Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
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.
The recruit who wanted to remain anonymous is a strict vegan and member of Swiss animal rights organization PEA. He was keen to undertake his obligatory military service and last December passed all the medical and physical tests required by the army.
But he was declared “unfit” for service because the army felt it could not accommodate his vegan diet or his refusal to wear leather boots – despite the fact he had offered to pay for synthetic boots.
Speaking to The Local earlier this year, he 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”.
As a result, he would have to pay a tax on his income until the age of 30 instead of serving.
Unwilling to accept the army’s stance, he took his case to a Lausanne appeal court in March – and lost.
He then appealed a second time to the Federal Administrative Court, arguing that the army’s decision went against his human right to maintain his personal convictions.
In a statement sent to The Local on Wednesday, he said he argued there was no legal basis for declaring a person unfit for military service simply because of his veganism.
Demanding he pay a tax because of his philosophical beliefs constituted a discrimination and violated the principle of proportionality, he said.
The court ordered the two parties to discuss the matter further between themselves, and as a result, the army decided to change its mind and has now declared the recruit “fit” for service, he said.
"There are more and more vegans in our society and I am happy to see that the army, like all public institutions, chooses to adapt itself to this reality” he said.
“Vegans should enjoy the same rights and duties as other citizens and not be forced to pay a tax just because they refuse to put [on] boots that involved the killing of animals."
Though the exact logistics are yet to be settled, he told 24 Heures he would buy his own, vegan, boots. “As for food, maybe it will be possible to get a small sum to make my own purchases,” he said.
In March he told The Local he was “very motivated” to do military service and that it was not incompatible with his views on animal rights.
"I consider it unfair to kill animals for unnecessary practices for humans,” he added on Wednesday.
“However, defending democracy and my fellow citizens in case of an aggression by another country seems perfectly legitimate."