Last month, the definition of “creed” in Ontario, Canada’s Human Rights Code was modified to include non-religious beliefs such as ethical veganism. In 2011, Canadian animal-law organization Animal Justice began its efforts to include veganism under the same protections as religious belief systems. Executive Director of Animal Justice Camille Labchuk successfully petitioned the Ontario Human Rights Commission to include secular belief systems and ideologies in the definition of “creed.” Under this definition, service providers such as hospitals, schools, and employers may not discriminate against requests based on vegan ideals. Also, schools cannot obligate students to dissect animals, hospitals must provide vegan meals upon request, and employers cannot discriminate against workers who choose not to wear animal-product based uniforms. Labchuk—who plans to undertake changing legislation in other districts in Canada—believes that “recognizing veganism as a form of creed is an important precedent and a clear statement that vegans and their beliefs deserve respect.” The validity of this update will be tested by the first ruling to come in front of the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, which as of now has expressed positive feedback about expanding the definition of creed to include “political perspective … made up of a recognizable cohesive belief system or structure.”
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