'Doubly unacceptable' Swiss vegan forces his way into the army

Tax or warfare? Right, where do I collect my rifle...

A militant vegan has succeeded in forcing himself into the Swiss Army – and avoided paying extra tax as a result.

Antoni Da Campo, a “strict vegan and member of Swiss animal rights organization PEA” had previously been rejected from the Swiss Army because the army would not cater for his vegan diet and because he refused to wear the issued leather boots, according to The Local.

"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,” Da Campo told the English-language news website.

He added that as a result of not being able to complete his compulsory national service, he would be subject to an extra three per cent on his income tax until the age of 30.

Now, however, the pushy private has convinced Swiss generals to let him in. After Da Campo sued, claiming human rights abuses, the Federal Administrative Court quite sensibly ordered the military to discuss the matter with him. Officers relented and agreed to allow Da Campo, a business trainee, to enlist.

His dietary beliefs prohibit him from eating meat, fish, dairy products, eggs and honey, according to earlier reports.

“Careful, we are not saying that a vegetarian is not able to do his military service,” Caspar Zimmermann, a Swiss army spokesman, told local news service 24heures back in January.

Swiss military service is compulsory for all men aged 20. Women can volunteer for the armed forces under similar terms of service. All are issued with rifles that they take home at night, but no ammunition. Conscientious objectors can apply not to be issued with weapons, as well as having the option to undertake a civilian alternative to national service. A 2013 referendum aimed at abolishing compulsory military service was defeated by 73 per cent of the vote.

“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,” said Da Campo after winning his fight to serve. ®

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