We've just uploaded a recording of our talk at Dundee Vegan Festival to our YouTube channel
December 20, 2017
This talk covers:
Part 1 – Vegan Advocacy: The GVS Approach, what we do and why it works (time: 00:00 – 23:27)
Part 2 – Vegan Rights: The rights of vegans and how to use them to promote positive change and animal rights (time: 23:27 – 52:35)
In terms of our approach, of necessity we talk in general terms in these presentations. In response to concerns that we may not be taking into account the particular circumstances people are in, please see our blog explaining our thoughts on this: https://www.goveganscotland.com/single-post/2017/12/06/Inclusivity-and-Vegan-Advocacy-%E2%80%93-the-GVS-approach
In terms of vegan rights and how we can all use them to advocate for better provision for vegans, to make things better for ourselves, our families and others, a book will shortly be made available on this topic which will include templates / example paragraphs that can be lifted into your own emails and letters when you are negotiating for better provision. As always we will share that on all our social media platforms when it is available.
If you are experiencing discrimination due to your vegan convictions, if you feel able to speak to someone about it the most important thing may be to explain what veganism actually is. A lot of discrimination against vegans arises because of a misunderstanding about veganism and the idea that it is a personal choice to adopt a restrictive diet. If someone holds that view they may be far less understanding than if they realise that being vegan is living by a moral conviction.
A quick summary of the vegan rights outlined in the talk may be useful for reference (or even to copy and paste from – but please note that this is not intended to be legal advice, only general information). The parts with [ ] around them are only relevant for government bodies (state schools, hospitals, prisons, care homes, councils etc):
Vegans hold the conviction that it is morally wrong to exploit and kill animals unnecessarily, and that belief has protected status under European and UK human rights law. This means that vegans have the same protections as people who hold religious beliefs. Vegans have the right to manifest their belief, meaning the right to live by their conviction. [The state / government has a duty to ensure that vegans are able to manifest their convictions by avoiding participating in exploiting and killing non-human animals. Due to the right to freedom from discrimination, there is an obligation on the government to ensure that vegans have the same level of protection as those who hold religious beliefs. If people with religious beliefs are catered for in a particular way by a government institution, vegans must be catered for to at least the same extent.]
In addition, under the equality legislation, vegans have the right to freedom from direct and indirect discrimination. It is unlawful for employers (public and private) to directly discriminate against vegans because they are vegan. It is also unlawful to indirectly discriminate against them, by applying an apparently neutral policy which has a negative impact on vegans because of their convictions. Indirect discrimination is only permissible where the neutral policy can be objectively justified by a legitimate aim and the means of achieving that aim are necessary and proportionate. The burden will be on the party applying the indirectly discriminatory policy to show that they gave due consideration to alternatives and reasonably concluded that the legitimate aim could not be achieved using the alternative approach which would not have discriminated against vegans.
For example, if an employer provides food to its employees but fails to provide options that are suitable for vegans (and equivalent) they will be in breach unless they can show that it would be unduly burdensome to provide vegan options. Given the wide range of vegan options that are readily available in the U.K. it is difficult to see how an employer could demonstrate that providing vegan options would be unduly burdensome.
[There is also a public sector duty, applicable to all government bodies, which requires them to go further than merely refraining from discriminating against people who hold vegan beliefs; they must also have due regard in carrying out their functions to the need to eliminate discrimination and advance equality of opportunity for vegans.] More detail will be set out in the forthcoming book.