|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
25th World Vegetarian Congress 1979
From 'Alive' (VSUK magazine) Nov/Dec 1979:
25th WORLD VEGETARIAN CONGRESS
AS you all probably know by now, the I.V.U. Congress which was held
at Loughborough from 25th August to 9th September this year was a rather
special one. As it was the 25th Congress to be held since the I.V.U.
was founded in 1907, it came to be regarded as a sort of Silver jubilee.
It also co-incided with the 10th Anniversary of the VSUK which was formed
in 1969 by the amalgamation of the two major national societies and
various local societies. The central week-end of the Congress was given
over to the meetings and events which normally occur during the annual
VSUK conference and a celebratior dinner dance in honour of this anniversary
was held on the Saturday evening. Although only attendec the first week
of the Congress, leaving on Sunday, 2 September after the Research Section
A.G.M., there was so much happening I think it would be impossible to
write a fully comprehensive report. Instead have put together a 'pot-pourri'
consisting of photographs, summaries of various lectures and some of
my own personal impressions which I hope will convey to readers of Alive
a sense of the prevailing atmosphere and interest. B.H.
THE Congress began at 10.00 am on Sunday, 26th August, if you don't
count the early morning exercise and meditation sessions which began
at 6.45 am! I must confess that I never woke up early enough to attend
those, so I can not give a report about them. Many people did go along,
however, and I understand they were very enjoyable, as well as a great
help in fostering an atmosphere of fellowship.
The first event on Sunday was a piano recital by Brian Wright, in which
he played music by vegetarian composers: Cyril Scott, Frank Merrick,
Percy Granger and Thomas Pitfield. As far as we know, these are the
only vegetarian composers of classical music, it would be interesting
to hear from anyone who can add to this list.
People were arriving all through Sunday so by 2.30 pm, the time of
the official opening ceremony, the campus was beginningto take on a
truly international look. There were Indian girls in their lovely saris,
German ladies wearing splendid 'Sunday' blouses arid aprons of white
lace, [Namdhari] Sikhs in their distinctive white clothes. The ladies
of the Japanese delegation were beautifuily dressed - but in Western
style clothes. I was just a little disappointed that they did not bring
kimonos, but perhaps they are not practical for travelling. In all,
19 nations were represented, including Finland, Egypt, Venezuela and
East Germany - a country where organised vegetarianism is suppressed.
We were welcomed to Loughborough by Councillor Chapman, the Deputy Mayor, and Beryl Williams, Chairman of Council, welcomed everyone on behalf of the VSUK. As Mrs. Williams said in her opening speech, the Congress was dedicated to the lessening suffering in the world - the suffering of exploited animals and the suffering humans who are starving because of the unwise use of the world's resources. These twin aims were echoed again and again throughout the Congress. It must be a hopeful sign that four to five hundred people of different nationalities can sit down together discuss vegetarianism - which must surely be the ultimate peace movement? Let us hop everyone was inspired enough to translate the message of non-violence into constructive action when they returned home.
Herr Hiller made a very good point in his opening speech by saying
that vegetarianism becomes the Mother of Selfishness if we concentrate
too much on matters of health. Whereas we all need to take reasonable
precautions to maintain good health, it is a mistake to think of vegetarianism
as the cure for all all ills and indeed, we shouldn't need to justify
the compassionate way of life by giving too much prominence to health
Sr George Trevalyan also spoke during the opening ceremony, about Man's role as steward of the planet. We were also honoured by the presence of Sri Satguru Jagjeet Singh Ji Vaiaraj. the Supreme Spiritual Head of the [Namdhari] Sikhs, whose message of peace and religious unity was translated for us.
Professor Sinclair does believe that for health reasons, the vegetarian diet is superior to the traditional Western diet, mainly because of the increase in fibre and the increase in saturated fatty acids. Eskimoes have a very high fat content in their diet but it is miade up largely of polyunsaturated fatty acids They also have a very low fibre intake, but the long chain fatty acids in fish oils speed stool transit times. It is speedy transit time that is the important factor and in Western diets fibre is essential for this.
