|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
16th World Vegetarian Congress 1960
Hannover and Hamburg, Germany
From The Brtitish Vegetarian Nov/Dec 1960:
VEGETARIANISM AND WORLD PEACE
THE one great issue to-day is to know how to promote world peace, especially when one reads about the power of the hydrogen bomb and the crushing burden of armaments. The tragic thing about it all is that nobody seems to know how to avoid it, and our destiny appears to be left in the hands of a few irresponsible politicians who may suddenly plunge the whole world into mass destruction.
Now it is quite true that no sane person wants war, and there are so many peace organisations in all countries crying out for an end to war that there is much truth in what President Eisenhower said in London last August: "I think the people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."
Most of the proposed remedies for preventing another terrible conflict are of a political nature, well-meaning no doubt, but they do not go to the root causes of all this unrest and preparation for killing by an inhuman science. Mere external remedies can never reach the spirit and soul of man, or destroy the selfishness which breeds intoler-ance and exploitation of our fellows. So long, too, as we justify the use of violence to settle our disputes we need have little hope of national or international conferences to abolish war, for violence always leads to more violence, as history has amply proven.
To get rid of all war, we should first try to get nations to agree to outlaw military methods of settling disputes. An armed peace can never lead or make for real lasting peace. Organisation does not necessarily mean brotherhood, and without a living faith in God we cannot heal suffering humanity. No doubt there are many good people working hard politically and otherwise to abolish war, but the true source of our troubles is not in external things but in our opposition to the will of God.
War is the greatest of our social diseases and is caused by wrong living, hence so long as we divorce religion and morality from science we will have such evils as vivisection, flesh-eating. blood sports, and war itself. It is indeed because man has hardened his heart against cruelty of every kind that he has sunk lower even than the so-called lower animals.
But what, you may say, has all this to do with vegetarianism and world peace? Well, it seems in the face of things almost impossible to ask meat-eaters to work for peace. when they do not object to the wholesale slaughter of defenceless animals for food. Surely there is something degrading about all this breeding of animals for food and then killing them in the very prime of their lives.
Geoffrey Rudd truly asks Why Kill for Food? in the title of his excellent little book, and in a similar sense we might ask "Why Kill for Peace?" Killing always leads to killing, and so long as man lives as a beast of prey we shall have war or the law of the jungle.
Any reform therefore which promotes kindness and humane living is a step in the right direction. Tolstoy said that vegetarianism was the first step towards moral living, and Thoreau said that the day would come when we would look back upon flesh-eating as we today look upon cannibalism.
It is a noteworthy fact, too, that Eastern vegetarian nations are less guilty of war, although some have learned the art of war from flesh-eating nations. Vegetarian animals are not only stronger, longer-lived, but the most useful and peaceful in their habits. Surely, therefore, if man is the highest creature in evolution he should partake of the purer and more kindly first-fruits of the earth. Reinheimer has shown that flesh-eating is a parasitic habit leading to disease. As to the cruelty in Nature, my contention as a naturalist is that when man is right with his Maker then Nature will be right with Man.
Vegetarianism is thus not mere opposition to flesh-eating. but rather a philosophy of living which makes for health, happiness and a higher order of true civilisation. It is a basic reform which contends that all this killing of animals for food is revolting and inconsistent with the idea of the Divine. It is clear, then, that a peaceful diet would lead to more peace amongst the nations. War will only end when it ends in ourselves. The dawn of a new life is breaking upon the world, and many are seeking a better way of living without all this social discord and strife. What the world needs is :-