If you want to joint the Swiss military, you better leave your veganism at the door.
The Swiss Army declared 19 year-old vegan Antoni Da Campo unfit for service after he to wear leather boots and requested a specific menu from the military.
Veganism is a lifestyle that bars practitioners from consuming or using any product made from an animal. This means that in addition to not eating meat, vegans give up milk, butter, jello, glue, leather and many other items that contain an animal byproduct.
Unfortunately for vegans, this lifestyle is not easy to maintain in the military. If your military rations don’t contain some sort of animal product, parts of your uniform or equipment probably do. A good vegan’s only choices are to either swallow their objections to stay in the military or leave.
The Swiss Army removed Da Campo because his lifestyle restrictions were logistically too complicated to accommodate.
“We are not saying that a vegetarian is not able to do his military service,” Caspar Zimmermann, an army spokesman, told the Swiss daily newspaper. “But the army operates from the efficiency of large groups, it cannot adapt itself to each individual.”
Da Campo had been declared physically fit for his national service, but army doctors said that he would be ineffective as part of a group if he could not wear the standard issue leather boots. At one point, the army doctor told Da Campo to seek authorization from his superior officer to wear imitation leather footwear, but the option was logistically problematic as the army had no pre-approved footwear on offer.
Da Campo’s untimely discharge has financial consequences. Switzerland requires all 19 year-old men to complete 18-21 weeks of basic training. Any citizen who doesn’t complete their national service must pay a tax amounting to three percent of their income until the age of 30.