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How The Simpsons Forever Changed the Face of Vegetarianism

Slate names “Lisa the Vegetarian” a game-changer in the history of vegetarianism on TV.


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News site Slate recently celebrated and chronicled the production of a 1995 episode of The Simpsons titled “Lisa the Vegetarian,” calling character Lisa Simpson one of the most influential vegetarians on television. The story highlights showrunner David Mirkin’s use of a popular turkey substitute in his transatlantic mission to recruit vegetarian Paul McCartney to lend his voice, to the impassioned responses, which even 20 years later garners praise from veg viewers and the Humane Society of the United States. Furthermore, writer Alan Siegel explains the unusual aspect of witnessing the origins of a TV character’s vegetarianism and how Simpson struggles with the early militant stage of aspiring to change others around her, the wavering in the face of peer pressure and ridicule, and finally the resolve to lead a more compassionate life. This portrayal, Siegel says, changed the image of vegetarians on TV forever by doing away with the clichéd, hemp-adorned tie-dyed hippie trope relied on for so long in media, and showing a more human side of vegetarianism, calling the episode a catalyst for moral revelation.

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