Superheroes are known for protecting the innocent and often giving voice to those who cannot speak for themselves. To most, this only applies to human beings, but certain heroes have widened their protective umbrella to encompass animals as well. A few of them have even gone beyond simply altering their diet and have dabbled in animal rights activism. Surprisingly, although Aquaman spends a great deal of time protecting all manner of creatures that inhabit the sea, he also enjoys eating fish and chips.
For some heroes, vegetarianism has become a lifestyle, while for others it was merely a phase. Many have made the switch because of their strong feelings for our furry or feathered friends, but for some the decision could be based solely on health reasons. After all, being a superhero doesn’t make you immune to high cholesterol!
Whatever their logic for switching from steak to salad, here are fifteen superheroes (and a couple of villains) that are, or were at some point, vegetarian.
16 Todd Ingram
The first entry on this list is planted firmly in the villain camp and his reasons for being a vegetarian-- well, vegan, actually-- are anything but noble. Todd Ingram, the third evil ex-boyfriend of Ramona Flowers, made his first appearance in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. The pretty-boy rock star is basically a huge jerk who’s either really smart or incredibly dumb. Being a vegan actually gives him psychic powers, which are unfortunately more than a match for Pilgrim’s own when the two fight in Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness.
It turns out though, that aside from cheating on Scott’s ex Envy, Todd was also cheating on his vegan diet! Gelato and Chicken Parmesan are certainly not animal-free eats. Luckily, before Scott could get his butt completely handed to him, the Vegan Police showed up (having discovered Todd’s infractions) and used the Deveganizing Ray on him, stripping him of his powers. Edgar Wright’s (Shaun of the Dead) awesome 2010 film adaptation saw Todd portrayed by Brandon Routh (Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow).
15 Damian Wayne
Damian was technically born in 1987, when Mike W. Barr and Jerry Bingham created Batman: Son of the Demon. He was the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul (making Ra’s his grandfather). Originally this tale was considered to have taken place in an alternate universe and over the years several more stories were told about Batman’s son. But no one truly breathed life into Damian Wayne until 2006 when Grant Morrison gave him a name in Batman #655 and began his canonical journey in the “Batman and Son” arc. After Damian was officially in continuity, he eventually became the fifth person to don the mantle of Robin.
Surprisingly, the most violent and unpredictable Robin-- trained by the League of Assassins no less-- wound up abjuring meat completely. In the second volume of Morrison’s Batman Inc., after a mission that took place in a slaughterhouse, Damian not only declared himself a vegetarian, but also rescued one of the cows, granting him the sobriquet of Bat-Cow. Damian’s decision to continue this diet was even referenced several issues later.
14 Iron Fist
Danny Rand is one of the world’s finest martial artists. Having been granted the ancient powers of the Iron Fist, he has the ability to summon his chi. He was teamed with Luke Cage in the ‘70s due to the fact that neither book was popular enough to continue on its own, but the definitive run on this character is undoubtedly the 2007 series. In The Immortal Iron Fist, Danny was given a rich backstory by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, with gorgeous art by David Aja.
Danny’s diet hasn’t been mentioned much in the comics themselves, but he appeared in the animated Ultimate Spider-Man and that incarnation of him was a vegetarian. This decision fits with his “fish out of water” story and the way that he has internalized Eastern philosophy. Whether this teenaged version of Rand has chosen to refrain from eating meat for reasons relating to either animals or overall health and wellbeing is unclear. Look for Danny, played by Finn Jones (Game of Thrones), to be the next Marvel character to get the Netflix treatment when Iron Fist debuts March 17th, 2017.
13 Connor Hawke
Connor was the Green Arrow’s sidekick after former partner Speedy had left and become Arsenal. In the wake of Oliver Queen’s death, Connor actually became the second Green Arrow. The two had met years before at the ashram where Connor had been staying and it was eventually revealed that he was Oliver’s son (ah, comic books). Connor was a practicing Buddhist and devout vegetarian.
However, following their huge event Infinite Crisis, DC wanted to shake things up. One Year Later left all of its characters in radically different places than where they'd ended up when Crisis had finished. Connor was in a coma for quite a while. When he eventually awoke, it was with no knowledge of who he was before. The guy couldn’t even remember being an archer or a hero, let alone being vegetarian. However, thanks to the magic of comics, he somehow developed a healing factor, so… fair trade?
12 Bruce Banner
First of all, we’re talking about the Bruce Banner in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. While it hasn’t really been touched on in the mainstream comics, Bruce can clearly be seen chowing down on some shawarma at the end of Avengers. Second of all, we are most certainly not talking about the Hulk, because his tastes are obviously less discerning. Seriously, that dude eats people! As revealed in Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk though, Bruce is actually a vegan. It is unknown whether that has anything to do with his alter ego’s cannibalistic tendencies.
