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Friends Vegetarian Society
Centenary 1902-2002 - Historical notes

Centenary 2002 - History

Extracts from the Minutes to form a precis in respect of the years from 1902 to 2002 -.

Through the workings of the spirit of Truth in the hearts of several Friends begetting a tenderness for all livings creatures and a desire to spread a kindlier way of living amongst members of the Society of Friends and others. This philosophy met with a hearty response from many like minded Friends with the result that the F.V.S. was started on the 10th November, 1902

The first gathering of the Society showed that man's gradual development conscientousness for there must be affection for all creatures. There was concern about vivisection and all that goes on in the slaughterhouse. This matter was considered at the first meeting of the Society which was held during Yearly Meeting of 1903 which followed with a tea. Much interest was shown by Friends in the form of questions and answers.

1905 saw she Society being recognised as an integral part of Y.M. and by 1906 the number of members was that of 109. During 1909 a pamphlet was drawn up for circulation to all Friends. Meetings took place in Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds etc.

During 1912 Arthur Brayshaw was appointed Secretary and a committee was formed, In 1914 F.V.S. met with the Friends Temperance Union at Tunbridge Wells for, it was considered essential that Friends should have a clear mind and a healthy lifestyle.

May 20th 1914 it was agreed that a circular be sent to all schools. It was agreed that a short circular be inserted in The Friend once a month, as a result 18 new members joined within the year thus, making a total of 160.

A York hospital passed a resolution in favour of Vegetarianism when attempts were made to secure better diets for members of the Friends Ambulance Unit.

Adverts were placed in The Friends offering lectures and cookery demonstrations during 1916. The Secretary wrote to the Friends Service Committee seeking their influence to procure suitable diets for any Vegetarians who may be imprisoned for conscience sake. Members of the Friends Ambulance Unit operating during the war period the committee sent a letter of request that members Unit be true to their beliefs by allowing them Vegetarian meals.

War conditions prevented any meetings being held. A petition was sent to the wartime Food Controller requesting that Vegetarians be allowed a larger amount of fat to replace their loss of meat ration.

1919 the shadow of war had lifted but, famine remained in many parts of the world,

Advertisements were placed in the Friend consisting of quotations from the Bible, Plato, the Christian Fathers and in November of 1920 a series of cookery lectures and demonstrations were presented at Letchworth.

Maurice Knaggs Essay on Fruitarianism was circulated and has been in great demand from other bodies and an interesting number of Friends using the restaurant at Friends House preferred a fruit menu.

In the Advices and Queries of 1928 the following occurs for the first time "Let the Law of Kindness know no limits and to show a loving kindness for all God's creatures.

In the meeting's report of May 1942 it reveals that George Fox in 1670 became a Vegetarian. It was reported during the 1943 meeting that among others Terence and Grace Lane of Eltham had joined the Society - in August 1943 Terence had acted as clerk and in 1944 he was elected president.

At a business meeting of May 1948 F. Newman Turner (Editor of the Farmer) spoke on Friends and Food, stressing the need for Friends to take a greater interest in the present methods of growing and. preparing our food,

The meeting of October 2nd 1948 Arthur Brayshaw had. prepared an anthology on "Kindness to animals". In June 1950 leaflets wore printed 'Friends should be Vegetarians'. In September 1951 it was agreed. that the A.G.M. should be held in March, 1952 to consider wording for the 50 years Jubilee Meeting of work and to have it printed and to be sent to all P.M's.

The death of Arthur Brayshaw was reported and Terence and Grace Lane were appointed as joint seceratries. A history of the F.V.S. was published in the Friend at the request of the Editor.on the 28th March, 1952.

There have been a number of Veg local societies organised in Manchester, Liverpool, London etc. and correspondence from time to time has been received from Letchworth, Germany, Japan, Ceylon and other countries. Other correspondence is often received from America, New Zealand and Ceylon. Joan Mary Fry had requested information concerning cancer among vegetarians.

A request was received from French Friends regarding assistance that could be offered to them in setting up a similar organisation/committee.

The European Vegetarian Conference to be held in Sigtuna, Sweden in 1953 in which Friends forwarded a message of goodwill for the Conference.