Another interesting point raised by Professor Sinclair is that people who chew raw sugar cane as a normal part of their diet usually have perfect teeth. This is because raw sugar cane contains high levels of vitamin B6 which are lost on refining. Vitamin B6 is now thought to protect against dental caries, and it is quite low in usual Western diets.
During the question period, the subject of long-chain fatty acids derived from linolenic acid and essential to brain metabolism, cropped up. Professor Sinclair assured us that the vegetarian diet provided perfectly adequate amounts as linolenic acid was present in leaves and could be used by the body for building up the other fatty acids in this series.
NO matter how carefully programmes like this are planned, I suppose
it is inevitable something should go wrong. In this case, it was the
Granada Television that upset the applecart at the last moment. They
had promised to lend us the film of the Luddenden Experiment - an experiment
in which an entire village in Yorkshire went meatless for a whole week.
Fortunately, Pamela Brown who was very closely involved with the making
of the film, was able to fill the gap very admirably with an account
of how the film was actually produced, giving us a lot of background
information and many amusing stories of the things that happened 'on
location'. Pamela had devised all the menus for the experiment and had
gone along to Luddenden to demonstrate vegetarian cookery and encourage
the poor 'victims' of the experiment. Apparently the producer had been
advised to have a doctor present in case the villagers became ill from
lack of proper sustenance! I think that by the end of the week, Pamela
had succeeded in demolishing this hoary old myth. Most people were convinced
that it is possible to live without meat, and when she returned to Luddenden
six months later she found many families were still using her recipes
and one family had become completely vegetarian.
Kun salutoj de 'Esperantista Vegetarano' - Christopher Fettes
FOR me, one of the most exciting and interesting parts of the Congress
was a talk which received only modest advance publicity. I hope the
members of Nottingham Branch will forgive me for missing their entertainment,
(which I have heard was extremely enjoyable) but the idea of a truly
international, simple-to-learn means of communication was so intriguing,
I couldn't resist it. Christopher Fettes, the speaker, is a very active
person both in the IVU and the Tutmonda Esperantista Vegetara Asocio,
and his enthusiasm for both these subjects was infectious. A great many
Esperanto speakers are vegetarians as well and their network of contacts
is so well-organised, a vegetarian-Esperanto traveller would be able
to get help and advice practically all over the world. Their magazine,
Esperantista Vegetariano goes out to 37 countries, many of which have
no society affiliated to the IVU. It is thought to be the only vegetarian
publication that is available behind the Iron Curtain, with over 100
readers in the Soviet Union alone. It is possible for a person of average
intelligence to become fluent in Esperanto in only a few months as all
the quirks of grammar and spelling that make national languages difficult
to learn are absent. Mr. Fettes showed us a slide of a lady who was
able to write books in Esperanto after only two years' study. How many
of you who did French at school would feel competent to write books
in French after your 4-5 year study period?
Owing to an unfortunate car accident, the translators were unable to reach Loughborough for the first few days, and although Dr. Barbara Latto kindly volunteered to tackle the German/English translations, the incident highlights the difficulties we have in communicating with people from other nationalities. Even learning a second national language doesn't help much when there are 19 different countries present. But if the majority of people had one second language in common - what a difference that would make! I felt so inspired by it all that I have already sent off for the beginner's correspondence course. If you feel prompted to do the same, and the courses are very inexpensive, or if you'd like to know about local Esperanto groups in your area contact: Esperanto-Asocio de Britujo, 140 Holland Park Avenue, London W1l 4UF. For details of the Tutmonda Esperantista Vegetara Asocio, write to Christopher Fettes, St. Columba's College, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16.
Save the Amazon
I MET Richard St. Barbe Baker, the renowned 'Man of the Trees'
at the Congress where he gave a lecture on redwoods. During the IVU
General Meeting he introduced a resolution that all the vegetarians
of the world should make an appeal to try and prevent the destruction
of the Amazon forest. Although he will be 90 this year, Richard St.
Barbe Baker is still working indefatigably for the trees he loves. The
Amazon forest is vitally important as the world's largest, and last,
oxygen bank but the trees are being felled at a frightening rate in
order to clear land for beef production.
