Scottish vegans can become freemasons now. The Grand Lodge of Scotland has updated its centuries-old traditions to allow vegans entry to the fraternal organization.
Scottish freemasons have traditionally worn lambskin aprons during certain ceremonies and rituals. But now, the Grand Lodge of Scotland will allow the use of vinyl alternatives instead.
Freemasons favor the lamb as a symbol of purity, and the organization’s aprons serve as both practical and symbolic shields. Freemasons including Robert Burns and Arthur Conan Doyle have all worn lambskin aprons at the lodge during its 280-year history.
In a social media post seen by The Times, the freemasons spokesperson explained that “many lodges now use vinyl [aprons],” and added, “please remember that it [the lambskin apron] is symbolic and does not need to be real.”
The United Grand Lodge of England, sister organization to the Grand Lodge of Scotland, has permitted animal-free alternatives for decades.
Sam Calvert, a spokesperson for The Vegan Society, says it’s “good to see” the freemasons include vegan members.
“This is in line with the Equality Act,” he said. The act should protect people against discrimination for their protected beliefs—including vegans, explained Calvert.
Veganism and the Equality Act
In a landmark case, a British court recently ruled that being an ethical vegan should be included under the 2010 Equality Act—an anti-discrimination law designed to protect people from harassment.
The court case focused on animal advocate Jordi Casamitjana. The fifty-five year old zoologist claims that his former employer, the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), fired him because of his ethical veganism. Casamitjana claims that he voiced concerns about the charity’s investment of pension funds in companies that conduct animal testing.
“Ethical veganism is such a strong part of my identity that I feel I no longer have a ‘choice’ in my interactions with the world when it comes to issues that conflict with my beliefs,” Casamitjana said in a statement.
Hayley Trovato, a legal expert at OGR Stock Denton Solicitors, told the New York Times that employers must be aware of the “risk of discriminating against people who hold beliefs that traditionally might not have been considered to be protected under employment law.”
British people are serious about ditching meat and approximately 91 percent of Brits identify as flexitarians—mostly vegetarian, plant-forward consumers.