We’re just a week now since the launch of Mass Effect 3, one of the biggest video games to launch this year and the conclusion to the trilogy. A while ago I mused on finding a true vegetarian or vegan video game character, but somehow it had completely slipped my mind that not only was there a fantastic game character that lived a vegan lifestyle, there was a whole race of that lived a vegan lifestyle. I’d like to think a bit more on the subject of vegans and video games, and to do that, let’s take a look at the Quarians from Mass Effect.
To catch everyone up to speed, the Quarians are a race of humanoid aliens from a planet called Rannoch. The planet itself had very few pathological microbes, forcing Quarian immune systems to be fairly weak by comparison to any other race. As their technological prowess grew, they eventually created the Geth, a race of artificially intelligent robots that took over the planet and forced the entire race to flee. Since then, their immune systems were reduced to next to nothing, forcing them to live their lives in a protective enviro-suits.
This all leads up to why they’re vegans, and where the interesting concepts appear. The entire race travels around the galaxy in the Migrant Fleet, a group of roughly 50 thousand ships containing 17 million Quarians. Because of the cramped nature of the ships and the scarcity of resources, the only food that’s grown is plant-based. No livestock. Why? Because living in space forces conservation, and having to provide food and especially water to livestock wouldn’t make any sense. The Quarians are vegan because the survival of their species demands it.
Now, the designers at Bioware probably weren’t trying to create a big message or anything with this situation, and really, the notion of being ousted from their homeworld by a race of sentient robots is very similar to the updated version of Battlestar Galactica, but having a prominent character and her entire race turn out to be vegan due to needing to value resources better and be efficient with their health, it does make for a very interesting conversation point.
Probably the best part of this is that I wasn’t even aware of the Quarians’ vegan lifestyle until after playing through the games a few time and reading in one of the in-game encyclopedias about this interest fact, which means that yes, there is a group of people vegans in a high profile video game that show the lifestyle in a relatively positive light. The Quarians struggle to survive, but they’re strong because of it. They could have been wiped out long ago, but they continue fighting.
Also interesting is how as a race, the Quarians are very open to assimilating aspects from any other cultures that work to better the lives of the whole. Again, probably not an overt message about being open-minded about veganism, but it’s still cool to see.
I’ve yet to find another game that emphasizes living vegan as a way of life, but I’ll keep looking. Has anyone else found some characters or games that actively encourage the lifestyle or diet? Leave a comment and let me know. I really am that curious to find more!