In January, a young man from Valais, was excluded from Swiss military service because of his diet and beliefs. Because he is a vegan and won’t eat meat or wear boots made from leather he was declared unfit.
Last Tuesday, the 19 year-old announced that his legal challenge had succeeded. The military has changed its decision, something it would neither confirm nor deny when asked by the newspaper 20 Minutes.
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The young man should start his service in 2018, but still needs to work out his dining and clothing arrangements with his future superiors. “I should be able to bring my own meals from home. As for clothing, I hope the army will have a solution” he said.
During the legal process he repeatedly told the tribunal that he was against speciesism, the assumption that human superiority should lead to the exploitation of animals. Like others, such as the moral philosopher Peter Singer, he doesn’t think humans should inflict violence on other sentient beings to satisfy dietary and clothing preferences. His case centred on article 15 of the Swiss constitution, which grants freedom of belief.
In response to those who don’t understand why he wants to join the army but won’t wear leather boots, he said “I think unecessarily killing animals is unjust and should be banned. However, defending the democratic rights of my fellow citizens in the event of aggression by another country, seems perfectly legitimate.”
In conclusion he said: “This result is a small step for vegans, and a big step for animal rights.”