Veganuary: legal as well as health benefits?

Back To Latest News

With New Year’s Resolutions having been made, 50,000 people have signed up to become vegan throughout January. The excuse of Christmas has now worn off, and veganism has become a trendy way to shed the winter pounds, promoting health benefits, in addition to arguments against animal cruelty and harm to the environment.  The Greggs Vegan Sausage roll has meant the concept is very much in the national consciousness.

A vegan charity has claimed that vegan diet can help people lose weight, sleep better and lower cholesterol.

But can being a vegan also have the added benefit of attracting legal rights in the workplace? A case currently being heard in the Employment Tribunal in March this year will determine whether veganism is a protected characteristic for the purpose of discrimination law.

Mr Casamitjana worked for the League Against Cruel Sports and held a strong belief in protecting animals and the environment, describing himself as an “ethical” vegan. He discovered that the charity was investing pension funds in businesses that carried out animal testing and disclosed this information to fellow employees. He was subsequently dismissed. The Tribunal must decide whether his “ethical” veganism amounts to a “philosophical belief” within the meaning in the Equality Act 2010 and he has suffered unlawful discrimination.

The decision will interpret the meaning of the Equality Act, and potentially expanding the scope of what amounts to a protected philosophical belief,  although those subscribing to Veganuary are unlikely to be affected, based on the criteria set out in previous case-law requiring the belief to be long-standing and genuinely held – a fleeting diet change to hide the effect of the mince pies and occasional Vegan Sausage roll is unlikely to qualify.