Vegans would not be required to take the COVID vaccines and might take legal actions against employers who insist they do, experts warn.
This caution is coming at a time when big firms like Google and Netflix informed their US staff they would have to get the jabs before returning to work, a move described by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab as ‘smart policy’.
In the UK, the government has introduced legislation stating care workers should be vaccinated.
But lawyers say the estimated half a million Britons who do not consume any form of animal products would be under no obligation to adhere to such rules.
Protections for ethical vegans
Although the Covid vaccines do not contain animal products, like most medications, they currently go through animal testing— a practice ethical veganism advocates against.
Last year, a tribunal ruled ethical veganism to be a protected category, joining the list of people who could legally resist getting vaccinated such as some religious groups and those with certain disabilities or medical conditions.
It means any employers would risk legal action if they order staff to be vaccinated.
A spokesman for Lewis Silkin, a law firm, told the Telegraph:
Some ethical vegans may disagree with vaccinations on the basis that they will inevitably have been tested on animals. Ethical veganism has previously been found to amount to a belief, capable of being protected.
This is coming at a time when the government is facing challenges over the introduction of the vaccine passport which is claimed could help prevent further lockdowns.
However, the Vegan Society is encouraging people to get vaccinated. A spokesperson for the society said:
The definition of veganism recognises that it is not always possible or practicable for vegans to avoid participating in animal use, which is particularly relevant to medical situations.In the case of Covid-19, vaccination will play a fundamental role in tackling the pandemic and saving lives. As there is currently a legal requirement that all vaccines are tested on animals, at this point in time it is impossible to have a vaccine that has been created without animal use.