Vegetarianism in science fiction - VeggieBoards
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#1 Old 03-06-2005, 11:57 AM
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As most sci-fi fans know, science fiction really took off as a genre in the late 40s with the likes of Asimov, Heinlein etc.



Most of these authors were terrible writers, but they were ex scientists with good imaginations whose intriguiging stories more then made up for "character development" being an unknown concept to these men.



Interestingly, despite being scientists when these authors wrote about a future where meat was hard to come by they imagined that people would live off of texturized yeast.



I guess they never took a trip out of the country or to an ethnic restaurant .



I read an interesting trilogy a few years ago by Kim Stanley-Robinson. He is a modern day member of the Heinlein/Asimov's ilk, but in addition to being an ex-scientist, he knows how to write, he knows politics and slightly left of center.



The future he projects in Red Mars is projected from the 1990s, not the 1950s so it hits closer to home and is more interesting.



Of course, the world is over populated. The meals in the book are vegetarian without going out of their way to mention it, though at one point in the book it is mentioned that most people live off of tofu, fish and rice.



The big veg reference in sci-fi I always really liked was the planet of the vegans in classic Star Trek, partly because it was unintentional. The crew of the Enterprise goes to collect the bodies of colonists who were mistakenly placed on a planet with lethal solar radiation.



To their surprise they find the colonists alive, some in better health then before they left. Everyone is suspicious. Spock asks how they survive on a planet with no animal life and the leader proudly proclaims that they are all vegetarians ( vegans -- no animals, no milk, eggs etc ).



It turns out that a narcotic like plant keeps them all alive, but that is another post.



So, what are some of the interesting references to vegetarianism that you have found in sci-fi?

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#2 Old 03-07-2005, 02:14 AM
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As a storyteller, I've considered the matter a lot. Harder to get away with more than a couple of veg characters in contemporary stories, but I imagine I will exert my creative force in favor of my leanings toward veganism, if not because it truly is going to be the salvation of an over-burdened planet (not to mention space travelers), because I can do whatever I want in fiction, so long as it doesn't completely snap clear of reality.



I never saw that ST episode, but I really want to know. I read Red and Green Mars (haven't gotten around to Blue yet), and I never picked up on the veg thing! I wasn't veg at the time. I wonder if little things like that did lodge themselves in my subconscious, though...
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#3 Old 03-07-2005, 02:22 AM
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In "Do androids dream of electric sheep" not only is the population vegetarian, one of the ways of distinguishing humans from androids is to describe things like roast beef and bear skin rugs, and watch the reaction. Humans, apparently, would be utterly disgusted.

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#4 Old 03-07-2005, 02:32 AM
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Cool. I never read the source story, much as I love PKD. That's kick-ass.
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#5 Old 03-07-2005, 09:03 AM
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I dunno if anyone actually watches stargate here, but I've read into the Atlantis series as being a bit conducive towards vegetarianism. the bad guys, the wraith, are these mutant things which suck the life out of humans and feed upon them.



I just find it ironic that the bad guys are these evil vampire-like things which feed upon humans, who are the good guys, who eat meat.
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#6 Old 03-07-2005, 09:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beforewisdom View Post

The big veg reference in sci-fi I always really liked was the planet of the vegans in classic Star Trek, partly because it was unintentional. The crew of the Enterprise goes to collect the bodies of colonists who were mistakenly placed on a planet with lethal solar radiation.



To their surprise they find the colonists alive, some in better health then before they left. Everyone is suspicious. Spock asks how they survive on a planet with no animal life and the leader proudly proclaims that they are all vegetarians ( vegans -- no animals, no milk, eggs etc ).



It turns out that a narcotic like plant keeps them all alive, but that is another post.





TOS: Season 1



Episode # 25



Aired 03.02.1967



This Side of Paradise \t



Idyllic existence caused by a plants 'pollen' protects from Bertyl [sic] rays.



http://chem.csustan.edu/JTB/GUIDES/TREK/1TOS-1-97.htm



I think if there is a "vegetarian" message in this episode, most viewers missed it. It is generally seen as being about "drugs" vs. sobriety.





Quote:

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

The Enterprise's Vulcan-born first officer, Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy), generally smiles about as often as Greta Garbo. But in episode 25 of the original 1960s series, not only does Spock smile, he laughs, dangles from a tree, kisses a good-looking blonde woman, and gets into a fight with his best friend. Could this be some long-lost episode in which Nimoy's stoic hero regresses into a 6-year-old? No, but it is one of the most popular stories from Gene Roddenberry's classic Trek. Spock, Captain Kirk (William Shatner), Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), Sulu (George Takei), and a couple of crewmen beam down to Omicron Ceti III hoping to find out what happened to a group of scientists who built a research colony on the planet. What they discover is a little spooky. The self-satisfied colonists claim they've created a true paradise where no one has needs or wants, where no one ages or gets sick, and everyone is part of a collective mind bent on positivity. Kirk, naturally, argues that paradise robs men of their need to suffer and crawl toward progress. Meanwhile, Spock is zapped by an exotic flower that is the real source of all this community goodwill, and he instantly gets happy--acting like a kid, renewing a romance with a comely biologist (an angelic Jill Ireland), and giving the sputtering Kirk an earful of entertaining insubordination. Story editor D.C. Fontana's script contains some obvious parallels between a chemically induced "paradise" and a drug-induced high in the '60s. But the real draw here is Spock's uncharacteristic joy and the drama behind Kirk's shattering decision to break his friend's heart. --Tom Keogh



