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4-min read

In Landmark Decision, UK Tribunal to Decide if Veganism is a Legally Protected 'Philosophical Belief'

The case was brought by 'ethical vegan' Jordi Casamitjana who claimed that he was discriminated against at his workplace, League Against Cruel Sports (LACS).

Rakhi Bose | News18.com@theotherbose

Updated:December 3, 2018, 6:27 PM IST
In Landmark Decision, UK Tribunal to Decide if Veganism is a Legally Protected 'Philosophical Belief'
Image for representation.

In a landmark decision that could deeply impact the vegan and animal rights movements, a British employment tribunal is set to decide whether veganism is a 'philosophical belief' that can be legally protected.

The case was brought by animal rights activist Jordi Casamitjana who claimed that he was discriminated against at his workplace, League Against Cruel Sports (LACS). Earlier in June, The Guardian reported that the 'ethical vegan' had disclosed to colleagues that the the animal rights organisation was investing its pension funds in companies that indulged in unethical animal testing, something which was strictly against his beliefs. He claimed that he was soon sacked by the company following the disclosure and said that this was due to discrimination based on his vegan beleifs.

Casamitjana is suing LACS, which was instrumental in bringing about the ban on fox hunting in UK, for discrimination and has demanded the court to consider including veganism under the Equality Act 2010, the BBC reported. Casamitjana had been running a crowdfunding campaign for over five months to raise money for the legal action. In March, a tribunal will decide whether veganism is in fact a 'philosophical belief' akin to a religion. If the tribunal finds veganism to be akin to a religion or belief, the case will move to full trial.

'Religion and belief' is among the 9 characteristics that are protected by the Equality act 2010 in the UK. The others include age, gender reassignment, disability, marriage and civil partnership, race, sex, sexual orientation and pregnancy and maternity. Direct or indirect discrimination on the basis of any of these aspects is illegal.

Casamitjana, who has been a vegan for 17 years, claims to be an ethical vegan. This is different from being a dietary vegan who do not eat meat or animal byproducts due to health reasons. An ethical vegan is one who resists even using animal byproducts such as wool or leather, or refuses to use products that employ animal testing or promote animal cruelty. They even boycott zoos and other kinds of entertainment that tend to keep/train animals in unnatural conditions.

The case, being fought by the legal firm Bindmans LLP, is the first of its kind as this is the first time a court will decide whether vegans can be legally protected. The decision may have an important impact on alternate movements as well as the food, textiles and cosmetics industry.

LACS, however, has denied all allegations and claimed that Casamitjana was fired due to 'gross misconduct'.

The case has already started going viral on social media with many claiming that this could mean big news for animal rights and vegan movements. Twitterati also debated over whether veganism is indeed a philosophical or religious belief.

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