Vegetarianism - Fad, Foolishness, or Freedom

Recently a fellow classmate and good friend of yours has decided to become a vegetarian.  You're concerned that he is taking an extreme view of diet and lifestyle.  Other classmates don't want him pushing his views on them.  So in order to convince him of his foolishness, you've all decided to prove him wrong.  Surely a little research on the topic will show him the error of his ways.  After all, isn't vegetarianism only a fad of the 70s and a few health nuts today?


You and your classmates form a research team to learn the truth about being a vegetarian.  What are the facts and myths?  What are the advantages and disadvantages to being a vegetarian?  After exploring the topic, what are your conclusions?  Document your findings and prepare a presentation to share with your whole class.  Do you have enough evidence to change your friend's mind?


Within your group, choose from the roles listed in the left column below.  With your role in mind, use the suggested links to gather information about your area of expertise.  While doing your research, take notes and write down statistical data where helpful.  Upon completion of your findings, gather with your group to determine what information you want to include in your final analysis and how you will give your presentation using Power Point.  Be sure to prepare enough slides to cover your topic thoroughly.  Practice your presentation as a group before sharing with the class.  

Use the advice and/or lead questions given below to guide you in your research.  Include your findings in your presentation.


Nutritionist Explain the various types of vegetarians.  Review the basic food groups as found in the Vegetarian Food Pyramid.  Find out if vegetarians will suffer from lack of calcium, protein, iron, B-12, etc.   What about concerns for expecting moms and children and teenagers?  Do meat eaters get better nutrition than vegetarians?
Environmentalist Main thought:  Does vegetarianism help save the environment?  How does breeding animals for food affect our water supply?  Land use?  Climate?  World famine?  Make comparisons and share studies and data where possible.
Animal Rights Activist How are animals raised for food treated?  What are their living conditions?  How healthy are they?  Are there laws protecting animals from inhumane treatment?
Medical Doctor How does eating meat and dairy products affect our health?  Are their advantages to eating a plant based diet?  Do studies show examples of foods harming our health, and foods contributing to better health?


Is vegetarianism more expensive? (Compare costs of soy products & meat alternatives with meat and dairy products.)   What are some sample recipes and menu ideas?  Won't it be difficult to eat out and over at friends?  Where do I begin?  Will my family be getting a balanced diet without meat and/or dairy?


To help guide you in your research, use at least two of the following web addresses specified for your parti- cular role.


Animal Rights
Medical Doctor





All group members participate in the research. Most members participate in the research. Group participation is unacceptable.  
All group members participate in the presentation. Most members participate in the presentation. Group presentation is unacceptable.  
Presentation includes relevant information. Presentation includes mostly relevant information. Information is mostly incorrect.  
Covers most of the lead questions suggested. Covers at least half of the lead questions suggested. Covers less than half of the lead questions suggested.  
10 or more relevant images prepared. Between 5 and 10 relevant images prepared. Less than 5 relevant images prepared.  


Very Good




13-15 (A)

10-12 (B)

6-9 (C)

5 (D)


If you did your research thoroughly, you may be in the process of considering an alternative lifestyle.  From your findings, you should have concluded that eating a plant-based diet contributes to better health for you, the animal kingdom and the planet.  If nothing else, you've probably come to appreciate why your friend has chosen a vegetarian lifestyle, and you may be considering eating fewer hamburgers at McDonald's.

Created by Sheryl L. Dunn, April 2001