He also told me about his idea for the Year of the Child - in fact he was hoping it would become the Decade of the Child with the slogan 'For Every Child A Tree'. In Guinea, when a girl is born, a kola nut is planted over the after-birth. The tree grows with the child and by the time she is a young woman provides enough nuts to keep her in 'pin money'. Richard St. Barbe Baker is hoping this idea will catch on with vegetarian mothers everywhere.
The Young Indians' evening was rather a contrast, but not less enjoyable. The entertainment was provided by the UK Young Indian Vegetarians and members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousnes. We were treated to dramatisations of Hindu legends and recitals of traditional song accompanied by instruments which seemed very strange to western eyes. The only thing we could join in with here was the 'Hare Krishna' chant. Afterwards, members of the lnternational Society for Krishna Consciousness distributed prasada, food specially prepared as an offering to Krishna; in this case delicious Indian sweetmeats containing ghee from milk produced by their own cows at Bhaktivedanta Manor, Hertfordshire. There is no cruelty involved in producing this milk as the calves are allowed to suckle first, only surplus milk taken, and the male calves are not slaughtered.
PETER ROBERTS of Compassion in World Farming began his lecture with
a formidable warning: We shall not be rid of war until we cease waging
war on nature. He went on to discuss the dangers of factory farming,
only in terms of cruelty to the animals involved, but with regard to
the depletion of resources, the impoverishment of the soil through neglecting
crop rotation, the theft of grain from poor countries, the build-up
of disease. He emphasised how vulnerable we are in this country while
we depend so much on imported foods and urged a return to a more traditional
system of mixed farming both for our own sake and for the good of our
But his main argument against factory farming is the suffering it brings
to the animals trapped in this system. I don't think I was the only
one moved to tears by his true story of five chickens rescued from a
battery house and put into a large shed with a grass run. At first they
were completely nude of feathers and couldn't walk or use the perch.
It was a week before they began to explore, three weeks before they
could perch. Later, when they were more recoveered, a cockerel was put
among them. At first they all attacked him, but he gradually fought
his way up the pecking order, and only then he began to crow! This might
not be in accordance with the tenets of Women's Lib, but it does show
that these birds have a well orderered social system which is inevitably
suppressed by battery production. If this sort of thing was done to
humans, it would undounbtedly be classified as 'mental cruelty'.
The hens settled down once the cockerel had established his dominance, and lived happily for many years until they began to die of old age. When the cock's favourite 'wife' was dying she was too weak to perch, so he built a pile of straw to rest on, and spent every night beside her until she died, He only survived her by a few weeks.
CIWF are currently organising a petition to present to the Prime Minister in protest against battery production. Anyone who would like to help should turn to Newsdesk for details.
Japanese preventive therapies
THE title on the programme was misleading - the evening set aside for the Japanese delegation proved to be much more than a massage demonstration! According to oriental thought, disease occurs when an individual is badly adjusted to his environment, so rather than attacking the disease, oriental medicine pays attention to the patient and his attitudes and attempts to restore the balance between the patient and his living environment. The treatments which were described are intended to be practised in the home to keep people in good health, or to tackle minor complaints and prevent them from becoming serious.
Massage is one of the treatments, self-massage with special brushes
which looked like fluffy pom-poms, but which I suspect were made of
much stiffer material. Practised every day, this is supposed to be particularly
effective in warding off colds. Correct breathing is aslo considered
to be very important in maintaining health, and I was very interested
in a set of exercises meant to be used in combination with the five
vowel sounds. They are supposed to influence your moods too. For example
if you are feeling too negative or passive you should practise the 'a'
exercise about 20 times. It's difficult to describe in print but you
throw your arms outwards and upwards and shout 'Ah!' and hope the neighbours
aren't listening! In contrast, the 'o' exercise curs the body into the
ball and encourages introversion.
