Veganism in Brazil has been growing exponentially: the figures show out of 216 million, roughly 7 million Brazilians declare themselves vegans (and 30 million vegetarians). This week guest writer Marcelo Daidone Chalita will explore whether those vegans are protected under the Brazilian constitution.
The Background of The Constitution
The current Constitution of Brazil was promulgated on 5 October 1988 to tackle the military dictatorship (1964-85), where loads of individual rights were restricted, such as freedom. Aiming to ensure individual rights, the Brazilian Constitution is the base for every law stated.
After the dictatorial period, the Constitution has been a strong way to guarantee individual rights.
Are vegan’s individual rights protected?
There is nothing specific related to veganism itself, but by interpreting what is written it is possible to achieve some conclusions. Article 5 of the Constitution clearly determines that everyone is equal before the law, with no distinction whatsoever, guaranteeing to Brazilians and foreigners residing in the Country the inviolability of the rights to life, liberty, equality, security, and property.
Similarly, item VI and VII are concerned about the beliefs:
VI. freedom of conscience and belief is inviolable, assuring the free exercise of religious beliefs and guaranteeing, as set forth in the law, protection of places of worship and their rites;
VII. no one shall be deprived of any rights because of religious beliefs or philosophical or political convictions unless invoked in order to be exempted from a legal obligation imposed upon all by one refusing to perform an alternative service established by law;
From these passages of the text, it is feasible to assert that technically no one could be persecuted for their beliefs, and therefore everyone is free to choose what they want with the inviolability of their rights protected by the constitution.
How does this differ to the UK?
The position is different to the UK, where ethical veganism has now been declared a belief protected by law. However, in Brazil, whilst no such decision has been made yet, similar arguments could be made if there is a claim related to veganism. Considering that it is not possible to give or lend your freedom of conscience as it is inviolable, the argument would be based on those articles since veganism is a philosophy and it is way more than a diet because the idea is to exclude all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
Even though there is no specific law protecting veganism as a belief in Brazil, by analogy with other rights, if you are feeling threatened because of your belief system, you can uphold your rights in Court.