Two local authorities in Scotland will provide vegan options in schools and nurseries in response to a legal bid submitted on human rights grounds.
Campaign group Go Vegan World successfully assisted a parent who had challenged East Renfrewshire Council over it not providing a vegan menu for students in the area, although the council said it has always catered for ‘special diets’ on request.
The council has since produced a fully plant-based menu for schools and nurseries in the area, which is will also be available on request.
Go Vegan World launched its challenge against East Renfrewshire Council on the basis of human rights and equality law.
‘Vegans Protections The Same As For Religious Beliefs’
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It comes after another local authority in Scotland, Glasgow City Council, was also challenged to provide vegan options for one of the children at their at nursery.
In response, the council drew-up a three-week vegan menu in January, which is now available to be requested to schools and nurseries in the Glasgow area.
“Vegans have the same protections as those who hold religious beliefs,” Go Vegan World’s legal counsel Barbara Bolton told RightsInfo.
“They have the right to live according to their moral conviction that it is wrong to use and kill other animals and they must not be discriminated against.”
Bolton confirmed to RightsInfo that the Scottish Borders Council is also set to provide vegan options to its schools and nurseries, after the group helped another parent with a challenge.
They have the right to live according to their moral conviction and that it is wrong to use and kill other animals, and they must not be discriminiated against.
Go Vegan World’s legal counsel Barbara Bolton
She added that Go Vegan World had brought on the basis of a number of human rights laws, including the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion under Article 9 of the Human Rights Convention.
The Human Rights Act Protects Veganism
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Bolton also cited Article 9 of the UK Human Rights Act 1998, as well as the right to equality and freedom from discrimination under Article 14 of the Human Rights Convention and the Equality Act 2010 in the UK.
The UK Equalities and Human Rights Commission notes that Article 9 of the UK Human Rights Act “protects a wide range of non-religious beliefs including atheism, agnosticism, veganism and pacifism.”
In a statement to RightsInfo, East Renfrewshire Council said: “Any parent or carer who requests a meal to meet the needs of a special diet, which includes vegan meals, will be catered for to ensure we continue to offer a wide-ranging menu which is inclusive for all.
“Once this request for a specialist meal to be provided was made we worked closely with the parents to ensure a suitable solution was reached, as is existing common practice across all our establishments.”
Any parent or carer who requests a meal to meet the needs of a special diet, which includes vegan meals, will be catered for.
East Renfrewshire Council
RightsInfo has contacted Glasgow City Council for comment.
In January last year, Portugal introduced legislation requiring public bodies to provide at least one vegan option on their menus, following a petition.
Recent years have seen a sharp rise in the number of people in the UK going vegan or reducing their meat consumption.
The population of vegans in Britain quadrupled between 2014 and 2018, according to The Vegan Society.
The society said that there were 600,000 vegans in Great Britain in 2018 – or 1.16 per cent of the population – up from 276,000 in 2016.
Reasons for this dietary change range from ethical to, increasingly, environmental factors in response to the growing threat of climate change.
The Vegan Society has estimated that greenhouse gas emissions would be cut by two thirds if the whole world went vegan.
In 2019, the sign-ups for the nationwide Veganuary campaign – where people eat vegan for the month of January – nearly doubled to 250,000 people.