International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Congress Logo 33rd World Vegetarian Congress
Chiang Mai, Thailand, January 4 - 10, 1999
'Vegetarianism is the Way'
an unforgettable visual, cultural and gastronomic experience

Hello all,

I was born in the summer of '69 in Hamburg, Germany and lived in a town close to the city till the age of eight. My dad was an Indian from Malaysia and my mum German. Then my father "took" me to Malaysia where I lived for ten years. Upon turning 18 I returned to Germany where I did something like my "A-Levels" in electronics, and later an apprenticeship as a radio/tv-technician. (Never really had any ambitions to study electronics).

I broke off my apprenticeship and first worked full-time in a bar where I'd worked on weekends (spent almost all my money on night life as well) for a few months and later as a postman. After two months of delivering letters and small packages, I found a company where they gave me the chance to continue my apprenticeship where I'd broken off. So I completed it and worked as technician in that company for a few years.

After which I worked in the customer service department of an electronics warehouse on behalf of my company (they were sub- contractors) mainly taking care of customers who had problems with their PCs (it was always very simple stuff). But everything that was sold in the warehouse - from amplifiers to vacuum-cleaners - and wasn't working was brought to our department. I read quite a lot of user manuals during that time.

Sometimes there were families who'd complain about the fact that their tv set would be away for repairs for a few days and they asked me what they were supposed to do during that time (seriously). I never really answered just thinking to myself, "Hey, you're a family, why don't you play something together?" Anyway I wasn't really happy there so I quit the job to look for something new.

Three months later I got a job selling articles for outdoor and hydroponic gardeng (it lasted for only 9 months). Was sacked last December because I didn't agree with my boss on a number of points. He is among other thing convinced that rockwool and hydroponics are the best ways of gardening (I was supposed to tell that to the customers too) whereas I was more into organics.

Was jobless from January till November this year, prior to getting a job in a factory doing repairs on car radios (courtesy of the German Ministery of Employment and Manpower). But a week and a half I got pneumonia and now that job is gone as well (wasn't really what I wanted anyway).

So I decided to pack my things and go back to Malaysia again. (Will be flying there on the 13th of December) Wanting to look for information in English on veganism to take along, I found out about the congress and decided to attend, eager to get to know other vegetarians and to learn about promoting vegetarian lifestyle. Besides not having left Germany for the last four years when I was in Malaysia visiting relatives.

Whilst being jobless the first time I started questioning a number of things and became a lacto-vegetarian. Lacto because I still believed that it is necessary for humans to consume at least dairy products. I made the decision in the morning and changed my eating habits on the same day. A week before that I had enjoyed goose for the family christmas dinner.

Exactly one year later (somehow a coincidence) I decided to become vegan because I couldn't run away from the fact that someone else would end up eating the animals whose milk I consumed. On that morning I had made my tea with (cow's) milk and sugar as usual but I was in a conflict with myself about drinking it. I was listening to David Byrne and when I raised the mug to my mouth he sang "....I'll chop you up in little bits and feed you to my dogs.." (Thank you Mr. Byrne) Now I make my own soya milk.

Being the only vegan I knew(know) personally, I was compelled to either admit being a bit crazy - as my family and others around me were claiming - or to prove otherwise. So I started to look for information on veganism on the web, having absolutely no idea what awaited me. I was glad that I became a vegan before reading what I read. I printed out quite a lot of stuff and gave it to my family, but it had the effect of me having to move out. Some people just can't face facts.... . I'm not a member of any organisation and just copy or print out info-material that I collect and distribute it (not really much). I gave up trying to talk to people as it almost always ended up with arguments and the people closing themselves.

I still don't know what I'm going to do for a living in Malaysia. But I do know that no matter what I earn my money with I will promote vegetarianism and also want to learn about herbal medicine and traditional healing methods. I've got five aunts there scattered across the country so I don't have to worry about work immediately after getting there.

Well these are some bits and pieces of my life and me.

Looking forward to meeting you all in Chiang Mai.

Best wishes and warmest regards.
Andrew