The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. (John F. Kennedy)

Throughout history there have been philosophical and legal attempts to resolve the notion of Human Rights often without consensus.

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, first drafted in 1948, is the most commonly adopted and adapted version. Individual countries legislate around individual and group rights.

These include age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, sexual orientation and gender reassignment.

Know Your Vegan Rights – International Law

Why vegan rights?

For ethical vegans, veganism is as much a life directing moral and philosophical belief, just as any religious doctrine is for those of religious faith.

Examples of why vegans need legal protection:

  • Some educational courses require vegans to undertake experiments on other animals. Law should offer protection to those who, because of their ethical belief, do not wish to participate
  • Vegans are discriminated against when care homes, hospitals or other institutions do not provide suitable food
  • Vegans are discriminated against in the health service when suitable medication is not provided
  • Vegans are marginalised socially, in restaurants for example, where the choice and quality of food available is severely restricted

International law requires nations to implement equal rights for all and prohibit discrimination.

European case law has recognised veganism as a belief for the purposes of rights legislation.

As such, we believe that society has a moral duty to accommodate vegan belief and generate wider respect for veganism.

Your rights as a vegan begin with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (The Declaration):

  • Under Article 1 of The Declaration vegans are equal in dignity and rights
  • Under Article 7 of The Declaration vegans are equal before the law and entitled without discrimination to equal protection of the law
  • Under Article 18 vegans are entitled to their belief and have the right to manifest their belief in teaching and practice
  • Under Article 22 a vegan is entitled to social and cultural rights indispensible for their dignity and free development of their personality
  • Under Article 25 a vegan is entitled to a standard of living adequate for their health and well-being including food, medical care and social services
  • Under Article 26 vegans have the right to a vegan education
  • Under Article 28 vegans are entitled to a social order in which their vegan rights are respected and provided for
  • Under Article 29(2) law can limit a vegan’s right to exercise rights and freedoms only if in exercising their rights vegans do not recognise or respect the rights and freedoms of others; or if in pursuing their vegan rights vegans compromise society’s moral code, public order or the aims of a democratic society

Know Your Vegan Rights – European Law

The European Convention on Human Rights was being developed around the same time as the International human rights documents and repeats many of the universal principles.

Some nations will be signatory to both the ECHR and the International Bill of Rights (This is the collective name given to the UDHR and the two Covenants that give effect to the provisions of the initial Declaration).

One of the important Articles of the ECHR in relation to veganism is Article 9.

This Article repeats the paramount universal principle of being able to live according to one’s own beliefs. Article 9 states:

ARTICLE 9 Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief, in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

2. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs shall be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, for the protection of public order, health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

(Many thanks to the International Vegan Rights Alliance for permission to use the above information on International and European Law)

And so, here we are in the 21st century of human civilisation, when human rights need never require the enactment of any laws or legislation.

For all human rights begins in the heart of every human.

Each and every one of us, through our own virtuous actions of non-violence, non-exploitation, non-abuse, compassion, gentleness, kindness, tolerance, and love, is capable of affording all fellow humans the liberation, freedom and peacefulness they deserve as co-habitants of planet earth.


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