Well what do we have here? Another flawless episode? Thank you golden age of the Simpsons!
The episode starts off with the family, and Grandpa, driving off to some terrible amusement park called Storytime Village. And no one is happy about this, except for Maggie I guess. And it’s confirmed how horrible this is going to be when they see the sign at the entrance proudly proclaiming that it’s fun from ages 1 to 7 ½. Which even seems like an over-estimate, since this place blows. It’s just dioramas of fairy tales, all of which are falling apart, including the great joke of the Mamma Bear in the Goldilocks section’s voice recording not working, so the robot bear just gestures while this horrible electronic whining happens. There’s also the great gag of Bart sneaking onto the little train ride, despite being too tall for it, which ends up with his slamming his head against a bridge, and ruining the ride. Although it does end with him causing the Paul Bunyan statue to decapitate the Mother Goose statue, which causes the kids on the train to cheer. But the plot of the episode starts to get going when they visit the petting zoo, and after Homer tries to get a goat to eat a tin can, the family find a series of progressively adorable lambs. And Lisa is a total sucker; getting drawn into how cute the baby lamb is, making a little friend.
So the family heads home, and as they’re getting into the house Homer notices there’s a lot of people in the Flanders backyard, and heads over to investigate. Turns out there’s a family reunion going on, and there’s just a slew of creepy Ned and Maude clones, all having a barbeque. There’s even a Mexican Flanders, and a stuffy British one. Homer gets all upset that he wasn’t invited to the Flanders party, and announces that he’s going to have an amazing barbeque that everyone in town will get jealous about.
Homer begins planning his barbeque that night, while praising Marge for her amazing lamb-recipe. The family are chowing down on the lamb-chops, when Lisa starts to feel guilty. She remembers the cute little lamb she made friends with earlier, and can’t come to terms with the fact that she’s eating a lamb. She announces she can’t eat it, and Marge offers to make her rump roast, chicken breast, or hotdogs, but Lisa gets grossed out at the animals involved to make those foods, just completely grossed out at the notion of eating an animal. So Lisa’s going to be a vegetarian now.
But it turns out being a vegetarian in Springfield is super hard, as she finds out when she goes to school the next day. She tries to talk to Janey about it, but she doesn’t care, and Lisa is then given the issue of dissecting a worm. Everyone else in class is all for slicing up the living worm, except Ralph who ate his and gets to sleep while the other kids are learning. “Oh boy, sleep! That’s where I’m a Viking!” Lisa is unable to justify killing the worm, especially since in her head it talks like the lamb, so she tells Ms. Hoover that she won’t be involved in the experiment, causing Ms. Hoover to press an “Independent Thought Alarm.” And she really runs into issues at lunch when she sees that there are no vegetarian options, and only gets sarcasm from Lunchlady Doris, who also has to hit the “Independent Thought Alarm.”
Lisa continues to run into problems when she gets home, and watches an episode of Itchy and Scratchy that she realizes kind of promotes violence against animals being funny. Bart ignores that comment, before getting smashed in the face by a door when Homer bursts in to show them the invitations to his barbeque, which is shaping up to be an amazing meal. Lisa tries to convince Homer that he shouldn’t serve meat to people, and he mocks her by announcing “you don’t win friends with salad,” which then becomes a conga line with Bart and Marge, mocking Lisa and her beliefs.
Lisa then goes to school the next day, where Principal Skinner has come to her class to show them an educational video about how great meat is, since Lisa had been raising issues. We’re then treated to my favorite Troy McClure video of all time, and seriously one of my favorite Simpsons things ever. Meat and You: Partners in Freedom is one of the greatest things the Simpsons have ever made, and I could talk about this clip forever. It starts with Troy McClure, dressed as a cowboy, giving his previous credits (Firecrackers: the Silent Killer) before coming across a little boy in a cattle ranch. Troy then explains why vegetarianism is wrong, and brings the kid to a slaughterhouse. He then explain the food chain, which is just every animal pointing to man, before almost getting an interview from a “scientician.” We then see a montage of animals eating each other in nature, which features a lion eating a gazelle, a dog catching a frisbee, a hawk carrying away a sheep, and a shark eating a gorilla. The video then ends with Troy McClure’s warning that if a cow got the chance it “would eat you and everyone you ever cared about. Lisa is understandably horrified at the video, but none of the other kids are, and her complaints are ignored.
