Tribunal to decide if veganism is a ‘philosophical or religious belief’

Jordi Casamitjana Credit: League Against Cruel Sports/Twitter/PA

A landmark legal hearing begins in Norwich on Friday, with a panel to decide if veganism is a “philosophical or religious belief” and thus protected in law.

Jordi Casamitjana told Vegan Life magazine he was “shocked” when he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports after raising concerns that its pension fund was being invested into companies involved in animal testing.

He claims he was unfairly disciplined for making this disclosure and that the decision to dismiss him was because of his philosophical belief in ethical veganism.

Dietary vegans and ethical vegans both eat a plant-based diet, but ethical vegans also try to exclude all forms of animal exploitation including not wearing clothing made of wool or leather and not using products tested on animals.

Mr Casamitjana’s lawyers said ethical veganism satisfied the tests required for it to be a philosophical or religious belief, which would mean it was protected under the Equality Act of 2010.

For a belief to be protected under the Act, it must meet a series of tests including being worthy of respect in a democratic society, not being incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with fundamental rights of others.

Slater and Gordon solicitor Peter Daly, who is acting for Mr Casamitjana, described ethical veganism as “a philosophical belief held by a significant portion of the population in the UK and around the world”.

“This case, if successful, will establish that the belief entitles ethical vegans to protection from discrimination. The case we have prepared sets out how the belief in principle, and how Jordi’s particular interpretations of it, meet the required legal test,” Mr Daly said in a statement.

The League Against Cruel Sports has said it sacked Mr Casamitjana for “gross misconduct”.

In a statement to the BBC, it said: “The League Against Cruel Sports is an inclusive employer, and as this is a hearing to decide whether veganism should be a protected status, something which the league does not contest, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”

Mr Casamitjana told Vegan Life: “If I win this case, this will secure the first judgment in Europe stating that ethical vegans are legally protected from discrimination because of our beliefs.”

The hearing opens on Friday following an administration day on Thursday.