Ethical veganism is a “philosophical belief” and so is protected in law, an employment tribunal has ruled for the first time.
The case was brought by vegan Jordi Casamitjana, who claims he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports because of his ethical veganism.
But his employer says he was dismissed for gross misconduct.
The judge ruled ethical veganism should fall under the Equality Act 2010 but is yet to rule on his dismissal.
The ruling means ethical vegans are entitled to protection from discrimination.
All vegans eat a plant-based diet, but ethical vegans try to exclude all forms of animal exploitation.
For instance they avoid wearing or buying clothing made from wool or leather, or toiletries from companies that carry out animal testing.
“Religion or belief” is one of nine “protected characteristics” covered by the Equality Act 2010.
The judge Robin Postle ruled that ethical veganism qualifies as a philosophical belief, after satisfying several tests – including that it is worthy of respect in a democratic society, not incompatible with human dignity and not conflicting with the fundamental rights of others.
Animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports did not contest that ethical veganism should be protected.
Mr Casamitjana describes himself as an ethical vegan and campaigns to get his message to others.
His beliefs affect much of his everyday life. He will, for instance, walk rather than take a bus to avoid accidental crashes with insects or birds.
Mr Casamitjana says he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports after disclosing it invested pension funds in firms involved in animal testing.
He claims when he drew his bosses’ attention to the pension fund investments, they did nothing so he informed colleagues and was sacked as a result.