Although his actual reasons may be unclear, these dietary restrictions do make sense in terms of Bruce’s narrative. He tries so hard to maintain as healthy a lifestyle as he possibly can in order to keep the big, green guy at bay. Unfortunately, regardless of his diet, exercise, and meditation, the Hyde to his Jekyll always seems doomed to emerge. The Hulk’s story has always been a tragic one.
Speaking of characters with questionable morality who inhabit Marvel’s Ultimate Universe, the Master of Magnetism in that reality has also chosen to abstain from animal products. Although his mainstream counterpart has redeemed himself many times over, this version of Magneto really has not. A much more straightforward (although somehow still likable) villain from Ultimate X-Men #1 to Ultimatum #5, it is unclear as to why Eric Lensherr has chosen to become a vegetarian.
Perhaps he feels for the animals and does not want to harm innocent creatures. This incarnation of Magneto most likely would view animals above human beings, considering the fact that he wants all Homo sapiens eradicated. Despite being a monster in the Ultimate Universe, Magneto does have his sympathetic points. Perhaps this is one of them. Who knows though, maybe he’s just trying to stay fit? Just because you’re evil doesn’t mean you need to let yourself go.
Zatanna Zatara is by far one of DC’s most powerful magicians. She has been romantically linked to John Constantine (which, like all of his relationships, didn’t go well) and frequently works with the Justice League. The Mistress of Magic also happens to be a vegetarian. Superheroes still have bills to pay and Zatanna’s got a day job. Well, it’s more of a night job, really. She performs magic shows while wearing super sexy duds.
Zatanna works with animals in her act and has a particular affinity for bunnies. The girl’s got a lot of rabbits. She has even been known to adopt them. With this in mind, her vegetarianism is clearly based on fuzzy feelings towards her furry friends. Since she can pretty much make anything happen by speaking the words backwards, it’s safe to say that no animals will come to harm if Zatanna’s got anything to say about it.
9 Scarlet Witch
Wanda Maximoff has gone through an amazing array of changes since arriving on the comics scene in 1964. Initially, she was an X-Men villain, along with her brother Quicksilver. Because she was a reluctant evildoer, Wanda wound up a member of the Avengers soon after and remained through many of the team’s incarnations. While her powers began benignly enough, eventually her “chaos magic” grew and she was able to completely reshape reality. Wanda willed her children into existence and had a nervous breakdown when she thought she had lost them. She’s been married to the Vision, dated Wonder Man, and even almost married Doctor Doom! If you haven’t read that storyline in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, you should get on it.
The Scarlet Witch has both made and unmade the world. That’s not all though. It was revealed in Scarlet Witch vol. 2 that Wanda doesn’t drink alcohol or eat meat. This could be part of a new health regiment-- she does have pretty significant mental health issues. Alternatively, maybe she’s got a soft spot for animals and doesn’t want to eat them.
Superman’s diet hasn’t been discussed much in the nearly eighty years that he’s been leaping tall buildings in a single bound. That changed in 2003 when Mark Waid and Leinil Francis Yu reimagined the origin story of the Man of Steel and in it, he was a vegetarian. Interestingly, in Superman: Birthright, Clark can actually see the life force leave the body when anyone dies. This makes death-- not just of humans, but of animals as well-- incredibly difficult for him to deal with. It was so painful, in fact, that he made the decision not to take the life of any living creature.
This story wasn’t originally meant to be canon, but it eventually became so, which means it was Superman’s official origin story. However, in 2009 Superman: Secret Origin, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Gary Frank, replaced it. Because that is now considered canon, it is tough to say one way or the other if Supes likes to chow down on a burger or eat a Gardenburger instead.
7 Kitty Pryde
Due to the sheer volume of writers on the various X-Men titles over the years, it is difficult to keep Kitty’s diet consistent. X-Men: Evolution definitely counts her in the vegetarian column though. The girl who can walk through walls has been a fan-favorite since Chris Claremont and John Byrne introduced her in 1980. As one of the youngest X-Men when she joined the team, she has had one of the strongest character arcs in terms of growth. From Sprite to Shadowcat to Star-Lord, Kitty has definitely evolved.
Since the data on Kitty’s eating habits is pretty scarce, her possible motives are unknown. Arguably the most kind-hearted of her fellow X-Men, Kitty's best friend is an alien (that looks suspiciously like a purple dragon). She’s been hanging around Lockheed ever since he followed her home from a space mission. Perhaps it is these close ties to her pet that make Kitty think twice before passing the beef.
