The recent tribunal case of Conisbee v Crossley Farms looked at whether Vegetarianism should be viewed at as a philosophical belief under The Equality Act.
We know already that The Equality Act protects religion and philosophical belief. However, whether a philosophical belief qualifies to be protected is determined by a number of factors:
- Is genuinely held and isn’t just a viewpoint or an opinion
- Relates to a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour
- Attains a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance and be worthy of respect in a democratic society
- Is compatible with human dignity and not conflict with other people’s fundamental rights.
In this case, the tribunal found that Vegetarianism was just a viewpoint or an opinion, and it didn’t have a substantial impact on human life or behaviour: therefore, it was not protected.
This decision was made as the Court found that Vegetarianism was a lifestyle choice that people entered in to for a number of reasons; whether that be health, wellbeing or their own personal standpoint on animal manufacturing methods. For these reasons, the tribunal was satisfied that it shouldn’t qualify for protection.
So, at the moment, if someone suggests their Vegetarianism is a philosophical belief – the case law is against them.
This brings us on to the question of Ethical Veganism – a hot topic in the HR press lately. Ethical Veganism is due before a tribunal later this month to determine whether it is a philosophical belief. Commentators think that it undoubtedly will be, particularly as the Tribunal commented that veganism seemed to be different from vegetarianism in that it is much more consistently practiced for reasons of animal welfare.
So, an interesting case to look at and one that suggests that the lines are blurred. However, even if the tribunal do find that Veganism is protected as a philosophical belief, it’s not a binding decision until it becomes an appealed decision.
One to watch. We’ll keep you posted. Oh, and happy World Vegan Day!