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Straw Vegetarian

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Blond: ... He's, uh... he's still trying to leave the smallest footprint on the planet that he can.
Silver: All food production is exploitative.

Whiny, pale, and possibly even intent on eliminating the entire human race to make way for fluffy bunnies, the Straw Vegetarian is a thinly-veiled Strawman who is desperate for a bacon sandwich or would really like meat "if they just tried it". In some works, vegetarians or vegans are also shown arrogantly forcing their meat-eating family and friends to stop eating meat, often referring to them as murderers. More often than not, no one likes folks like this, often saying under their breaths, "Can't I have just one meal in peace?"


The vast majority of vegetarians and vegans, however, are not like this. Most have eaten meat before and choose not to continue doing so for multiple reasons (ethical, health, environmental, etc.). The more well-rounded ones are also respectful of what others eat, though it helps if that respect is returned. Also, the distinction between vegan and vegetarian is fairly simple: vegans avoid animal products altogether, whereas vegetarians will eat animal products as long as killing the animal is not a requirement to obtaining them.


Common stereotypes:

This section is a pick 'n' mix of stereotypical traits — any number of them can apply.

Compare and contrast Evil Vegetarian, where an evil villain abstains from meat (out of conviction, squeamishness, personal taste, or whatever) but is nonetheless prepared to do things most people would consider far worse than meat-eating to attain his ends. The Evil Vegetarian is always a straight-up villain, and also differs from the Straw Vegetarian in that his villainy is not necessarily directly connected to his vegetarianism; for him, the latter might simply be a lifestyle choice of little immediate importance to his other activities. The tropes are not mutually exclusive, however, and a character can easily be both. See also Meat Versus Veggies, and further Real Men Eat Meat.

People who exhibit some or many of the typical traits of the Straw Vegetarian as described here certainly exist in real life; probably the most (in)famous was Adolf Hitler, who promoted vegetarianism and animal rights and sometimes filibustered against meat-eating at the dinner table, regaling his guests with horror stories about the abuses of the meat industry. However, like all "Strawman" tropes, this one refers specifically to fictional characters deliberately crafted by an author to exhibit particular traits, and/or make a point: a living person by definition cannot be a strawman. Therefore, No Real Life Examples, Please!


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  • In an advert for Quorn (a type of meat-replacement protein) the vegetarian is portrayed as the classic whiner "it's-a-phase" stereotype. Which is really weird when you consider that the stuff is aimed primarily at vegetarians.
  • An ad for um, something has a girl walk into the kitchen and simply declare that she's a pescetarian now. The father is bewildered, while the mom just starts looking up something (recipes?) on her phone, without bothering to question why a teenager is dictating the dietary policies of the house.

