An interesting new trend has started which attempts to use human rights laws to advance the rights of animals.
The International Vegan Rights Alliance was formed in 2012 and aims to advance the rights of animals by protecting the rights of people to live vegan. It also aims to protect the human interest of not being forced to participate in animal exploitation.
It aims to raise awareness of the legal recognition of veganism and how vegans can be accommodated under the terms of International and European rights and equality legislation. It supports vegans who are suffering discrimination and unfair treatment because of their principles. It also makes legal challenges, such as against anti-vegan labelling laws.
IVRA promotes veganism in law and argues for the rights of vegans primarily because this gives effect to the moral standing of nonhuman animals.
Two recent cases of bullying of vegans have brought the importance of this work into focus. One, in the UK, involved the suspected suicide of a young school boy who was bullied by his school mates. The other was of a young student in Australia who had to move out of her university accommodation after being harassed due to her vegan beliefs.
One case which is being supported by IVRA involves a university student in Scotland who is experiencing harassment in relation to her veganism and vegan activism from one of her teachers.
Other cases which have been reported to IVRA involve disputes where a person's veganism was threatened to be used against them. This includes child custody cases, where it was claimed that because one partner was vegan they should not have custody of the children.
There is also a case where a child who was born vegan has come under pressure to transition to vegetarianism whilst in the care of a local authority. Yet another case involves the lack of vegan food for a 5 year old in school.
Other issues are that some European countries are banning vegan meals in schools. In Germany, a case was won on the right to self-supply vegan food in kindergartens.
Also in Germany, prison authorities have confirmed that vegan inmates have the right to several vegan menu items and that they also have the right to self-supply vegan food.
In contrast to the situation in some other European countries, in Portugal a new law has established the right to vegan food in public canteens.
IVRA is also challenging regulations that protect and promote the dairy industry in Europe, where words including "milk", "cheese", "cream" and "butter" can only be used to describe products that are made from "mammary secretions".
IVRA also organises the International Symposium on Veganism and Law.
Using the law and the legal system to advance the rights of vegans shows that the movement is maturing and starting to move towards a world where the rights of animals are protected.
Ensuring the rights of vegans is a means by which we ensure respect for the rights of non-human animals.
The links between human rights and the production and consumption of animal products are many. A good overview of these links can be found in the article "The link between meat production and human rights".
The International Vegan Rights Alliance is represented in Australia by Greg McFarlane, Director of Vegan Australia. IVRA is also looking for a legal representative in Australia. If you are a legal professional or know of someone who may be interested, please contact us.
- International Vegan Rights Alliance
- Vegan Rights: Questions and Answers, IVRA
- Declaration of Vegan Rights