Veganism should be respected just as much as religion, and should, therefore, be legally recognised as a “protected characteristic” under the Equality Act 2010, according to leading solicitor Alex Monaco in an interview with the Sun.
Monaco who has set up a specialist law firm which only represents employees is a vegan himself and is therefore well able to understand the vegan perspective. Recounting an experience on a recent holiday with friends where he felt bullied when he could not eat anything from the butcher’s or pizza parlour, Monaco comments:
“The tide is changing now. It’s a movement. If we can get the law changed, people’s views may follow on from that”. A change in the law, in other words, could be a catalyst to change people’s views.
The Sun’s headline focused on the notion that vegans should be legally exempt from work tea rounds since it would be discrimination to make them handle milk. The committed vegan would certainly feel no different to a Jewish or Muslim person being asked to get in a round of bacon sandwiches. As the solicitor points out “nobody would bat an eyelid” if that Jewish or Muslim person refused.
“But if you’re vegan and refused to buy a pint of milk to make tea because you believe the dairy industry is torturing cows, then you would be laughed out of the kitchen”.
Unenlightened work canteens may have nothing significant which is plant-based, and if sandwiches are being laid on for a working lunch, they will “all have butter in them.” The problems would be magnified in cases when people are forced to endure physically demanding jobs and need to have food provided to them during their work. A very interesting example of that arose recently with a firefighter in Ontario in Canada who was unable to get sufficient nutrition during a spate of dangerous wildfires.
Will discrimination against plant-based eaters be banned in the workplace one day?
Can discrimination against plant-based eaters be banned in the workplace? This is quite likely an idea whose time has come. The Equality Act 2010 was a very wide-ranging piece of legislation which aims to protect people from discrimination both at work and also in general in society. It codifies several pieces of discrimination legislation covers unlawful treatment of people and discrimination against people on grounds such as sex, race and disability.
It is undeniable that many vegans do feel the victim of prejudiced attitudes in the workplace. According to a survey undertaken by Crossland Employment Solicitors, 48 per cent of 1,000 employers surveyed admitted that they don’t do anything to accommodate vegans such as vegan food in the canteen or supplying toiletries free from animal testing.
Monaco Solicitors is offering free consultations to all vegans who believe they have been discriminated against at work because of their beliefs.