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9th World Vegetarian Congress 1935

Daugaard, Denmark

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester), September 1935


A CHANGE of the place of meeting, from Switzerland to Denmark, threatened to interfere seriously with the success of the 9th International Vegetarian Congress, but, apart from the absence of a few delegates who could not get to Denmark, the change did not take away from the fulness of the programme, the importance of the deliberations, and the enjoyment of those taking part. There was a thoroughness about the work and play of the Congress that was due in no small measure to the part played by the officials responsible for the arrangements. Mr. Oluf Egerod, honorary treasurer of the International Vegetarian Union was a very popular leader, and he was ably supported by Mr. J. C. van Borrendam, president, and Mr. Hans E. Feix, honorary secretary. Mr. Jens D. Henriksen, who acted as secretary at Daugaard, did a great deal of effective work for the enjoyment of the 200 visitors in residence at the School.

The Congress was held at Vejlefjord High School, Daugaard, delightfully situated in its own extensive grounds overlooking the Vejlefjord. The School is owned by the Seventh Day Adventists and is conducted at all times on strictly vegetarian lines. Mr. H. M. Johnson, B.A., the headmaster, took an active part in the Congress and did everything possible for the comfort of his guests. A very pleasing feature of the Congress was the singing of a choir of pupils of the School under the leadership of Miss M. C. Henriksen. Miss Henriksen and Mr. J. D. Henriksen are daughter and son of the president of the Danish Society, and are life vegetarians.

There were representatives from twelve national societies taking part in the Congress, and although there were occasional squalls when individual speakers could not be heard above the babel of contending tongues, we were soon back in peaceful waters and once again sailing smoothly along. The success of the controversial side of the Congress was due mainly to the patience and tact of the president.

The British societies' delegates were Dr. Constance Hurren (London photo right), Mr. S. A. Hurren (hon. treasurer of the London Vegetarian Society), Mr. James Hough (secretary of The Vegetarian Society) and Dr. Leslie Presswood (Sheffield).

The British societies were represented by a party of 24, the largest number of vegetarians from this country to attend an International Congress abroad. The credit for this lay entirely with Dr. Constance Curren who worked assiduously in the brief time available to ensure that Great Britain should be adequately represented.

At the opening meeting of the Congress, held on Sunday afternoon, July 28th, Mr. OLUF EGEROD introduced newcomers to Denmark by a greatly appreciated lantern lecture, dealing briefly with the history of what he justly claimed was a peaceful, democratic, liberty-loving country. "No other country," Mr. Egerod said, "in the whole world possessed such liberal legislation for national minorities. A few thousands of Germans living north of the frontier enjoyed full equality with the great majority of Danes among whom they are living."

The next item in the programme might be termed an effective foot-note to the lecture. Members of the Vejle branch of the Danish Association for National Dancing, dressed in Danish costumes, gave a thoroughly enjoyable programme of folk dances, several of the dances being enthusiastically encored.

The official opening, on the Sunday evening, was preceded by the hoisting to the school flagstaff of a flag hearing in bold outline the letters I.V.U. This was followed by the singing of "The Flag Song", in Danish, in German, and in English, and an Address of Welcome by Mr. C. J. van DORRENDAM, president of the Union.

At the evening festival over 200 Congress members and guests were comfortably seated at three tables arranged from end to end of the Lecture Hall. Mr. H. L. HENRIKSEN, the president of the Danish Vegetarian Society, and Mr. Dorrendam, extended a cordial welcome to the guests and to the members and delegates present. Mr. Henriksen, speaking in English, said that as president of the Danish Vegetarian Society, it was a great privilege to him to give the delegates and friends a very hearty welcome. Danish vegetarians were very glad that so many representatives had come to Denmark, a little country in comparison with the majority of the countries represented a country, however, widely known on account of its civilization and charming, peaceful scenery. Denmark, however, was inhabited by a population that was far from living ideally or healthily. Hospitals and infirmaries were flourishing in a land where the climate and fertility should bring the people nearer to a paradisical state of health than was possible in most other countries. He looked forward to the Congress giving new encouragement to those who worked for a revision of the mode of living of the people - "Therefore, Welcome to Denmark."

Delegates from each national society replied to the welcome, Mr. JAMES HOUGH and Mr. S. A. HURREN responding on behalf of the British Societies.

