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Recap / The Simpsons S7 E5 "Lisa the Vegetarian"

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Original air date: 10/15/1995

Production code: 3F03

Following a day trip to the petting zoo, Lisa begins to realize that the meat she called food was once an animal that was cute and cuddly, so she decides to become a vegetarian, which gets her ridiculed by her friends and family. Meanwhile, Homer sets up his own barbecue after not being invited to one at the Flanderses' house (which was strictly a family reunion).



  • Actually Quite Catchy: Lisa makes a salad for the barbeque. Homer and Bart start teasing her and singing, "You don't win friends with salad!" and Marge, despite disapproving of their teasing, joins in because she got "caught in the rhythm".
  • Agree to Disagree: Where Lisa and Homer (as representative of the rest of meat-eating society) wind up by the end of the episode. Lisa realizes the importance of this when she discovers that Apu's vegetarianism, unlike hers, extends to animal products, and that he regards her in much the same light she regards non-vegetarians, but still treats her with respect.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The documentary about the food chain which Lisa watches at school briefly depicts a gorilla about to grab some bananas when suddenly a shark jumps from the river and devours the unwary ape. There are certain shark species which can thrive in freshwater, most notably the Bull shark, the Gangers shark, and the speartooth shark.
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  • An Aesop: Don't try to force your beliefs on other people. They have as much right to believe what they believe as you do, and there are better ways to influence what someone thinks than badgering them.
  • Anti-Humor: Homer uses an extreme amount of lighter fluid on the barbeque, lights it up... and proceeds along with cooking the meat like normal.
  • Are We There Yet?: Grampa Simpson asks this while they're on the way to the petting zoo. It's the episode's first line.
  • Artistic License – History: Paul says he and Linda first met Apu "In India, years ago, during the Maharishi days". However, Paul had met Linda at a concert in a nightclub in mid-1967, and in early 1968, when the Beatles went to Rishikesh, Paul was still dating actress Jane Asher. It was after issues between the two caused them to split that Linda and Paul pursued a relationship and later married.
  • As Himself: Paul McCartney and his wife Linda McCartney.
  • Assimilation Academy: Lisa twice sets off the school's "Independent Thought Alarm" for her talk about vegetarianism.
    Skinner: Uh-oh. Two independent thought alarms in one day. The students are overstimulated. Willie, remove all the colored chalk from the classrooms!
    Willie: I warned ya! Didn't I warn ya? That colored chalk was forged by Lucifer himself!
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • Paul McCartney asked Lisa if she'd like to hear a song. She accepted and Paul... asks Apu to play.
    • Also the Anti-Humor example above.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment: "Don't eat beef... eat deer."
  • Blatant Lies: When Lisa objects to dissecting a worm in class, she tells Ms. Hoover this, who replies, while staring blankly, "that's okay, Lisa. I respect your moral objection." Meanwhile, she presses the Independent Thought Alarm under her desk.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: While the episode sympathizes with Lisa's perspective and shows why she can't eat meat in good conscience, it's not so much about vegetarianism as it is about the importance of respecting the beliefs of others. While society pressures Lisa to eat meat, Lisa herself pressures her family to go vegetarian, even ruining Homer's barbecue. Ultimately the happy ending is achieved by Lisa and Homer's decision to respect each other's choices.
  • Brick Joke: Paul mentions that when "Maybe I'm Amazed" is played backwards, it contains a recipe for lentil soup. Sure enough, when the song plays over the credits, listeners will hear the recipe.
  • Broken Record: "You don't win friends with salad, you don't win friends with salad..."
  • Brutal Honesty: Apu's aghast reaction to Lisa saying she eats cheese:
    Lisa: You... don't eat cheese, Apu?
    Apu: No, I don't eat any food that comes from an animal.
    Lisa: Then you must think I'm a monster!
    Apu: Yes indeed, I DO think that.
  • Continuity Nod: When Lisa is being mocked by her peers for her vegetarianism, Ralph Wiggum angrily comments that he can't believe he used to go out with her.
  • Couch Gag: The family are colorless blobs until mechanical arms color come down and detail the family.
  • Cue the Flying Pigs:
    Mr. Burns: You know, Smithers, I think I'll donate a million dollars to the local orphanage... when pigs fly!
    [They laugh, until the pig sails across the sky before them, at which point the laugh awkwardly peters out.]
    Smithers: Will you be donating that million dollars now, Sir?
    Burns: Nooo, I'd still prefer not.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Lisa takes the roast pig away from Homer simply over a few taunts over her vegetarianism.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Don't eat beef. Eat deer.
