• Edinburgh: 0131 625 9191
  • Glasgow: 0141 428 3258
  • Galashiels: 01896 550991
Vegan neon sign with foliage

Virtuous Veganuary

Date: 24/01/2020 | Corporate, Employment & HR

More and more people are opting for a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle and not just for January.

The reasons for this vary – for some it’s all about health benefits, for others it’s about climate change or animal welfare.  Recent developments show that the reasoning behind a person’s decision is key.

This January has brought the first employment tribunal ruling that ethical veganism is not just a lifestyle choice but a philosophical belief and therefore is protected by law.

Under the Equality Act 2010 religion or belief are protected characteristics which means that a person cannot be discriminated against for those things.  In the case of Grainger plc v Nicholson, the court set out a long list of requirements for a belief to be protected.  It must be genuinely held, need not be shared by others but it must be a belief rather than an opinion or point of view and it must have a similar status or cogency to a religious belief.

For example, supporting a political party would not meet the criteria for a philosophical belief; believing in a particular political philosophy or doctrine such as Marxism may do.

In the case of Conisbee v Crossley Farms Ltd, in October 2019 an employment tribunal ruled that vegetarianism does not qualify as a belief that requires protection under the Act.  The tribunal took the view that although Mr Conisbee’s belief was genuinely held and worthy of respect, it did not meet the criteria for protection and was a lifestyle choice.  Their reasoning was that people become vegetarian for lots of reasons and therefore there was no clear cogency and cohesion, no one belief system, behind that choice.

So why is veganism different?  Last October, the tribunal stated that the reasons for people being vegan seem to be largely the same so they indicated that they felt in certain cases veganism could be considered a protected belief.

That has now been confirmed when in January at an employment tribunal hearing Judge Robin Postle decided that Jordi Casamitjana’s ethical veganism was sufficiently distinguishable from other kinds of veganism to count as a protected belief.  His reasoning was that for this particular claimant there was much more to it than not eating animals, his life and behaviour was impacted much more widely by his belief.

So being vegan can now not only make people healthier, it can also give them rights to protection from discrimination in the workplace.  The list of protected beliefs seems likely to continue to expand – watch this space.


The matter in this publication is based on our current understanding of the law.  The information provides only an overview of the law in force at the date hereof and has been produced for general information purposes only. Professional advice should always be sought before taking any action in reliance of the information. Accordingly, Davidson Chalmers Stewart LLP does not take any responsibility for losses incurred by any person through acting or failing to act on the basis of anything contained in this publication.

Latest Updates

Want to get even more insight from Davidson Chalmers Stewart?

Keep your organisation up to date with the latest opportunities and changes in commercial law with regular insight and updates from the experts at Davidson Chalmers Stewart.

Let's Talk

A typical law firm? Not really. But a partner for the people and businesses we work with? Absolutely.

Our determination to do things a better way is nothing without our clients. So if you like what you see and think we’d make a good team, let’s talk. Pick up the phone and call us direct or make specific enquiries to our individual email addresses across the website. Alternatively use the form to submit general questions and comments.

Either way, we’ll get the message.


t0131 625 9191


t0141 428 3258


t01896 550991

Let's Talk form