The rise in vegan hate crime is “very distressing” and reports of such discrimination in Catholic schools is “unacceptable”, the chief executive of a Catholic animal welfare charity has said.
Chris Fegan, of Catholic Concern for Animals (CCA), has urged schools to take “zero tolerance” on such behaviour.
Mr Fegan’s comments come in response to a report by The Times, revealing that the growth of veganism has coincided with a noticeable increase in hate crimes against vegans.
The number of vegans in the UK quadrupled between 2014 and last year, according to Ipsos Mori, and there are now approximately 600,000 vegans in the UK (1.6 per cent of the population) last year, up from just 150,000 in 2014.
But at the same time the police have registered a total of 172 crimes committed against vegans because of their beliefs over the past five years. There were just 55 last year.
Mr Fegan said the figures were concerning, particularly as one incident of such bullying happened at a Catholic school.
“It is good news that the number of vegans in the UK is increasing, but at the same time distressing to hear of the increase in the number of hate crimes against vegans, including worrying reports of bullying against vegan schoolchildren in a Catholic school – this is unacceptable,” he told The Catholic Universe.
Late last December, Jack Shanahan, a pupil at Archbishop Isley Catholic School in Birmingham, revealed he was bullied at school for being a vegan, including one incident when he had a tuna melt pushed into his face and was told to “eat grass”.
“CCA totally condemns such incidents and while the general societal issues are for the UK Government and legal system to take a firm stand on, we must ensure that Catholic children are safe to follow their chosen vegan lifestyles,” said Mr Fegan.
“I will be writing to the Catholic Education Service to take up the matter and ensure that schools have a zero tolerance on this type of discrimination against vegans in the school environment,” he added.
Earlier this year, an employment tribunal ruled that ethical veganism is a philosophical belief and is therefore protected by law.
Picture: The lettering ‘Vegan’ seen on the glass door of a cooling shelf containing vegan products in an organic grocery store. (Daniel Karmann/DPA/PA).