The meeting was honoured by the presence of the Burgomasters of Vejle and Daugaard, who joined in a cordial civic welcome to all taking part in the Congress.

Each day began with physical drill under the direction of Miss PHYLLIS HAIGH, of Leicester, and Mr. M. STOCKHOLM, of Ragebol, Denmark.

A thoroughly enjoyed new feature, introduced at this Congress, was the evening assembly at which the peoples from the various countries joined in singing their national songs. The singing of the English, led by Dr. LESLIE PRESSWOOD, of Sheffield, was received with long continued applause. Naturally, the singing of the Germans, joined in by at least half the company, and occasionally - as in Brahm's "Slumber Song," - by the whole company, was most effective.

It was interesting to find that not less than one-third of the members of the Congress spoke a little English, and many spoke it fluently. Our English delegates, Dr. CONSTANCE HURREN and Dr. LESLIE PRESSWOOD, took their part as interpreters, the former following Dr. Nussbaum's lecture with a translation into English greatly appreciated by the audience.

The Ethics of Vegetarianism.
At the Monday morning session, Mr. M. SCHNITZER (Czecho-Slovakia), speaking on the subject of "The Ethical Worth of Vegetarianism," said he was a vegetarian for moral reasons and held that man should be guided in his choice by his conscience and by the senses of sight, smell, hearing and taste. Our senses, had, however, been wrongly used for hundreds of years and the brain's keenness of reception spoiled. If man followed the guidance of his senses and his conscience he would abstain from flesh-food, from alcoholic liquors and from tobacco. In the present day we have in "jazz" music an additional offence to the sense of hearing.

Mr. Schnitzer had been led to the practice of vegetarianism by the revolting sight of an animal being slaughtered in the open air. One fine morning he saw a young cow bound to a linden tree in flower. The butcher came on the fair scene, stunned the animal with a blow of his pole-axe and then cut its throat. How different the effect on the senses from that of viewing an orchard ripe with fruit

That the eating of flesh-foods was wrong was shewn by the fact that man could not eat them without the addition of condiments. Natural, unspoiled foods needed no such aid.

Charged with illegally practising as a physician, Mr. Schnitzer had been forced to appear before a judge, but he won the day and his influence as a teacher of natural methods of healing had grown rapidly from that time. He was sure that vegetarianism must succeed because it was built upon man's love for all creatures. Man was not made for this life only, and the best preparation for the life to come was to live a pure life here and now.

Vegetarianism and Health.
Dr. JEAN NUSSBAUM (France), took for his subject "Life and Health," and opened by saying:- A vegetarian to be truly healthy must have, not only a well nourished body, but also a well developed mind and soul. If man thought only of his body he committed a grave error. A boxer thought only of his muscles, a nun of her soul, and many teachers only of their intelligence. We must develop all three.

A visit to the Antwerp Zoological Gardens had led him to study the anatomy and physiology of animals, and he found that animals like the lion, the tiger and the panther had short intestines. With the carnivora, food remained only a short time in the intestines, an excellent arrangement for the meat-eater, for if the food remained longer it would putrefy. The intestines of man were, relatively, much longer than those of the carnivora, and the food, therefore, remained for a much longer time in the body. For that reason it was wise to select foods that did not putrefy quickly. The carnivorous animals that lived longest were those which retained the food the least time in the intestines, and those which ate coarse foods.

There was no animal equal to the camel. He was always at work but never tired - he was a vegetarian ! The horse was fleeter than any other animal - he was a vegetarian ! The elephant was the strongest of all animals - he was also a good-tempered animal - he was a vegetarian! You could play with an elephant, but not with a lion.

Dr. Nussbaum, in conclusion, said that for the attainment and maintenance of good health it was necessary to take into consideration the alimentary system and the food eaten.

He spoke of the necessity for a wisely selected, properly balanced diet, and condemned those foods which had been robbed of their nutritive elements in the processes of manufacture. In spite of modern scientific knowledge there was more illness than fifty years ago and this was due mainly to perverted dietetic habits. The future was with the vegetarian and we must continue to aim at making vegetarianism a world-wide movement.

Vegetarianism and Education.
Monday's sessions closed with a lecture by Dr. GUSTAV HECKMANN, headmaster of a vegetarian boarding school at Ostrupgaard, in the Isle of Fyn. The school was originally in Germany, but the premises were closed by the Nazi Government, who took over the building and the school funds. The Danish Board of Education was favourable to the aims of the governors of the school, which are international in character and seek to develop each child physically, mentally and morally.

