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Vegetarianism was not a belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010

Mr Conisbee was employed for approximately 5 months before resigning. He alleged discrimination on the ground of religion or belief contrary to the Equality Act 2010. His belief being vegetarianism. At a preliminary hearing, an employment tribunal decided that this belief did not qualify for protection under the Act. Although Mr Connisbee’s vegetarian belief was genuinely held and was worthy of respect in a democratic society, it failed to meet the other legal hurdles for protection:

  • It did not concern a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour: vegetarianism is not about human life and behaviour, it is a life style choice and in Mr Connisbee’s view believing that the world would be a better place if animals were not killed for food.
  • It did not attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance: the reason for being a vegetarian differs greatly. Vegetarians adopt the practice for many different reasons: lifestyle, health, diet, concern about the way animals are reared for food and personal taste. On this point, the tribunal contrasted veganism, stating, obiter, that the reasons for being a vegan appear to be largely the same and that there was therefore a clear cogency and cohesion in vegan belief.
  • It did not have a similar status or cogency to religious beliefs.

This decision is not binding on other tribunals but provides an example of how they are approaching religion or belief claims based on vegetarianism.