Veganism

Women and Equalities written question – answered at on 21 November 2023.

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Photo of Henry Smith Henry Smith Conservative, Crawley

To ask the Minister for Women and Equalities, with reference to page 22 of the Vegan Society’s report entitled, Catering for Everyone: How far are councils catering to vegans, published in September 2023, if she will make an assessment of the implications for her policies of the report's findings on the level of recognition by local authorities of veganism as a protected characteristic.

Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Culture, Media and Sport), Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Equalities)

Ethical veganism has previously been found to be a philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 by an employment tribunal, in an employment context. While this is not binding in other cases, all employers and service providers, including local authorities, should have regard to the differing dietary needs of people who they provide meals to, whether these are determined by health considerations, religious or philosophical belief. They should be aware that employees or service users may bring claims under the Act, where they consider they have been treated less favourably because of their belief in ethical veganism.

In addition, councils are subject to the Public Sector Equality Duty which requires them, in carrying out their functions, to have due regard to the need to achieve the objectives set out under s149 of the Equality Act 2010 to:

(a) eliminate discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct that is prohibited by or under the Equality Act 2010; (b) advance equality of opportunity between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it and (c) foster good relations between persons who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not share it. Specific duties, set out in regulations, ensure transparency, and assist in the performance of this duty.

A person who believes that they have experienced discrimination because of a philosophical belief can take their case to a tribunal or court. Before doing so, they may wish to contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS), a Government-funded helpline, which is the initial point of contact for anyone with discrimination concerns. The EASS provides free bespoke advice and in-depth support to individuals with discrimination concerns. The EASS also supports individuals to resolve issues using alternative informal dispute resolution and can advise you on what are the next steps to take when you feel you have been discriminated against. The EASS can also advise people on their options and can be contacted through their website at www.equalityadvisoryservice.com, by telephone on 0808 800 0082 or text phone on 0808 800 0084.

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