International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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17th World Vegetarian Congress 1963
Barcelona, Spain

Delegate Report

Dr Otto Robinsohn
I am glad to be able to convey, on behalf of the vegetarian movement of Israel, best greetings to all the participants of this Congress, and to our Spanish hosts, in particular.

Over the last few years, vegetarianism in Israel has become an established fact acknowledged and reckoned with, by the general public and by the authorities. Whereas, only a few years ago, vegetarianism was still not taken seriously, today many people are taking a kind of pride in the fact of having a vegetarian in their family. There are in Israel thousands of vegetarians, in every town and village, in every kibbutz (co-operative settlement). Unfortunately, it is quite impossible to establish the exact number of vegetarians as official statistical figures are not forthcoming, and vegetarian societies existing in the principal towns comprise only a tiny fraction of the vegetarian population due to the fact that vegetarians, whose individualism is well known, are very difficult to organise.

The growth of vegetarianism in Israel was made easy by the most favourable conditions prevailing in our country where fresh fruit and vegetables are available throughout the year. During the last two or three years, the manufacture of a wide range of health food products has started. Vegetarian food can be got at most hotels and restaurants, fresh fruit and vege-tables, juices such as orange, grapefruit, grape, pomegranate and carrot juice are being pressed on the spot and sold at every street corner.

In Israel, as in most western countries, many people becoming vegetarians do so for health reasons, and later gradually find their way to the humanitarian and ethical aspects of vegetarianism. A number of naturopaths practising in Israel are instrumental in propaganda of vegetarianism and in making converts." There is a number of vegetarian boarding houses and rest houses in Israel.

The vegetarian societies are jointly publishing a monthly periodical under the name Nature and Health. This periodical is printed in Hebrew, the official language of the country.

The most important achievement of vegetarianism in Israel seems to be the establishment of a rural vegetarian settlement called " Amirim." The village was founded in November, 1958, by a very heterogenous group of vegetarians from different towns and villages. There was a lot of enthusiasm and very low strung hopes of success. People wondered how a small village situated on a barren mountainside - although in a most beautiful situation overlooking the Lake of Galilee, and perched on the Galilean mountains - would be able to support its inhabitants. Today, Amirim is well consolidated, there is full employment, the first commercial crop of apples and grapes is expected to be reaped these days. Unsuitable settlers, particularly a number of unmarried people, have been discarded, the number of settlers has increased from about 40 to about 115. Still, it is to be remembered that the settlement being less than 5 years old is still in its earliest stages of development. Further development is taking place and plans are ahead to turn the place into a vegetarian summer resort, etc. As a sign of encouragement and appreciation, the participants of the Congress will send to the inhabitants of Amirim - with the kind permission of the President - special greetings.

We would have been very glad to invite the Congress to hold its next session in Israel. Unfortunately, this is not now possible, for financial reasons. Anyhow, we hope to be able to extend such an invitation for the Congress to be held in 1967.