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Report on the European Vegetarian Congress held at Bussolengo, Italy
from EVU News, 1997

Jashu Shah and his wife
Jashu Shah and his wife

The Undersigned is not a member of the European Vegetarian Union. However there was a Council Meeting of the International Vegetarian Union along with the EVU Congress at Bussolengo, Italy and I decided to attend the Congress.

The registration charges etc. were sent by a bank draft drawn on the Bankers of the Italian Vegetarian Association (AVI). The amount was sent in March. I was informed at the end of August that my money had not reached them. I was at the loss as to what could have happened to the Bank draft. There was no proper follow up.

The European Vegetarian Union has a Congress in some part of Europe every alternate year. I had the occasion to attend the EVU Congress at Bratislava, Slovakia and I had the impression that the organisation of the EVU Congress 1995 was very well done.

I reached Verona coming from Brunnen, Switzerland at about 1.00pm and the train was late by half an hour. I was informed that there would have been some vehicle available for reaching the congress hotel. My wife, a friend and I waited for an hour in vain and ultimately hired a taxi to go to the hotel.

I attended the IVU Council Meeting from 3.00pm to 8.00pm on the 20th of September 1997 which was presided over by the IVU President Howard Lyman.

On the 21st of September in the morning there was the registration and afterwards there was the opening ceremony. Several names appeared on the folder as speakers and participants who should have attended the inauguration including the name of Dalai Lama. Nobody was there except Mr. Howard Lyman, President of the IVU, Mr. Maxwell Lee, Vice President of the IVU and Mr. Francisco Martin, General Secretary of the IVU.

At the inauguration someone on behalf of the Italian Vegetarian Association spoke by way of welcome and the opening was done by Mr. Francisco Martin with remarks about the conflict between two groups of Italians for holding the Congress and the venue of the congress between IVU and EVU.

The entire programme which was arranged and finalised never went on as finalised and published, but was totally disorganised. The people who were supposed to speak did not come and in replacement some other person spoke and that too in a disorganised manner.

The food and the Hotel arrangements were good and the waiters and the management treated and served the delegates very nicely.

There were hardly 150 delegates who attended the congress which may be taken as a poor response due to the conflict between the two Italian groups. It cannot be called a successful congress. If we have to call it something, it should be called ‘Francisco Martin Congress’. Throughout the lectures which were held, no Italian came forward and sat on the dias to conduct the meetings and lectures and what was most surprising was that the newly elected President of EVU Mr. Marcel Hebbelinck and other officials of the EVU left the Congress venue and did not attend any function of the Congress. There was no participant on the dias or anyone from the EVU side. Only from Germany Hildegund Scholvien, who has been appointed as the Treasurer of the EVU, attended the Congress throughout but she was not even asked to come to the dias to represent the EVU in any manner whatsoever.

It was a vegetarian congress but the food served was Vegan food. Vegan food may be good but there is a difference between Veganism and Vegetarianism. Those who want to eat Vegetarian food cannot be forced to eat only Vegan food. Attention was drawn to the said fact and after three days we were allowed to eat diary products along with Vegan food. But the food was predominantly vegan and not vegetarian. The organisation of the entire Congress and the Programme was very poor and if we start having differences in the congress the cause will suffer in the end. The selected Hotel was 8km from Lake Garda and 3km from Bussolengo Town. There was no bus available in the vicinity to reach the city or Lake Garda for sightseeing. There was not even a shop nearby if you really needed something urgently like a toothbrush or toothpaste from Bussolengo.

I repeat and state: it was not an EVU Congress, it was a ‘Francisco Martin Congress’.

Jashu Shah
IVU Regional Secretary for Far East and India
114-A Mittal Court, Nariman Point, Mumbai-400 021 India,
Tel: +91 225755/56, Fax. +91 22284 50 40