Ethical veganism is capable of constituting a philosophical belief


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In the preliminary hearing into the case of Casamitjana v The League Against Cruel Sports the employment tribunal concluded that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief which qualifies as a protected belief within the meaning of section 10 of the Equality Act 2010.

Mr Casamitjana claimed that he was unfairly dismissed by the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), an animal welfare charity, after he raised concerns with colleagues that its pension fund invested in companies involved in animal testing.  The purpose of the preliminary hearing was to determine whether ethical veganism could amount to a philosophical belief.  The employment tribunal held that Mr Casamitjana's belief was genuinely held and was more than an opinion or viewpoint.  His belief had a weighty and substantial effect on his everyday life and behaviour, was worthy of respect in a democratic society, was not incompatible with human dignity, and did not conflict with the fundamental rights of others.

Mr Casamitjana's veganism dictates his choices from the products and services that he consumes; he will not consume food that he believes in its production in any way harms animals; he will not wear any clothes, shoes or accessories that contain animal products; he has only worked in the field of animal protection since becoming a vegan; since becoming vegan he has not been in a relationship with anyone who was not a vegan and would not share a property with anyone who was not also a vegan; in addition if his destination is within an hour walking distance he will normally walk there to avoid accidental crashes with insects or birds when taking a bus or public transport.

The employment tribunal concluded that ethical veganism was a belief which obtained a high level of cogency, cohesion and importance.  Philosophically, it is rooted in the ancient concept of ahimsa (which means "not to injure"), an important tenet of Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism.

Take note:  Following the decision in Casamitjana it seems that ethical veganism will be a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.  However, it's worth noting that Mr Casamitjana is a particularly committed vegan and so has set a high bar for those wishing to claim that their veganism amounts to a philosophical belief capable of legal protection.

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