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International Animal Rights ConferenceInternational Animal Rights Conference

Friday, 14.09.2012   09:00-09:50   Room A
Vegan belief in law
a tool in the progress of the movement for animal rights?
Jeanette Rowley

The movement for animal rights typically depends on activism, welfare legislation, or campaigns to elevate the status of non-human animals. This paper looks at the relationship between vegan belief and law and explains how and why vegan belief, if acknowledged and properly recognized in law, can both enhance the movement for the rights of other animals and bring about the positive social conditions required for those of vegan belief to be respected on an equal footing with those of other beliefs.

Law and society generally, has so far ignored and dismissed vegan belief despite the European court declaring in 1991 that vegan convictions fall within the scope of article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Alarmingly, even 20 years later the European Court had to consider a further case concerning veganism and held that a violation of Article 9 had occurred when a vegan prisoner was denied suitable food. But do we ever hear about these types of incidents or cases? Further, what is our response?

This paper suggests that the movement for the rights of other animals should engage further with the status of vegan belief in law because law is a powerful tool in generating public awareness of our beliefs and promoting validity and legitimacy of our deeply held convictions. Law creates what comes to be regarded as legitimate morality. It is a powerful structural force in our social conditioning.

It is not in law`s interest to protect vegan belief because our economies are so inextricably linked to the abuse of other animals. A consequence of law`s dismissal of veganism is social dismissal of veganism - not only do vegans suffer unlawful critical incidents on a daily basis in their personal, social and professional lives, but this dismissal effectively hinders the progress of, and devalues the movement for the rights of other animals by association. This presentation aims to give vegans everywhere the confidence to promote the validity of their vegan belief and its foundational principle: compassion for all sentient life.













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