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3rd World Vegetarian Congress 1910

Brussels, Belgium

The following Post-Congress Reports are from the Vegetarian Messenger, (the monthly magazine of the Vegetarian Society of Great Britain, based in Manchester, England) :

July

Third Congress of the International Vegetarian Union.

Here we are, just returned from Brussels, where International Vegetarian Union closed its third Congress on June 12th.

The Congress met from June 10th to 12th, under the patronage of the Belgian Government, in the Palais des Fêtes of the Exhibition, where all the Conferences were held and the papers read.

On Thursday evening, the Belgian Committee welcomed the Congressists in the Lecture Hall of the ancient Maisons des Medecins in the Grand Place. This quaint building belongs to the Society of Physicians, and by their courtesy, the Vegetarian Society of Brussels regularly holds its meetings there. Dr. Ernest Nyssens, the president of the Executive Committee and Editor of La Rèforme Alimentaire, opened the meeting with a few hearty words of welcome, after which, the guests dispersed over the building. An opportunity was afforded for conversation, introductions, a little music and some refreshments were daintily handed round by three or four little children, who very skilfully dodged their trays, laden with confectionery, etc., amongst the crowded guests. The serious work of the Congress was divided into four sections. Over each of these presided some member specially interested in that aspect of vegetarianism, and other authorities offered papers under the several heads.

1. Vegetarianism and Hygiene, under the presidency of Prof. J. Lefèvre, who occupies the chair of Biology at Havre.
2. Therapeutic Vegetarianism under the presidency of Dr. Pascault of Cannes.
3. Economic and social aspects of vegetarianism under the presidency of Dr. Danjou, of Nice.
4. Moral aspect of Vegetarianism under the presidency of Mdlle. I. Ioteyko, head of the Laboratory at the University.

The whole of these were tinder the general direction of the Honorary President: Dr. Huchard, member of the Académic de Médecine, who gave the inaugural address on Friday morning, after which, the delegates from the various countries were asked to give their reports. All of these were spoken or read in French. The Belgians are fortunate in having a language which is spoken by so many members of other nations.

The two delegates from Manchester, representing the Vegetarian Society, were Dr. Wm. E.A. Axon and Miss Hompes. Dr. Axon gave a few words of greeting in true hearty English, and then Miss Hompes read a fairly full report - substantial Dr. Nyssens called it - of the organisation and work of our Society, showing our various modes of propaganda and the success which has attended our publications, gatherings, MESSENGER, restaurants, and feeding of the poor in times of distress, Miss Nicholson's work among the school child-ren of London, the Summer Schools, etc.. Dr. Axon also read a short paper in French on "Vegetarianism and the Intellectual Life" at a later date in the Congress. All our efforts were fully appreciated. It is probable that Miss Hompes report may be printed later.

Dr. Sells, the President of the German Vegetarian Union, and Editor of the Vegetarische Warte, spoke of the movement in his own country. Vegetarianism is going ahead in Germany but he regretted that not many doctors had as yet come over. In this respect France and Belgium, with upwards of 100 medical men on their members' lists, lead the way.

Dr. Danjou spoke for Catalonia, whose Society he had the honour of founding. This Society includes among its members 40 doctors.

The Spanish President, Dr. Falp, sent a deputy, who spoke in high terms of the sobriety and general frugality of the Spanish working class. In such a country, vegetarianism should stand a chance of making its way. Or are all so near to being vegetarians already, that they see no need for conversion?

The President of the French Society, Dr. Jules Grand, was unable to attend, but sent a Paper, which was read by the secretary of the French Society, M. Morand. It struck a very high note against the cruelty of slaughter and sport and hunting. Those who have read Dr. Grand's contributions to the vegetarian journals, know his standpoint.

Mme. Drakoules, who, along with her husband, have done so much for the spread of our cause in Greece and elsewhere, spoke for Greece. This Society has only been in existence four years, and rests chiefly on hygiene.