  • Drive-In Theater: Apu can watch drive-in movies from the roof of the Kwik-E-Mart.
  • Ear Worm: Bart and Homer start a "You Don't Win Friends with Salad" conga to mock Lisa. Marge also joins in, not because she agrees with them but because the tune is catchy.
    Lisa: Mom!
    Marge: I didn't mean to take sides; I just got caught up in the rhythm.
  • False Reassurance: Troy McClure's film "Meat and You - Partners in Freedom"
    Troy: Come on, Jimmy! Let's take a peek at the killing floor.
    Jimmy: (gasp)
    Troy: Don't let the name throw you, Jimmy. It's not really a floor, it's more of a steel grating that allows material to sluice through so it can be collected and exported.
  • Free the Frogs: Lisa refuses to dissect a worm in biology class.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: At the end, when Lisa and Homer reconcile, Lisa admits that even though she still stands by her beliefs, she can't defend what she did.
  • Friend to All Living Things: What kickstarts Lisa's vegetarianism. She converted after bonding with a baby lamb at a petting zoo.
  • Go to Your Room!: Parodied. Homer says this twice to Lisa, once when she decides to go to her room, the second time after Lisa runs away. Homer also says it to Bart once.
  • Herbivores Are Friendly: Doubly subverted in the school video starring Troy McClure,note  where he convinces Bobbynote  that it’s okay to eat meat. Troy warns Jimmy that “if a cow had the chance he’d eat you and everyone you care about,” as ominous music plays and the camera zooms in on a cow’s face. However, the cow’s face is so placid, that the idea of a threatening cow seems ridiculous.
  • Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Apu's rendition of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", although Paul and Linda don't mind.
  • Hypocritical Humor: After Homer brings out the roast pig at his barbecue, Chief Wiggum giggles, "Haha, look at his nose!" For good measure, he leans in close as he says it, giving the viewers a side-by-side view of their respective noses.
  • Jerkass Realization: Lisa, after some words with Apu and the McCartneys, realizes she was being a jerk and apologizes to Homer.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The Trope Namer. It's Homer calling Lisa this in a heated argument that serves as the Rage-Breaking Point for Lisa and drives her to walk out in fury. Both Lisa and Homer realize something about vegetarians and carnivores afterwards.
  • Literal Metaphor: After the class watches a propaganda video made by the meat industry, Lisa explodes, "They can't seriously expect us to swallow that tripe!" In fact, they've literally provided the class with complimentary tripe to eat.
  • Little Jimmy: Lisa begins to have doubts about eating meat, so her school shows her class a propaganda video from the meat industry titled "Meat and You: Partners in Freedom". It features our good friend Jimmy as he is "educated" (and traumatized) about the wonders of the meat industry.
  • Loophole Abuse: When asked if she was required to offer a meatless meal option, Lunchlady Doris offers a hot dog bun.
    Lisa: (deadpan) Do you remember when you lost your passion for this line of work?
  • Meat Versus Veggies: The struggle of the episode, embodied in notoriously meat-loving Homer and newly-minted vegetarian Lisa, respectively. Straw Vegetarian though Lisa may be, her attitude is more understandable in light of the fact that pretty much everyone at Springfield Elementary is a Straw Omnivore, taking her decision to abstain from meat as a personal offense. She winds up taking her frustration out on Homer, who hasn't actually done anything except throw a barbecue to impress people in the neighborhood ("You don't win friends with salad!")
  • Mystery Meat: When Lisa becomes a vegetarian, she imagines all the animal parts involved in making the dinner on her plate - the sheep part for the lamb chop, the chicken part in the chicken breast, and the rat tail, raccoon foot, pigeon head and part of a boot in the hot dog. There's also this exchange as Lisa searches for a vegetarian option at the Springfield Elementary school cafeteria during lunch:
    Lisa Um, excuse me, isn't there anything here that doesn't have meat in it?
    Lunchlady Doris: Possibly the meatloaf.
  • Never My Fault: Zig-zagged. Lisa uses a riding mower to destroy a barbecue organized by her father. But at the end, she admits to being at fault, but not completely.
    Homer: Ohhhh. Lisa. I was looking for you. I wanted to apologize. I don't know exactly what went wrong, but it's always my fault.
    Lisa: Actually Dad, this time, I was wrong...
    Homer: Oooh!
    Lisa: ...too.
    Homer: Ohh.
  • Not Me This Time: When Lisa steals the pig roast, Marge lets out a Big "NO!" at an annoyed Bart, who's standing beside her asking "What?" Marge apologizes to him by saying it's a force of habit before correctly letting out a Big "NO!" at Lisa.
