Third Congress of the International
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
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
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."
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