Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Accidentally Vegan: Rachel Berry and Shaggy Rogers

Did you know that Shaggy Rogers, the best friend of Scooby Doo, was vegan? From 2005, he was.

Casey Kasem played Shaggy for a time where Shaggy was portrayed as a vegetarian, by request of Kasem, who is a vegan. In the past, Shaggy had a tendency to overeat and eat anything he could. Kasem disagreed with this portrayal, and in 1995 he walked out on the role when Shaggy and Scooby-Doo were to be portrayed in a Burger King commercial. He also did this because the producers of Scooby Doo would not turn Shaggy into a vegan, which Kasem is. Therefore he quit, later to rejoin the crew when they allowed Shaggy to be a vegan, only ten years later, in the series What's New, Scooby-Doo?.

From here.
What I like about this is the fact that you probably didn't know that. It's not an important part of the character. It's not used as shorthand for 'hippy' (Shaggy was very 60s/70s influenced, but his original portrayal was as an omnivore, and didn't use veg*nism to symbolise this), or for him being a coward, and unwilling to hurt other creatures for this reason. It's just a totally unnoticeable, insignificant part of who he is. Shaggy's a vegan. That's it. It's not a big deal.

Rachel Berry, of Glee, has a similar reason for her veganism. Actress, Lea Michele, is vegan, though she classes herself as 'strict vegetarian'. I gather that she has been vegetarian for a while, and stopped eating diary products and eggs in order to lose weight and become healthier, rather than for moral reasons.

The character, Rachel Berry, is shown to eat veal and pepperoni early in series 1, but, by the end of the series, identifies as vegan. This entire transformation takes place off-screen; it just isn't a big deal.

I'm hoping that this is the future of veg*nism in the media. Although, yes, if a character is a veg*n for moral reasons, this is likely to be reflected in their other actions and beliefs (ie, Aggie, of Penny and Aggie) it doesn't have to be. Veg*nism doesn't have to be unusual, or noteworthy, or weird - it can just be a totally nondescript part of a character.

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