Conisbee v Crossley Farms Ltd and others ET/3335357/18
Mr Conisbee was employed as a barman/waiter for around five months before he resigned. He brought a claim alleging discrimination on the ground of religion or belief contrary to the Equality Act and argued that his belief was vegetarianism.
At a preliminary hearing, an employment tribunal (ET) held that his belief did not qualify for protection. It was genuinely held and was worthy of respect in a democratic society but it did not meet the other tests for protection since it did not concern a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour and it did not attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance. This was because the reason for being vegetarian differs widely; it can be for lifestyle, health, diet, animal welfare or personal taste reasons. The ET contrasted vegetarianism with veganism since the reasons for being vegan seemed to be largely the same, ie that it is immoral to use any animal products, so there is a clear cogency and cohesion in vegan belief.
This decision is not binding but shows how ETs are likely to approach the question of vegetarianism as a philosophical belief. A different ET will shortly rule on whether ethical veganism is capable of being protected under the Equality Act and it will be interesting to see what it decides, in the light of the ET's comments in this case.