Meat-Eating: To Eat or Not to Eat

Acting as a large food service company, students must address the concerns of clients who want to distance themselves from unethical factory farms.

Task Force: Meat-Eating: To Eat or Not to Eat

Uh-Oh!

You are the CEO of a food-service company that supplies food to hundreds of college campuses across the country. Last month, the animal rights organization PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) published an article exposing that the meat you use comes from factory farms, which are known for their inhumane treatment of livestock. Now, student groups at many of the schools you serve are protesting and some of the colleges are threatening to end their contracts with you if you don’t make a change. 

Why Are We Doing This?

Most of the meat that is sold and consumed in the US comes from factory farms and it is often difficult to find out where the food we eat is being sourced from. There are a variety of ways that a food service company may choose to change its practices: going completely vegetarian or plant-based, offering more and better vegan/vegetarian options in order to encourage less meat consumption, replacing some or all meat products with “lab meat” and meat alternatives, or assuring that all meat is sourced from ethical farms.  

Steps

  1. Research some statistics and issues related to factory farming in the US. How widespread is the issue? Can you find any independent research or information on more ethical farms? Is there any way to be sure that the meat you’re buying comes from ethical sources? 
  2. Now, think about which combination of options listed above offers the best solution (going completely vegetarian or plant-based, offering more and better vegan/vegetarian options in order to encourage less meat consumption, replacing some or all meat products with “lab meat” and meat alternatives, or assuring that all meat is sourced from ethical farms)
  3. Think through the possible objections to your plan. Particularly, think about which students/teachers/administrators may be unhappy with your ideas.   
  4. Share with the group and see if you can convince them that your plan is more ethical to animals and will satisfy the dietary preferences of students. 

Things to Keep in Mind:

  • You do not have to come up with an exhaustive policy. It’s better to come up with a few ideas that you feel confident with and spend time thinking through possible objections to them. 
  • You don’t have to worry about answering all possible objections, but you should have some defense of why you think your idea would work. 
  • Your suggestions should be things that food service companies could realistically implement. 
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