June 13, 2011

Where's the YA Love for Vegetarians?

I've mentioned this before, but I'm a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. I'll eat dairy products, but I don't eat any meat or seafood, for ethical reasons. I realized today that there aren't a lot of YA books featuring main characters who are vegetarian or vegan. (It probably belongs in my Find the Gap series). Not sure why this is, since teens who are vegetarians really aren't that rare...are they?

Here are a few books that came to mind that do feature veggie-loving protagonists:

The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot — Mia is a vegetarian princess who often crusades for animal rights (although she does give in to carnivorous urges upon occasion).
Vegan Virgin Valentine by Carolyn Mackler — well, the title speaks for itself! She's recently turned vegan (partly for reasons involving a guy) and dreams of grilled cheese sandwiches.

Truth or Dairy by Catherine Clark — I read this one years ago and don't remember it very well, but the main character is, according to the Goodreads description, a "would-be vegetarian."

Do you guys have any more recommendations? I'd love to find some more books with main characters who are vegetarians or vegans; on a personal level it makes them just that much more relatable for me.


  1. The main character in Wings is a vegan.

  2. I'm drawing a blank here. The dearth of veggie teens in fiction which is disappointing. I'd like to see more vegetarian and vegan characters in YA. (I'm vegan, but I'll take some good vegetarian characters, too. Anything's better than having to read about relentless meat-eating or characters who claim to be vegetarian but are in fact the complete opposite.)

    I hope you get some good responses! I'll be watching to see.

  3. In Sirenz, Meg's a vegetarian--which proves to be a point of contention (there are many!) with her co-MC, the carnivorous Shar... :)

  4. I'd actually never noticed this gap before, and The Princess Diaries were the books that I was going to mention. As to teen vegetarians and vegans, between my marching band (about 80 students) and school (160) I know two vegetarians and one vegan.

  5. @Kapri: You're right, I'd forgotten that! Thanks :)

    @La Coccinelle: I know, it frustrates me sometimes when a character calls themselves a vegetarian but eat plenty of dishes that are not vegetarian-friendly!

    @Natalie Zaman: Awesome! I'll definitely have to check it out :)

    @SusieBookworm: So vegetarian/vegan teens do exist, then! :D (Even if not in overwhelmingly large numbers, LOL).

  6. Jonah in Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance is a vegetarian. But his manager (he is a TV star) makes him pretend to eat meat to seem more mainstream. Late in the book he eats fish.

  7. In What Happened to Goodbye, the neighbors are vegan, but it's not portrayed in a very positive light. I just read another book where the main character is vegetarian, and I'm having trouble remembering which one. I think it might have been Spellbound, but I"m not sure. Let me know if you know..... I'll keep thinking and post again if I remember for sure.

  8. Now that I think about it you're right. On the top of my head right now I can't think of any.

  9. @Madigan: Thanks! I haven't read Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance, will have to look into it.

    @Annette: Not sure, I haven't read Spellbound. Interesting that the vegan neighbours are portrayed negatively in What Happened to Goodbye - I'll probably read that one at some point, so I'll keep an eye out for them! :D

    @Jenny: I know, it came as a bit of a surprise to me that when I actually thought about it, there weren't that many!

  10. Interesting, never thought about the overall representation of vegetarians in literature.

    It's not YA, but Herb, the Vegetarian Dragon is always a hit with both dragon lovers and vegetarians at my book sale events :)

  11. In the dystopian XVI by Julia Karr the society is vegetarian because there are so few animals left in the world. The vegetarian aspect was actually one of the selling points for me as a vegan with a vegetarian daughter.

    Thanks for starting this list. I agree that it would be nice to have more vegetarians represented in YA books.

  12. @Nichole: Aw, that one sounds like such a cute, fun children's book!

    @Lucy: Neat! I started XVI a while ago but it had to go back to the library before I got very far - I will have to re-request it :)

  13. It's not YA but in The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (the second book in a trilogy) there are a lot of veg*n characters.

  14. FAT CAT by Robin Brande :) ~ MC isn't at the beginning though ...

    and I feel like i have read A LOT lately BUT would have to go and double check.

    here's the ones I am thinking it is in:

    My ridiculous romantic obsessions by becca wilhite

    the lighter side of life and death (defintely) c k kelly martin (also, I think, maybe in her other book ONE LONELY DEGREE)

    i may have to think about it and get back to you :)

  15. not out yet, but Grace from Sweet Venom is a Veggie

  16. There's also "Standing up to Mr. O", about a teenager who refuses to do a worm dissection in Mr. O's biology class on ethical grounds - she doesn't feel it's right to kill something just to cut it open. Her lab partner points out she's being inconsistent, as she eats meat. So through the course of the book she becomes first vegetarian, then vegan (until her mother puts her foot down and buys free-range eggs and organic milk to persuade her to eat them again!)

  17. @SarahEm: Thanks! I tried Oryx & Crake and didn't get very far, but perhaps I should give it another go.

    @Nomes: Someone else also suggested Fat Cat, so I'll definitely have to look into that one! My Ridiculous Romantic Obsessions sounds totally cute (and plus it's set at a university, and I am always on the lookout for those YA books) so definitely adding that one to my TBR list. Thanks!

    @yabooknerd: Oooh that one's already on my TBR list, but that fact just makes it sound even more awesome :D

    @contrapuntalplatypus: Thanks, I don't think I've read that one before!

  18. Thanks for this post, I am vegetarian didn't know any books with the characters were vegetarian. I am the same as you,lacto-ovo-vegetarian, seventeen years now.

    Carol Wong

  19. Yes, I was going to say FAT CAT by Robin Brande. She does become a vegetarian in the end and a cook at a vegan cafe.

  20. I agree with the earlier comments - Fat Cat. It's not only features a girl who becomes vegan (although she keeps referring to herself as vegetarian), but it's a really interesting book. It does get a little preachy but I liked it.

  21. Hm, I was going to mention Wings. Jessica's parents from Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side are vegan, though Jessica isn't completely.

    The Cullens are vegetarian vampires, though I don't think that's what you're looking for :P

  22. @Carol: Glad to be of help!

    @Kimberly and Alison: Fat Cat seems to definitely be the most popular response! I've added it to my TBR list :)

    @Small Review: LOL, I thought of the Cullens too...but no, not quite what I'm looking for :D

  23. Oh, I love this post! I was lacto-ovo for 4 years, and though I do eat meat now I only do so occasionally (like if it's gourmet, something I've never tried before, or someone else cooked it and I don't want to be rude).

    Just thought I'd add that Simon from the Mortal Instruments series is a vegetarian! Well, until he can't be anymore. ;) Pretty sure he was lacto-ovo, but you'd have to really scour th efirst 2 books to prove it.


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