Court acknowledges veganism as a philosophical belief

A legal dispute over the dismissal of an employee at the “League against cruel sports”, a UK-based animal rights organisation, has recently led to an important court decision for vegans.

The employment tribunal in Norwich that is in charge of this case has firstly ruled that ethical veganism is comparable to a philosophical belief and, therefore, subject to laws against discrimination. For beliefs to be protected in the UK, they have to be compatible with human dignity and not conflicting with other peoples’ fundamental rights. The court now confirmed this for ethical veganism and the anti-discrimination “Equality Act” of the UK would consequently extend to ethical vegans.

While this was just the first part of the ruling in this case (the second part will determine whether the employee’s philosophical belief led to his dismissal), it is a very important legal decision that could have wide-spread consequences. Vegans regularly have trouble getting access to viable alternatives, be it in schools, workplaces or public facilities. The recognition of veganism as a philosophical belief, similar to religions, and its protection against discrimination, could have an impact on how vegans will be able to deal with these kinds of obstacles.

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