Vegan Student Wins Right Not to Pay for Meaty Meals on Religious Grounds

PETA Lawyers Urged Community College to Respect Vegan Student's Belief System, Not Compel Her to Pay for Animal Slaughter Through Dining Plan

For Immediate Release:
January 21, 2016

David Perle 202-483-7382

Selden, N.Y. – Suffolk County Community College has just granted a religious accommodation to vegan student Danielle Parpounas—who was initially ignored when she asked that the school waive her participation in a new $100 campus dining plan, which included only potato chips, nuts, and occasionally some fruit for vegan diners. PETA’s lawyers sent the school a letter demanding that it grant a religious waiver because Ms. Parpounas’ moral code, which leads her to consume no animal products, is entitled to protection.

“PETA thanks the school for recognizing that sincere and meaningful moral beliefs—such as animal-friendly, cruelty-free vegan eating—are entitled to religious protection under the United States Constitution,” says PETA Foundation Director of Litigation Matthew Strugar. “This young woman’s objections to the horrors of the industrialized meat and dairy industries deserve the legal protections that they’ve now received.”

Ms. Parpounas is aware that in today’s industrialized meat and dairy industries, chickens’ and turkeys’ throats are cut while they’re still conscious, piglets have their testicles and part of their tails cut off without being given any painkillers, fish are suffocated or cut open while they’re still alive on the decks of fishing boats, and calves are taken away from their mothers within hours of birth. As PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—points out in its letter, refusing to accommodate Ms. Parpounas’ ethical objections to such cruelty, while providing accommodation for theistic religious objections, would violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind