Responding to the motion brought by Jean-Luc Addor, the government said on Wednesday that the Swiss constitution specifies that military service applies to all male citizens regardless of their opinions, religion or food habits, reported news agencies.
A potential recruit being a vegan does therefore not make him automatically unfit to serve, it said.
Military or civil service is compulsory in Switzerland for all Swiss men over 18. If they refuse or are declared unfit to serve they must pay an exemption tax until the age of 30.
It is up to a military medical commission to determine if a potential recruit is fit to serve. Legislation on the matter is unnecessary, said the Federal Council.
Addor made his proposal on the back of a recent case in which he said the army was “ridiculed” by a vegan recruit.
Last year 19-year-old Antoni Da Campo was declared “doubly unfit” for service because the army said it could not accommodate his strict vegan diet or his refusal to wear leather boots – despite the fact he offered to buy synthetic boots himself.
The animal rights campaigner had passed all the required medical tests and wanted to serve. However the army’s decision excluded him from both military and civil service, meaning he would be liable to pay the exemption tax.
Challenging the decision in the courts, Da Campo initially lost an appeal before taking his case to the Federal civil court, arguing that the army’s stance was discriminatory and went against his human right to maintain his personal convictions.
The court ordered the two parties to talk, and in October the army changed its mind and declared Da Campo fit to serve.