Other exercises were demonstrated, and the technique of applying hot
compresses to certain parts of the body to bring relief from pain and
stiffness. One demonstrator held up an acupuncture needle. I'm not sure
if he was asking for volunteers as he did not speak English, but nobody
The average lifespan of the Japanese is the longest in the world and
they attribute much of this good health and longevity to the low content
of saturated fat in the diet, and theancient custom of eating fermented
I MUST find room to say 'thank-you' to the catering staff at Loughborough,
who really did us proud. It couldn't have been an easy task with so
many different specialised diets to cope with - all the degrees of vegetarianism,
vegans, fruitarians, raw food-ists, and so on. But they provided a splendid
spread every day, with plenty of choice and I can't remeniber that they
ever repeated a main course during the week that I was there.
DR. Conrad Latto showed us some slides of his recent trip to India
and Persia, where he has been studying the importance of fibre in the
diet. A large proportion of the population in these countries are vegetarian
(often through circumstance, not choice) and whole grains are commonly
used in the diet. It is interesting to note that the health problems
of poorer countries are mostly to do with hygiene and the difficulties
of child birth and infancy. They suffer little from the diseases that
plague adults in the Western world - varicose veins, damaged arteries,
cancer, coronary heart disease, diverticular disease etc. Dr. Latto
then proceeded to frighten us by showing the effects of those aforementioned
diseases on full-colour slides! I'm sure frightening people isn't the
best way to promote vegetarianism but one is tempted to believe it might
be the most effective. When Dr. Latto showed a slide of the 'fur' that
had been removed from a blood vessel just as water-pipes are de-scaled,
I was mentally calculating how we could reduce the amount of cheese
we buy at home and increase the fibre content of our diet, animal fats
and over-refined foods being the danger items.
However, the talk ended on a happier note as he described how he had pioneered the use of bran in the Royal Berkshire Hospital to reduce post-operative constipation; it also seems to be reducing the incidence of post-operative deep vein thrombosis.
A SELECTION of sentences garnered from various speakers which struck me as being particularly pertinent. My apologies to the originators if they are not quite verbatim, but I trust I have captured the essential meaning.
DURING the IVU General Meeting several prominent people were nominated
for the position of Honorary Fellow of the IVU in recognition of the
work they have done to further the vegetarian cause. They include; Mr.
Moraji Desai, the former Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Rukmini Devi
Arandale, Herr Hiller who is retiring as Deputy President of the IVU
and Mr. Geoffrey Rudd, former General Secretary of the UK Vegetarian
Society and editor of this magazine, though it had a different title
in those days.
Mr. John le Grice was also nominated in recognition of all the work he has done, including organising this Congress but he felt he would prefer to remain as an Honorary Vice-President and continue in an active role, an so he declined. Mr. le Grice has really done marvellous job organising this Congress, in comparatively short period. The 1977 Congress was held rather late in the year, and this one rather early so he had less than than two years to do everything. We at Parkdale are in good position to appreciate how busy he has been since he borrowed one of our offices to set up a congress Headquarters. Mention must also be made of lvor and Beryl Williams who put in a great deal of work helping John Grice, especially during the last few months when the pace was 'hotting up'. Many other people contributed to the smooth running the Congress in various ways; they are too numerous to mention individually but their efforts were much appreciated.
Peter Burwash International
COMING into contact with the Peter Burwash team is a bit like an encounter
with a whirlwind - a very sunny and pleasant whirlwind - but still they
leave you with an overwhelming impression of speed, energy and enthusiasm.
Once again the entry in the programme, tennis demonstration, gave no
of what was really going to happen. A confirmed tennis-hater since my
days in the sixth form when, horror of horrors, they actually took us
away from our interesting lessons forced us to watch TV during Wimbledon
Week, I trotted along to the campus sports centre with my notebook tucked
dutifully under my arm, expecting at best, an hour's boredom.
But there is another side to the tennis show. Peter Burwash is a vegetarian
himself, as are most of his team. None of them smoke, drink take drugs.
In his introductory talk, Peter Burwash spoke of the difficulties of
promoting vegetarianism in the United States. The meat industry controls
television and a lot of the other publicity channels as well, so it
is hard to put emphasis on the compassionate aspect of vegetarianism.
