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Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

The Big Q Blog

Animal rights need you

Animal rights need you

Crusading at the Dinner Table

Grace faces a dilemma when her values regarding animal rights collide with the beliefs of the general college community. Should she speak out?

**DISCLAIMER: All characters and scenarios in this post are fictional.**

Towards the end of her senior year of high school, Grace volunteered for a local animal rights organization. Although she was always an animal lover, she had never really considered the issue of animals being raised to be eaten. During her time with the organization, she became passionate about animal rights and became a vegetarian. She was also able to convince her parents to become vegetarians.

Now a new freshman, Grace faces a dilemma. Everyone around her seems to eat meat. Though the dining hall offers plenty of vegetarian options, she is unhappy about the presence of meat as a constant feature among the offerings.

Grace isn’t able to put aside her feelings about the suffering of animals. Going by her own experience of having her eyes opened to the cause, Grace is convinced that spreading knowledge about the suffering of farm animals is the only way of converting more people into vegetarians.

On one hand, she feels she has a duty, when sitting at a table with people who are consuming meat, to express her beliefs. On the other hand, she knows that directly confronting people about their choices tends to alienate them. She would like to establish good relationships and friendships with the people around her, but she would also like to express her beliefs and teach people about her cause. Should Grace confront her friends at the dining table?

Useful Resources:

A Framework for Ethical Decision-Making

Stand Up, Speak Out: The College Student's Guide to Activism

Ethics Guide: Eating Animals


Photo by Ben Isacat available under a Creative Commons license.