Dr. Heckmann, said the school's curriculum was based upon progressive educational ideas, and vegetarianism was an essential part. His testimony was based upon twelve years' experience, ten years in Germany and two years in Denmark. He had found that children (and adults at the school, who worked strenuously) got on excellently on a very simple vegetarian diet. There was no need to show that it was possible to live a healthy life on an expensive vegetarian diet - that was accepted by all what he wished to prove was that it was also possible to maintain health and vitality on a very low figure. The actual cost of food per person did not exceed 10/- per month. It was, of course, necessary to keep in mind that prices for food in Denmark, and especially for the most important food, were exceptionally low. Also, that their vegetables were grown in the school gardens.

With regard to health, during the twelve years there was not one case of serious illness. Dr. Hindhede had visited the school, and the success of feeding on a simple, inexpensive vegetarian diet, was mainly due to his advice. It was not any ascetic inclination that led them to adopt a simple way of living, but the desire to make it possible for children whose parents could not afford to pay the usual fees for the higher education of their children.

Dr. Heckmann said that the children being placed in an environment of which vegetarianism was a part, accepted it without question, just as they accepted the ordinary activities of their daily life. In addition, they had the examples of their teachers, all of whom based their vegetarian practice on the conviction that it was wrong to kill animals for food. The children accepted, without criticism, this conviction, which for their teachers was fundamental. One aim of their educational work was to develop character and to give the children strength to act according to their convictions to make them able to hold their ground against all attacks on their habits and judgments.

Dr. Hindhede's Practical Work.
At Tuesday's opening session a very cordial welcome was given to Dr. MIKKEL HINDHEDE (Denmark), who took for his subject "Results of my Practical Work."

He said his principal problem was to examine separately the effects of our main articles of diet. This could only he done by living exclusively for a considerable length of time on the particular diet in question, thus eliminating all effects that might he due to other causes. Madsen, for instance, lived for 309 days on potatoes and vegetable margarine. His good health and vigour maintained throughout that period conclusively proved the food value of the potato. Other tests were based on diets of coarse wheaten bread, rye bread, barley groat and oat groat. By a converse method, the value of vegetable margarine was proved by the fact that an exclusively cereal and margarine diet was satisfactory, whereas the elimination of margarine was followed by illness within thirty days.

Coarse wheaten bread had been found exceptionally satisfactory and Madsen declared that he was never so well as when living exclusively on it. The value of coarse food, which was the usual quality of the food of primitive man, was thus vindicated. Coarse food exercised and strengthened the teeth and the intestines. It did not wound the stomach nor give rise to cancer. By bringing about rapid evacuation it removed materials left by the metabolic processes, which with fine foods tend to remain in the intestines and to be reabsorbed. With food containing animal albumen this danger was increased through putrefaction causing irregular evacuation and headaches, evils unknown to people living on coarse foods.

He had proved conclusively that, contrary to the doctrine of the Rübner school, man could easily digest the husks of corn on which coarse food was based. Moreover, bran contained valuable albumen. When the whole grain was taken, and not merely the kernel, it was found that the alleged superiority of meat, eggs and milk over corn was a fable. Madsen felt wonderfully well on coarse bread but rapidly felt ill when living on white, an experiment which he himself had confirmed. The increasing preponderance of white bread food was probably responsible for the present degeneration among young people.

A test of the value of meat by a similar exclusive-diet method could only be endured by the experimenters for three days.

Dr. Hindhede said that for a general diet he did not recommend the exclusive use of coarse bread. Plenty of garden products were essential. Vegetable soup containing plenty of potatoes, carrots and onions, along with plenty of coarse bread, was the best diet he knew. Two men had lived exclusively on it for twenty-three months.

These results had important social implications. Every man should he enabled to grow corn and vegetables, and thus become self-supporting. It is not true, as is still held by some vegetarians, that "good protein" (eggs, cheese, etc.) was necessary for athletes, though those forms of food were probably more convenient. He recommended the athlete to eat coarse bread, tomatoes and butter.

