Time to Take Note of Vegans’ Legal Rights

A Manchester-based vegan restaurant gave away 100 free breakfasts on March 4, as it demonstrated the appeal of a plant-based diet to a wider audience, but there are many other restaurants which have not yet embraced veganism or understood vegans’ rights in law.

There has been a 360% increase in veganism over the past 10 years in Britain, which has spawned vegan-only restaurants like ‘Vertigo’ in Manchester. But, however successful Greggs’ launch of a vegan sausage roll proved financially, it also provoked a lot of antagonism and friction on social media, as meat-eaters and vegans formed two camps in a sausage roll war of words.

A Shropshire-based chef went beyond words. On social media, she claimed she had deliberately spiked the meal of a “pious, judgemental” vegan, as she put it. Whilst the law accepts that mistakes can happen in a kitchen, deliberately putting meat into a vegan meal breaches the legal rights of vegan diners.

Vegans’ rights are enshrined in the Equality Act 2010 and Article 9 of the Human Rights Act 1998. A contravention of the former could result in the chef being sued and the eatery stripped of its licences to operate. This is because British law makes it illegal to discriminate against someone on the basis of religion or belief.

Veganism is also protected through The Human Rights Act 1998, which also covers all religions and philosophical beliefs such as agnosticism, atheism and pacifism. Veganism is counted as one of these.

Spiking a vegan meal and serving it as vegan food would also be misrepresenting a dish, something that The Food Standards Agency views as unacceptable.

Both prosecution and bad PR can result from spitefully changing a vegan meal to include meat. Similarly, expressing anti-vegan views could land someone in deep water. Business owners must ensure that not just they, but also their employees, do not discriminate against vegans, vegetarians or others with food requirements. Employers must also remember that they are legally responsible for their employees’ actions.

Within Britain, 8% of people are now vegan and a huge 19% are considering this dietary and lifestyle choice. People are becoming more aware of the health benefits of a plant-based diet and some health insurance policies will offer a discount to vegans.

Safeguarding against any legal case being brought against your eatery makes great sense. Whilst discussing legal expenses cover with a broker, you may discover that other forms of protection are also required. To find out more and discover what those other forms of cover may be, please get in touch.