20th February 2020

Barbara Bolton discusses Legal Protections for Vegans in the Workplace with William Crawley on BBC Talkback Radio Ulster

Our Legal Counsel, Barbara Bolton, was interviewed on BBC Talkback in Belfast by William Crawley about the legal protections that apply to vegans in the workplace. You can listen to the interesting discussion using the link below.

Do all employers have to designate a shelf in the shared fridge for vegans? No. It depends on the context.

Aside from this misleading headline, what do employers need to know? That vegans have the right to live according to their moral conviction that it is wrong to use and kill other animals, and they are legally protected from discrimination and harassment. These protections come from long-standing European human rights and equality provisions, implemented through legislation in (i) Northern Ireland, (ii) the rest of the UK and (iii) the Republic of Ireland, as well as in other European countries. Employers will wish to ensure they are complying with these rules, and we can assist by:

1 – providing free training for staff to ensure that everyone understands the vegan moral conviction, what exactly it is, how it impacts on vegans in day to day life and in turn what this means for vegans at work;

2 – helping (free) to ensure veganism is incorporated into equality and inclusivity policies and procedures, and

3 – provide free consultations to assist employers to determine what other steps they ought to take to ensure they are in compliance, taking into account, for example, their size, number of employees, work environment, if there is a canteen or kitchen, if they have work functions and/or client events and if they issue standard items to employees such as uniforms or safety boots.

As a general matter we recommend the following:

Food ensure food suitable for vegans is provided whenever food is made available to staff or service users, in canteens, at meetings, events, functions, in vending machines etc, including plant milks and butters where appropriate. Quantity and quality ought to be comparable.
Clothing ensure vegans are provided with suitable alternatives to uniforms made using animals (wool, leather, silk, feathers); consider phasing out animal materials so standard uniform is suitable for all.
Activities ensure vegans are not excluded from events by avoiding activities using animals, such as the races, zoo, horse riding.
Culture minimise the risk of harassment claims by ensuring all staff are made aware of the true meaning of veganism and the need for respect and consideration for others.
Equalities  include veganism in equality and inclusivity policies and practices


Employers and vegans can access more detail on vegan rights where you live on our vegan rights pages, created by Go Vegan World’s legal expert, Barbara Bolton. We also have a sample letters section that you can use to advise your employer (or service providers) of your rights in different scenarios. If you require assistance with a particular situation please get in touch with Barbara at Barbara.bolton@goveganworld.com