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

Sigtuna, Sweden

from The Vegan, Autumn 1953:

Held at Sigtuna, Sweden
by Muriel E. Drake

It is not possible in a short article to give a detailed account of the Congress, but I will endeavour to convey my impressions of this memorable occassion in a few words as possible.

As this was the first I.V.U. Congress I had attended, I was not able to compare it with any previous ones, but the general atmosphere was most harmonious and the depth of understanding between the various races represented was remarkable. If this were only true of all the relationships between all the races, wars could not possibly continue.

For the first time in its history the I.V.U. posesses a Constitution and Rules, which were drawn up and approved at the Congress. This should help considerably towards the smooth working of such a vast organisation, whose influence is extending farther and farther afield as more and more contacts are made.

Where - you may ask - does veganism come into the picture? All those who have the vegan ideal at heart will be interested in the fact that the majority of speakers whose subject had a direct bearing on vegetarianism or the soil, stressed at some point in their lectures the great benefit to be derived from the intake of whole, natural foods which consist of fruits, nuts, vegetables and grains. These speakers came from widely distant places where climate and conditions are so different, one from another - a factor not without significance. Two items which received repeated attention were the question of whole, unspoiled foods and the proper care of the soil by means of composting, etc.

Not unnaturally the point which was uppermost in some people's minds was how those who cut dairy produce out of their diet obtained sufficient protein, and the answer given by one speaker, was that when we feed on whole natural foods we do not need to bother much about protein - a handful or so of nuts per day being all that our bodies really need. Comparison was made with the frugivorous and herbivorous animals, amongst whom are the strongest as well as those with the greatest powers of endurance - all their needs being supplied from the vegetable kingdom.

Another speaker went so far as to say, not only that vegetables and fruits were absolutely essential for health, but that we can leave out all other foods and be absolutely healthy. His view was that all our protein needs could be obtained from potatoes and salad - but food must be eaten as fresh as possible, and vegetables when being washed should be in contact with water as short a time as possible.

There is one point which needs especial mention in connection with the Congress, and that is the grand way in which the vegan needs were supplied in difficult circumstances. In Sweden, dairy produce is used on a vast scale, and alternatives to dairy butter and milk almost impossible to obtain, so vegans were asked to take their own fats. Apart from this, we were looked after remarkably well, and our grateful thanks are due to the Swedish Vegetarian Society for supplying the material comforts and physical needs for the benefit of our well-being, in preparation for the mental, ethical and spiritual aspects which grew in intensity as the Congress proceeded.

May the enrichment which we felt as a result of this united gathering be expressed in our endeavour to work even harder towards the emancipation of the creatures from exploitation, and so hasten the coming of universal peace and goodwill.

A vegan dinner was arranged in London for Congress delegates on their way home from Sweden. This included Scott and Helen Nearing, from Maine, USA, as guest speakers.