Tribunal Rules Ethical Veganism is a 'Philosophical Belief'

Tim Locke

January 03, 2020

An employment tribunal has ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief protected in law under the Equality Act 2010.

The case came about after Jordi Casamitjana claimed he was sacked by the animal charity League Against Cruel Sports because of his ethical veganism.

The judge's ruling means vegans cannot be discriminated against.

The legal tests used by the judge included deciding that veganism was:

  • Worthy of respect in a democratic society

  • Not incompatible with human dignity

  • Not conflicting with the fundamental rights of others

Despite the initial ruling, the tribunal in Norwich is continuing over claims by Mr Casamitjana's employer that he was fired for gross misconduct over disclosures relating to ethical concerns about animal testing-related pension fund investments.

Growing Animal Product-FreeTrend

According to the Vegan Society there were 600,000 vegans in the UK in 2019 - 1.16% of the UK population. That had more than quadrupled since 2014 when the figure was 150,000. The Society predicts a quarter of the British population will be vegan or vegetarian by 2025.

The NHS says a vegan or vegetarian diet "can be very healthy" but cautions that additional vitamins may be needed for children, during pregnancy, and while breastfeeding.

'Empowering' Decision

Speaking to reporters outside the hearing, Mr Casamitjana said the decision means that instead of feeling unwelcome, vegans will feel "empowered" that their way of life is protected as "a recognised belief, no less important than any religion or any other belief that is out there".

He believes it will encourage more people to become vegans and gave his thoughts on why he was successful: "I think I was successful because of the weight of the evidence. It is so obvious that veganism is a philosophical belief, it is so obvious that it fulfils all the legal requirements."

Implications

The Vegan Society gave evidence at the hearing and called the ruling "significant" as it would ensure the needs of vegans were accommodated.

"For example," it said. "an employer requiring its staff to wear leather footwear must provide a vegan option and a school providing meals must offer vegan options for children who require this."

The Society added in a statement: "The case was not just about the rights of vegans; a society that respects veganism and accommodates vegans also gives expression to the undisputed moral standing and rights of non-human animals."

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