In March, an employment tribunal will be asked to determine whether
veganism can be considered a philosophical belief and, as such, protected
by law. A wide range of belief systems have been held to constitute a
philosophical belief in the past, including a belief in catastrophic
climate change, a philosophy against fox hunting and even a belief in
Mediums and their ability to contact the dead. But will veganism similarly
be considered to constitute a philosophical belief?
The case concerns Jordi Casamitjana who claims that he was a whistleblower
who was dismissed by the League Against Cruel Sports after disclosing that
it invested pension funds in companies involved in animal testing. Although
the League Against Cruel Sports denies that Mr Casamitjana was dismissed
for veganism and says he was dismissed for misconduct, Mr Casamitjana
believes that he was discriminated against and so the employment tribunal
must now decide if veganism should be protected in law.
Mr Casamitjana describes himself as an ‘ethical’ vegan who takes a holistic
approach to veganism, and concerns himself with animals, the environment
and his own health. He says he is an ethical vegan because, for him,
veganism is a belief that affects every aspect of his life. Religion or
belief is one of nine protected characteristics covered by the 2010
Equality Act and it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an
employee on the grounds of his or her religion or philosophical belief.
There are five criteria which have been identified as being necessary in
determining whether or not a philosophical belief can be protected. In
order to be protected, the tribunal must consider whether the belief:
Is not simply an opinion in relation to particular circumstance
Is in relation to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and
Attained a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and
Was not contrary to the fundamental rights of others.
The case seems to have struck a chord with the public: Mr Casamitjana is
looking to fund his legal action through crowd-funding and raised 25% of
the amount he was looking to raise on day 1 of his crowd funding campaign.
If veganism is indeed considered to be a philosophical belief, the finding
will have far-reaching consequences for vegans in the workplace. It also
highlights the need for companies to have effective and well-publicised
The contents of this Newsletter are for reference purposes only and do not constitute
legal advice. Independent legal advice should be sought in relation to any specific