Veganism is a philosophical belief and is therefore protected by law, a judge has ruled in a landmark tribunal.
The case was brought by Jordi Casamitjana, who says he was fired by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) after he raised concerns that its pension fund was being invested in companies involved in animal testing.
He claims he was ‘unfairly disciplined’ for making this disclosure, and that he was fired because of his philosophical belief in ethical veganism.
According to Casamitjana’s lawyers, ethical veganism satisfies the tests required for it to be a philosophical or religious belief, which means it should protected under the Equality Act 2010.
To qualify as a protected belief under the Act, a belief must meet a set of criteria. It must be genuinely held, be a belief as to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behavior, attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance.
It must also be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not be incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others, and be a belief, not an opinion or viewpoint based on the present state of information available.
Equality Act 2010
At the tribunal today in Norwich, judge Robin Postle ruled that ethical veganism does meet these criteria, and is therefore protected under the Equality Act 2010. He also ruled that Casamitjana adheres to the belief of ethical veganism.
The judge said in his short ruling that ethical veganism was ‘important’ and ‘worthy’ of respect in a democratic society. “I am satisfied overwhelmingly that ethical veganism does constitute a philosophical belief,” he added.
This ruling means ethical vegans are entitled to protection from discrimination.
Casamitjana spoke to the BBC outside the tribunal, saying he was ‘extremely happy’ about the ruling.
“I’m really, really satisfied and I hope all the vegans out there that have been supporting me – there have been many helping me in my crowdfunding – I hope they now feel their little donation has been properly used,” he added.
“Definitely, veganism is a philosophical belief and when you look at my life and anybody else’s life who is an ethical vegan, you will see it. This is a positive belief, it’s not a negative belief. And therefore a positive belief is bound to be protected.”
The judge has not yet ruled on Casamitjana’s dismissal.