From the Back Cover

Omicron Ceti III's colonists should have been killed by deadly Berthold rays, yet Kirk finds a group of mysteriously healthy colonists - and Spock falls in love!



http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...27303?v=glance



This page has some still photos from the episode, which is here labelled Episode 24.



http://www.startrek.com/startrek/vie...ode/68710.html
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#7 Old 03-07-2005, 11:14 PM
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I can think of several authors that have stories where the populace is either "vegetarian" or forced that way. There's Harry Harrison's Make Room! Make Room! (the movie version was Soylent Green) or John Varley's Steel Beach stories with the "banana-meat" plants, genetically engineered banana trees that grow "meat". Or Frederich Pohl's Heechee Saga where the food humans ended up converting to was dubbed CHON Food (Carbon-Hydrogen-Oxygen-Nitrogen) since all organic matter is made of those atoms and they could just program their food computers to any flavor or type of food they wanted. Sure, not vegetarian, but not relying on even plants for the food source.



And, though not a book, the people in the movie Delicatessen seemed to have a plant-based diet of grains/seeds since meat cost too much after the collapse of civilization (unless you didn't mind cannibalism...)



I may think of more, don't know yet. Loki, how do you surmise the Ancients of Atlantis were plant-eaters? I don't recall the humans finding any food stores or "replicators" so far. And the idea of "space vampyres" is at least as old as the movie "Life Force" with Steve Railsback. In a recent episode there even seems to be something directly from that movie in the Atlantis episode, and it is never explained, either. Hopefully, they'll mention it in upcoming episodes. (That beam of light going up into the sky, in case you've seen the episode...)
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#8 Old 03-08-2005, 05:20 AM
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I've read Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars. Excellent books. I read them a few years ago, before I went veg, so I don't think I even noticed it.



Interestingly, in some of the books I've read, there have been food replicators that could simulate anything from a sort of nutritive paste. I actually think that's cool, and I wish I could have something like that. I could eat chocolate cake three meals a day and still be healthy!



Heh.

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#9 Old 03-08-2005, 05:45 PM
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I think the OP missed something from Enterprise. The orthodox Vulcans are portrayed as vegetarians, including T'Pol, the resident Vulcan on the human vessal.

Q: How many poets does it take to change a light bulb? A: 1001...one to change the bulb, 1000 to say it's already been done.
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#10 Old 03-08-2005, 08:23 PM
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I saw an original trek episode where spock is with this sexy blond cavegirl all they have to eat is meat and he says something like "i have eaten meat, i feel tainted". fairly emotional reaction to something that should just be logical lifestyle choice actually.



All Our Yesterdays, that's the one

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#11 Old 03-08-2005, 08:43 PM
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Originally Posted by otomik View Post

I saw an original trek episode where spock is with this sexy blond cavegirl all they have to eat is meat and he says something like "i have eaten meat, i feel tainted". fairly emotional reaction to something that should just be logical lifestyle choice actually.



All Our Yesterdays, that's the one



I had forgotten about that episode. Mariette Hartley played the cavegirl.



http://www.startrek.com/startrek/vie...ode/68816.html
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#12 Old 03-08-2005, 08:53 PM
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fairly emotional reaction to something that should just be logical lifestyle choice actually.



Spock was half human. He's a bit more emotional than normal for a Vulcan.
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#13 Old 03-08-2005, 11:37 PM
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I think the OP missed something from Enterprise. The orthodox Vulcans are portrayed as vegetarians, including T'Pol, the resident Vulcan on the human vessal.



Yeah, I thought I remembered that being the case. Struck me as strange not to see it mentioned before.
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#14 Old 03-09-2005, 05:01 AM
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I had forgotten about that episode. Mariette Hartley played the cavegirl.



http://www.startrek.com/startrek/vie...ode/68816.html



Yep, I had a weird preadolescent crush on her.

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#15 Old 03-09-2005, 09:41 PM
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Originally Posted by kentauros View Post

I may think of more, don't know yet. Loki, how do you surmise the Ancients of Atlantis were plant-eaters? I don't recall the humans finding any food stores or "replicators" so far. And the idea of "space vampyres" is at least as old as the movie "Life Force" with Steve Railsback. In a recent episode there even seems to be something directly from that movie in the Atlantis episode, and it is never explained, either. Hopefully, they'll mention it in upcoming episodes. (That beam of light going up into the sky, in case you've seen the episode...)



