Breakout Session #4

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.


  1. 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.)
  2. 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?
  3. 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?
  4. 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.
    1. Viewpoint A: A vegetarian diet is the best way to promote personal health and environmental sustainability.
    2. Viewpoint B: A diet that includes meat is necessary to maintain personal health and well-being.
    3. Viewpoint C: Eating meat raised through environmentally sustainable practices is an important way to sustain rural economies.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Ask students to spend a few minutes a group discussing which argument (Viewpoint A, B, or C) is most compelling and why.
  8. 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.


  1. What other possible viewpoints could have been included in this debate?
  2. Which choice seems best from the standpoint of human health?
  3. Which choice seems best from the standpoint of environmental resources?
  4. How do you think the three viewpoints rank in terms of price to the consumer? Does this make you rethink your argument?
  5. How might a person’s cultural or religious background impact the decision to eat or not eat certain foods?