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Ethical veganism was protected belief under Equality Act 2010 (ET)

An employment tribunal has held at a preliminary hearing that a claimant's ethical veganism was protected under the Equality Act 2010. Although the full merits hearing in the case is listed from 24 February to 6 March 2020, it is worth mention now.

The tribunal held that the claimant's belief was genuinely held and was more than an opinion or viewpoint. It had a weighty and substantial effect on his everyday life and behaviour. The claimant only worked in the field of animal protection and avoided relationships with non-vegans. Further, he:

  • Ate a 100% vegan diet, avoided foods that could potentially harm animals in their production, such as figs, and would not allow any food or product containing animal products into his home.

  • Avoided using products tested on animals, wearing animal-derived products, financial products which invested in companies that carried out animal testing, or using bank notes manufactured using animal products.

  • Walked rather than used public transport for journeys under one hour to avoid accidental crashes with wildlife.

The tribunal held that ethical veganism was without a doubt a belief which obtained a high level of cogency, cohesion and importance. Philosophically, it is rooted in the ancient concept of ahimsa ("not to injure"), an important tenent of Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism. There was no conflict between veganism and human dignity and ethical veganism did not in any way offend society or conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

Casamitjana Costa v League Against Cruel Sports ET/3331129/18 (21 January 2020)

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