Today saw the inaugural meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vegetarianism and Veganism (APPGVeg) at the Houses of Parliament.
Those of us invited to attend enjoyed an excellent presentation on the status of veganism as a protected belief as the United Kingdom exits from the European Union - by Jeanette Rowley, founding member of the International Vegan Rights Alliance (IVRA).
As well as looking specifically at the United Kingdom's obligations from both the European Union and the independent European Court of Human Rights, Jeanette addressed the UK's international obligations under article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) - as adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966.
This multilateral treaty defines "belief" in a comparable way to the European Convention on Human Rights, and therefore provides parallel protection of veganism under the law. (Both the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights have their roots in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, article 18 of which provides this protection).
To conclude, though the UK is obligated by human rights and equality measures from its membership of Europe and the European Union, the development of a specific British Bill of Rights and Brexit do not remove the obligation to recognise and accommodate qualifying, non-religious beliefs that require practical manifestation. The right to freedom of belief in international law is sufficiently defined and explained to support the recognition and protection of veganism.
This is excellent news - meaning that vegans' rights will continue to be protected in international law even if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, replaces the Human Rights Act with a Bill of Rights, and even withdraws from the European Convention on Human Rights.
Nevertheless, it is still vital that we ensure the protection of vegans' rights within any Bill of Rights, so that vulnerable vegans are not forced to turn to international courts to have their rights upheld.
So please sign our petition now.