    Comic Books 
  • In a recent issue of Spider-Woman, Jessica Drew discovered that an Evil Chef in a Canadian ski lodge was serving human flesh to his diners, and played Straw Vegetarian to stop people from eating; knocking bits of food out of their mouths and shouting things like "MEAT IS MURDER!" Her actions in this case were justified (well, more so than for the obvious reason that the villain was a murderer) in that, in the Marvel Universe, anyone who eats human flesh in the Canadian Woods turns into a Wendigo, and the chef was intentionally attempting to turn all of his unknowing patrons into Wendigos.
  • Lance Blastoff encounters one in Frank Miller's Tales to Offend. She is immediately converted when she smells the delicious aroma of roast dinosaur Lance is cooking.
  • Tharg's Future Shocks: Parodied by the "Vegetable Liberation Front", who raid grocery stores to free 'enslaved vegetables'. They only eat edible rocks, because eating fruit or vegetables is wrong. One guy notes that they might get a bad rep with the "Mineral Liberation Front", but his partner says that doesn't matter because most of them have already died of starvation.
  • Swedish cartoonist Johan Wanloo likes this trope, to the point that he has a pair of recurring characters where this is the entire joke, a married couple of hipsters who have based their entire lives around the vegan lifestyle. In one strip, the woman goes on a long tangent about the evils of meat eating, while the man just sits there looking zoned out.
    Man: Sorry honey, I didn't hear a word you said, I'm so weak from lack of proteins that it takes all my energy just to focus on breathing.
    Woman: Oh, sorry.
    Man: Shh, don't distract me or I'll die.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • Tales of the Undiscovered Swords: During his introduction, Konotegashiwa berates Shokudaikiri for serving "senseless death" and flips the food he cooks to the floor for containing fish and cream. Of course, seeing as he is a sword, this also makes him hypocritical on top of already massively jerkish – though to be fair, he acknowledges this.
    Konotegashiwa: Isn't it enough that you and I are both weapons? Now you have to commit this shit too?
  • A Diplomatic Visit:
    • There are those in the Equestrian Border Guard who are… selective about how they interpret and enforce the laws, and some of them can come off as this. Among other things, they try to arrest any prospective newcomers who work with meat, claiming their profession isn't recognized in Equestria. (They conveniently ignore that there are ponies who work with meat, to supply food to the domestic cat and dog population.)
    • Members of the PVE (Pony Vegan Environmentalists) can also come off as this with their pony-first propaganda and especially their prejudice against meat-eating races.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Brad's grandmother in the second Critters film has shades of this, given that she constantly preaches about how vegetables are far healthier to eat than meat and going so far as to infer that humans were never meant to consume meat.
  • In Hallmark's For Better or For Worse, the female lead's son Collin is engaged to her rival's daughter, Sophia. They have decided they are "vegan", despite having no clue what it means. Collin later thanks his mom for her muffins, being apparently oblivious to the fact that neither he nor Sophia could eat not only the veal parmesan, but probably most of the salad, nor the muffins, nor most everything on the table. In other words, they're idiots, along with the mother, who could easily have served eggplant and held the parmesan. They also visit a farm where livestock is used and nobody objects to cattle being milked, and decide the best example of a vegan cake is carrot cake.
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World plays with this, portraying vegans as Large Ham superhumans who have superpowers and taking Brandon Routh on a role, who at that time was the last performer of the role of Superman and was explicitly used as Actor Allusion. Of course, this was done to ridicule the "narcissism" of the vegans but as a result, it looks like Stealth Parody. Todd turns out is not even faithful to his own diet.
  • Specific diets and anyone who follow them are poked fun at in Two 4 One as though they're this. It's especially played for laughs when the protagonist starts coming out to his co-workers as transgender, and one assumes the important thing he has to tell them is that he's a vegan.

