In detail

Scandal in Switzerland: cats land on the plate


In Switzerland, it is still legally permitted to eat cats and dogs if they are their own animals. Dog and cat meat are prohibited for commercial purposes only. This always causes a great scandal - most recently in early 2016, when a video of an alleged Swiss restaurant made the round in which cat meat is to be served. It is now clear that the restaurant doesn't really exist. Is it really still allowed to eat cats in Switzerland? - Image: Shutterstock / Galina Barskaya

First of all, it should be emphasized that in Switzerland it is not forbidden to eat your own pets, but in practice it almost never happens that cats or dogs end up on the plate. In early 2016, three vegetarian organizations took this legal situation in Switzerland as an opportunity to question meat consumption in general. Read here what the scandal is all about:

Restaurant "La Table Suisse" supposedly serves cat meat

In February 2016, a video of the Swiss restaurant "La Table Suisse" appeared online, which boasted of offering traditional dog and cat dishes. A young chef raves about his passion for classic Swiss cuisine, regional ingredients and traditional recipes. Since cats and dogs are not allowed to be bred and sold for commercial meat production in Switzerland, the supposed restaurant has come up with a trick: the guests adopt the animals before they eat them. So they eat their own cats or dogs, which is allowed under Swiss law. Watch the full length video here:

The discussion under the video and on the web on the subject is heated and emotional. Some argue that if you generally find it okay to eat meat, you should consequently not differentiate between the animal species. Others argue that there is a difference between eating animals that normally keep people company as pets or animals that are bred specifically for meat consumption.

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Vegetarian organizations draw attention to carnism

Behind the scandal are the vegetarian organizations "Swissveg" from Switzerland, the "Vegetarian Association Germany (Vebu)" and the US initiative "Beyond Carnism". The restaurant "La Table Suisse" doesn't really exist, even if the counterfeit is very well done with the advertising video on YouTube, its own homepage and Facebook page. The aim of the campaign was to raise people's awareness of the concept of carnism and to provoke thought in a radical way. Carnism describes a theory that goes back to the psychologist and vegan activist Melanie Joy. It assumes that our cultural characteristics make eating certain animals ethically acceptable, while eating other animals is considered morally reprehensible.

In India, for example, cows are sacred, while in Europe beef is considered a completely normal food. In many countries in South America, such as Peru, it is common to eat guinea pigs, which no one in Europe can imagine, since in this country the rodents are only kept as pets. This contradiction is also evident in rabbits, which are both loved as pets in Europe and bred for traditional dishes.

Do people in Switzerland eat cats or not?

In the regulation of the EDI (Federal Department of Home Affairs) on food of animal origin, it is explicitly forbidden to use carnivores like dogs and cats for food production. However, there is a loophole in the law, since food production only includes commercial meat production. In theory, it is possible to eat your own pet if you have not purchased it for this purpose. It is difficult to say whether this is still done in some Swiss households or not.


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