International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

1st IVU World Vegetarian Congress 1908

Dresden, Germany

From the Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester) October 1908:

The International Vegetarian Union

The Vegetarian Movement is sure to be helped and stimulated by the existence of the Union of Vegetarian Societies founded at Dresden, on August 18th. Though there was not a large attendance of delegates, all the national societies sent letters expressing friendliness with the proposals discussed by the Congress. The delegates who had sent word of the time of their arrival were hospitably welcomed by members of the Committee of the Dresden Vegetarian Society at the beautiful Dresden railway station and escorted to their lodging at the Pension of Frau. Dr. Thesmar. Dr. Selss, president of the German Vegetarian Bund; Dr. Meyroos, Rotterdam, secretary of the Netherlands Vegetarian Society; Mr. Luck, Berlin; Mr. J. A. Gill, Tunbridge Wells, representing the Friends' Vegetarian Society ; Mr. William Simpson, Mr. Hamilton Harris, and Mr. Albert Broadbent, representing the Vegetarian Society; all stayed with Frau. Dr. Thesmar, 9, Munchner Strass, Alstadt.

On the evening of the 17th August, at 8-30 p.m., in the Vereinhaus, the friends were welcomed by Herr Dressler, president of the Dresden Vegetarian Society. He said how much pleasure he had in welcoming the friends from the countries to their beautiful city, in the name of the Dresden Vegetarians; he hoped that their stay in Germany would prove enjoyable. The friends in Dresden were hopeful that the International Congress would not only be a stimulus to the vegetarian movement in Germany, but also still further strengthen the bond of peace which united vegetarians in all lands.

Dr. Selss, Dr. Meyroos, and Mr. William Simpson made a suitable response to Herr Dressler's welcome, and the gathering was entertained by delightfully rendered music contributed by Miss Cowper and Mr. Hamilton Harriss, vocalists; Mr. Albert Thesmar, pianist, and Herr Lange, violinist. Fraulein M. Claussen read from a vegetarian author, and Herr Schwenk, artist, recited a beautiful poem. There were intervals for chat and social intercourse, and the pleasant meeting broke up at a late hour.

The Congress proper began next day, the 18th August, when the delegates met at 11 o'clock, in the Vereinhaus, Dr. Selss presiding. After he had spoken a few words of welcome, the President read the names of the Societies, which while in fullest sympathy with the formation of an International Vegetarian Union, had been unable to send delegates. The American, Barcelona, Belgian, Vienna, Danish, French, Norwegian, London, Russian, Scottish and Swedish, Vegetarian Societies all sent letters and telgrams of greeting and good wishes. The treasurer of the Vegetarian Society, Physical Regeneration Society, the Order of the Cross, and Good Health League also sent good wishes.

Mr. Albert Broadbent, who on behalf of the Vegetarian Society, had called together the Congress, then explained the proposal to found an International Vegetarian Union had emanated from Dr. Danjou, vice-president of the French Vegetarian Society, who was hopeful that the mutual exchange of counsel would and information as to methods of work would be found helpful, and also deepen the kindly feeling which already existed among vegetarians.

After a number of delegates had spoken and various suggestions had been made as to the name of the new organisation, and whether it should be called a Federation or a Union, it was finally unanimously agreed that "An International Vegetarian Union" be formed, and that for the present no financial call should be made upon any of the Societies forming the Union. Dr. Selss (Baden-Baden), Dr. Meyroos (Rotterdam), and Mr. Albert Broadbent (Manchester, England), were appointed to act as a Committee.

It was decided that the next Congress should be held in England, as the Centenary of the Bible Christian Church - out of which the Vegetarian movement grew - would be celebrated in 1909 at Manchester.

The delegates and friends adjourned at 1-30 o'clock and sat down to a well served dinner in the Vereinshaus. At 3 o'clock the Congress re-assembled, Dr. Selss again presiding. The business at the afternoon Congress consisted in receiving reports of the work being done by vegetarian societies in different countries. Dr. Selss reported that in Germany about 90 vegetarian societies had been formed ; and the cause had been furthered by walking contests, sport clubs, and the opening of vegetarian dining rooms in different towns, of which there are over 20 in Berlin alone.