  • Not so Above It All: The episode revolves around Lisa causing a fuss over eating meat and creating a bitter conflict. Marge even has to correct herself when she blames Bart out of instinct.
  • Nutritional Nightmare: Apu proudly states that his tofu dogs have "only thrice the fat of a normal hot dog".
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner:
    Jimmy: I was a grade-A moron to ever question eating meat.
    Troy McClure: Yes, you were, Jimmy. Yes, you were.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Lisa was already mad at Homer for serving meat, but she snaps when Homer accidentally flips a burger into her face.
    Lisa: It's bad enough they're all eating meat. They don't have to rub it in my face. (burger lands on her face)
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The decision to make Lisa a vegetarian was made to satisfy producer David Mirkin, who threatened to leave otherwise, as Lisa eating meat didn't coincide with his personal philosophy.
  • Sarcasm-Blind:
    • When Janie asks Lisa if she is going to marry a carrot, Lisa sarcastically says yes. Sherri and Terri think that is a confession. Of course, being Sherri and Terri, they probably use even sarcasm as an excuse to torment others.
    • There's also this exchange in the beginning of the episode.
      Marge: This is where the wolf blows down the pigs' house.
      Bart: He blows alright. He blows big time.
      Marge: That's it, honey! Get into the spirit.
    • Ralph doesn't seem to register that "Bovine University" is a euphemism for a slaughterhouse, despite Troy McClure straight-up using sarcasm quotes in describing it.
      Ralph: When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University!
  • Shout-Out: Quite a few to The Beatles once the McCartneys show up. For instance, Linda tells Lisa "Whenever we're in Springfield, we like to hang out in Apu's garden in the shade.", referencing the song "Octopus' Garden". Paul had first met Apu while the Beatles were in India with the Maharishi in 1968, leading Apu to say "Back then, I was the fifth Beatle", pronouncing "Beatle" as "Be-At-Tull", just like the Eastern cult members from Help!.
    • "Maybe I'm Amazed" from McCartney is played over the closing credits, with Apu reading a lentil soup recipe backwards and Paul saying: "Oh, by the way, I'm alive.", referencing the "Paul is dead" theory.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Lisa quickly becomes disgusted with everyone else's carnivorous diet after becoming attached to a cutesy baby petting zoo lamb at a storybook village park, culminating in her ruining Homer's big barbecue because the guests did not want to eat the vegetarian food she prepared. Granted that Homer was a bit of a Jerkass to her while rousing the family in a catchy conga line tune: "You don't win friends with salad". It also doesn't help to call your 8-year old daughter a "know-nothing know-it-all" but that doesn't justify her dangerously irresponsible behavior. The point of that episode was Lisa learning that she shouldn't force other people to become vegetarians and Homer learning to respect his children's choices, and they do apologize to each other at the end.
  • Special Guest: Paul McCartney and his then-wife Linda as themselves, who only agreed to appear if they were assured that the character change was a permanent one. Sure enough, Lisa has remained a vegetarian since.
  • Squeamish About Slaughter: Lisa's class is shown an educational film about the food chain. In the film, a student becomes visibly distraught after being taken on a tour of a meat packing plant by the host.
    Cowboy: Come on Jimmy, lets take a look at the killing floor.
    Jimmy: gasp!
    Cowboy: Don't let the name throw you Jimmy. It's not really a floor, it's more of a steel grating.
  • Start My Own: Homer holds his own barbecue because he wasn't invited to Flanders'. Flanders asks if he could go and Homer, out of instinct, answers "Yes" right before realizing he's destroyed the whole reason he decided to hold a barbecue in the first place.
  • Status Quo Is God: Averted: Lisa stays a vegetarian throughout the rest of the series.
  • Straw Vegetarian: Deconstructed; the plot of the episode is about Lisa learning not to be this. In the early throes of her conviction that eating meat is wrong, she tries to convince the family and even the crowd attending Homer's barbecue to join her, finally getting rid of the roast pig that Homer bought as the barbecue's piece de resistance. Her perspective becomes more mature after she talks to Apu and realizes that he treats her with respect despite the fact that she's fine with consuming animal products, which makes her no better than the meat-eaters in his view.
  • Subliminal Seduction: Paul claims that if his song "Maybe I'm Amazed" is played backwards, it reveals a recipe for a "really ripping" lentil soup. Indeed, as "Maybe I'm Amazed" plays over the credits, you can hear Paul speaking backwards.
  • Sweet Sheep: There are actually three, and each cuter than the last. The last sheep is small, has big, round eyes and a pink ribbon, and is friendly enough to give Lisa an affectionate lick. It's so cute, in fact, that it kick starts Lisa's decision to become a vegetarian.
