|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
The I.V.U. is just 46 years old, the first gathering having
been held in Dresden 1908, following proposals made by Dr. Georges Anjou
of Nice. It was convened by Albert Broadbent, the Secretary of the Vegetarian
Society, England, and organized by Herr Forster, Secretary of the Dresden
Vegetarian Society. Representatives from England, France, Germany, Holland
and Norway were present. Another Congress was held in Manchester next
year, when Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Russia and Spain were also represented.
At the third Congress, held in Brussels in 1910, it was agreed that
future meetings should be triennial, and an invitation was accepted
from the Netherlands Vegetarian Society to The Hague in 1913, the year
of the opening of the Palace of Peace. A remarkable series of meetings
resulted, and among our hosts were Mr. Felix Ortt even now a Vice-President
of the I.V.U. and Professor Nolthenius. But alas for the hopes and plans
of men. In the war of 1914-18 the seamless garment of European civilization
was rent in twain, and has never since been wholly repaired. In consequence
ten years were to elapse before the next Congress, held at Stockholm
in May, 1923, with that Grand Old Man of Swedish vegetarianism, J. L.
Saxon, as our host in chief. Five other Congresses were held between
the two great Wars: in London in 1926, when Dr. Hindhede of Denmark
contributed a notable paper on the result of his rationing of Denmark's
food during the war; at Steinchonau of Czecho-Slovakia In 1929, with
Moriz Schnitzer, Feix and Durr as our hosts: in Germany (at Eden by
Berlin and at Hamburg) in 1932; at Daugaard in Denmark in 1936; where
Oluf Egerod and N. Nielsen were among the many who welcomed us; at Hurdaals
Verk in Norway in 1938, when Dr. H. J. Rogler and Professor Almkvist
received their vegetarian guests.
THE STORY OF
RECENT YEARS AND A GREAT
The choice for this position fell upon John Hanworth Walker,
whose drive and enthusiasm have taken him to most European lands, and
also through the United States of America and through the new State
of Israel in Western Asia, where economic causes have helped to create
a wide-spread interest in vegetarianism. Mr. Walker has been instrumental
in bringing about the formation of several new National Societies. He
has secured the recognition of the I.V.U. by F.A.O. and U.N.E.S.C.O.,
and has helped vegetarian travellers through arranging for the provision
of special vegetarian meals by some of the principal steamship, railway,
and airline companies.
some of the first fruits of his work were seen at the
Congress held at Sigtuna in Sweden last summer, where, the purposeful
cooperation of our Swedish hosts, led by their President, Major Ernst
Killander, the Treasurer of the I.V.U. Josef Pedersen, and Secretary
of the Swedish Society, Karl Sohelin, representatives of twenty-two
nations spent a most happy and inspiring week.
Doubtless they afford the opportunity of a pleasant holiday, spent in the congenial company of those of whom it may be truly said :
And here in passing let me say how important it is that the vegetarian and other humanitarian Societies and their leaders should maintain constant harmony among themselves. Too often, in such Societies and in more than one country, constructive progress has been hampered by personal quarrels and divisions and egoisms which are foolish as they are unworthy. How can any who harbours jealousies and resentment hope to further the cause of peace and harmony?
THE PRINCIPAL AIM
Our chief purpose, I suppose is to effect the spread of vegetarian practice, knowledge and ideals. Some of my friends look forward to a golden age of universal vegetarianism, but unless economic causes and the growth of world population compel men that way, I cannot foresee any rapid and general adoption of the vegetarian way of life. The centuries abound in the story of good causes, from Christianity to world peace, which have made slow and limited progress, and the hope of the ultimate perfectibility of man receives little support from either history or science. Yet the vegetarian movement has made quite notable progress during the past fifty years. It has fostered some great reforms and it bears steady witness to the allied causes of good health, natural hygiene, serene contentment, mercy, and peace. But there remains much to do.
The rearing of countless millions of animals for slaughter, and the resulting doctrine that 'animals are made for man' are used to justify all sorts of cruelties: scientific as in vivisection, commercial as in furs and feathers, a conception of 'sport' which involves chasing terrified creatures to death, and many other denials of that 'universal kinship of that 'reverence for life' so eloquently proclaimed by Dr. Albert Schweitzer.
Even if the growing adoption of humane methods of slaughter has mitigated some of the worst abominations, there must remain that via dolorosa of cattle trucks and ships, markets and stockyards between the sunlight pastures and the final act, along which unnumbered frightened creatures must travel every day.
THE GAIN OF FELLOWS
One of the chief benefits conferred by the I.V.U. and its Congresses is found in the strengthening of international friendship and of inter-racial ties. In the words of a great Apostle: 'We have fellowship one with another'; and in this 'marriage of minds', this meeting of friendly folk from many lands, we can gain strength and wisdom and inspiration for the work of our own National Societies.
And so I hope that, next year there will be another record gathering of vegetarians from all over the world. May we meet you there!