|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
24th World Vegetarian Congress 1977
From The New Vegetarian (VSUK magazine) March 1978:
XXIV WORLD VEGETARIAN CONGRESS
INDIA 18 NOV-10 DEC '77
The British delegation to the Congress was lead by Mr. John le Grice, Deputy President of the Vegetaian Society (UK) Ltd., and Dr. Gordon Latto, who is President of both VSUK and the International Vegetarian Union. Also attending as a British delegate was Brian J. Gunn-King, General Secretary of IVU. The beginning of the Congress was overshadowed by the sad news of the death of Mr. Jay Mankar just a few days earlier. Mr. Mankar had done a great deal towards organising the conference and he will be missed by all who work for the vegetarian cause.
The programme covered all aspects of the vegetarian way of life; ethical, spiritual, economic, health and social. There was considerable emphasis on the need to educate the public about the benefits of vegetarianism. Dr. Latto reports that after a session devoted to school-children, more than sixty young confessed that they were so moved by the speeches they decided to become vegetarian there and then.
The Prime Minister of India, Mr. Moraji Desai is himself a vegetarian and very sympathetic towards the aims of the Congress. He has already forbidden the export of beef, frogs-legs, monkeys and birds from his country. It is therefore to be expected that he will give a sympathetic hearing to the resolutions drawn up by the Congress to promote vegetarianism, especially in India. These resolutions include: the insistence that all packaged foodstuffs should have the ingredients listed on the label; the provision of facilities in Hime Economics Colleges for the study of vegetarian catering; that the government will undertake research into the more efficient use of natural resources with ecological, economical and ethical aspects all being taken into consideration.
The Congress also recommended that all hotels in which the government had an interest should provide exclusively vegetarian restaurants with separate kitchens and that the government should not give support or encouragement to slaughter-houses.
In India, of course, vegetarianism is a widely accepted way of life stemming from the Hindu religious traditions. Swami Sachidanand expressed his happiness that vegetarianism was spreading in the West. "Meat is dead; plants offer their fruits lovingly," he said.
In spite of what seems to have been a tight schedule, foreign delegates had the chance to see something of Indian life and culture. The meetings were held in several Indian cities including Delhi, Jaipur, Calcutta, Madras, Bangalore and Bombay. Sightseeing trips were arranged for the delegates with displays of Indian dancing and music. Dr. Latto describes the dancing at Kalakshetra as the most wonderful he has ever seen. He also attended a traditional Indian wedding. The bride had not seen her partner before the ceremony, but he was assured that marriages were usually happy and that there were very few cases of divorce.
It was generally agreed that the Congress was a great success and the kindness and hospitality of the Indian people will long be remembered. Britain is hosting the next World Vegetarian Congress which will be in the summer of 1979.