‘Lisa the Vegetarian:’ How One Simpsons Episode Changed the Image of Vegetarians on TV Forever
In 1995, David Mirkin, the former showrunner for The Simpsons, aired something on TV that was extremely progressive for its time: He showed a character’s conversion to vegetarianism. For the episode “Lisa the Vegetarian,” Paul and the late Linda McCartney--both staunch vegetarians at the time—agreed to do a guest appearance if Lisa Simpson remained meat-free for the rest of the series. 20 years later, David Mirkin is no longer the showrunner for the cartoon, but The Simpsons’ creators have kept their promise, and the wise, eldest Simpsons daughter is still a vegetarian to this day, according to Slate Magazine.
“When I asked him to do the vegetarian episode, he agreed but made me promise to keep Lisa as a vegetarian – and I was happy to comply with that because I’m a vegetarian too!” Mirkin said at the time “Every time I see him, he always checks – and he’s always surrounded by nine or 10 lawyers, so it’s quite frightening!”
In “Lisa the Vegetarian,” the yellow, spiky-haired cartoon character, widely acknowledged as the show’s moral center, attempts to give up meat after she befriends a baby lamb at a petting zoo and is faced with the grim reality of Marge serving lamb chops for dinner that night. “This is lamb,” Homer argues, “not a lamb.” Throughout the episode she struggles with her moral dilemma, and also fights off societal pressure to give in to eating meat.
At the end, Lisa caves and bites into a hot dog from the Kwik-E-Mart, but it turns out that the convenience store owner, Apu, is vegan, and the hot dog is made of tofu. Apu then introduces Lisa to the McCartneys. Former Beatle Paul McCartney quips, “if you play ‘Maybe I’m Amazed’ backwards, you’ll hear a recipe for a really ripping lentil soup.” (This is actually true, and you can get the recipe here.)