SAFE chief executive Debra Ashton told Newshub they sought independent legal advice and also contacted the Human Rights Commission before listing the job.
“[The advice] stated that Section 21 of the Human Rights Act 1993, which sets out the prohibited grounds of discrimination, does not appear to make discrimination on the basis of dietary preference, such as veganism, unlawful,” she said in a statement. “Therefore, we are comfortable at this stage with advertising for vegan staff.”
Ashton said all staff at SAFE are vegan, and this requirement narrows down the number of applicants to those who “truly align” to SAFE’s goals to represent the rights of animals.
“We’re privileged to have a group of talented professionals at SAFE who follow a vegan lifestyle which puts us in the best position to advocate for animals.
“Our mission is to educate, inform and empower people to make cruelty-free, plant-based and vegan choices.”
There are 13 prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Human Rights Act. These are sex, marital status, religious belief, ethical belief, colour, race, ethnic or national origins, disability, age, political opinion, employment status, family status, and sexual orientation.
While veganism could be classed as an ethical belief, this specifically applies to the lack of a religious belief under the Human Rights legislation.