Vegan firefighter, Adam Knauff, aged 40, has taken legal action after he claims his bosses refused to provide him with appropriate vegan food during a ten-day job.
Knauff, who has been vegan for more than 20 years, says for the majority of the job – where he had to work in ‘extreme heat and exhausting conditions’ – ‘had to survive on protein bars’ due to ‘a severe lack of vegan food in the basecamp’ where he was stationed.
‘Punished, and suspended without pay’
“Sometimes, they served me food with meat and dairy products, which I couldn’t eat. Other days, they had no vegan food at all to serve me… On the few occasions when there was vegan food, it was nutritionally inadequate and had no source of protein,” Knauff said.
“[His bosses] refused to provide me with appropriate vegan food while I was in the field, fighting fires in a remote location. When I stood up for my rights, my employer sent me home, punished me, and suspended me without pay.”
The firefighter has since set up a GoFund me page to help win legal protection for vegans, pushing for ethical veganism to become protected as a ‘creed’ under Ontario’s Human Rights Code – as the Human Rights Commission states that ‘creed’ can include ‘non-religious belief systems that, like religion, substantially influence a person’s identity, worldview, and way of life’.
‘No one deserves to be treated this way’
Knauff wrote on his GoFundMe page: “I’m an easygoing person, and I tried to be patient. I spoke with staff and management to explain what I could eat, but nothing changed. I still wasn’t being fed, and the lack of nourishment took a physical and mental toll on me.
“I finally became frustrated after ten days of inadequate nourishment, and I tried to assert my rights. Instead of respecting my beliefs and providing me with vegan food, my bosses were rude and hostile. They sent me home to Ontario and punished me by docking my pay.
“It was incredibly difficult to be sent home, and I still worry about the damage to my reputation. I love my job, but no one deserves to be treated this way simply because they don’t want to harm animals. My beliefs as a vegan should be respected and celebrated, not ridiculed.”
Any funds not used will go to Animal Justice and be used to help other vegans who face discrimination.