Veganism and the scope of legal protection: Judge Postle provides his full written judgement in support of veganism.
Drawing on the importance of The Vegan Society's definition of veganism, and our concern for the suffering of animals, Judge Postle confirmed that vegans can be said to be 'moralistically orientated” embodying “a genuine philosophical concern for all sentient life".
Judge Postle also drew on much of the legal reasoning already used by The Vegan Society's advocacy service and promoted by Dr Jeanette Rowley over the last 10 years.
Following examination of the philosophy of veganism, the vast amount of evidence submitted, relevant case law and legal principles, Judge Postle is clear and has no doubt that ethical veganism is cogent, cohesive and important and a "real and genuine belief" in law with "sweeping consequences on human behaviour".
Of significance too is that the Judge recognised the relevance of veganism to modern concerns about environmental issues and how this is recognised throughout the UK.
It is also critical to note that the threshold for the protection of vegans does not impose potentially unachievable goals. Judge Postle confirmed what The Vegan Society has always advocated, that given the society we live in, transgression is sometimes unavoidable and the demonstrable commitment to ethical veganism involves what is practical and possible.
In summary, Judge Postle states:
"I am therefore satisfied and find it easy to conclude that there is overwhelming evidence before me that ethical veganism is capable of being a philosophical belief and thus a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010".
The Vegan Society’s legal expert, Dr Jeanette Rowley said “There was never any doubt in my mind that the convictions of vegans come within the scope of legal protection. The strength of this decision is of great significance for vegans and those transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. Whilst many vegans have extensive experience and knowledge to maintain their vegan practice, this ruling means that wherever one is on their vegan journey, their beliefs must be respected and given due regard. This ruling paves the way for significant social transformation: it will help generate the necessary policies and practices that respect our concern for nonhuman animals and protect them from suffering.”
Jordi Casamitjana, said: “I am particularly pleased with the words the judge used in the final conclusion of his written judgment. In particular that ‘overwhelming evidence’ made his decision ‘easy’, as this confirms that all the effort I made in attempting to prove that ethical veganism deserves legal protection was worthwhile. I am also extremely pleased that the judgment states that ‘ethical veganism does not in any way offend society’ and that ‘it's clearly not simply a viewpoint, but a real and genuine belief'. I really want to thank all of the people who have supported me via my crowdjustice.com website, without whom this would not have been possible. Together we have achieved something important and remarkable.”
Peter Daly, an employment lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who represented Jordi, said: “Although we knew we had been successful in establishing the protections, the full written reasons are further cause for celebration. The protections from discrimination will apply to a broad scope of ethical vegans. The recognition that ethical veganism, by its nature, involves convincing non-vegans of its benefits is also very welcome. We are very pleased to have secured this important result for Jordi Casamitjana and for all ethical vegans.
Judge Postle's confirmation that vegans have the protection of the law is key to the demands of The Vegan Society that both the public and private sector provide for vegans appropriately and adequately. This includes all public services, employment and education providers.
The Vegan Society is committed to providing support to both public and private sector employers and service providers who have responsibilities for inclusion, diversity and anti-discriminatory policy. Please see our guide for employers here and contact Jeanette.rowley[at]vegansociety[dot]com for more information.