Peter Burwash is trying to educate people about vegetarianism through
his tennis show by appealing to their interest in health and sports
prowess. Before he became a vegetarian, he took part in a Canadian testing
programme for sportsmen and came out at about 50. After just one year
on a vegetarian diet, he reached the top of this fitness index. He finds
it particularly affects one's power of endurance - vegetarians have
always done well in longer races such as the mile. Weight-lifters find
they are stronger on a vegetarian diet and the best meal for them to
eat before an event is pasta.
Peter Burwash believes we should all take the trouble to be a good advertisement for vegetarianism, as other people take notice of external things; how you look, how you dress, how you talk. 'Enthusiasm is contagious', he proclaims, look healthy and happy, talk with enthusiasm, don't isolate yourself but mix with non-vegetarians and keep informed so you can discuss your way of life on many different levels. He is certainly a wonderful advertisement for vegetarianism himself, and positively radiates enthusiasm and aliveness!
Ethics and ecology
WI LHELM BROCKHAUS' 'Ethical Justification of Vegetarianism' is rather
difficult to condense into a few lines as it contained so much thought-provoking
material. The main argument centres around the question of whether animals
are 'individuals' and therefore entitled to certain rights, or merely
'serial products' with all members of one species being exactly alike
and functioning mechanically. At the same time we need to consider that
there are enormous differences between species. With higher animals,
such as dogs, we can easily see evidence of sensation, feelings, character
traits that mark each animal as an individual, an 'animal person'. But
what about insects, worms, amoebae? Are all animals entitled to rights?
Professor Brockhaus believes that 'beings that act purposefully, that feel pain, torment and fear, that, hence, are able to suffer, must not be looked upon as obiects'.We do not have the right to dispose of them at our pleasure.
The Professor suggests we adopt the following as a basic law for ethical
vegetarianism: Animals are to be respected for their own sake, that
is, they are entitled to live their own befitting lives, as unimpaired
as possible, and to realise their true selves.
The rights of animals is not, however, an isolated problem, It is part of a much wider, ecological problem affecting all life-forms on this planet. Animals, plants and humans are interdependent. Professor Brockhaus asserts that understanding the laws of ecology must be the summit otall biological knowledge - the end towards which all science must work,
Food & Cookery
THE Food & Cookery Section of the VSUK had devised a really magnificent stand for the exhibition hall, the central feature of which was a mural composed of a great variety of grains, seeds and pulses.
The Food & Cookery Section is a part of the Society which doesn't really get much publicity although, as their regular advertisement tucked a way near the back of Alive always testifies, they are very busy organising cookery courses and demonstrations. The stand told us more about the Section's history and present day activities. Before Amalgamation it was an independent body, The Vegetarian Catering Association, and before that The Vegetarian Guest Houses' Association which was founded in 1946 at a meeting convened by Peter Freeman MP in a committee room at the House of Commons. Today, the Food & Cookery Section performs an essential part of the Society's work, demonstrating in a practical way how to live happily on a humane diet. It does this through the main courses and seminars held at Parkdale and 53 Marloes Road, London, but individual members also lecture and hold demonstrations locally. The Section also provides speakers for radio and television, schools, evening classes, housewives register groups etc.
The only snag is, the demand for their services is far greater than the supply, More helpers are needed, not only people with skills in cooking and teaching, but also those willing to lend a hand with washing-up, transport, organisation and so on. If anyone who is already a VSUK member would like to help, drop a line to Mrs. Cluer, the F.&C. Secretary You'll find her address on page 41.
Dr. Alan Long gave us a talk about the up-dated version of Greenplan,detailsof
which, I trust, will be appearing in his usual column in due course
as unfortunately, there isn't much room to do more than mention it here
At the end of the lecture however, he called for a few minutes' silence
rather thar applause, so that we could think what we can do to help
I should like to echo that, at the end of the Congress report. What can we do to help animals? It is very interesting to get together with fellow vegetarians from many different countries and talk about common aims. But talking is not enough. It's what we do thats important. Every little helps. Inviting a friend to a vegetarian meal, writing a letter to your local paper, letting the manager of your local shop know why you are boycotting certain products; even the busiest of us can do something like this from time to time. In her opening speech, Mrs. Williams expressed the hope that the planet might be blessed by this conference. The way for that to happen is for individuals to act out the message of the conference in their own neighbourhoods.