|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
17th World Vegetarian Congress 1963
THE CONGRESS IN SPAIN
The International Vegetarian Union's 17th World Vegetarian Congress was held in beautiful sunny weather from June 23rd to 29th, and the Barcelona authorities provided a splendid salon at the Museo Maritimo (Reales Atarazanas at the foot of the Ramblas, Barcelona's most colourful thoroughfare).
Although the delegates' hotels were scattered by the booking agent, a free bus was provided by the I.V.U., and once the irrelevance of time was mastered, everyone appeared to have an enjoyable time.
The Sessions commenced on Saturday, June 23rd, with registration and
speeches of welcome by the I.V.U. President (Woodland Kahier, Marquis
de St. Innocent), and officials of the Spanish Vegetarian Societies:
Dr. Honorio Gimeno Perez, Vice Presidente de Honor por Españo;
Prof. D. Manuel Cervera Cebolla, Presidente
The Congress was very happy to have the privilege of the company for two days of Mrs. Rukmini Devi Arundale, who made presentations of Indian garlands and gifts to a number of distininguished delegates, and in her most inspiring address lifted the concept of vegetarianism to its highest level; deploring Man's attitude to life, never satisfied but always demanding more for himself, whereas most animals were perfectly happy with adequate food and kindness from human beings.
The first day also coincided with the eve of the Fiesta de la Verbena de San Juan, and many delegates took the opportunity to tour the streets, where in every square huge bonfires and fireworks illuminated the night scene - the Spanish calendar is filled with Saints whose memories can only be adequately celebrated with Fiestas, holidays and dancing.
The Museo Maritimo not being open on Monday on account of St. John, a coach tour was made to Montserrat - a nearby monastery perched in the often cloud enshrouded mountains. Miss Nalini Morarji, Secretary of the Bombay Vegetarian Society, attracted much attention from the Spanish visitors to whom her bright sari was an unusual sight.
Sessions were scheduled to start at 10 o'clock each morning, but there is something in the Spanish air which soothes even an Englishman, and delegates who had inadvertently arrived at 10 o'clock enjoyed the extra 45 minutes or so in social conversation - the respites also gave the Secretaries time to alter the programme. After all, there are two ways of looking at a Plan - one is to follow it and the other is to regard it as something to be altered. In the end the General Secretary came to see the pleasure which may be derived from following the Continental point of view.
Before the election of officials on the morning of Monday, 25th, Dr. Vicente Ferrandiz, a naturopath of world repute with a prosperous clinic in Barcelona, gave a talk on the history of the vegetarian movement in Spain, Vegetarismo en Españo. Then came the essential business part with Minutes, resolutions, financial statement, tearing strips off the Secretary (who got off pretty lightly considering), and all the other concomitants of an international gathering. The discussion on bull-fighting revealed a great depth of feeling and only the firmness of the Chairman brought the meeting to order and to decide that the Spanish people should protest themselves, for how could delegates from England with its fox-hunting and murderous attitude to wild life; or India with its apathetic stance towards the creatures, or France with its horse-meat, criticize by implication while they have specialized brutalities of their own?
In the afternoon Dr. Jean Nussbaum gave one of his inimitable lectures on the dangers of eating meat-delivered in French under the Spanish title of Peligros Actuales al Corner Carne - however, talks were translated into three other languages and the Congress was greatly indebted to the various translators, professional and amaeur. who coped very well. Mrs. Isabel James and Miss Hilda Nixon brought great credit to England by being the only delegates who gave their addresses in four different languages. A scientific note was struck by Mr. J. W. Lucas, who may like to see his title in Spanish as a reminder of the occasion - Director de Estudios Nucleares en el Colegio de Liverpool - with a paper on atomic radiation and food, Las Radiaciones Atomicas y La Salud, in which he gave the assurance that radiation levels were not at present thought to be dangerous.
Generalissimo Franco being in Barcelona for a week it was iifficult
for the local authorities to keep reception times, but two nteresting
Civic receptions were given for which the I.V.U. was most grateful -
by the Mayor one day, the Ayuntamiento de Barcelona; and on another,
but on the other side of the Plaza de San Jaime,
Due time was given during the Congress for Society Representatives to deliver their reports. The Indian delegation, which had travelled a tremendous distance for the Congress, was given a particularly warm welcome, as was Dr. Eugene Keleny, who spoke as a former President of the now defunct Hungarian Vegetarian Society. Reports were heard from Societies and visitors from France, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, Holland, Hungary, India, Israel, Malay, Portugal, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United States of America.
On the Tarde miércoles, 26 junio a las 16 horas (the programme
was in Spanish and great fun), Mr. Symond Gould (U.S.A.) was to speak
on Vegetarian Health and Hygiene, his discourse seemed have a
more political flavour and he was able to gethimself a lot of publicity
and a cartoon in the local newspaper.
A break in the agenda at this point gave delegates a chance to sample vegetarian products and fruit juices kindly provided by the Casa Santiveri.
Dr. Gimeno Perez continued with Honor a los Precursores del Vegetarismo and Mrs. Isabel James, Secretaria de la Asociacion Catering, with Vegetarian Catering in English, Spanish, German and French - which earned her well-deserved applause.
Horas of talks followed on Jueves and Viernes: Sr. D. Enrique Bueno Bernaldo of Madrid, on Aspectos Sociales del Vegetarismo; Dr. G. Bieto Marill, El Vegetarismo y la Homeopatia; Dr. Gordon Latto and Dr. Barbara Latto gave excellent lectures on Dicta y Alimentos Especiales and Los Niños y la Alimentacion; Mr. Joaquin Garcia Roca, Un Tema Sobre ci Cancer; and Dr. Jorge of de la Branco of Portugal, spoke about his country.
In between times a visit was paid to the sanatorium of Dr. Perez, who with Señora Perez provided a marvellous repast of fruit and nuts, fruit juices and a milky-like drink made with chufa nuts; and a most fascinating visit to the Pueblo Español at Mont-juich, where all styles of Spanish villages have been reconstructed and where village crafts are continued - an excellent place for getting rid of pesetas in the process of buying presents for those at home.
The Congress proper closed on the Friday night with presentations and thanks. The Marquis and Prof. Cervera (los Presidentes) expressed thanks on behalf of their organisations and an inscribed silver dish was handed to Prof. Cervera as a memento of the Congress.
Sabado, the 29th, was, however, the Festividad de San Pedro - it had been a long time since the last Fiesta on Monday, so everyone was on holiday. The Spaniards sprang their surprise - a dinner to remember with 280 guests in the huge Casino Restaurante del Parque de la Cuidadela. Tables bedecked with flowers and a menu of formidable proportions: - Entremeses Especiales Campestres, Canelones Florentin del Prat, Torilla Panacherial, Ensalada a la Riveriana, Manzanas de Gavá tipo Pirenaicas, Tarta Ciudadela, Bebidas Especiales Antialcoholicas, and Café Super Malta del Campell. Bouquets and presents were given by the Spanish hosts. This was followed by a special display of Catalan folk dancing at the CAPSA theatre in Via Layetana.