Vegan Student’s Crusade for Religious Meal Waiver Gains Backing From PETA

Lawyers Demand That Suffolk County Community College Respect Student’s Beliefs, Not Compel Her to Pay and Participate in Dining Plan

For Immediate Release:
December 17, 2015

David Perle 202-483-7382

Selden, N.Y.

Suffolk County Community College recently made its $100 campus dining plan mandatory—and although the school allows students to opt out for medical or religious reasons, administrators have ignored vegan student Danielle Parpounas’ repeated requests for a waiver since available vegan options are limited primarily to potato chips, nuts, and occasionally some fruit. In response, PETA’s lawyers sent the school a letter this morning pointing out that Ms. Parpounas’ moral code, which leads her to consume no animal products, is entitled to religious protection and that she should be granted a religious waiver.

“For 50 years, our legal system has granted religious accommodations to people with sincere and meaningful moral beliefs, regardless of whether they belong to an orthodox religious sect,” says PETA Foundation Director of Litigation Matthew Strugar. “PETA is calling on Suffolk County Community College to accommodate Danielle Parpounas’ belief that chickens, pigs, and cows should not suffer and be slaughtered for her meals.”

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 tails and testicles 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 objection 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.

PETA’s letter to Suffolk County Community College is available upon request. For more information, please visit

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