The Vegan Society launched the warning after Shropshire chef and restaurant co-owner Laura Goodman claimed on a Facebook group called The Boring Group she had “spiked” a diner’s vegan meal.
The post read: “Pious, judgmental vegan (who I spent all day cooking for) has gone… still believing she’s a vegan.”
According to the BBC, Shropshire Council said it was investigating complaints about the Carlini restaurant in Albrighton, but the restaurant denied anything untoward being included in the food.
However, the Vegan Society said deliberately serving animal products to those steering clear of such ingredients breaches the Equality Act 2010 because it fails to accommodate a legally protected belief – in this case, veganism.
Any victims can sue the chef, and food inspectors have the power to remove a venue’s licence, it said.
The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone because of religion or belief.
Article 9 of the Human Rights Act 1998 also protects freedom of thought, conscience and religion. It protects all religions and a wide range of philosophical beliefs including atheism, humanism, agnosticism, veganism and pacifism.
Vegan Society spokeswoman Dominika Piasecka said: “People become vegan for very important reasons, most commonly because they don’t want to harm animals.
“When we eat out, we trust others to serve us exactly what we ordered. In this case, the trust was abused and the vegan customers were deliberately served animal products against their will, which is inconsiderate and unprofessional.”
She added: “Of course, mistakes do happen but in the vast majority of cases, chefs apologise and replace the unsuitable meal with a vegan counterpart.
“This particular chef’s attitude towards vegans suggests her restaurant is not a good place for people with allergies or dietary requirements. We hope the backlash inspires her to change her view on this issue.”
The Food Standards Agency said: “People should be confident about the food they buy and be able to choose according to their particular requirements, whether for diet and health or for personal taste and preference reasons.
“The description, advertising or presentation of food must not mislead consumers. If someone is concerned about sold food, which has been falsely labelled or the information about the food does not properly describe it, they can report it to the business’s local authority.”