I wasn't really saying that the ancients were vegetarians, but I definitely think that the concept of humans being fed upon is a bit of a pro-vegetarian message. It isn't really mentioned, but having these ultra-tough enemies who feed on humans as the bad guys kinda suggests to me that there is some kind of vegetarian-friendly message going on. However, it wouldn't surprise me if the ancients were vegetarians.There's already been mention of wraith cannibalism, which sounds quite neat. Although I think that the method of feeding is kind weird - Sucking the life out of them through their hands is a bit strange, but kinda scary.



I'm still wondering what that bright blue light was though. My guess was originally a beam that transports culled humans from dart ships up to the hive ship, but I'm not so sure now.
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#16 Old 04-19-2005, 01:35 PM
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I recently bought season 1 of LOST IN SPACE on DVD.



Surprisingly, it holds up well over time ( 40 years now ) and into my adulthood ( I watched the reruns as a child ).



In one episode from the first season, ATTACK OF THE MONSTER PLANTS, Judy Robinson ( Marta Kristen ) is duplicated by a giant flower. Her doppelganger is a sentient plant that walks, talks, and looks just like her.



At one point while the plant is pretending to be the real Judy Robinson she sits down to dinner with her family and is revolted when she is offered salad ( little bits of her brethren ).



I thought that was so cool. It was just how I feel at dinners where I have to sit around a dead turkey, chicken, or a platter of seafood.

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#17 Old 04-27-2005, 09:59 AM
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Julia Street on Earth: Final Conflict was vegetarian if not vegan.
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#18 Old 04-27-2005, 10:31 AM
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#19 Old 04-27-2005, 11:54 AM
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There's a bit in The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe when they are all at the restaurant about to order food and this huge cow comes up to take their orders,



"'Good evening', it lowered and sat back heavily on its haunches, 'I am the main dish of the day. May i interest you in parts of my body ?' it harrumphed and grurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters into a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them. Its gaze was met by looks of startled bewilderment from Arthur and Trillian, a resigned shrug from Ford Prefect and naked hunger from Zaphod Beeblebrox.

'Something off the shoulder, perhaps' suggested the animal, 'braised in a white wine sauce?'

'Er, YOUR shoulder?' said Arthur in a horrified whisper.

'But naturally my shoulder, sir' mooed the aninmal contentedly, 'nobody else's is mine to offer.'



He goes for the green salad.
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#20 Old 04-27-2005, 12:01 PM
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I LOVE that part in Restaurant at the End of the Universe!
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#21 Old 04-27-2005, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Mark77 View Post

There's a bit in The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe when they are all at the restaurant about to order food and this huge cow comes up to take their orders,



"'Good evening', it lowered and sat back heavily on its haunches, 'I am the main dish of the day. May i interest you in parts of my body ?' it harrumphed and grurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters into a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them. Its gaze was met by looks of startled bewilderment from Arthur and Trillian, a resigned shrug from Ford Prefect and naked hunger from Zaphod Beeblebrox.

'Something off the shoulder, perhaps' suggested the animal, 'braised in a white wine sauce?'

'Er, YOUR shoulder?' said Arthur in a horrified whisper.

'But naturally my shoulder, sir' mooed the aninmal contentedly, 'nobody else's is mine to offer.'



He goes for the green salad.



I was going to post about this! Arthur feels wrong about it, but someone says, what's better, eating a cow that wants to be eaten or one who doesn't? I think they implied that they bred cows that wanted to be eaten to get past the ethical problems. But I guess that raises a whole new set of questions.
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#22 Old 04-27-2005, 01:52 PM
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I'm not sure if you consider Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood, science fiction. It's a distopia, anyway, and feels like science fiction. It's in the future and there's a lot of genetically modified animals. At one point the main character gets to see the inside of a factory that makes "chickens" that are basically just the meat. They can't walk, fly, and I don't think they have nervous systems either. It's really disturbing. He mistakenly brings "food" made from them home to his girlfriend and her roomates once, but they refuse to eat it. There's also a crazy vegetarian (maybe vegan?) activist who destroys the main characters things if they seem non-vegan (like his sandals that looked like leather). I'm not sure if it's a positive or negative message about vegetarianism, overall. There are also "perfect beings" in the book who only eat vegetation, and I think the lead female is vegetarian (and not crazy).



Then there's Hammer of God by Arthur C. Clarke, where no one eats real animals anymore, it's all synthetic.
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#23 Old 04-27-2005, 02:12 PM
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I'm not sure how "science fiction" it is - maybe considered more a sort of fantasy? But "Lullaby" by Chuck Palahniuk has a vegan character named Oyster. He's pretty out-there and fanatical, and one main thing that I remember from the book is that the characters are searching for this book that has lots of nursery rhymes that are actually spells for different things. One is a "culling song," which was sung in ancient tribes trying to decrease the population, and it results in people dying after they are sung the song. The one that has the most relevance here is one that makes a person able to take the form of an animal (either that, or can make an animal talk ... I don't remember exactly), and Oyster takes the form of a cow and walks into a slaughterhouse and starts talking and preaching to the workers. Something like that; it's been a while. Here's a link: Amazon
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