This paper is concerned with a problem that arises within ethical frameworks that imply that it is wrong for humans to consume meat or other animal products when vegan alternatives are available. The specific problem relates to the ethical difficulties associated with beginning a relationship with a companion animal that may require at least some animal-based foods in order to survive. I follow some psychologists in referring to the ethical problems associated with such companionship as the Vegetarian’s Dilemma. After approaching this dilemma from the perspective the animal rights approach and welfarist consequentialism, I argue that some important insights can be gained by viewing this dilemma through a virtue ethical lens. In particular, I point out the ethical significance of the fact that the very same virtues that might lead one to adopt a vegan lifestyle may also support adoption of a carnivorous companion.

Included in

Philosophy Commons