Food Fight (from Facing the Future Curriculum)
LEQ: Is a vegetarian lifestyle advisable, considering both human health factors and environmental factors?
Objectives: Students will be able to
- Research information about different diet choices
- Determine the environmental and health consequences of a particular diet
- Take and defend a position on whether a vegetarian diet or one that includes meat is preferable
- Handout: Viewpoints A-C —make enough copies so that 1/3 of students receive Viewpoint A, 1/3 of students receive Viewpoint B, and 1/3 of students receive Viewpoint C
- Website: Water Footprint Network provides statistics about water usage for growing various crops and raising different kinds of livestock. Click on “Product Water Footprints” to learn more.
- Ask students to provide their own definitions for the word “vegetarian.” (A vegetarian is a person who does not eat meat. However, many vegetarians eat animal products such as dairy and eggs.)
- You may want to have a quick discussion to further engage students: What thoughts or feelings come to mind when they hear that word? Are any students vegetarian? Do they know any vegetarians?
- Let them know that they will be exploring the pros and cons of a vegetarian diet. Their goal will be to answer the question: Is a vegetarian lifestyle advisable, considering both human health factors and environmental factors?
- Break students into groups of 3. Assign each student in a group to Viewpoint A, B, or C so that each group includes all viewpoints.
- Viewpoint A: A vegetarian diet is the best way to promote personal health and environmental sustainability.
- Viewpoint B: A diet that includes meat is necessary to maintain personal health and well-being.
- Viewpoint C: Eating meat raised through environmentally sustainable practices is an important way to sustain rural economies.
- Pass out the appropriate handout (Viewpoint A, B, or C) to each student in the group. Give students 20 to 25 minutes to complete Part 1 of their handouts independently. They can use the suggested websites or any other relevant references.
- Ask students to return to their groups and share their findings. As they share, group members should fill out Part 2 of the handout. Allow 10 to 15 minutes for this part of the activity.
- Ask students to spend a few minutes a group discussing which argument (Viewpoint A, B, or C) is most compelling and why.
- Tell students that they will need to choose which Viewpoint resonates the most with them. Each student should explain why they chose a particular viewpoint. Let students know that they can change their minds if they hear a particularly compelling argument that makes them rethink their original decision.
- What other possible viewpoints could have been included in this debate?
- Which choice seems best from the standpoint of human health?
- Which choice seems best from the standpoint of environmental resources?
- How do you think the three viewpoints rank in terms of price to the consumer? Does this make you rethink your argument?
- How might a person’s cultural or religious background impact the decision to eat or not eat certain foods?