods. Even practitioners who don't espouse some greater than average respect for animals feel that such products are a luxury that they are better off without and some even link abstinence from meat to improved spiritual or mental abilities.