Switzerland may be famous for its chocolates and cheese - but there's another delicacy gracing some dinner tables in the Alpine nation - namely dog and cat meat.
According to Tages Anzeiger newspaper, farmers in the Appenzell and St Gallen areas regularly dine on the animals, as is popular in China, Korea and Vietnam.
One farmer, speaking under anonymity for fear of reprisals from animal rights activists, said it was "nothing unusual" to eat dog or cat meat.
He added: "Meat is meat. I serve Mostbröckli (smoked ham or beef slices), nobody will notice that it is dog meat."
While there are no official figures of how many of the common pets end up on dinner plates, the practice is legal - provided the animal is killed humanely and the meat is not sold commercially.
Yet while dining on what many of us regard as treasured companions is permitted, it is largely looked down upon.
Another farmer confessed to having given up eating cat and dog meat because it is "frowned upon", but added he felt there was a hypocrisy of a society "which otherwise cannot get enough meat."
Edith Zellweger of animal welfare group Salez asked: "How unscrupulous must be a society that man eats best friend?"
In 2004 an animal welfare group unsuccessfully urged the government to close the legal loophole that allows the consumption of dogs and cats.
Norbert Guenster, manager of the Germany-based European Animal and Nature Protection Association said: "Depending on personal preferences the dogs are stored in red salt or herbal mix for two weeks and are then smoked in the house fireplace."
Rita Dubois of Zurich-based animal welfare group ProTier added: "When a farmer's dog or cat has babies there are bound to be spare ones.
"The logic for the farmers is if they have to kill them anyway, they might as well eat them".
In 2008 The Independent ran a report on the popularity of cat pelts in Switzerland.
Selling for just 5 Swiss Francs (around £2.50 each), the furs are used in the manufacture of coats, jackets and blankets, are apparently reputed to help combat rheumatism.
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