|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
33rd World Vegetarian Congress
| Welcome Statements|
From the Pre-Congress Press Conference
From the Deputy President:
As Deputy President of IVU, I welcome the opportunity to hold a world vegetarian congress in Thailand and am sure the congress will be a great success.
The congress will be the first IVU will have held East of India. Thailand's history of Buddism and a favourable approach to vegetarianism are well known and appreciated. My wife and I have been most impressed by the kindness, welcome and friendly approach of Thai people when we have been in your country in the past.
The congress programme promises to be an excellent one and one that will be readily appreciated by people from all parts of the world. We hope it will lead to a greater understanding of the vegetarian message and a rapid move towards a vegetarian diet among the Thai people.
GENERAL SECRETARY'S WELCOME MESSAGE:
In an increasingly violent and materialistic world where so many people squander their energy in pursuit of personal ambition and material gain, to the detriment not only of the planet but of their own moral dignity, it is a pleasure and a privilege to welcome to the 33rd World Vegetarian Congress people from every continent of the world whose lives are committed to redressing the balance between greed and compassion, rich and poor, human and non-human.
It is especially appropriate that this congress should take place in Thailand, a country whose beauty and hospitality are legendary and where spirituality and compassion have traditionally been upheld in preference to the shallow pursuit of wealth and status. It is also appropriate that Thailand should be the venue for the international launch of the Worldwide Millennium Pledge for a vegetarian world in which all living beings are accorded respect and the right to life.
These qualities must also guide and motivate the new Asian Vegetarian Union, to be launched during the congress in Chiang Mai, bringing together vegetarian societies and kindred groups from all over Asia to spread the vegetarian message throughout a continent where interest in the vegetarian lifestyle is growing day by day and where understanding of the relationship between animal exploitation and human starvation is essential to safeguard the forests and other vital resources and to protect the rich variety of human and non-human life for which this planet provides a home.
The lush country and glorious scenery of Lanna Thai will be a perfect backdrop for a happy and productive gathering at which individuals and families come together from every corner of the earth to have fun, to enjoy the wonders of this amazing country and to promote a better lifestyle than the all too prevalent flesh-eating culture in which millions of living beings are exploited for their flesh, their skins and other unnecessary products while children starve to death alongside fields of grain destined for the miserable victims of western factory farming.
A huge range of culinary wonders will be provided without the use of any animal products whatever and a wide variety of activities will be offered, ranging from international panels and workshops on the humanitarian, ecological and medical benefits of the vegetarian lifestyle to alternative therapies, cookery and fruit carving, meditation and yoga, excursions to temples and villages and visits to sanctuaries where dedicated individuals strive to care for rescued animals, from monkeys and bears to majestic elephants, and to encourage people to treat them with the respect to which they are entitled.
As the parent organisation uniting the vegetarian societies of the world since 1908, the International Vegetarian Union is proud to welcome so many dedicated and talented people to Chiang Mai and to witness the birth of a new regional body for this important area of the globe. I am sure that everyone will have a wonderful time and make new friends from many different cultures and walks of life. I thank our friends in Thailand and throughout the world whose enthusiasm and commitment have made this event possible.
Text of Millennium Pledge:
HISTORIC DECLARATION FOR A COMPASSIONATE WORLD IN THE 21st CENTURY
On 4th January 1999 in Chiang Mai Thailand, at the innauguration of the 33rd World Vegetarian Congress, a statement of intent - a mission statement of historic importance - will be made to delegates brought together by the International Vegetarian Union from every continent on Earth. The statement sets a goal for the human race to create a world which is compassionate, merciful and planet friendly. The declaration will inspire and motivate generations of people throughout the world in the coming century until the goal is achieved. The text is as follows.
THE WORLD-WIDE MILLENNIUM PLEDGE
We hereby pledge to bring about a 21st century in which the human race will finally make peace with the animal kingdom. Human beings will no longer kill, maim, torture or exploit fellow beings for food or other purposes. Animals will have fundamental rights which will be internationally recognised.
It is clear beyond any doubt that the survival of the human race depends upon the survival of the forests and other natural resources and of the animals with whom we share this planet. We pledge to protect all of them. We oppose the introduction of animal genes into human beings and the genetic manipulation of animals and plants.
The human race will reach the pinnacle of civilisation when it extends the hand of friendship and compassion to the animal kingdom and returns to the healthy plant-based diet best suited to the moral and physical needs of our species, thus avoiding the related evils of animal exploitation, human starvation and environmental destruction.
At the close of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, let us make a tryst with destiny to create a world free of violence towards all living beings who are dependent on our love and compassion. Together let us embark on that long journey which will bring about a world in which all animals are treated with compassion and mercy and accorded rights that human beings take for granted.