It’s the plant-based decision everyone is talking about – Ethical veganism is accepted as a belief that’s protected under the Equality Act 2010.

The distinction between a vegan (who eschew diets derived from animals) and an ethical vegan is key to establishing the basis of this judgment. In Casamitjana v League against Cruel Sports, the employment tribunal considered whether ethical veganism is a ‘philosophical belief’ falling within the protected characteristic of religion or belief under the Act.

For a belief to constitute a philosophical belief, it must be genuinely held, and be a belief rather than an opinion, viewpoint or lifestyle. It also needs to concern a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour, be worthy of respect in a democratic society, and not be incompatible with human dignity or in conflict with the fundamental rights of others. Another recent example of belief systems held to amount to ‘philosophical beliefs’ has been climate change.

In this case the tribunal ruled that ethical veganism does meet the definition of a philosophical belief. The issue of whether Mr Casamitjana’s ethical veganism was the reason for his dismissal will be considered at a later date.

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