Call for Papers
Shifting the balance: the potential and limits of using law to support the growth of veganism
The theme of this year’s conference is the utility of using law to contribute to the social conditions required for the growth of veganism and, thus, contribute to dismantling speciesist prejudice. Veganism is a way of life that is directed by deep convictions regarding the moral standing of nonhuman animals. The life-directing convictions of vegans require practical manifestation which makes veganism relevant to the human right to freedom of conscience.
The primacy and importance of the human right to freedom of conscience impose very strict limitations on permissible state interference and, additionally, influence the development and implementation of equality law. These human rights and equality measures can be used to protect vegans from any unlawful interference that would require them to compromise their ethical convictions and participate in the practices of the dominant majority. The Vegan Society, the IVRA, other advocacy services and individual lawyers regularly use human rights and equality measures to ensure that vegans can live their lives practically, with compassion for other sentient life. The Vegan Society, for example, has ensured that vegan school children, patients in hospital and those in detention have been provided with vegan food, students have been permitted to use vegan friendly materials in their assessments, vegans in the workplace have been given the option to source vegan friendly uniform items, accessories and personal protective equipment, and private sector service providers understand their legal duty to accommodate non vegans and vegans equally.
The right to freedom of conscience and its representation in equality legislation, therefore, create space in law where veganism challenges normalised, entrenched prejudice against nonhuman animals. The vegan legal movement works in this space to contribute to a paradigm shift in the social practices that perpetuate nonhuman animal exploitation. It seeks the legal recognition of veganism, protection for the vegan way of life and the necessary measures that would allow veganism to be institutionally supported, widely adopted and sustained: such as, the mandatory provision of vegan food in the public and private sector, adequate food labelling, provisions for vegans in the workplace and for veganism to be included in educational curricula.
Provisions made for vegans honour the human right to manifest the moral values that give effect to nonhuman rights. They also encourage a social dialogue that confronts prejudice against nonhuman animals and, arguably, contribute towards the normalisation of living with compassion for other beings. But what is the scope of law in different regions to protect vegans and support veganism, and to what extent can the creation of vegan law contribute to the conditions needed to dismantle widespread prejudice against nonhuman animals?
The conference seeks to explore specific issues identifiable at a threshold in law where the exclusion of rights for nonhuman animals meets the human rights of vegans. These issues may be international, regional or domestic legal challenges or the resulting practices and policies of lawful prejudice against nonhuman animals. The overriding questions concern how a creative vegan legal movement, and the arguments of individual lawyers, vegan policy makers and academics, can push the boundaries of this threshold and positively impact on the potential for veganism and animal liberation.