International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

10th World Vegetarian Congress 1938

Hurdals Verk, Norway

From the Vegetarian News (London), July 1938 (a shortened version also appeared in The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester) August 1938):

Vegetarianism in Norway
BY H. J. RÖGLER, Ph.D.
(Secretary, Norwegian Vegetarian Association,
family photo below - click for larger version)

By those standing apart from vegetarian activities it is often represented that a fleshless diet, consisting only of fruits, vegetables and cereals, is suitable only of adoption in warm climates. To such it must come as a surprise to learn that Norway, the most northern country of Europe, has within its rocky barriers a vegetarian movement, whose representatives, it so happens, are this year inviting the vegetarians of the world to a summer Congress.

The climate of Norway, indeed, is capable of producing sufficient fruits, vegetables and cereals which for its population of 2,800,000 people. The gentle winds from the west, combined with the gracious influence of the Gulf Stream, make it possible there to grow crops in more northerly latitudes than can be done in any other country in the world. In ancient times the climate was still more propitious, so much so that in the Bronze Age, it is said, it was even possible to produce wine and to grow corn on the island of Tromsö, situated several degrees within the Arctic Circle. Even to this day, corn is still ripened within the Arctic Circle, whilst potatoes and other vegetables are cultivated on land adjacent to the Arctic Ocean.

In the Middle Ages vthe diet of the people included various kinds of vegetables, especially cabbages and onions, which were also important constituents in the diet of the Vikings on their long voyages. The omission of these same important items (according to the researches of Dr. Crona) the main reason for the decline in northern peoples at a later period.

The modern vegetarian movement in Norway is of comparatively recent growth, the new ideas about diet being first brought to the country about 50 years ago by the Seventh Day Adventists. So far as Scandinavia is concerned, societies were first formed in Sweden and Denmark, the pioneer being that formed by the late J. L. Saxon at Ostersund, Sweden, on 29th March, 1895. The Danish Vegetarian Society of which Dr. Michael Larsen was the founder, was established at Copenhagen in the following year, and on 13th February, 1903, the Swedish Vegetarian Society held its first meeting at Stockholm. In that same year Mr. Saxon came to Christiania (Oslo) to assist in the forming the Norwegian Vegetarian Association, actually inaugurated on the 22nd August, 1903. The present year sees the thirty-fifth anniversary of the foundation of the movement in Norway.

Mr. O. J. Selhoe, the first president of the Norwegian Vegetarian Association, was succeeded by Mrs. Elisabeth Leischer, both of whom did notable pioneer work in the establishment of vegetarian ideas in Norway. On the 29th May, 1930, the Norwegian Vegetarian Association (Norges vegetariske Landsforbund) was founded, its first president being Mr. Hans E. Andersen, who in 1932 was succeeded by Mr. Magnus Karlson. The secretary of the Association and editor of the magazine Naturlægen ("The Naturopath") is Dr. H. J. Rogler. The Association, which is centred in Oslo, with branches also in Bergen and Stavanger, is working on the most modern lines. Natural diet is the first point in its programme and it excludes flesh-meats, fish and eggs. In its struggle for the defence of animals against all forms of 'scientific' cruelty, it works in harmony with the nature cure movement whose pioneer in Norway (O. Olvik) was the founder and first editor of the health magazine Naturlægen.

The vegetarian movement in Norway continues to progress, bringing its message of health, goodwill and real humanity into an ever-widening circle of the Norwegian people. In the land of the "northern lights" and of the "midnight sun," as elsewhere, the future is with the vegetarians.