International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

20th World Vegetarian Congress 1969
Jerusalem, Israel

The following article appeared in the Nov/Dec issue of The British Vegetarian. It was unusual at that time for the IVU President to write an article not connected with Congresses, so this may have also been used as a talk at the November 1969 Congress:


VEGETARIANS
FROM AN INTERNATIONAL OUTLOOK
WOODLAND KAHLER DE ST. INNOCENT
President of the International Vegetarian Union

When you become a vegetarian you begin right at the start to be a member of a far-flung world-family. To have friends almost everywhere on earth is an ever new and rewarding experience. Towards the end of May, 1969, my Barcelona vegetarian friends asked me to say a few words at the opening of the first Semana de Vegetarianismo in Spain and I was very glad to have been offered this opportunity of expressing my opinion on what I consider to be the most vital problem in the world today. At the present moment, 64 cents out of every tax-dollar collected by the U.S. Government is being spent on the war machine, and a number of other governments are also building armaments capable of blowing up the whole world. The lives of all who inhabit the earth are endangered by the military-industrial complex which seems to be in control of today's so-called civilization, and unless mankind begins right now to develop a greater respect for life along non-violent lines of vegetarianism, the entire world-family, man, bird and beast, is doomed to extinction.

According to an article in a recent issue of the Yale Alumni Magazine, the bloom has gone from Science. When I was a teenager, many years ago before the First World War, everybody thought Science was going to create paradise on earth, but today fewer and fewer students at Yale University are taking science courses and everywhere on earth more and more people, both young and old, are losing faith in Science as a means of solving human problems.

The important thing in life is not technology and its synthetic material products, but man's relation to man. And also man's relation to animals, air, land and water. We all need fresh air, pure water, wholesome food, rest and sleep, sunshine, exercise, and physical and mental poise, but with the help of Science, the air, land and water of our home~planet are being progressively poisoned by the military-industrial complex I have just mentioned. As a result, many people - private citizens and public leaders alike-have lost their physical, mental and moral balance.

The sicker man gets in body, mind and soul, the more evident it becomes that he cannot drug himself out of danger. Neither can he shoot his way to salvation. The one and only means of solving any problem is to remove the cause, and the cause of the present-day human predicament is simply a lack of true self-knowledge, a subject sadly neglected in almost all contemporary schools and colleges everywhere in the world. How can man decide what is best for himself when he doesn't even know who he really is? In reality man is not by nature a carnivorous beast who must kill for food, but a peaceful vegetarian like the great apes which he so closely resembles in more ways than one.

Fortunately for the future of mankind and all other living things on earth, the vegetarian way of life is spreading as it has never spread before. This is not something I read in a book by a wishful thinker. I happen to he in a very favourable position to know what I am talking about from actual exeprience on the world-vegetarian front. Almost every day I get letters written to me by vegetarians in many different countries from India to Iceland, and every two years 1 attend an international vegetarian congress in a different nation.

The new Federacion Vegetariana Espanola is a typical example of what is happening everywhere in the world. Just a few days ago I returned home to Spain from the "May Meetings" of a new United Kingdom Society of Vegetarians. For the past fifteen years or more the International Vegetarian Union, in co-operation with the two most important vegetarian societies in Great Britain, has been working to unite all the vegetarian organizations in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Now at last the dream of unification has come true, just as it has with vegetarians in Spain.

It would take me too long to give a detailed account of all the forty or more affiliations of the I.V.U. in various foreign lands, and so I shall mention only the most recent report I have just received from Mr Louis H. van Loon, President of the newly formed South African Vegetarian Union, composed of a number of societies in the main centres which include among others Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, East London and Cape Town. In regard to the vegetarian magazine, Man, published by the South African Union, Mr van Loon wrote to me that he is getting responses from readers, commentators, librarians and critics in many parts of the world - one more proof of an awakening world-wide interest in vegetarianism. Mr van Loon went on to say that his purpose is to call attention to the natural principles and universal laws that govern man and atom, cell and galaxy, and to lead modern man out of the materialistic morass of living into which he has fallen. It seems to me that Mr van Loon has very well expressed the aims of the vegetarian way of life.