Veganism is comparable to a form of religion or a philosophical belief, as declared by the Employment Tribunal of Norwich, England. In the first few days of 2020, the judge Robin Postle reignited the never-ending debate on the essence of veganism. It was shocking news for many, and it could set a precedent.
Ethical veganism that is declared as a form of religion permits that those who follow it cannot be discriminated in a work environment. This is established by the Equality Act, a law that protects those who are discriminated against for their beliefs. The ruling, being that it was declared by an employment tribunal, does not become law, but it definitely gives an ethical dignity to a belief that has been considered a new trend up until now.
This resounding ruling came after the 55-year-old Jordi Casamitjana, a zoologist of the League Against Cruel Sports, an animal protection charity, reported that his employer fired him because of his ethical convictions. Jordi, in the name of ethical veganism, had raised objections regarding his retirement plan. This plan involved the League’s investment in companies that use animal testing.
His ideological battle ended with his layoff, which was justified by the company with Jordi’s inappropriate behaviour and not for his ideological beliefs.
The effects of a landmark ruling
Beyond the court case, the Judge Postle’s ruling reignites the debate on ethical veganism which rejects all practices that causes suffering of living beings, including animals. This ruling opens up a number of problems, because now vegans could press charges against any industry or institution that uses violence on animals, even indirectly. Another risk is that the ruling is extended to other types of ethical protests.
For example, if an environmentalist employee refuses to travel by plane in the name of protecting the environment, no employer could ask him to use this type of transportation for work travel. Of course, an employment tribunal ruling is not the law, but it could open a pathway that up until now has seemed impossible. It is probable that we will see new cases very similar to Jordi’s in the near future.
Who is an ethical vegan?
An ethical vegan doesn’t just limit themselves to a diet that does not include eggs, meat, fish and their by-products, following a diet based exclusively on plants. An ethical vegan observes vegan principals in every manifestation of their existence, ranging from their choice of clothing to their financial decisions.
Fundamentalists, for example, will walk as their only means of transportation because cars could inadvertently crush insects or small animals. Ethical veganism should not be confused with health-conscious veganism which is limited just to diet choices.