Vegans could soon find themselves with a dedicated shelf in the work fridge, as well as separate food preparation areas.
These are just some of the recommendations made by The Vegan Society in its new booklet: ‘Supporting veganism in the workplace: A guide for employers’.
It contains tips on how to a foster vegan-inclusive environment at work, from nipping jokes about plant-based diets in the bud, to ensuring staff uniforms are vegan-friendly.
If separate fridge space stops colleagues nicking the precious oat milk, we’re here for it. But really, you’d hope people would leave their colleagues’ food alone anyway – especially for the sake of those with allergies.
The booklet has been made by the organisation in response to the landmark legal case that ruled “ethical veganism” qualifies as a philosophical belief for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010.
The case was brought forward by Jordi Casamitjana who said he was sacked by the League Against Cruel Sports after raising concerns that its pension fund was being invested into companies involved in animal testing.
The ruling said “ethical vegans” are entitled to protections in the workplace in line with those who hold religious beliefs.
The recommendations on how to create a vegan-friendly workplace are:
Sending out a ‘dietary requirements’ sheet for catered events, ensuring that vegans have the opportunity to request that appropriate food is provided for them.
Ensuring kitchen facilities are acceptable for them to use, for example by keeping utensils and foods clean, providing colour-coded equipment and separating food preparation areas.
Designating dedicated food storage areas for vegans, such as a shelf in the fridge above non-vegan foods.
Ensuring that vegans have access to vegan-friendly clothing or other items, such as synthetic safety boots or a non-leather phone case.
Exempting vegans from a requirement to attend corporate events such as horse racing, and team building events that revolve specifically around animal products such as a ‘hog roast’ barbecue.
Considering exempting vegans from participating in buying (or signing off on the purchase of) non-vegan products.
Supporting vegan employees to discuss their pension investment options with a relevant member of staff.
The booklet also points out that jokes made about an employee’s veganism can become “burdensome” so “steps should be made to improve this”.
“One way of assessing whether a co-worker has gone too far with comments to or about vegans is to consider what type of conversational behaviour would be deemed offensive to other individuals with protected characteristics, such as those who adhere to certain religious values,” it says.