An employment tribunal has ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief and should receive similar legal protection to religion in UK workplaces.
The landmark ruling comes as a result of a case was brought by ethical vegan Jordi Casamitjana who claimed he was unfairly sacked from his role as Researcher at the League Against Cruel Sports.
His former employer claimed he was dismissed for gross misconduct. However, Mr Casamitjana argued his dismissal was due to his beliefs after disclosing that the company invested pension funds into firms involved in animal testing.
Ethical vegans, as opposed to dietary vegans, try to avoid all forms of animal exploitation in the products they buy, as well as in their diets. They do not buy clothes made of wool or leather, or use products tested on animals.
Mr Casamitjana claims that he alerted his bosses to the investments but they did nothing. It was only when he told a colleague about the investments that they took action and fired him.
Judge Robin Postle ruled at the tribunal that ethical veganism satisfies the conditions required to be protected under the Equality Act 2010. Those conditions are that it must be worthy of respect in a democratic society, not be incompatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.
He also stated that that Mr Casamitjana adhered to this belief.
Following the hearing, Mr Casamitjana said: “It was very important to win this ruling today because it’s not just my case which is important to me personally but this case will influence the life of many vegans out there.
“There will be a positive outcome beyond me. It will help the promotion of veganism as a lifestyle because vegans who might be afraid about talking about their belief, that might be feeling that they are not welcome, they will feel empowered now.
“They will believe that their belief is now a protected belief. That will give them power and that means they will be more expressive.”