Last week a British court made the landmark decision that ethical veganism—like religion—is a philosophical belief that deserves protection against discrimination in the workplace.
After a man claimed he had been fired from his job for his vegan values, Judge Robin Postle ruled that ethical veganism—the belief that animals are individuals who shouldn’t be exploited by humans—fits the qualification of Britain’s Equality Act. The Equality Act, which passed in 2010, specifies that those who practice religion or hold other strong beliefs are protected against discrimination in the workplace. This means ethical vegans are entitled to the same protections as people who hold religious beliefs.
Both dietary vegans and ethical vegans eat only plant-based foods, but ethical vegans exclude all products of animal exploitation, including those tested on animals and clothing made of wool or leather.
While the British court’s decision is a powerful move toward protecting vegans, courts around the world have also been making huge strides in their protections of animals. In May, Washington governor Jay Inslee signed into law a bill to end all cage confinement of hens in the state by 2023. In California, voters made history for farmed animals by overwhelmingly passing Prop 12, a measure that outlaws the most extreme forms of animal confinement throughout the Golden State, as well as the sale of products from intensively confined animals.
In June 2019, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana declared that animals are legal persons in the Indian state of Haryana. This means that animals in the state may no longer be treated as “objects” or “property” and are “entitled to justice.” The move came almost a year after the High Court of Uttarakhand passed an order to “protect and promote greater welfare of animals.” Justice Rajiv Sharma penned both orders. His more recent verdict states:
The animals should be healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able to express innate behavior without pain, fear and distress. They are entitled to justice. The animals cannot be treated as objects or property.
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