  • An Exaggerated Trope: In The Amazing Days of Abby Hayes, Abby's mother's friend from college, Laurie, isn't a vegetarian, but follows an insanely restrictive diet where she doesn't eat wheat, sugar, dairy, non-organic meat/fruit/vegetables, any food made with preservatives/chemicals/pesticides, or anything else she considers to be "too artificial", which basically means that she lives off of nuts, seeds, soy products, and vegan alternatives like oat milk and almond butter. The Hayes family tries to accommodate her diet when she comes to stay at their house for a few weeks, but she quickly starts trying to force it on them at every opportunity, constantly lecturing them about their diets being full of chemicals, pesticides, plastics, toxins, etc. She also forces her own daughter Wynter to follow the same diet; predictably, Wynter hates it and takes every chance she gets to eat junk foods like chocolate, ice cream, and hot dogs.
  • Animal Inn: Generally averted by Val — she loves animals and won't eat meat because she can't bring herself to eat an animal she might have helped care for in her veterinary work (though she will eat animal products like eggs and cheese), and does occasionally cringe when someone else brings up the subject of eating meat in her presence. However, she doesn't try to force her beliefs on others, stating in book 4 that "I don't expect everybody to feel the way I do about animals", and will help prepare meat dishes for her family. She also isn't opposed to animals eating meat when it's in their species' nature. However, she does have a rather strong objection to hunting, which becomes a plot point in book 11.
  • Dawn from The Babysitters Club. Especially bad since she didn't start out like this (possibly a case of Flanderization). She went from being a normal girl who just happened to be a vegetarian to one who would self-righteously lecture the other girls every time they ate meat, going on and on about how she was going to outlive all of them because of her healthier lifestyle.
  • Madeline Bassett, a recurring character in Jeeves and Wooster books is an unbearably mushy and sentimental girl. In Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves she becomes a vegetarian and she's incredibly self-righteous about it. She forces her fiancé to follow her diet. As a result, he leaves her for a cook, who won his heart with her steak-and-kidney pie.
  • Eustace and his parents in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader are vegetarian; they also follow other restrictions like avoiding alcohol and tobacco. All these lifestyle choices tie into their characterization as bland, effete snobs and trend-followers who subscribe to secular intellectualism instead of the Good Old Ways. He says they're also Quakers though, and there is a dose of Straw Pacifist too.
  • Magrat Garlick, in her first appearance in Wyrd Sisters, is the kind of vegetarian who is prone to informing non-veggies how much undigested meat they probably have in their colons. Lords and Ladies balances it out by contrasting her with an absurdly old-fashioned cook who doesn't believe vitamins exist.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Dick Solomon became one of these as a Compressed Vice on 3rd Rock from the Sun, reverting to his normal meat-eating ways at the end of the episode. Justified by the Rule of Funny and the fact that Dick's personality is just that extreme.
  • Penny on the pilot episode of The Big Bang Theory.
    Penny: Oh, I'm a vegetarian. Except for fish. And the occasional steak. I love steak.
  • Bob Hearts Abishola: While Bob is being rushed into the hospital during his heart attack in the pilot episode, his sister Christina comments that maybe now he'll stop eating defenseless animals. Though she is shown eating chili in "The Cheerleader Leader" and since Bob cooked it for the whole family, it most likely isn't vegetarian chili.
  • Similarly averted on Bones with Temperance Brennan. Her diet change was an outgrowth of one, the pig farm incident at the end of Season 1 that was connected to her mother's death, and two, writing in the real-life choices of the actress playing her.
  • Britta from Community is one, as well as highly hypocritical about it, smugly announcing to the Study Group that she's a vegetarian while wearing a leather jacket.
  • CSI averts this completely with Sara Sidle. She did complain when Grissom wanted her to clean up his meat experiment, but now they seem to have a good understanding, and she never fell into the stereotypes at all. She does occasionally point things out to someone in the break room but doesn't get pushy about their choices.
    • Played straight with the paleontology student who died on the set of the animatronic Walking With Dinosaurs live show. He not only pressured his girlfriend into swearing off meat, but he idolized herbivorous dinosaurs and despised the carnivores to a degree that seems idiotic in a science student.
  • Mostly averted with Phoebe from Friends, who disapproves of meat eating but doesn't condemn her friends for it. When she is pregnant, she gives in to her meat cravings and Joey offers to go vegetarian for the rest of her pregnancy so no extra animals will have to die.
  • Subverted in Hannibal by having Hate Sink Freddie Lounds be the show's vegetarian. Ironically, this leads to her being one of the only main characters who has not eaten human flesh.
