Bring on the black bean burgers and avocado toast! Today we’re participating in a little Tofu Tuesday and talking about our favorite vegetarian characters in contemporary literature. So, grab some roasted almonds, whip up your favorite grilled cheese, and cozy up to the characters who dream of dill.
And don't forget to pick up a copy of Stuff Every Vegetarian Should Know, available online and in bookstores today!
Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Our favorite princess Mia Thermopolis (all hail Genovia) was a vegetarian for most of Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries book series, a natural choice for a teenager living in early 2000s Greenwich Village. While Mia never made a big deal of her vegetarian diet, the epistolary nature of her diary entries helps inform the reader that she’s the only meat-free eater in her family. Early in the first book, she points out that her mother left meatballs out of the spaghetti sauce – a small yet notable act worthy of recording. Shortly before the release of Royal Wedding, the final book in the Princess Diaries series, Meg Cabot ruminated on Mia’s vegetarianism, noting that the character choice was inspiration of sorts for the author. Meg Cabot isn’t a vegetarian herself, but she finds the quality aspirational. Now, does anyone happen to have a Genovian pear?
Hazel Lancaster in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
In The Fault in Our Stars, Hazel Lancaster famously claims that she’s a vegetarian because she wants “to minimize the number of deaths [she’s] responsible for.” It’s an admirable reason to forego meat – one that becomes an especially apt lifestyle choice when we learn that Hazel is terminally ill. And while it’s clear John Green wasn’t aiming to convert anyone to Hazel’s vegetarian ways, this memorable declaration likely turned a reader or two.
Dawn Schafer in The Baby-Sitter’s Club series by Ann M. Martin
When Dawn Schafer joined The Baby-Sitter’s Club as an alternate officer, we learned two things right away: she’s from California and she’s a vegetarian. While the Californian-as-vegetarian characterization may seem cliché, Dawn (through the prolific pen of Ann M. Martin) single handedly introduced a generation of young readers to the idea of vegetarianism. She may be more squeamish around hamburgers than the average herbivore, but this preteen green machine was both an early adopter of avocado toast (we see you, BSC #64: Dawn’s Family Feud) and an outspoken advocate for the environment. And, best of all, Dawn demonstrated to her fellow club members and readers everywhere that choosing a vegetarian diet is a healthy way to assert your individuality. Pass the dried apple rings, Dawn!
Mathilde in Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
While it’s incredibly subtle, both Mathilde and her husband Lotto are pescatarians in Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. When food is mentioned in the book, it’s intentionally meatless: hummus, salmon burgers, salad, Tofurkey. But neither character fixates on the fact that their diets are fish and plant-based. Instead, Lauren Groff creates a natural environment where a couple would choose to eliminate meat from their diets without too much hoopla. It’s a habit at this point, one that they don’t think too much about. But really, Mathilde? Tofurkey? Everyone knows the sides are the best part of Thanksgiving dinner. Pass the mashed potatoes, please.
Colby in The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour
Colby, the narrator of Nina LaCour’s incredible road trip novel The Disenchantments, casually mentions that he’s a vegetarian early in the novel. It’s the last day of high school and he’s running an interior monologue of facts about Europe. Paris is 5,567 miles from his home in San Francisco. And Holland “supplies seventy percent of the world’s bacon.” While on the road, it’s clear that Colby is learning how to navigate his vegetarian identity. While grabbing burgers with his best friend Bev and the rest of the garage band The Disenchantments, a fan notices he’s picking at fries and not much else. He comes back with a grilled cheese with enough toppings to make even a carnivorous reader drool: onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese – all on a hamburger bun. Colby’s only mildly pleased to add a little variety to his road food. And to that we say, pass the ketchup and save us a bite.