• Switzerland's news in English
Vegan loses appeal against Swiss military service veto
Photo: Antoni Da Campo

Vegan loses appeal against Swiss military service veto

Caroline Bishop · 31 Mar 2016, 12:51

Published: 31 Mar 2016 12:51 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Back in December Antoni Da Campo, a strict vegan and member of animal rights organization PEA who lives in the Swiss canton of Valais, passed the medical tests required by the army for those undertaking military service, which is obligatory for all able-bodied men in Switzerland.

However he was told he was “doubly unfit” for service because the army could accommodate neither his vegan diet nor his unwillingness to wear leather boots.

Last week he failed in his appeal against the decision at a court in Lausanne.

Speaking to The Local, Da Campo said: "They declared me doubly unacceptable, meaning that I can't do civil service either. It's for that reason that I find their decision discriminatory and arbitrary”.

“I know several vegans who are in the army and there is no problem but apparently it wasn’t possible [for me],” he said.

Although he refused to wear leather boots, Da Campo said he was willing to pay for synthetic boots himself, but that wasn’t enough to sway the army.

Losing the appeal “doesn’t surprise me really because I was ready for any scenario,” he said. “I was prepared psychologically that they would refuse me.”

Given the decision vetoes him for both military and civil service, he would be liable to pay the exemption tax that anyone declared unfit to serve must pay until the age of 30.

“My desire to do military service is very strong,” he told The Local.

“I think that it could bring me a lot of good things on the social level, certainly physically and psychologically. It would be a new experience on every level, so I was very motivated to do it. Unfortunately because of my personal convictions they have judged me unacceptable.”

But Da Campo may not have reached the end of the road.

"The decision is not yet definitive," he said. "If I want to – which I haven’t yet decided – I can appeal to the federal administrative court."

"Given that the judgement of the appeal court violates my right to hold personal beliefs, under article 15 of the federal constitution and article nine of the human rights act, that allows me to take my cause to the highest court".

Article 15 of the Swiss constitution guarantees freedom of beliefs and conscience.

“Every person has the right to choose freely their religion or their philosophical convictions and to profess them alone or in community with others,” it reads.

Speaking to newspaper Le Matin, Fabien Truffer, spokesperson for PEA, said the case is part of the fight for the acknowledgement of those who have decided to live without killing animals.

Story continues below…

“Society must adapt to us, whether that be in school canteens, hospitals or, as in this case, the army,” he said.

While some have questioned why a person who is against killing animals would want to join a military institution, Da Campo told The Local that the two were not incompatible since the Swiss army was primarily for defence and did not mobilize combat troops.

"My willingness to do my military service from the perspective of defending my country against exterior threats and preserving security in Switzerland is in no way contradictory with antispeciesism," he said.

"That doesn't stop me from condemning all other forms of animal exploitation in the army," he said.

Contacted by The Local, Swiss army spokesman Christoph Brunner said: "Strict vegans are not apt for service because it is not possible for them to fulfill their duties in respect to the current personal gear / equipment and the rations that are being served."

He denied that there were other vegans in the army.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Caroline Bishop (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available