International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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13th IVU World Vegetarian Congress 1953

Sigtuna, Sweden

Professor Scott Nearing and Mrs Helen Nearing snapped in Stockholm.

At Sigtuna
Dr.Frank Wokes (London V.S. Delegate), Mrs Wokes, Mrs Masterson, Mr Stuart Healey, (Vegetarian Society Delegate), and Mr Ronald Lightowler (Secretary London Vegetarian Society).

Dastur F. Bode (of India), talking to Mr Hanworth Walker.

Texts of talks from the Congress:

Food without Animal Residues

The case history of a twenty-year experiment in gardening without animal manure was the subject of Professor Nearing's lecture to the Sigtuna Congress.

The land chosen was in Vermont at an elevation of 1,800 feet with a winter temperature well below zero. Only 85 days without frost could be expected per year. The land was depleted and demineralised.

The first task was to rebuild the soil.

Professor Nearing explained that in a New England forest -nature begins to make soil on a granite base and produces soil without animal exploitation - a climax forest is 35% hard maple with birch, spruce and pine. By the simple process of dropping leaves and twigs on the soil, plus the work of organisms underneath, a rich black humus is formed.

Under these natural conditions it takes 500 years to produce one inch of top soil. The Vermont soil had been exploited for over 150 years and latterly by commercial fertilizers.

The fertility was regained by heavy mulching with hay, sawdust and vegetable compost supplemented by minerals - ground phosphate rock, green sand for potash, ground limestone for calcium, and colloidial earth which is a dehydrated clay containing 13 or 14 trace elements. Leaves were an important constituent as these supplied trace elements. Meal of several common seeds were also added to provide protein for the soil. Linseed, cottonseed, cornmeal, soyabean or sunflower, depending on the availability and cheapness.

Heavy mulching with sawdust or hay prevents the growth of weeds, encourages the activities of worms and soil organisms and prevents erosion and retains moisture in the hottest weather as well as protecting the soil from frost.

Describing the culture of raspberries as a typical example of his methods Professor Nearing said that in the course of 18 years he produced a stand of raspberries eight feet high yielding sufficient for his homestead economy and far exceeding the results obtained by neighbours.

He covered the patch with a six inch layer of sawdust and since this was obtainable free from the local mills the crop cost nothing. Worms worked the six inch layer down to one and a half inches in a year and over the period added two inches of top soil - thus expediting natural processes. No digging or weeding was necessary and the effect was always to reproduce the sponge-like surface of a natural forest.

He also mentioned that a large tract of his land was heavily infested with twitch grass - nearly a foot of densely matted roots. This was cleared in eighteen months by constantly renewed muichings of sawdust.When planting seeds or plants the top dressings of hay sawdust were raked aside and compost applied. As the plants grew the mulch was pushed up close to the plants.

Products grown on his land thus treated were of superb colour, form and flavour, with excellent keeping qualities. Vegetables gathered in October and stored in a cellar packed with layers of leaves were being eaten the following August.

How much Animal Food do we Need?

"The primary source of food for living beings is the vegetable kingdom, and only a small fraction of animals are carnivores," said Dr. Frank Wokes at the first lecture of the IVU Congress.

Man is a mammal fed on mother's milk, which is an animal food but then very soon goes on to vegetable products. Among adults more than two-thirds are living on only a little animal food, for there is not enough land to produce flesh foods to maintain the standard of the white peoples. By 2000 A.D. the population will have increased so much that the meat intake will have to be less."

Wokes spoke of the vegan experiment in Holland where sixty vegetarians volunteered to have a non-dairy produce diet for six months. All food eaten was recorded and the volunteers were carefully observed, and their reactions recorded by weighing and blood tests.

The diet was found to be adequate in all vitamins and minerals very slight deficiency of vitamin D and calcium. Protein was a little on the low side. British vegans have been practising for five to twenty years and it has been found that one in five have developed deficiency symptoms, and about one in fifteen with serious deficiencies. In many cases treatment with vitamin B12 cleared up the symptoms.

Some years ago vitamin B12 was discovered to be a more efficient specific for pernicious anaemia than liver extract, and is available from vegetable sources, and as a by-product in the manufacture of penicillin and streptomycin. Daily requirement of man supposed to be about one microgram, which costs about one-thirtieth of a penny The real value of vitamin B12 in nutrition - as distinct from treat-ment of anemia - has not yet been fully established, but its effect on children and others is being observed.

Purposing the question "Why did some British vegans develop deficiency symptoms?" Dr. Wokes explained that vitamin B12 is made by a bacterial organism in soil and the intestines. It reaches the milk of cows via the stomach and bloodstream, it is thought that certain kinds of food modify the bacteria and so interfere with the natural production of the vitamin.

Soya, which is known to be a rich source of protein, is not complete, but has certain essential elements missing. But mixing with certain cereals such as wheat, barley, and maize forms a much better source of protein if vitamin B12 is added.

Dr. Wokes also mentioned an interesting nutritional development in America known as the Multi-Purpose Food (MPF). This is produced on a non-profit basis and consists of purely vegetable extracts. A sustaining meal of this product costs only three cents and already one thousand tons have been sent all over the world as a relief food.

Vegetarianism in Ancient Cultures

DASTUR BODE, a High Priest of the Zoroastrian religion, explained that culture means right living and includes a proper diet. Though our cultures may appear different we are not divided by them for there is an inner culture revealed by self knowledge and we must grow in unity through self realisation.

When we come to know that the macrocosm and the microcosm are the same in essence we see that we are not mere creatures and -brothers but associates of the Creator.

Speaking of the Aryan culture, the oldest in the world Bode said, "the word Aryan meant one who is spiritually awake" and that the Zoroastrian religion taught the unity of life many centuries before Christ. It was not true that they worshippes the outer physical fire but the inner fire of the heart, spirit and life. Zoroastrianism taught that life cannot be produced from on-life - therefore it should be held sacred. The Christian commandment "Thou shalt not kill" was translated from Zoroastrian teachings.

"There is no conflict in nature" said Dr. Bode, "it is harmonious -and faithful at all times. Only when man comes along is there conflict. Good and evil are conditions within us-if we wish to be good we have the opportunity and no one makes us kill animals and men.

Referring to India he said the country was once totally vegetarian for religious reasons and many family's to-day trace their vegetarianism back 2,000 to 3,000 years. No meat-eaters are allowed to enter their homes, so strongly do they feel about the evil of flesh-eating. Indians are fortunate in having in Dr. Prasad, their President, a man who lives a simple life and is a strict vegetarian. Only under the influence of western "civilisation," Mohammedans, Arabs, during the last few hundred years have the traditional ideas been forsaken.

Buddha taught Ahimsa, the doctrine of non-hurting and saying that sorrow is the result of the desire in man creating causes for which he suffers. We must learn not to desire, not to exploit. Animals may need to be protected and fed but not killed.

In modern times Mahatma Gandhi has started the return of India to an appreciation of the sacredness of life, by example and teaching. If we can feel equally for each one, however low in the scale of consciousness, we shall turn the earth into a paradise.