The Swiss military was forced to declare a 19-year old vegan unfit fit military service after he refused to wear leather boots. Antoni Da Campo, who also had issues with army's menu, is attempting to challenge the ruling in court, claiming that governmental institutions were failing to "account for changes in society," he told Swiss newspaper 24heures Tuesday.
The Swiss army, which requires all 19 year-old men to complete a basic national service of 18 to 21 weeks, was unable to meet Da Campo’s strict vegan beliefs and would have struggled logistically to meet the needs of the teenager's diet.
"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.
Even Da Campo's strict diet that prohibited him eating eggs, meat, fish, dairy and honey was something that the army could have overcome, Zimmerman told the newspaper. But generally speaking, changes to the army diet are only possible for medical reasons (lactose or gluten intolerance, for example) or for religious reasons.
Da Campo said the army’s decision was "disappointing" as it would have brought him "a lot of experience."
Any Individual deemed unfit for military service in Switzerland is required to pay a tax amounting to three percent of their income each year until the age of 30.