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This Group Wants Veganism To Be Protected Under Human Rights Law

It's a deeply-held belief, right?

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That's what the folks at Animal Justice, a Canadian animal law organization, have spent years fighting for.

Last year, the Ontario Human Rights Commission released updated guidelines on preventing discrimination based on "creed." Although it has no official definition in the human rights code, the commission said:

Creed may also include non-religious belief systems that,
like religion, substantially influence a person's identity, worldview and way of life.

Arguably, that's the case for some people who abstain from animal meat and byproducts due to ethical beliefs.

"Their policy contains exactly what we were hoping for. They said creed can also include ethical beliefs that are very important to a person," said Camille Labchuk, an animal rights lawyer and executive director of Animal Justice.

There have already been incidents where vegans have faced discrimination, she added.

A number of years ago, Labchuk said Animal Justice assisted an Ontario veterinary student who refused to euthanize a dog she had spayed as part of her training.

Courtesy of Camille Labchuk

"She had a major problem with this because she was an ethical vegan. she went to vet school to help animals, not to kill them," Labchuk told BuzzFeed Canada.

Though the student was told she would not be allowed to graduate, the school backed down after Animal Justice got involved.

Hypothetically, Labchuk said a high school student asked to dissect a frog or an employee given a uniform made of leather or fur would face similar discrimination.

"If he or she disagrees with using animals for clothing then obviously there needs to be some protection so they don’t have to wear animal products," she said.

Ultimately, it's up to the Human Rights Tribunal to interpret "creed" does and does not include, but Animal Justice is hopeful that ethical vegans will be included.

"It’s important because people have these beliefs," said Labchuk. "Fundamentally, the reason people choose to live their lives this way is to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, which are animals."

Lauren Strapagiel is Managing Editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Toronto, Canada.

Contact Lauren Strapagiel at lauren.strapagiel@buzzfeed.com.

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