The IVRA is an international network of vegans working together to campaign for the international implementation of vegan rights. The IVRA is the first organised vegan rights pressure group which 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.
The UK has voted to leave the EU. It remains to be seen what changes will be made to UK law. What is for sure though is that the UK will not be obligated under the European Convention on Human Rights or the European Directives regarding rights and equality that have resulted in positive conditions for the vegan community. Specifically, Brexit may mean that the UK scraps the Human Rights Act 1998, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and its statutory duty to inform wider society about the importance of rights for people with “philosophical beliefs” such as veganism. On the other hand, in line with the UK’s very strong historical liberal tradition, it may be that it keeps and develops these positive developments in law and policy.
What vegans can be reassured by, however, is that the human rights and equality developments that have emerged from the EU, are a result of broader international requirements to implement the principles of the International Bill of Rights. Even though the UK will leave the EU (but may still be obligated under the Convention, if it secures trade agreements for example), it still has to comply with international law.
International law explicitly states the primacy of the human right to freedom of conscience and that it concerns any non-religious beliefs that are based on deep non-religious convictions. This right also explicitly states that governments must not force people to assimilate into belief systems they did not choose and that practices and policies have to be developed that allow people to live according to their ethical orientation.
As such, the UK still has a duty to vegans, to allow veganism to flourish by ensuring that public authorities do not develop practices and policies that require vegans to assimilate into a dominant prejudicial system of animal exploitation. For example, under international law, parents still have the right raise their children as vegans and vegan food should still be made available in state schools, hospitals, care homes and prisons.
What will be important, moving forward, is that vegans continue to promote veganism as a minority culture that requires legal and political consideration. In this regard, Jeanette Rowley, one of our UK representatives, has written to Michael Gove, the UK Secretary for Justice and other relevant parties, for a response to questions about the implications of Brexit, for vegans in the UK.
Under international law vegans are entitled to a social order in which their vegan rights are respected and provided for. Human, social and cultural rights are indispensible for vegan dignity and free development of the personality of vegans. By creating these social conditions, oppressive and coercive institutional practices will be removed, allowing veganism to grow more freely.
The IVRA campaigns for:
• The right for ethical veganism to be accepted legally and socially as an intelligent, workable, achievable, realistic system capable of underpinning human social organisation.
• The right to cruelty free kitchen, bathroom and personal products in all Public Authority establishments, in the workplace and where the supply of these items is an intrinsic part of any service provision.
• The right to vegan food in all Public Authority establishments, the workplace and service provision.
• The right to vegan education through the inclusion of veganism on Educational Curricula. Including: accurate information regarding the type, extent and impact of the use of other animals in human society; the vegan diet as a method of reducing an individual’s carbon footprint; the vegan diet as a method of maintaining world food security; and the relationship of animal cruelty to interlinked oppressions and human violence.
• The right to vegan medications and other necessary health intervention products, including vaccines.
• The right to vegan infant formula.
• The right to a formal and legal definition of the word “vegan”. The right to legally enforced clear and accurate labelling of food stuffs and other consumables.
• The right to outcomes based equality legislation that places direct duties on employers and providers of goods and services.
• The right for ethical veganism to be respected as emotionally, intellectually and spiritually meaningful in law and equal to other belief systems such as various religions.
• The abolition of unrepresentative images and other visual representations of non human animals used in commercial enterprise: For example images and commercials which give a false impression of other animals as happy and enjoying their subjection, degradation and oppression. These false representations of other animals create a degrading and offensive environment and are not in line with a government’s responsibility to create the required social conditions for ethical veganism.
• Respect for the vegan world view by the media.
• Enhanced media regulation will contribute to the positive social conditions required for ethical veganism.
• The right for vegans to be recognised in law as a minority group requiring protection from discrimination and unfair treatment.
• The right to fair, balanced and accurate research into vegan animal feed.
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