Vegan man files discrimination case claiming veganism is a 'religious belief'

A man who claims he was fired for being a vegan has now filed a lawsuit that will force a judge to determine if veganism is considered a "philosophical or religious belief."

Jordi Casamitjana, who lives in the United Kingdom, claims he was fired from his job at the League Against Cruel Sports over his “ethical vegan” beliefs, the BBC reports.

He later filed a discrimination lawsuit against the organization, which is a charity group focused on animal welfare, that will be decided in front of an employment tribunal starting on Thursday. If the panel rules in Casamitjana’s favor, it will officially establish veganism as a “philosophical or religious belief” under the U.K.’s Equality Act 2010.

Casamitjana claims he was terminated after expressing dissatisfaction with the charity’s decision to invest pension funds in companies that contributed to animal testing. His lawsuit states he was unfairly disciplined and ultimately fired after voicing those concerns.

The League Against Cruel Sports refutes that claim though, instead stating that Casamitjana was fired gross misconduct.

Despite that, the lawsuit has become a possibly decisive case for vegans in the U.K. — a country where approximately 7 percent of people eat a plant-based diet.

"Ethical veganism is a philosophical belief held by a significant and growing portion of the population in the U.K. and around the world," Casamitjana’s lawyer, Peter Daly, told the BBC.

Under the Equality Act 2010, it is illegal for companies to discriminate against an employee for their "religion or belief," provided that belief meets a number of standards including being "genuinely held," attaining a certain level of importance and being "worthy of respect in a democratic society." "Opinions” and "viewpoints" are not protected under the law.

"This case, if successful, will establish that the belief entitles ethical vegans protection from discrimination," Daly told the BBC.

Casamitjana’s hearing began on Jan. 2, and he has set up a fundraising page to help pay for legal expenses. His former employer, meanwhile, has stated it has no issue with protecting vegans from discrimination.

"The League Against Cruel Sports is an inclusive employer, and as this is a hearing to decide whether veganism should be a protected status, something which the league does not contest," the organization told the BBC, while adding that it could not comment further at this time.