Created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons in what would become one of the most celebrated graphic novels of all time, Adrian Alexander Veidt began his villain’s journey in 1986. The “smartest man on the planet” started out as a hero, but like many that paved the road to Hell with their good intentions, he lost the plot. Although, it’s doubtful that he would see it that way.
While Veidt’s “ends justify the means” way of thinking is most definitely up for debate, you can’t argue with the guy’s charisma. He’s funny, capable of catching a bullet, and keeps company with a genetically engineered lynx named Bubastis. Aside from that, he’s a vegetarian. Perhaps it was his love for his feline companion that stopped him from eating other animals in general. Veidt was in ridiculously good shape though, so his meat-free diet could have also been in an effort to maintain his peak physical condition.
4 Beast Boy
Garfield Mark “Gar” Logan has one of the coolest abilities in comics. He can transform into literally any animal! Even if he’s never seen the creature in person, Beast Boy or Changeling, as he has also been called, needs only to see an illustration of a dinosaur to become one. Once turning into the animal, he takes on all of its characteristics, such as speed, strength, or even flight. He’s been a member of several teams since his creation in 1965, but is most well known for his time with the Teen Titans. Gar is the most fun-loving, carefree member of the team, but he’s always there when his fellow Titans need him.
Although Beast Boy’s diet hasn’t been dealt with much in the comics, the cartoon version of him from Teen Titans refuses to eat meat. His vegetarian lifestyle was born of the fact that he has been pretty much every animal that people are fond of eating. Knowing what it feels like to become these creatures no doubt gives him an added level of empathy that normal human beings simply aren’t capable of. It has also probably occurred to him that, were circumstances different, he could wind up on the menu.
3 Karolina Dean
Also known as Lucy in the Sky or L.S.D., Karolina was created by Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona in their unequivocally brilliant 2003 series Runaways (soon to be a show on Hulu). Karolina, as well as Alex, Nico, Molly, Gertrude, and Chase discovered that their parents were actually supervillains, and teamed up to fight them. Despite being cancelled due to lack of readership, the series was resurrected less than a year later because it sold so well in digest form. This was a good call, because Vaughan’s second volume was just as awesome as the first. After that, Joss Whedon took over the series briefly.
Marvel doesn’t have many characters that are lesbian or vegan and Karolina is actually both. She is an ardent animal lover who is very committed to a life completely free of meat and dairy. Karolina grew up a happy child, blissfully ignorant of her alien heritage. Soon after discovering her parents’ evil machinations, she learns that she is actually a member of the Majesdanian race and that she’s got super cool powers in the form of manipulating solar energy. Aside from these being extremely powerful, they also look like a really pretty rainbow.
2 Animal Man
Buddy Baker is the second character on this list that was made a vegetarian by Grant Morrison (not to mention Morrison’s animal rights manifesto We3). The writer himself was a vegetarian while writing Animal Man. Buddy was created in 1965, but it was the Morrison run that truly gave Animal Man a renaissance and remains the definitive interpretation of the character (although Jeff Lemire’s New 52 run was also pretty great). Buddy’s power set gives him the ability to borrow traits from animals, a gift he uses to fight crime-- often crimes perpetrated against those very creatures. Aside from eschewing animal products, he is also an activist.
Seeing the conditions during his investigation of an animal testing facility is what initially made Buddy think twice about eating meat. It was this event that led to his entire lifestyle change. No doubt his talent for taking on the characteristics of everything from a bird to a shrimp has also made him much more sensitive to their plight. Of everyone on this list, Animal Man has done the most to fight for all creatures, great and small.
1 Wonder Woman
Since her creation in 1941, Diana Prince has made history and broken barriers as one of the most powerful characters in the DCU. She is a founding member of the Justice League who is incredibly intelligent and more than a match for any superhero from Superman to Batman. Aside from that, she is a true humanitarian that cares a great deal about all living things. Artemis at one point gave her the ability to communicate with animals. This is one of her lesser-known powers to be sure, but she has accessed it at certain points.
In his seminal run on Wonder Woman, Greg Rucka controversially chose to make Diana a vegetarian. This angered some fans due to the fact that she grew up on an island of women who assumedly hunted for food, which made her choice of tofu over turkey seem unlikely. However, because Wonder Woman can form such a close bond with animals, it makes perfect sense that she would not want to eat them. Since DC relaunched the character in the New 52, the topic of her diet hasn’t really been broached, so her vegetarian status is unknown. Catch the Amazonian princess portrayed by Gal Godot in the film Wonder Woman, hitting theaters June 2nd, 2017.