London (CNN)A vegan sacked by his employer is bringing a landmark legal case to a British court on Thursday, hoping to change the law to ensure that veganism is considered a protected "philosophical belief" similar to religion.
Vegans could get the same legal protections as religious people, as a landmark case is heard in Britain
Jordi Casamitjana, an "ethical vegan," claims he was dismissed by animal welfare charity League Against Cruel Sports in April 2018 because he informed colleagues that their employer's pension fund was "being invested in companies that experiment on animals" and non-ethical funds -- a claim the charity has rejected.
But before challenging his former employer over his firing, Casamitjana is hoping to force a change to Britain's Equality Act that would see veganism included as a philosophical belief protected from discrimination.
A two-day case began in Norwich, England on Thursday.
The law, passed in 2010, defines "religion or belief" as one of the nine "protected characteristics," which include race, sex, pregnancy and maternity, making it unlawful for employers to discriminate on those grounds.
To qualify for protection under the act, Casamitjana's lawyers must prove that veganism is "a belief and not an opinion," that it has "a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance," and that it is "worthy of respect in a democratic society, compatible with human dignity and not conflict with the fundamental rights of others."
Ethical vegans not only follow a vegan diet, but also oppose the use of animals for any purpose, such as wearing fur or animal testing.
Casamitjana argues that identifying as an ethical vegan involves "much more than just not eating food with animal ingredients," and is a "philosophy and a belief system" encompassing most aspects of his life.
"Ethical veganism is a philosophical belief held by a significant and growing portion of the population in the UK and around the world," Peter Daly, Casamitjana's legal representative at the Slater and Gordon law firm, added in a statement.
"This case, if successful, will establish that the belief entitles ethical vegans protection from discrimination."
The League Against Cruel Sports is not disputing Casamitjana's case for veganism to be afforded protected status.
Later in the year, the former employee plans to bring a separate case in which he will claim his own dismissal contravened his philosophical belief, which the charity opposes.