  • Take That!:
    • There's a secret passageway at the Kwik-E-Mart hidden by what looks like a cooler door labeled "non-alcoholic beer". When Lisa asks him what he does when someone orders a non-alcoholic beer, he shows no concern over the possibility of it ever happening.
    Apu: You know, it's never come up.
    • Vegetarianism takes a lot of bashing in this episode. The kid in the documentary admits he was an idiot for questioning the notion of eating meat (and Troy McClure openly agrees with him), non-meat options in Springfield are rarer than gold dust, and when Lisa brings vegetarian food to Homer's BBQ, she is told to "Go back to Russia!"
  • Tell Him I'm Not Speaking to Him: After Lisa ruins the barbecue, Homer and Lisa talk like this, but Homer soon gets confused about who he is/isn't talking to.
    Homer: Marge? Since I'm not talking to Lisa, would you please ask her to pass me the syrup?
    Marge: Dear, please pass your father the syrup, Lisa.
    Lisa: Bart, tell Dad I will only pass the syrup if it won't be used on any meat product.
    Bart: You dunkin' your sausages in that syrup, homeboy?
    Homer: Marge, tell Bart I just want to drink a nice glass of syrup like I do every morning.
    Marge: Tell him yourself, you're ignoring Lisa, not Bart.
    Homer: Bart, thank your mother for pointing that out.
    Marge: Homer, you're not not-talking to me, and secondly, I heard what you said.
    Homer: Lisa, tell your mother to get off my case!
    Bart: Uhhh, Dad. Lisa's the one you're not talking to.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Marge tries to reassure Lisa and Grampa the place they're going will be fun for all ages from eight to whatever Grampa's age is. When they arrive, there's a sign stating the place to be for ages from one to seven and a half. Later, when Lisa comments that the people at the barbecue don't need to rub it in her face, a burger falls on her face.
    • And Mr. Burns stating he'll donate $1,000,000 to the orphanage when pigs fly (which they do). He doesn't make good on his word, though.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Lisa brings gazpacho to Homer's barbecue to provide a non-meat alternative to the guests, but she finds that not only do they want to eat meat, but they feel that anyone who wouldn't is an idiot. The taunting she receives ends up turning her attitude toward meat-eaters from mild annoyance to bitter hostility, prompting her to sabotage the party.
  • Unbuilt Trope: This episode was one of the first to depict Lisa as a Soapbox Sadie. However, unlike in later episodes, she isn't doing it out of a desire for attention or to appear hip. She becomes a vegetarian out of a genuine desire not to hurt adorable animals. However, her good intentions don't justify her extreme behavior, and she is called out by other vegetarians for trying to force her beliefs onto others.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: All the men in Ned Flanders' family reunion look like Ned (including a Mexican Nednote  and a stuffy British Nednote ). Meanwhile, all the women look like Maude.
  • Vegetarian for a Day: Averted. Despite her parents trying to stop her, Lisa stays vegetarian and has consistently been depicted as such since. The reason why Lisa remains a vegetarian after that episode is because Paul McCartney makes a special guest appearance in that episode, and the only way to get him to do so was to keep Lisa a vegetarian.
  • Visual Pun:
    • The above-mentioned Rage-Breaking Point.
    • Apu's shirt, which says "Don't have a cow, man!" and has a design of a cow with a "no" symbol over it, alluding to one of Bart's catchphrases as well as the fact that Apu is a vegetarian (and the fact that cows are considered sacred in India).
  • Waxing Lyrical: When Paul McCartney hears Lisa say that she ran away from home he says: "What, she's leaving home?", referring to The Beatles song "She's Leaving Home", and his then-wife Linda says "Whenever we're in Springfield, we like to hang out in Apu's garden in the shade", paraphrasing "Octopus's Garden".
  • Wham Episode: Lisa becomes a vegetarian. And the series would never be the same, ever again.
  • Writer on Board: In an example of Guest Star on Board, Paul and Linda McCartney only agreed to appear in the episode on the condition that Lisa remain a vegetarian for the rest of the series. On the other hand, Paul and Linda end the episode by telling Lisa that even if she doesn't approve of other people eating meat, it isn't okay to force them to change or shove her own vegetarian choices down their throats, so there's that.
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: Marge, when it's Lisa who is doing something bad for a change.
    Marge: Bart, nooooo!
    Bart: What?
    Marge: Sorry, force of habit. Lisa, nooooo!
  • You Must Be This Tall to Ride: Bart faced the opposite problem at the Mother Goose train ride for not being short enough. He did make the ride more fun for the preschoolers, though.