|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
33rd World Vegetarian Congress
I've been enjoying the introductions, especially from people I've never heard of, so despite the fact that some of you already know me I thought I'd add mine.
I've been vegetarian for 23 and 1/2 years (including about the last 8 as a vegan) -- having become so at the age of 16 for ethical reasons supported by environmental reasons. Later after I met other vegetarians I became aware of and came to believe in the health reasons also.
Within a year of becoming vegetarian I learned of the Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA). (I live in a suburb of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.) Although I immediately joined TVA I was not impressed with the group which was run by an elderly person, had a poor quality newsletter, did little in the way of outreach and had a lot of members in their 50s and 60s. At the time, and for many years after, I was very busy organizing a national organic gardening and farming group -- now known as the Canadian Organic Growers(COG) -- so I had no time to get involved in TVA. However in 1983 -- a year before I stepped down as president of COG -- I decided to get involved and joined TVA's board of directors, intitially as recording secretary. Later I became vice president and for seven years served as president. Along with others I was instrumental in rebuilding and revitalizing TVA.
Today the Toronto Vegetarian Association is the largest locally-based vegetarian organization in North America with about 1700 members. We are well respected both locally and internationally for our bi-monthly newsletter, our well-stocked resource centre, our web site, our widely distributed factsheets, the advice and assistance we've provided to individuals and groups near and far, our local free Vegetarian Directory (25,000 to 35,000 copies distributed annually), and our much copied Annual Vegetarian Food Fair which is visited by over 10,000 people every year. Today I remain on the TVA board of directors as past president as well as Congress Co-ordinator of the 34th World Vegetarian Congress which we are hosting in July 2000.
In 1987 I was one of the people who helped found the Vegetarian Union of North America (VUNA). Two years later I was asked to stand for election as president, a position I still hold.
In addition to my rather heavy veggie committments I am an amateur naturalist and photographer, and regularly go on and lead canoe trips, hikes and cross-country ski outings. I put tofu on the table by working as a supply/substitute teacher in elementary/primary schools.
The 33rd World Veg. Congress will be the third I have attended. The others being in 1984 and 1996 (both in the US). I am somewhat of a veggie conference "junkie" having also attended many vegetarian conferences in the US as well as the above. These included the 1995 International Vegan Festival in San Diego. The only conference I've attended outside of North America was the 1991 European Vegetarian Union congress in Chester, England. I am looking forward to meeting all of you (and the others not on-line) in Chiang Mai.
Peter McQueen, Scarborough, Ontario, CANADA