Two students from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos (UNMSM) in Peru filed a lawsuit with the Judiciary for the University Dining Hall to include vegan food in its daily menu. 

The lawsuit filed by students Gabriela Santos Tacuri and Luis Nitai Syam Florian Andrade was received by the Sixth Constitutional Court of Lima under the direction of supernumerary judge Jacqueline Tarrillo. The lawsuit requests that the university provide a vegan-friendly option in its University Dining Hall (which must be validated by a nutritionist specialised in vegan nutrition), that the university establish a registry of vegan students, and that veganism be recognised as an ethical principle protected by the right to freedom of conscience.

The students said that the absence of a vegan alternative in their school violates their rights to freedom of conscience, equality and non-discrimination, personal identity, and free development of personality, as well as puts at risk their right to health and food.

The rector of the UNMSM, Jeri Ramón Ruffner, responded to the students’ demand by calling it “absurd”, defending her position in an interview on Canal N, arguing that the request for vegan food is unfeasible due to the budget allocated for monthly rations in the University Dining Hall.

The legal action is backed by the Legal Defense Institute (IDL) and the organization Animal Law in Peru (DAP), with the support of the activist group Acción Antiespecista.

Although other countries have already recognised veganism as a legally protected belief (as is the case in the United Kingdom), and other similar disputes are taking place (such as in the Basque Country) this appears to be the first legal case in Peru based on the issue of discrimination against vegans. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.