Veganism a 'philosophical belief', should be protected by law - British judge

Ethical veganism is a "philosophical belief" and should be protected by law, a British judge ruled on Thursday (local time).

The judge ruled that "ethical vegans" should be entitled to the same workplace protections as those who hold religious beliefs.

The landmark case was brought by vegan Jordi Casamitjana, who claims he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sport after he raised concerns its pension fund invested in firms involved in animal testing. His former employer denies this.

While leaving the court in Norwich, Casamitjana said he was happy he could be "more expressive" with his veganism.

"I'm already expressive with my veganism now, [but] if somebody says 'you should not say that', I will be able to be backed by society."

Vegan supporters are already seeing the ruling as a watershed moment.

"It means that transitioning vegans get more support," Jeanette Rowley from the UK Vegan Society told ITV.

"For example, schoolchildren can get vegan food and people in hospital get vegan food. Good quality vegan food is what we want for these people."

There are currently more than 500,000 vegans in the UK, and employment experts say the ruling could also mean changes in the workplace.

"If somebody who is a vegan and works in a supermarket doesn't want to serve meat to a customer, that might make it something that the employer has to address," employment barrister Stefan Liberadski told ITV.

But not everyone in a vegan cafe in London had an appetite for new protections.

"Opening up the religion side of things is a can of worms that's not really what, for me, veganism is about. It's a moral thing of how you feel about animals," one person said.

"If that's how people believe, it should be respected. No one's hurting anyone by not eating meat or not wearing anything that's come from animals," said another person.

The new ruling doesn't enshrine anything in law, but it may give food for thought in a rapidly changing society.