In Conisbee v Crossley Farms Ltd, the Claimant alleged he was bullied by colleagues because of his vegetarianism and argued it amounted to a protected ‘belief’ under the Equality Act.
The tribunal held that although the Claimant’s belief in vegetarianism satisfied some crucial requirements (i.e. the Claimant’s belief was genuinely held, was worthy of respect in democratic society and was not incompatible with human dignity) it did not amount to a ‘belief’ in the legal sense. It was an opinion or viewpoint and was not a belief concerning a “weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour” but was a “lifestyle choice”.
The Tribunal also found vegetarianism lacked a certain level of cogency and cohesion, given the numerous reasons a person would adopt the practice, and compared it to the “clear cogency and cohesion” in vegan beliefs.
This case has, therefore, left open the possibility to conclude that veganism is a protected belief and will have been noted as the ET prepares to hear a case on ethical veganism later this year.