The year 1994 was pretty big for the world: I was born, and the TV series "Friends" premiered for the first time in the US. Soon after that, "Friends" became a constant in my household. It grew up with me, and I with it. I still love the program to this day, though I now see the numerous problems that the TV series had. One of which I don’t think is addressed enough, or at all: how poorly television represents vegetarians.

Mun Ling Koh

I grew up vegetarian. And I remember how people used to treat me, even as a child – I was always the weird kid at parties, who would only eat the crisps and biscuits. Nobody ever bothered bringing a vegetarian option for me. And I am not surprised, when one of the only people I could seem to relate to was Phoebe Buffay, the weirdo of the bunch in "Friends." 

Don’t get me wrong, I love Phoebe, and lots of people do because she is weird and unapologetically so. But you can’t deny that she was constantly discredited by the others. Her opinions were always seen as comical and funny. And let’s not forget when she had to eat meat because the triplets "wanted her to." What was that all about?

Again, it was the '90s and the TV series had a lot more serious problems than representing vegetarians in the right way. But flash forward a few years and we’re not in much better company. I was recently rewatching "Gossip Girl" and there are numerous times when our favorites Serena and Blair are disgusted at the thought of eating mock meats (but I have to say, I was impressed when they gave a shout out to seitan). More than that, being vegan meant being a hippie – a term which was again used in a disparaging way.

And this is still one of the biggest stereotypes that vegans have to fight against today.

Sydney Pereira

Things don’t look much better in series like "Gilmore Girls," "The O.C.," "That’s So Raven," "Pretty Little Liars"  that's just to name a few. Lately, vegetarianism and veganism barely seem to get any representation at all. I cannot think of a TV series from the past year that has introduced a believable vegetarian character at all!

It is only natural, then, that people would expect vegetarians and vegans to be talking no-sense most of the times. How can our arguments be credited when everything you see on TV portrays us as "hippies" who can't relate to the real world? It's time vegetarian characters were introduced on TV shows and treated like any other character. And by including this diversity, perhaps vegetarians and vegans will find themselves being treated like any other person.