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9th World Vegetarian Congress 1935

Daugaard, Denmark

From The Vegetarian News (London), September 1935:

Some Speeches at the Congress

Several of the speeches delivered at the Congress were of quite unusual interest. It was, surely, an excellent idea to include early in the programme a talk on the history, both social and political, of the country in which so many of the delegates were visitors for the first time, and none could be so well equiped for this duty as MR. OLUF EGEROD himself, chief organiser of the Congress as already described, whose ability to express himself in several different languages, coupled with his experience as an Inspector of Schools, singled him out for the purpose. The conclusion of Mr. Egerod's paper was as follows:

"If I were to name only two things of which we may justly feel proud, I think they would be our social legislation and our solution of the minority problem presented by the German element in North Schleswig. Through a well-arranged system of insurance practically everyone in this country is protected against poverty. Children widows, invalids, old people, unemployed, etc., are protected by law against accidents and ill-treatment. No other country in the whole world possesses such liberal legislation for national minorities. The few thousands of Germans living north of the frontier enjoy full equality with the great majority of Danes among whom they are living and there is no restriction as to language, religion, or other thought. Where necessary, the schools have been divided into two parts, one Danish and one German, and with a German matriculation from North Schleswig you may enter our University with the same rights as a Danish student. If in a parish there are only ten children speaking German the parents can get State support to start a German private school. We have intended to show that two cultures can thrive peacefully side by side in a borderland. Time will show whether the borderers have been sufficiently advanced to meet this grand offer.

"We are proud of our little country; we do not wish to say that circumstances could not be better. We shall be grateful from you, for I am sure you will have much to help us, and perhaps in the lectures you may also learn a little from us. Our leading idea is that we wish to go forward in civilisation to steady improvement for the people and with the people. We bid you welcome as visitors to our small but peaceful, democratic liberty-loving country."

The following words, spoken in English, were part of an address of welcome offered to over two hundred guests and delegates (among whom were twenty-three from Great Britain) on the Sunday evening by MR. H. L. HENRIKSEN, President of the Danish Vegetarian Society: "As President of the Danish Vegetarian Society it is a great honour to me to offer our vegetarian delegates and friends from many countries a very hearty welcome. We are glad that you have come to Denmark, a little country as compared with most of the countries that are represented here, a country known both for its high standards of civilisation and for its beautiful and peaceful scenery such as we now shall enjoy here at Vejlefjord High School. But I would have you know that our country is inhabited by a population which is still far from living ideally and even yet far from healthy. Hospitals and infirmaries are still flourishing, though climate and fertility are able to bring us nearer to a paradisal state of health than is the case with most other places. We hope, that your presence and words will give new impetus to the revision of the mode of living of our people. Therefore welcome to Denmark!

"It was with fear and uncertainty, that our Committee resolved to organise the Congress. We had but three months to do it in and no money, and it was difficult to find an ideal place for the meeting. But with vegetarian courage in our hearts we started and tried to overcome our difficulties. To all who helped we tender our sincerest thanks. It will be a pleasure to us if you will make yourselves feel quite at home.
"A glance at the world to-day must darken our festive mood, because of what we see of illness, misery and cruelty to fellow-creatures. It is my earnest wish, that this Congress may not only be concerned with studies of that particular stage of progress that vegetarians have themselves reached, and with enjoyment of our own healthy mode of living, but that its meetings may also be the means of a greater activity for the benefit of sick and suffering mankind, for the advance of health and truth, and for international friendship and peace. Discussion of these topics in a tolerant frame of mind is my special wish in now bidding you welcome to this Ninth International Vegetarian Congress."

MR. C. J. VAN BORRENDAM (Holland), President of the International Vegetarian Union, also joined in the welcome, to which separate response was made by a delegate from each one of the national societies represented, both the British delegates, MR. JAMES HOUGH (The Vegetarian Society) and MR. S. A. HURREN (London Vegetarian Society) thus participating in the proceedings. The same evening a civic welcome was also offered to the visitors by the Burgomasters of both Vejle and Daugaard.

The principal speakers at Monday's session of the Congress were MR. MORITZ SCHNITZER (Czecho-Slovakia), DR. GUSTAV HECKMANN (Denmark) and DR. JEAN NUSSBAUM (France), the last-named of whom put in a strong plea for the vegetarian mode of living, as looked at from several points of view. Man, he said, was not merely possessed of a body, but mind and spirit also needed to be developed. Regarded even from the merely physical, it was obvious that man was fashioned on lines quite different from those of the carnivora, his intestines, for example, being ten times the length of his body whilst those of the flesh-eating animals were only about half as long in relation to theirs. Thus, man was ill-adapted to the consumption of such highly putrefactive material as flesh foods, which, of necessity, must remain much longer within his own system than was the case with the carnivora. Similarly with flesh-eating birds, such as the raven, which also had a short intestine. Certain types of temperament, too, were associated with certain kinds of diet, in which respect the lion and the elephant afforded a strong contrast. If one of his (the speaker's) patients should declare to him that her husband was cruel, and he should thereupon enquire as to the husband's diet, quite likely the answer would be that this consisted in large part of flesh foods, mustard, pepper, vinegar and alcohol, all of which must be regarded as highly inflammatory in their effects. "I, too," said Dr. Nussbaum, "should be bad-tempered if I tried to live on such foods!

