Vegan firm forced to back down after ‘discriminating’ against bacon lovers

A business that advertised for a "vegan or plant-based" accountant has been forced to back down.

Vegan Accountants last month said bacon-lovers needn't apply to join their firm in Chingford, east London.

Boss Keith Lesser ducked "meaty" questions from the Daily Star asking if he was discriminating against non-vegans.

The ad has been updated to "vegan friendly" after regulators were informed.

A spokeswoman for The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales said "we do not comment on individual companies".

But legal experts said Vegan Accountants risked being sued for discrimination if they couldn't prove a meat-eating bean-counter couldn't do the job.

Slater and Gordon employment lawyer Doreen Reeves said: “An advertisement seeking a vegan-only accountant could potentially be unlawful direct discrimination."

She explained Ethical Veganism is covered by equality laws banning discrimination of "protected characteristics" like age and gender.

The lawyer said: “The advertisement specifies ‘vegan or plant based’ referring to following a vegan diet, which alone is not a protected characteristic.

"To be classed as a philosophical belief Ethical Veganism must apply to more than merely the person’s diet, and should encompass their broader belief set."

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Bosses could only specify workers have a protected characteristic in "exceptional circumstances", she added: "The employer would have to show this job could only be completed by an Ethical Vegan.”

Vegan Accountants was acquired by 1988-founded Lesser & Co last July and employs 16 staff at its office plus the new-starter.

Under its Ethical Policy, its website says: "We will always do what we can (within the law) to help you pay the least amount of tax.

"As a way to give something back, we kindly request (where possible) that you donate some of these savings to a good cause."

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It did not respond to requests for comment by the Daily Star.

Vegan business owners were divided over the bizarre ad which was slammed by meat suppliers.

A British vegan company owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said: "I've never seen that before at all.

"You don't have to be vegan to work here but everybody who is here is.

"What we do say in our job adverts is we are a mission-led business and we've got vegan in the title and generally speaking that leads to people who are vegan or vegetarian applying."

But founder of Ben Braman said: "Employers have a right to ask their staff to be at least vegan-friendly in their conduct, not just to their fellow employees who are vegan but this should cross over to working with customers as well, where you wouldn't want someone bashing veganism while serving vegan food for example."

Norman Bagley, of the Association of Independent Meat Suppliers, said: "You will get organisations connected to vegans that just push the boundaries.

"Does it come under discrimination? Probably does. Will anybody do anything about it? Probably not."

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