|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
32nd World Vegetarian Congress 1996
from EVU News, Issue 3 / 1996
Vegetarian Summerfest - Vegetarian Congress
More than 800 participants from 21 countries and all five continents attended the week-long congress at the Congress Centre of Johnstown, University of Pittsburgh.
To sum it up in few words: It was an event of superlatives! Largest number of people attending, so many speakers, world lecturers, activists, pioneers from around the globe that often 4 or 5 interesting classes and seminars, were taking place contemporarily offering a great variety of topics (health, nutrition, animal rights, environment, yoga, exercise) and you had an agonising choice to make.
The American Dietetic Association's Vegetarians Practice Group held a general meeting and offered classes on Tuesday, which unfortunately could not be attended by IVU officers and Council members as there were meetings nearly the whole day long. (The fact that two days of the week were spent on IVU meetings did not please everybody and must be reviewed for future congresses.)
The Campus, beautifully situated on a hill in a kind of park (with a lot of wildlife: squirrels, ground-hogs, skunks, birds), was an ideal place for the event, requiring even a lot of walking between the lectures from one building to another. As we passed most of the time indoors, and were too busy with all the lectures, it did not matter very much that the weather was not very summery. The fact that a lot of sports facilities were on hand, was especially appreciated by the younger generation, whom you could see playing basketball, tennis, table tennis, or swimming and jogging. Everybody could find what he was looking for, beginning with yoga sessions at 6p.m. and ending with evening sky-watching and dancing at midnight.
It was especially pleasing to see - unlike at other congresses - so many children and youngsters around the campus, with separate programs and their own "teachers".
The NAVS bookshop with all the books and videos on vegetarianism you could imagine, tempted several people to buy more literature than their suitcases could take, especially those from overseas.
Extra mention has to be made for award winning chef Ken Bergeron and his staff. His meals were even better than announced and probably made some lacto-vegetarians forget that the "Vegetarian" Congress actually was a "Vegan" one and probably made a lot of people eat more than they normally do. But the most important fact was the spontaneous friendship and camaraderie among the attendees from all over the world.
Thanks to all who made the meeting possible and a successful one, especially to the North American Vegetarian Society which organised the event so brilliantly, in particular to Jenny O. Collura, Brian Graf and Hal Hamer, but also to the numerous young, friendly and always helpful students from the University of Pitt-Johnstown.Sigrid De Leo