  • House: Subverted. One of the clinic patients is the baby of a vegan couple. The couple are initially presented as idiots who unintentionally starved their baby by making it eat a vegan diet. They even get arrested for child endangerment. However, the couple had actually consulted a college-educated nutritionist who created a vegan diet plan suited for an infant. The baby was suffering from a genetic condition that prevented it from properly absorbing nutrients, and thus the health problems had nothing to do with the diet.
  • How I Met Your Mother
    • "Shelter Island": Stella's sister Nora is introduced as a preachy, holier-than-thou vegetarian, to Ted's contempt. Zig-zagged when her fiancé dumps her and she goes on a steak binge.
      Nora: [Smugly] I wish I could tune out that moral voice inside me that says eating animals is murder... but I guess I'm just not as strong as you are.
      Ted: That's because you need protein. [To the restaurant waiter] I'll have the lamb.
    • Strawberry, a Granola Girl who was one of Ted's exes that Lily brought up as an example of him bringing his random girlfriends to their special events, threw soy sauce on the hibachi chef at the dinner they had celebrating Marshall's graduation while yelling "Meat is murder!"
      Ted: Okay, I admit it, Strawberry was a mistake. But how could I have known that going in?
      Group: Her name was Strawberry!
  • Regine from Living Single becomes one after watching a daytime talk show where it's said being a vegetarian is not only good for you but will keep you active and young looking when you get old (as well as have a hot, young boyfriend).
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, we find out his class is full of these at the Krelboyne picnic. Hal becomes a hero to all the beleaguered dads in attendance (who very obviously were not vegetarians) by sneaking in real meat, but chaos ensues when the Krelboynes realize their "tofu" is bleeding.
  • Proving that the "obnoxiously self-satisfied vegetarian" stereotype has been around for quite a while, a Monty Python's Flying Circus sketch begins with a waiter welcoming the characters to his restaurant in this fashion:
    Waiter: This is a vegetarian restaurant only, we serve no animal flesh of any kind. We're not only proud of that, we're smug about it.
    • Although in typical Python fashion, it's played with; he ends a crazed rant about how he'd never subject an innocent, defenceless animal to any number of unpleasant tortures with "not for food, anyway." It also turns out that while the restaurant won't serve animal flesh, it's quite willing to serve human flesh.
  • Parks and Recreation: Chris Traeger isn't quite a vegetarian, but his health nut tendencies are treated in the same manner. One episode sees him attempt to get hamburgers removed from City Hall's cafeteria because they're unhealthy, and he makes a proposal to Ron Swanson: They have a cook-off where Chris makes a turkey burger and Ron makes a hamburger. Chris slaves over his burger, making it with expensive ingredients, while Ron just slaps ground beef on a grill. Ron wins in a landslide, and when Chris has a bite, he announces that beef is just inherently better.
  • Gordon Ramsay at one time seemed to believe this of most vegetarians and has pulled stunts before, such as allowing a cook to tell a passing vegetarian that something with bacon in it was vegetarian. He also organized a TV stunt on his program The F Word where he filled a restaurant with (supposed) vegetarians who had all agreed to try meat (presumably to put pressure on any regular veggies watching). He's softened up considerably since then, after some research on intensive pig farming.
    Ramsay: It's enough to make anyone turn fucking vegetarian, for God's sake. And I've always sort of knocked vegetarians and vegans for missing out on the most amazing flavour you can get from meat. But you can see why so many people change instantly.
  • Some early Seinfeld episodes have Elaine as one, with the strong implication that she only wants a cheap excuse to argue with people.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise: The Vulcans criticize humans who eat meat whenever they have the opportunity. For instance, one episode featured a group of Vulcans stranded in a remote area and two of them preferred to starve rather than eat an animal to survive. This was in sharp contrast to other portrayals of Vulcans, such as Spock, who maintained a vegetarian diet as much as they could but were willing to eat meat if there was nothing else available, seeing voluntary starvation as illogical.
  • That's So Raven: Raven's best friend Chelsea is a vegetarian and the shows Cloudcuckoolander. Her mother may also be a vegetarian as well as a hippie.
  • Two and a Half Men has Mia, one of Charlie's fiancees, trying to make Charlie stop eating meat. Not only was she a straw vegetarian, she was making Charlie give up everything he liked, including drinking, cigars, and even sex.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • In his special Thinky Pain, Marc Maron talks about why he wouldn't want to have lunch with a vegan because 15 minutes into the conversation, he'll inevitably end up saying this:
    "Alright! I'm not gonna eat it, are you happy?! We didn't save a pig; we wasted one!"

