Veganism Could Be Officially Recognized as a Religion in the UK

Employment Tribunal case could grant Veganism the same protection as other religious groups

There is a fair chance of ethical veganism be given religion status in the UK by an employment tribunal. This may happen as many experts have dubbed the habit as more than a simple lifestyle choice. The subject in question arose due to a dispute between League Against Cruel Sports, a noted animal welfare charity, and Jordi Casamitjana, a former employee of the charity. The latter has alleged that he was fired by his former employer as he discovered that the organization’s pension fund was majorly invested in companies which did animal testing.

The 54-year-old Casamitjana informed his colleagues about what he found despite his then employer’s instruction not to interact with other staff members regarding pensions. He argued his case is a mix of discrimination and whistleblowing as he was not punished and warned about his transgression but was dismissed suddenly without warning.

The League Against Cruel Sports denied their former employee’s accusations. The company described itself as a kind of “vegan-friendly employer” and said that Casamitjana was sacked for reasons other than his pension or belief concerns. The company, in its statement, said he was sacked due to “gross misconduct.”

Ethical vegans are different from dietary vegans. The latter simply consume a plant-centric diet whereas ethical vegans consciously exclude all kinds of animal exploitation. They do not wear clothes created from leather or wool and do not use products which undergo animal testing. Lawyers working for Casamitjana claim ethical veganism satisfies all tests needed for religious belief or philosophical classification. It means if ethical veganism gets a religious classification, it will be duly protected as per the Equality Act of 2010. The list of tests includes compatibility with the dignity of humans, deemed to carry respect in democratic society, and not in conflict with others’ fundamental rights.

The law firm, Bindmans LLP, which represents Casamitjana, describes this legal challenge as a “landmark.” In a statement, the firm said: “the case will protect ethical vegans from discrimination on the grounds of their belief.” Religion is marked as one of the nine protected characteristics as per the Equality Act 2010. It stands with other parameters like age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, pregnancy and maternity, and gender reassignment. The Equality Act makes it illegal for any employer to treat an employee in a hostile manner simply due to their beliefs, or discriminate against employees, unlike others.

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