On 23rd May 2024, a district court in the Danish town of Hillerød ruled that the administrative unit overseeing hospitals in the region did not discriminate against a vegan woman when they failed to offer her adequate vegan meals during her stay at the hospital.

Mette Rasmussen and the Vegetarian Society of Denmark filed a lawsuit after the hospital she was admitted to during her pregnancy in 2020 did not provide full vegan meals, only side dishes such as plain rice, baked carrots, and celery. The district court ruled the hospital had not been discriminatory because it had provided some vegan food, Rasmussen could have brought her own meals, or asked relatives to bring food in, and there was a 7-Eleven store on the hospital grounds where she could have bought food.

Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl, The Danish Vegetarian Association’s general secretary, said, “Of course, public institutions must not discriminate against citizens on the basis of their ethical beliefs. And we think that is clearly the case when in a hospital there are 14 meat dishes and no vegan dishes, but only side dishes… We continue to fight on behalf of all the country’s vegetarians and vegans, and we continue the fight so that everyone can get nutritious and filling plant-based meals in public kitchens.”

Rasmussen said, “I honestly cannot understand that all hospital kitchens cannot prepare nutritious vegan dishes that can benefit all patients, since they have an entire menu full of meat dishes. It goes against all recommendations to let sick people live on side dishes during their hospitalizations. For me, it would be the obvious and easy choice to make a few delicious vegan dishes that everyone can eat. In this case, Hvidovre Hospital does not even follow its own meal policy or dietary guidelines set by the state. I think it’s crazy that they are allowed to do that.” This happened even when on 8th February 2024, a lower court in the city of Hjørring, Denmark, granted the vegan movement a milestone victory by ruling in favour of a couple who sued a kindergarten and a municipality for discrimination against their vegan daughter. For the first time, a Danish court acknowledged that vegans have the right not to be “treated worse than people without vegan convictions who are in a similar or comparable situation”. The court agreed that the child, due to the lack of opportunity to be served exclusively vegan food in the desired kindergarten and the simultaneous refusal to bring her packed lunch, was treated worse than children who do not live according to a vegan conviction, since she was discriminated solely as a result of her vegan beliefs.

Jordi Casamitjana
“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’.