Dr. Meyroos, Secretary, represented Holland. His greeting was spoken in Dutch - clearly a Dutchman must salute in his own language, or his heart would not go out the same - then he gave his report in French. He said they prospered in Holland and learnt by experience. In the Hague there has been, for 10 years, a good vegetarian restaurant and hotel which is now going to be enlarged, and he asked for support, - "moral in the first place - financial also."

Russia sent its learned President, Prof. Woeïkov of the University of St. Petersburg, who gave a long and interesting address. I am sure our English friends will take him to their hearts, when I say that he reminded Dr. Axon, myself, and some others, of our beloved President, Prof. Mayor. Dr. Woeïkov alluded to Count Tolstoy.

Mme. Lombard spoke of the work in Sweden and specially alluded to the very handsome gift made by Captain Jedda, which is being applied to found scholarships for students, to run from three to four years for the study of vegetarianism. Captain Jedda wanted to found a Chair, but the University would not consent to this.

Friday, Saturday, and part of Sunday were given to the reading of the Papers in the different sections. They were long and learned, and it would be impossible to enter into them in a report of this scope. They will be published in book form by the Congress Committee, and copies can be ordered from Dr. Ernest Nyssens, 60, Rue des Drapiers, Brussels. I believe the price is 5 francs. But I should advise any who desire to have copies to order early as I understood that the cheap rate would not be kept open long. Several of the lectures dealt with the hygienic basis of vegetarianism in various sub-divisions ; one on the education of children ; one on fasting ; one on the proportion of albumin required in our food, by the Professor of Physiology at Paris, Dr. Marcel Labbé. Dr. Ioteyko attracted a large audience, among whom many ladies, for her report in the large Lecture Hall of the Palais, on the information she had drawn from parents of various countries respecting the health, intelligence, etc., of children brought up on vegetarian food. There were some vegetarian children on the platform, and photographs of others were handed round.

There were also some pleasant social functions in connection with the Congress. On Friday morning the Congressists were invited to breakfast at the Vegetarian Society's Restaurant in the Exhibition Grounds, which was well attended, and gave an opportunity for social intercourse. On Saturday evening, a banquet was served in the Restaurant, of which some 120 Congressists availed themselves. M. Roux, a distinguished barrister of Amiens, spoke a few words.

We were also invited to a high-class concert, given at the house of Mme. Emma Beauck, a teacher of singing. Mme. Beauck and her husband are both vegetarians. The latter is a painter, and I am told that his pictures have exhibited an entire change of attitude since he has embraced our cause. The programme was of a very high order, and the executants most of whom are vegetarians also, acquitted themselves in a style which one hardly looks for off a public platform. Dr. Meyroos sang some National and other songs in Dutch, but a French version of the words were given on the programme.

It was decided to hold the next International Congress at the Hague on the occasion of the opening of the "Peace Hall" in 1913. This is surely a very appropriate conjunction. Several photographs of the Manchester group and of the Congressists were taken before our company broke up.

A very good and appreciative notice of the proceedings of the Congress is embodied in the leading article of the Messager de Belge (June 14th) which our friend, Dr. Nyssens, has kindly sent to me. The writer has clearly been impressed by the papers read, and makes special refererence to Dr. Huchard's eloquent address. "What I have heard " (he concludes) "has made me reflect on the crimes which we daily commit against ourselves at meals. For we are out own assassins, or, if you prefer, we poison ourselves. Let us join the fight against our inordinate appetites."

M. Hompes

September

Brussels restaurant ... The Restaurant is doing much good; for some time it has been visited by about 700 people daily....

La Reforme Alimentaire for September 15th, contains the address given by Prof. J. Lefévre at the Brussels Congress, where he had charge of the section of Physiology. He stated that vegetarianism had entered the ranks of Science, and therein lay its force and its future. He alluded to the valuable experiments conducted by Prof. Atwater and others, and asked for experimenters to use the utmost care and judgement, and not lay down all anything of which they did not feel absolutely convinced. And even then there always remained the "scientific doubt," the open mind which would yeild its convictions on higher proof being forthcoming. That was indeed wisdom itself.