International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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11th IVU World Vegetarian Congress 1947

Stonehouse, England

Chairman: Mr. Oluf EGEROD (Denmark)

Dr. RALPH BIRCHER (Zurich) of the Bircher~Benner Clinic, said that to live on uncooked food would be a return to the food of primitive man who must have lived on uncooked food for countless ages. But their aim was not to return to animal-like, primitive feeding, but to a fuller life guided by present day knowledge. It was fifty-two years since Dr. Bircher~Benner, an ordinary doctor in an industrial suburb, was led to treat an "incurable" patient with raw fruit and salads, and to the amazement of both doctor and patient a slow but certain recovery resulted. Following this the doctor experimented upon himself, his family, and other willing patients. He sought experience at home and abroad, and eventually opened a private clinic, where success came again and again. Dr. Bircher-Benner looked upon health as a positive state and not as the mere absence of disease. He sought to rebuild a new and better health and stamina in addition to removing the prevailing ailments.

The lecturer quoted Pythagoras who lived with his initiated pupils on uncooked fresh fruits and vegetables. He also referred to races whose main food was raw and whose nutrition was practically vegetarian, especially to the Hunza, a group of 10,000 people living to the north of India, a handsome race "very poor, very healthy and very happy." Sir Robert McCarrison, Chief Medical Officer with the Army in India, stressed the perfect health and freedom from disease of these people.

In explaining that the raw food eaten must be raw vegetable food, the lecturer referred to a group of Eskimos who live almost exclusively on meat, consumed largely in the raw state. That was a dietary which was, apparently, good enough up to the ages of twenty to twenty-five years, but few lived to be fifty, and the average span of life was twenty-seven and a half years.

Dr. Bircher, in dealing with the composition of the soil, said that the question of humus was of importance, and that careful attention should be given to the making of compost, with an avoidance of chemical fertilizers and the direct use of animal manures.

In a normal protective diet for a healthy person, about half of the daily food intake would consist of raw vegetable food and half of as little processed and cooked food as possible. An exclusively raw diet was not recommended for the healthy, except for short periods.

In dealing with the curative power of a raw vegetable diet, the lecturer said that it changed the soil in which diseases grew. Sometimes the system was congested with waste products and it was necessary to begin with fasting. Later, an exclusive raw diet was given, and eventually some cooked foods were added until the normal Bircher-Benner fare could be given. This consisted of cooked food, always preceded by uncooked fresh food in the proportion of about half and half.