Should Ethical Vegans Have a Beef with the Definition of Religion?

Abstract

Veganism, where adherents eschew the consumption of animals or their by-products, has seen a substantial increase in popularity in recent years. Vegans who follow the diet for moral or ethical reasons (ethical vegans) have argued in the United States, with limited success and, more recently, in the United Kingdom that they should be protected from discrimination on the grounds of their adherence to ethical veganism, contending that ethical veganism should be subject to similar protections as religion. In the United Kingdom, anti-discrimination legislation protects philosophical beliefs in addition to religion and it was recently held in a preliminary hearing in Casamitjana v The League Against Cruel Sports that ethical veganism falls within the ambit of the relevant statute. The authors examine the situation in the United Kingdom and the United States and conclude that, given that Australian anti-discrimination statutes only refer to religion as a protected attribute, this outcome is unlikely to be replicated since veganism is highly unlikely to meet the current definition of religion.

Author Biographies

Kate Offer, University of Western Australia

Lecturer & Director of Disruption, Law School, University of Western Australia

Dr Renae Barker, University of Western Australia

Senior Lecturer, Law School, University of Western Australia

Published
2020-10-01
How to Cite
Offer, K. and Barker, R. (2020) “Should Ethical Vegans Have a Beef with the Definition of Religion?”, Victoria University Law and Justice Journal, 9(1), pp. 17–30. doi: 10.15209/vulj.v9i1.1157.
Section
Article