Vegetarianism not a protected characteristic, tribunal rules

VEGETARIANISM is a “lifestyle choice” and not a philosophical belief capable of protection under equality legislation, an employment tribunal (ET) has decided.

The tribunal in Norwich dismissed a discrimination claim brought by a vegetarian employee who said he had been ridiculed for not eating meat.

Judge Robin Postle said there were many reasons people might not eat meat, but that vegetarianism as a belief must have a “similar status or cogency to religious beliefs”.

He added that holding a belief relating to an important aspect of human life of behaviour was “not enough in itself”.

The ruling, however, held out hope for vegans who are campaigning to have veganism viewed as a protected characteristic in employment law. Postle said there was a “clear cogency and cohesion in vegan belief” that vegetarianism lacked.