A good vegetarian diet (said the speaker) must be well balanced. A good vegetarian was not one who just stopped eating flesh foods. He himself had had to teach some of his friends how to cook, and also how to choose a menu, and even how to buy foods. He thereupon caused amusement by describing a visit of his own to a shop where he had asked for rice, emphasing that lie wished to be served with good rice - to which the saleswoman replied, "We have excellent rice.' "No," said Dr. Nussbaum, refusing the commodity offered, "I want ordinary rice, just as it comes from the fields," and, after still more insistence, he found that at the establishment in question whole rice was quite unobtainable. "Ah! " said the genial saleswoman at last, now I understand. What you want is rice for the chickens and, in effect, said the speaker, that was perfectly true. Man knew well how to feed his animals but not how to feed himself. The fanner's wife knew how to feed her calves, but not how to feed her own children: she gave the cow the same kind of food that the forbears of the latter throve upon a thousand years ago. But what grievous changes had come about in man's own method of feeding in the meantime!

Concluding, the speaker urged that the vegetarian movement mght to become world-wide, the question of nutrition being, in fact, the most important of all. He felt, he said, that he had been speaking to an audience which well understood the essentials of the problem, and it behoved them all to press forward as speedily as possible the good work which had already been begun.

On Tuesday, July 30th, the two principal addresses were those of MR. SIMON KUPCIK (Czecho-Slovakia), and DR. MIRKEL HINDHEDE (Denmark), the précis, kindly supplied to us, of a translation of the principal portion of the words spoken by Dr. Hindhede being as follows:

"My principal problem is to examine separately the effects of our main articles of diet. This can only be done by living exclusively for a considerable length of time on the particular diet in question, thus eliminating all effects that might be due to other causes. Mr. Madsen, for instance, lived for 309 days on potatoes and vegetable margarine. The 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 has been found exceptionally satisfactory. Madsen declares 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 exercises and strengthens the teeth and the intestines. It does not wound the stomach nor give rise to cancer. By rapid evacuation it removes materials left by the metabolic processes, which, with fine foods, tend to remain in the intestines and to be reabsorbed. With food containing animal protein this danger is increased through putrefaction, causing irregular evacuation and head-aches, which evils are unknown to people living on coarse foods.

"We have proved conclusively that, contrary to the doctrine of the Rubner school, man can easily digest the husks of corn on which coarse food is based. Moreover, bran contains valuable protein. When the whole grain is taken, and not merely the kernel, the alleged superiority of meat, eggs and milk over corn is shown to be a mere fable. Madsen felt wonderfully well on coarse bread but rapidly became ill when living on white, an experiment which I myself have confirmed. The increasing preponderance of the use of white bread is probably responsible for the present degeneration among young people.

"A test of the value of flesh food by a similar exclusive-diet method could only be endured by the experimenters for three days. On this point note that the Esquimaux, who are said to live alrmost exclusively on meat, in reality derive five-sixths of their calories from blubber.

"The success of our experiment with coarse bread and margarine contradicts the result of that made by Ragnar Berg, whose men became ill within a week. The discrepancy may be due to fear on the part of Berg's men, or else to the fact that they were given one part of butter to two parts of bread, whereas mine had only one part of margarine seven of bread.

"For general diet I do not recommend the exclusive use of coarse bread. Plenty of garden products are essential. Vegetable soup containing plenty of potatoes, carrots and onions, along with plenty of coarse bread, is the best diet I know. Two men lived exclusively on it for twenty-three months. As for fat, experiments carried out by Professor Mendel, of Yale University, have proved that butter is not necessary, adequate supplies of fat being obtainable from the vegetable kingdom.

"These results have important social implications. Every man should be enabled to grow corn and vegetables, and thus become self-supporting. The beneficial effects of such a regime are proved by the superiority of the Chinese in contrast with Europeans. It not the case, as is still held by some vegetarians, that animal protein such as that supplied by eggs, cheese, etc., is necessary for athletes though these forms of food are probably more convenient. I recommend 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 has never been seen before or since in any European country. It is incomprehensible that neither the populace nor the physicians have learned anything from that experiment. Diet reform is still bitterly opposed. To achieve this we must begin by convincing the people, for the doctors will give the people what they ask for."