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

[Claude Pasquini]
Claude Pasquini at the Johnstown WVC, 1996
Before everyone gets on the plane to head off to Thailand, I rapidly slip on-line the highlights of my vegetarian/vegan personal development.

1974 and all the years before:
Those were the Dark Ages when I lived in total bliss and ignorance of all things vegetarian and vegan.

Spring of 1975
My Puerto Rican student friend outed herself as a vegetarian on the evidence that had fallen out of the pocket of her raincoat: a yellow badge on which it said in black letters: "Love animals, don't eat them". This was my first conscious exposure to a real life vegetarian and a beautiful and noble one, at that. It took place in the vicinity of my student dormitory on the campus of the University of Massachussetts at Amherst. Whenever I return to the U.S. I can't but go on a pilgrimage to good ole UMASS campus and to that historic site where nostalgia induces me to reflect on the hazards of encounters and their lifelong impact on the emulsive sheet of one's mind.

Spring of 1978:
Another "first": eating out in a whole food, vegetarian restaurant in East Lansing, Michigan. The tasty, colourful, fresh and healthy dishes served with lovely coed-smiles dissolved my usual gravity, giving way to the levity of thought- and joyful eating: a new experience for a student used to eating for eating's sake.

Autumn of 1984:
This is the year when I could have left "The Vegetarian Alternative" by Victor Sussman on the shelf of a bookstore, but didn't. I even paid for it, took it home and devoured it almost at a draught. It still bears the marks of my heated zeal. I'm not into collecting antique stuff, but this one I'll keep until death shall part us.

October, 1991:
The growing need to pass on my knowledge on vegetarian issues to a larger audience made me write a general introduction to vegetarianism. It was published as a supplement of 8 pages to my home-country's only high-quality weekly. It did not trigger off social upheavel but generated a sudden demand for lectures on the topic, a demand which I had to satisfy since I had caused the damage in the first place.

Spring of 1992:
There is a time for everything, a time for dreaming and a time for dreams to come true... A farm-house, three hundred years of age, nestled amidst the lavender fields of the Alps of Haute-Provence, was just that sort of a dream coming true. Patricia, Mike and I started Vitaverde, an association for the promotion of soft tourism, environmental education and vegetarianism/veganism. I became its president and we lived happily thereafter.

August, 1994:
Still a vegetarian loner, I attended my first World Vegetarian Congress in The Hague. From across the English Channel news had reached me that vegetarianism is great but not all there is to life, that there is something far nobler.... veganism. The name associated, in my mind, with this vision: Alex Bourke or something like that. At the conference I opted for vegan food and ever since I have stuck to it. This clearly shows how important a world congress can be. And as to Alex: his unwavering fulltime commitment to the cause and his London flat choke-full with campaigning material, manuscripts and books he authored and co-authored remind me ever and again that I still don't do enough to serve the vegan movement.

July, 1995
I registered for the European Vegetarian Congress in Bratislava as a vegan. Excerpt from a decisive and prosaic lunch-time dialogue between the vegan from Luxembourg and Sigrid de Leo, the present-day general secretary of the EVU.
The vegan from Luxembourg: "It is a shame that my country still doesn't have a vegetarian or vegan society."
Sigrid: "Yes!"
The vegan from Luxembourg: "I think sometimes that I should start one."
Sigrid: "Don't think about it! Go home and do it!"
When Sigrid says something, there are no two ways about it. I returned home and started one.

January, 1996
The Vegabond, the national vegetarian/vegan association of Luxembourg took shape and almost immediately joined EVU, IVU and V.I. (Vegans International). Up to this day I'm still its president and the country coordinator for V.I.

The Vegabond also welcomes crudivores, frugivores and those holy men and women who live on light, although none of the latter has applied for membership yet.

July/August, 1996
I was a thoroughly present at the North American Vegetarian Summerfest and World Vegetarian Congress, both taking place at the same time and the same location in Johnstown, PA. It meant happiness, sheer happiness...

August, 1998
General Meeting of the EVU, Bad Honnef, Germany. Together with Sandra from Italy and Hans from the Netherlands I got elected to the board of the EVU. There we are, young, beautiful, tough, unspoilt, vigorous and ready to serve the cause.

So much for my vegetarian/vegan curriculum vitae. I, of course, also indulged in other, albeit non-vegetarian/vegan and hence marginal activities such as, for example, being born, growing up, collecting academic degrees, making love, crisscrossing the world, hiking all across France, writing a book on Crete, climbing to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro without really knowing why, founding, owning and running an ecological consulting firm and leisurely withdrawing from the world's worries into the lavender fields of the Haute-Provence of all places.....

We'll meat, oops, we'll meet in Thailand!

Claude Pasquini