International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India

A Brief Review of Work
W. A. Sibly

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.


Once again came a nine years' break caused by the Hitler War, with its untold miseries for mankind, but after a preliminary meeting in London attended by J. H. Bolt, Oluf Egerod, James Hough and myself, vegetarians from twelve nations gathered at Wycliffe College, Stonehouee. Gloucestershire, at the end of July, 1947. Unfortunately by this time several peoples were behind the Iron Curtain, and Soviet imperialism frowned on international organizations such as the I. V. U. Three years later n very pleasant Congress was held at Oosterbeek in Holland, with Mrs. Borrendam, Dr. Kaayk, Mr. anrl Mrs. Kooijmans and Mr. van Nederveen Among our hosts. It was during a visit to 'De Hoge Veluwe', north of Arnhem, that the present structure of the I.V.U. was born, and a great extension of its works made possible, for in conversations there Mrs Gasque, the well known leader of the international Mazdaznan Movement and now our President, most generously offered to give a large annual donation to the I. V. U. This with the much smaller contributions from the individual Societies which constitute the Union has made it possible to appoint a full-time Secretary, with an office in London and so to co-ordinate and extend the work in many lands,

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.


Yet it may well be asked 'What is the purpose of the Congress, and what does the I.V.U. hope to achieve?'

Doubtless they afford the opportunity of a pleasant holiday, spent in the congenial company of those of whom it may be truly said :

'Not chance of birth or place has made us friends,
Being oftentimes of different tongues and nations,
But the endeavour for the selfsame ends,
With the same hopes, and fears, and aspirations.'

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?


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.


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!