In a U.S. Supreme Court case (Gillette v. U.S., 1970), the court recognized that conscience and belief are the "bedrock of religion." In an Alabama Supreme Court case (Smith v. Board of School Commissioners of Mobile County, 1987), the court wrestled with whether secular humanism was the functional equivalent of a religion, for like Buddhism and Humanistic Judaism, secular humanists have no belief in god. Russel Kirk, one of the experts testifying before the Alabama court, said: "Modern definitions of religion encompass those religions which do not believe in a transcendent order or in a divine power, but which are primarily ethical in content rather than transcendent or supernatural."
I argue that ethical veganism should be treated as a religion for those who adhere to it. Vegans should not be discriminated against in the workplace or in public; we should not lose employment or housing opportunities; nor should we be persecuted in any way because of it. I have endured mild harassment on the job before, which I accept because being vegan is unusual.
Bottom line is...it is both a shame and a testament to our values that "reverence for life" can be laughed off as an inconvenience.