How 'Lisa the Vegetarian' Came to Be
Growing up, I remember that one of the few–if only–positive portrayals of a vegetarian in mainstream media was Lisa Simpson from The Simpsons. The change in her diet occurred on on the fifth episode of the seventh season, which aired on October 15, 1995.
Lisa became a vegetarian after bonding with a baby lamb at a petting zoo, and later on could not disassociate that lamb from the lamb chops she was served at dinner that night. At school the next day, she was also unable to dissect a live worm in class as she hears it pleading with her, and is consequently mocked at school and at home for her newfound beliefs.
This is the same episode that Paul and Linda McCartney make guest appearances in as themselves, and along with Apu, give Lisa the encouragement she needs in order to remain a committed vegetarian without alienating those around her. Paul even tells Lisa:
“If you play ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ backwards, you’ll hear a recipe for a really ripping lentil soup.”
In a recent interview with Hank Azaria, who is the voice behind Apu and many other characters in the series, he tells The Huffington Post that Paul’s condition for appearing on this episode was that Lisa remain a vegetarian throughout the series. Azaria stated:
“I thought it was really cool that he stuck that [in]. I can tell you, over the years, they were tempted a bunch of times to have Lisa break her vegetarian vow. [The writers] probably have not because they made the vow to Sir Paul. No, you don’t break a knight’s vow. As we’ve learned from ‘Game of Thrones,’ you do that at your own risk.”
That decision led to the positive portrayal and development of a young vegetarian, and according to Slate, show runner David Mirkin still hears from people “who say the episode made them feel understood as vegetarians.” It also resulted in the episode winning an Environmental Media Award and a Genesis Award. As the vow has not been broken, Lisa has remained a vegetarian now for over 20 years!
Photo Credit: http://simpsons.wikia.com