But now it’s time for Homer’s BBBQ! And the whole damn town is there, ready to eat as much meat as humanly possible. Although Lisa does inform everyone that she made enough gazpacho for everyone, which just earns her mocking laughter, and Barney’s demand to “Go back to Russia.” So she leaves the barbeque, choosing to be in her room rather than eat the meat. But things really push her over the edge when Homer accidently flings a burger up into her room, and into her face. The barbeque goes great, and everyone has stuffed themselves with meat, until Homer reveals a final course, a whole barbequed pig. Everyone is looking at the pig, when Lisa shows up in a riding mower, pushing the cart with the pig on it away. She steals the pig, and ends up driving away with it, while Homer and Bart chase after her. Lisa ends up dropping the pig cart down a steep hill, and it goes rocketing away. Homer and Bart keep chasing it, even though the pig gets dirty, falls in the river and gets slimy, and ends up getting stuck in some hole in a damn, firing the pig like a missile. “It’s just a little airborne, it’s still good, it’s still good!”
So everyone comes home, and Homer is furious at Lisa about ruining his barbeque. Lisa then gets super indignant, and says that Homer is in the wrong, since he wanted to eat meat, leading to the two having a huge fight. The two stop talking to each other, but Homer just keeps pissing her off, leading her to leaving the house. She wanders around the town, and finds her views being mocked. Some of the kids make fun of her for wanting to marry a carrot, she sees Krusty Burger selling beef-flavored chicken, a sign telling people not to eat beef and to eat deer instead, and finally some hotdogs at the Kwik-E-Mart. She then gives up, and decides to eat the hotdog and just stop being a vegetarian.
But when she eats the hotdog, Apu shows up and tells her that it was really a tofu dog, and that he switched out the beef ones a while ago. She’s stunned that there are vegetarian alternatives, and that Apu is fine with other people eating meat. He brings her to his rooftop garden, which is behind a secret door that looks like a non-alcoholic beer case. They go up there and we see the Simpsons complete their “Then Living Beatle Hat-Trick” by having Paul McCartney show up. He and Linda are apparently friends with Apu, and are there to meditate in his garden, while talking about being vegetarians and revealing that “Maybe I’m Amazed” has a secret lentil soup recipe hidden in it. They explain that it’s fine to be a vegetarian, but you shouldn’t shame other people. Apu then sings a cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and Lisa slinks away. She then finds Homer, who is wandering around town trying to find her, and the two have a heart to heart. She admits that she was wrong doing what she did, and they both agree to be more tolerant to each other. The episode then ends with the father-daughter duo heading home, happy with each other again, while Maybe I’m Amazing (with a lentil soup recipe spliced in) plays over footage of the flying roasted pig.
This episode is so great. One of the best Lisa episodes of them all, mainly because it’s also so incredibly funny. I’m not a vegetarian. I don’t think I would ever be a vegetarian. I know that the meat industry is terrible, and I should probably not be eating meat, but I don’t care, I’m too addicted. But this episode is still so great, showing Lisa’s struggle to be something that no one else in town wants her to be. She has a moral and ethical issue with meat, and struggles to have anyone understand that. It just hammers in how idealistic Lisa is, and that she will fight for her beliefs. Although I think the real draw of this episode is the fact that in the end, Lisa doesn’t just realize that it’s okay to be vegetarian, but that she shouldn’t mock others for their beliefs. People who are vegetarian, or especially Vegan, are stereotypically very arrogant about their beliefs, and often badger and belittle people who don’t do things the way they do. And Lisa sure was going down that path for most of the episode. But she learns that she should lead by example, and not pressure people into believing what she does. It’s an incredibly important lesson, and one that can be applicable for your eating habits, religion, politics, and basically anything else in the world. It’s fine that you have you beliefs, but there’s nothing more obnoxious than a person trying to cram their thoughts down other people’s throats. Plus, as with all great Lisa episodes, its great seeing the struggle between Lisa and Homer, and that in the end, they always find a way to relate to each other. It’s just a tremendous episode, plus it’s freaking hilarious. Any episode that can have Meat and You, the flying pig, and still teach an emotional lesson is just about perfect. Good work everyone!
Take Away: Be tolerant to others. You don’t need to push your thoughts and opinions on other people.
“Lisa the Vegetarian” was written by David S. Cohen and directed by Mark Kirkland, 1995.