Dr. Meyroos brought hearty greetings from vegetarians in Holland, and informed the Congress of the work the Netherlands Society had carried on for children. Although the Society was formed only 11 years ago they had progressed at a rapid rate, and their prospects for the future were very encouraging. In dealing with the subject "Why are we vegetarians?" Dr. Meyroos made an earnest plea on behalf of the moral claims of vegetarianism.

Herr Luck, of Berlin, emphasised the necessity for the new organisation as a means of bringing vegetarians of different countries together for mutual help in promoting their great cause. He hoped the International Congress of 1910 would be held in Berlin.

A good deal of interest was aroused by a description by Mr. Broadbent of the very practical work undertaken in Great Britain ; such as the work done in London by the London Vegetarian Association in providing cheap meals for school children, the lectures and cookery demonstrations; the success in inducing steamship companies and railways to cater for vegetarians; the publication of simple and easy recipes; the operations of the Vegetarian Society's Summer holidays; the establishment of restaurants at exhibitions, the Cookery lectures given under the Education Committees of Glasgow, Manchester and Salford.

Mr. William Simpson moved the following resolution, which was heartily agreed to :- "The International Congress now assembled in Dresden, send hearty greetings to Leo Tolstoy, for his 80th birthday; and express their admiration of his character and deep gratitude for his many labours in behalf of peace and the moral and religious improvement of mankind."

Herr Heinrich Otto, representative of the Karlsrube Vegetarian Sport Club, pointed out the importance of vegetarianism to the athlete in keeping the body pure and strong, and enabling a man to develop his physical, mental and moral potentialities.


Photo from Vegetarische Warte 1908, published by the Deutscher Vegetarier-Bund.
Albert Broadbent is the big man, left of centre with the white waistcoat, behind the table.
The man in front of him is probably Dr. Selss, with Mr. Meyroos also behind the table. Georg and Martha Förster are 3rd and 2nd from the right at the back.
click on the photo for a larger version

The Congress adjourned at 4.30 p.m. to be photographed, and re-assembled at 8-30 p.m. for the final meeting, which was well attended. Dr. Selss took the chair, and in opening the meeting said the German vegetarians would remember with pride that a Union, having for its object the uniting of vegetarians of all countries had been founded in Germany.

The musical part, which was contributed by friends who had entertained the congress on the previous evening, was interspersed with speeches, and considerable enthusiasm prevailed.


Mr. Albert Broadbent, with his vegetarian family, photographed in 1895 when he became Secretary of the Vegetarian Society. At Dresden he became a member of the first Committee of IVU.

The speakers included Dr. Selss, Dr. Meyroos, Herr Dressler - who expressed the hope that the movement would meet with great success in the future, Herr Lentze (Leipzig), Herr Otto, Mr. Broadbent, and Herr Schwenk, the artist, and a Norwegian vegetarian who conveyed the warmest greetings from vegetarians in Norway.

Mr. Albert Broadbent gave an address on Vegetarianism: its past, present, and future.

Dr. Selss expressed gratitude to the Dresden Vegetarian Society for their hearty reception, and especially to Herr Dressler (President), and Herr Förster (secretary), for their work in organising the Congress.

Mr. William Simpson heartily thanked the artists who had contributed to their pleasure and enjoyment, and on behalf of the Netherlands and England thanked the Dresden friends for all the kindness shown to the delegates; and expressed the hope that the International Vegetarian Union would meet with the success it richly deserved.

The proceedings terminated happily at midnight. On the next day the friends who could stay enjoyed a trip to Saxon Switzerland, and in the evening accepted the kind invitation of dinner of Herr Rothe, Second President of the German Vegetarian Society.

Hearty thanks are due to the Dresden press, especially to the Dresdner Anzeiger, for excellent lengthy reports of the two days meetings.