A large-scale experiment which vindicated the value of coarse food was carried out in Denmark, in 1917 18, when the population lived almost entirely on "food for swine" - bread made of bran and barley porridge. The result was a state of health which had never been seen, before or since, in any European country. It was incomprehensible that neither the populace nor the physicians had learnt anything from that experiment. Dietetic reforms were still bitterly opposed. To achieve them we must begin by convincing the people, for the doctors would give the people what they demanded.

Dr. Hindhede concluded by saying that vegetarians damaged their cause when they preferred theory to fact, and alienated the medical profession by rejecting all medicines, serums and vaccinations. Only by keeping on a firm basis of fact could sound views prevail.

Vegetarianism and the Bible.
Mr. SIMON KUPCIK (Czecho-Slovakia) in opening his lecture on "Vegetarianism and the Bible," quoted President Masaryk as saying that the future belonged to those who followed the highest ideal of life and way of living. Mr. Kupcik said that vegetarians were the privileged to play a leading part in bringing about the establishment and of the Kingdom of God upon earth, and vegetarians in CzechoSlovakia were trying to make this ideal come true in their own country.

Vegetarians would find in the Bible every support for their abstinence from flesh-foods.Vegetarianism was part of God's world plan, as set forth in the Epistle to the Romans, chapter viii, verses 19 to 22:

"For the earnest expectations of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travail in pain together until now."

In the first chapter of Genesis we were told that God said

"Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed to yon it shall be for meat."

At that time everything "was very good," but man had fallen from his innocent state and we lived in evil days. Yet, we had the great promise in the book of Isaiah that

"The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid ; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together ; and a little child shall lead them."

History showed us that luxurious living inevitably led to national decay. We were warned:

"Be not among wine bibbers, among riotous eaters of flesh."

Jesus said:

"For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking and knew not until the flood came and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.

Therefore take heed to yourselves, lest at ainy time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and that day come upon you unawares."

In conclusion, Mr. Kupcik said that vegetarianism, teetotalism and pacifism were linked together and their universal practice was essential before we could have the establishment of the Kingdom of God upon earth.

There was a break in the business operations of the Congress, on the Tuesday afternoon, when the guests were taken, in a steamer reserved for their use, for an excursion along the fjord, calls being made at two special points of interest. Before starting, the hoisting of the I.V.U. flag on the steamer was greeted with cheers.

The whole of Thursday was set apart for an excursion to Silkeborg and Himmelbjerget (Heaven-Mountain), some of the most charming and characteristic scenery of "Immense woods surround Silkehorg on all sides, broken by a long chain of more than fifteen miles of clear, glittering lakes."

Business Meeting.
The re-election of the chief officers of the I.V.U. was far from being a mere formality. Delegates realized the splendid work done by Mr. Egerod and Mr. Feix in the face of unusual difficulties. Felicitous reference was made to their organizing and executive ability, not merely in connection with the present Congress but in the prolonged exhaustive work of carrying on an international organization from which two of its important societies had seceded.

Mr. JOHN L. SAXON, the "grand old man" of our Movement, presented Mr. Egerod and Mr. Feix with the silver medallion for meritorious service, awarded by the Swedish Vegetarian Society only to workers of national and outstanding importance.

Mr. C. J. van Borrendam (Holland) was re-elected president, Mr. Oluf Egerod (Denmark) honorary treasurer, and Mr. Hans E. Feix (Czecho-Slovakia) honorary secretary.

The foregoing officials, together with Mr. Frank Wyatt (England) were re-elected on the special Committee to act whenever there was important business to be dealt with.

Mr. John L. Saxon (Sweden) was elected President emeritus for life at the I.V.U. Congress held at Stockholm in 1923.

At the close of the Congress, Mr. S. A. Hurren, speaking on behalf of the British delegates, expressed their great appreciation of the arrangements made and the hospitality shewn. He said it had been a wonderful experience to mingle freely and happily with the representatives of a dozen different nationalities, linked by a common ideal - the avoidance of cruelty in any form whatsoever, whether to animals or men.

Scenes from the Congress, the captions read:
S.A.Hurren - H.L.Henriksen - Jas. Hough
The Veglefjorg High School and Surroundings - Group of English Representatives
Dr.M.Hindhede - Danish Folk Dancing - O.Egerod, J.L.Saxon, H.E.Feix, C.J.van Borrendam - M.Schnitzer

If you can help with any further information about the 1908 Congress, please contact John Davis