In December, 1953 Friends decided to hold a cookery demonstration which would. be held. on the 5th June at Westminster F.M.H. and that William K. Robinson would give a talk and cookery demonstration the subject being 'Batchelor Cooking' which was appreciated. In 1954 Dr Allman agreed to give a talk on 'Food on Nature cure Line'.

May 29th, 1954 the first Newsletter was published. and. circulated and was sent to 71 correspondents who were appointed by the P.M's. and these were exhibited on the P.M. notice boards and. letters of appreciation were received.

Consideration was given to the formation of a library from which books could be borrowed.

It was reported that an insurance company was offering exceptional rates and better terms to Vegetarians on account of their better health. Do we dwell sufficiently on the thought of reverence for all life? A draft wording of a suggested clause for inclusion in the Books of Discipline had been sent to the Recording Clark which had been acknowledged..

During April 1956 committee Friends were again considering a home for the elderly. It was reported that Joan Mary Fry (aged 92 years) gave an Address. She died in her 93rd year.

Approaches were made during 1958 to a select committee at the N.H.S. with the view of better services being extended. to Vegetarians. Vegetarian meals at Friends Schools were considered inadequate and an issue raised was that of cheese not containing animal fats.

It was interesting to note that on a number of occasions there has been a link with the Friends Temperance Union and the Vegetarian Society in that Vegetarians seek a healthy lifestyle and should not consume alcohol and likewise non alcoholics should consider becoming Vegetarians also, for a healthy lifestyle. In considering this aspect a request from the Temperance Union for a Veg. article to appear in their Newsletter, was forwarded to them.

During 1962 there was a spraying of crops which was poisonous for it was considered to be addictive to food.

Many occasions arose concerning the use of animals for food and experimentation during the 1964 period.

In March a letter was sent to the Ministry of Food asking for food to be marked and clearly labelled as to whether it was produced under Factory Farming methods or not and a copy was sent to the M.P. for Chelmsford. In July 1966 pressure by M.P.'s on the Government for a debate on the issue of animal
Factory Farming. A Conference on factory Farming took place on 5th November 1966 but, no report has been given.

Further consideration was given to a home for the Elderly with the suggestion that one be found in or near the coastal area or, in the country with access to the coast, shopping, Post Office etc.

A pre Christmas cooked luncheon followed by a social and music and then to partake of High afternoon tea was held at St Mary's Church Hall in Eversholt Street, London. The Veg. Food was all prepared and cooked by Charles Ryder without charge at which many Friends had gathered for an enjoyable day.

A new leaflet had been prepared suitable for young Friends and students 'Why I am a Vegetarian'.

20th December there were no developments to report regarding a Home for the Elderly.

It was agreed that we seek a Health Food Store manager to speak at our next meeting.

The 1991 A.G.M. had James Milton of the Vegetarian Society of Altrincham to speak in which he referred to the courses conducted at the cookery school of which there are four tiers. The courses are all diploma orientated.

Home for the Elderly was still being explored and the secretary stated that he did not wish to have mortgage. This was agreed. It was also agreed. for the hone to have a spare downstairs room for the elderly/frail, a meeting room, if a Meeting House wasn't available in the area, a music room etc.

November 1992 a further pre Christmas Luncheon, social and High Tea be arranged as that of last year which was considered to have been a great success.

28th December, 1995 it was reported that more Friends had resigned for the same reason as the :former chairman/secretary, there had been no effort to induce the members to remain, for the atmosphere was not a particularly friendly one.

The A.G.M. of 1997 met at Hampstead. F.M.H. on 17th May at which Gill Skidmore spoke on the issue of The Friend journal and demonstrated with photographs, picture and other items. All of which proved interesting and Gill was thanked for her talk and presence. There being no new nominations, the meeting closed with afternoon tea being provided by the Secretary (Charles Ryder) who was thanked.

From the Minutes of May 1998 at which a small group had. gathered from B.Y.M. for a committee, it was clear that of the few members attending that the end of F.V.S. was in sight. Although many members still pay their subscription but, it would appear that they have no interest in activities, or that of attending meetings.

In view of there being no successor for Charles Ryder after very many years of service, then, its sad to think that over the years funds, legacies etc. have been left for the purpose of providing a home for the elderly.

Charles Ryder, Secretary 10.02