International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

23rd IVU World Vegetarian Congress 1975
Orono, Maine, USA

From Vegetarian Times, no.12

1975 world vegetarian congress

1500 vegetarians from across the world gathered at the University of Maine, Orono campus Aug 16 - 28 to attend the 23rd World Vegetarian Congress.

It was the first time in the history of the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) that a congress has been held on the North American continent. Attendance broke previous IVU records by a 3 to 1 ratio.

The congress was sponsored by the North American Vegetarian Union, the North American affiliate of the IVU.

ACTIVITIES & PURPOSE

Since the founding of the IVU in 1908, there has been a World Vegetarian Congress every two years (except in times of war) to bring to-gether vegetarians from across the world to discuss the progress of the vege-tarian movement; to discuss philosophy and ideology; and for the purpose of sharing practical information on such related subjects as nutrition, cooking, and other subjects that touch on a vegetarian lifestyle.

The congress included lectures, workshops, and panel discussions on such topics as: 'Health Problems Related to Meat-Eating"; "Yoga & Natural Childbirth"; "Vegetarianism and the Jap-anese Philosophy"; "Working with the Media"; "Vegetarian Homesteading"; "Organic Gardening"; and other titles too numerous to mention on everything from scientific nutrition, to natural eye care, and from correct breathing to animal welfare.

Speakers included such well-known vegetarians as Helen & Scott Nearing; R..J. Cheatham; Swami Sachidananda; Dr. Ann Wigmore; Martin J. Fritz; Dr. Gaylen Johnson, MD; and SMT. Rukmini Devi Arundale.

The congress brought together, a wide cross-section of vegetarians with differing ideologies, cultural back-grounds, and types of vegetarian diets. There were people new to vegetarianism and even some who were "just interested', as well as people from 3rd generation vegetarian households.

The degrees of vegetarianism ranged from ovo-lacto, (egg & milk) to fructarian (fruit only), to sproutarian (sprout diet).

The bulk of the lectures were scheduled during the first week of the congress and the second week was de-voted mainly to sight-seeing and more informal workshops and discussion groups.

Despite the wide variety of subjects and speakers, many people expressed dissatisfaction at poor scheduling - sometimes as many as 15 lectures were being held simultaneously - this made choosing a lecture very difficult.

Others expressed the opinion that not enough emphasis was placed on animal welfare and that the congress was too conservative and not oriented towards youth. To remedy this, open lectures and workshops were planned for the second week of the congress, unfortunately, many of those who came had left by the end of the first week.

At any rate, the congress provided a unique opportunity to meet other vegetarians from many parts of the world. It provided a chance to further physical and spiritual knowledge and was a great morale booster for those of us who face a MacDonald's mentality in our day-to-day lives.

It is not easy to take 2 weeks of activities and select highlights, but three events received seemingly more attention than others and drew large crowds.

A FUNERAL FOR FAMINE was held Aug. 20 in the evening. A speech was delivered by Richard St. Barbe Baker of New Zealand and it was followed by a short funeral dissertation by NAVS Pres. Jay Dinshah who spoke about the age-old problem of hunger and malnutrition. In his speech Mr. Dinshah called upon the people to adopt a vegetarian diet as the only alternative to mass starvation and said, "Let us bury famine and not its victims".

Following this, a coffin was loaded into a hearse, followed by a full array of reporters and TV cameras.

PARA-DESA: "A celebration in music and dance" was per-formed the afternoon of Aug. 21 by the Divine Light Dan-cers (music by the Paul Winter Consort). Para-Desa is an epic poem with a "vegetarian message", written by Henry Bailey Stevens - actually it is/was much more. It was a beautiful performance and left many people literally speechless.

The evening of Aug. 23 a "Beauty Without Cruelty Fashion Show" was held and narrated by Victoria Mucie of the Midwest Vegetarians. It was not so much an appeal to humane vanity, but more a showing of how senseless the fur industry really is. It complemented a previous pre-sentation by Ms. Mucie who gave a 10 minute presenta-tion on animal products used in the cosmetic industry.

Most people agreed that coming to the congress was time and money well-spent.

Another congress is being planned for next year to ac-commodate the growing interest in vegetarianism in the U.S. It will be a regional conference for the U.S. and Canada. The next World Congress will be held in India (probably Bombay) in 1977.

If you would like more in-formation write: NAVS, 501 Old Harding Highway, Malaga, N.J. 08328 or follow fur-ther developments in these pages, we'll do our best to keep you posted.