    Video Games 
  • In Surviving Mars, colonists with the "Vegan" trait get a morale penalty for living in a dome with a ranch. The trait description is "Don't worry, they'll tell you".

    Web Animation 
  • Averted by Karen in Sims Big Brother 8. While her interview makes her sound like one, where she states her goal is to introduce one houseguest to veganism or at least vegetarianism but she doesn't outright say it.
  • Fauna Ceres from hololive is one as a personal lifestyle choice, though she doesn't mention it often as she's well aware of the stereotype and finds that kind of preaching off-putting. She doesn't begrudge anyone eating meat and has only ever gone Soapbox Sadie once on Minecraft for a joke.


    Web Original 
  • The Best Page in the Universe portrays all vegetarians everywhere like this, and urges carnivores to eat more meat than usual to compensate for the animals that aren't dying.
  • The Scott The Woz episode "A Very Madden 08 Christmas" has Scott being invited to the third annual Vegans Anonymous Gathering, a convention/cult meeting of vegans during the holiday season. Said vegans aren't too happy when they discover that Scott has brought milk strapped onto his person to the gathering. They also later talk about the joys of consuming vegan bread and coffee.
    Terry: [commenting on Scott having a jug of milk taped on his clothes] To me, you're basically wearing a racial slur on a shirt.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
  • Hayley in American Dad!. An adamant vegetarian, yet in one episode, she spends her time stuck in Africa with Stan and Steve in the American Embassy, clearly eating meat dishes. In another, she admonishes her boyfriend Jeff for eating a corn dog, telling him they're vegetarian. Jeff replies "Still?" In yet another episode, she decides to have a "cheat day" after eating one of Klaus's omelettes which she didn't know contained veal and spends the whole day indulging in increasingly decadent meat dishes. It takes eating the brain of an endangered gorilla to finally make her feel guilty enough to stop (though unbeknownst to her, this was actually a scam). Both she and Jeff seem to be under the impression that animals coexist peacefully in the wild, which couldn't be further from the truth. She would eventually ditch her vegetarianism for good after getting a job at Sub Hub.
  • Archer: Cecil, Cheryl's brother, is revealed to be a vegan due to the insistence of his Granola Girl fiancee Audrey, to the point that the seafood buffet on their boat is actually made from tofu, albeit very well-crafted and almost identical to the real thing.
  • In Danny Phantom, goth girl Sam tries to get meat banned from the school café in favour of her parody vegetarian diet of turf (yes turf, as in grass) — the result is mass protests from both sides. It's played for laughs, however, and is an Affectionate Parody (her opposite, Tucker, is utterly meat-obsessed).
  • Inverted in DC Super Hero Girls; Poison Ivy (aka Pam Isley) only eats meat because she hates seeing any kind of plant die for the sake of human consumption and doesn't like that Jessica Cruz (who sometimes plays the trope straight, herself, but most of the time she respects other peoples' dietary choices) is a vegetarian since that diet is mostly plant-based. She apparently doesn't understand that the animals raised for meat have to eat an even larger quantity of plants in order for the farmers and the slaughterhouses to produce meat in the first place.
  • Free Waterfall Jr. from Futurama, The leader of the ironically named Mankind for Ethical Animal Treatment (M.E.A.T) who protested the consumption of "Popplers" (baby omicronians) only to be Eaten Alive by Lrr, making him the first of the Waterfall family to suffer Death by Irony. He also taught a lion to eat tofu, making him very sick in the process.
  • Victor Volt of The Secret Show is a vegetarian. Though, thankfully, this trope is Averted. He never shoves it down anyone's throat. In fact, it only really ever comes up once when a race of utterly delicious aliens show up and he's the only one that can keep from eating them with a slurp, which causes horrible mutations in the eater.
  • The Simpsons: Lisa tries to convince everyone not to eat meat at Homer's barbecue and eventually throws away the roasted pig. At the end of that episode, Lisa learns from Paul and Linda McCartney not to be judgmental about non-vegetarians, after which she mostly settles down — but it doesn't stop her occasionally lapsing into aggression in later episodes, mostly as jokes.
    • Also Lisa once fell in with a crowd of extreme environmental activists. She develops a crush on the leader and visits him in jail.
      Lisa: I think your protest was incredibly brave.
      Jesse: Thank you. This planet needs every friend it can get.
      Lisa: Oh, the earth is the best! That's why I'm a vegetarian.
      Jesse: Heh. Well, that's a start.
      Lisa: Uh, well, I was thinking of going vegan.
      Jesse: I'm a level 5 vegan — I won't eat anything that casts a shadow.
    • Admittedly she's young and has a crush; there's no strong indication she doesn't believe veganism is a good thing. In fact, Jesse could be the bigger Strawman, likely only being such a strong vegan to swagger about his environmental message, not because he believes so strongly in it.
  • Played with by Beast Boy in Teen Titans Go!. While he reacts with disgust when he's presented with a meat dish (the reason why he's vegetarian is since he can transform into any kind of animal, he sees meat-eating as a form of cannibalism), and spends one episode trying to get his teammates to eat vegetables (which naturally results in them becoming veggie-hungry zombies because it's just that kind of show), he does acknowledge that even though he thinks meat is gross, it's fine if others decide to eat meat, but you should have a balanced diet no matter what your diet is like. In fact, him getting his friends to eat vegetables wasn't to force them to give up meat, but for them to have a healthier diet.
  • Clover from Totally Spies! claims to be a vegetarian but has no problem with eating seafood, which technically makes her a pescatarian.

Alternative Title(s): Hollywood Vegetarian