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History of the Friends Vegetarian Society



The Friends (Quakers) Vegetarian Society was founded in May 1902.

Historical notes marking the Centenary: 1902-2002 - compiled by the FVS Secretary.

The July 1908 issues of the Vegetarian Messenger (VSUK magazine) carried a full report of the Friends annual meeting which included the following:

Friends Vegetarian Society. - ... The Society decided to be represented at the International Federation of Vegetarian Societies to be held in Dresden in August, at the time of the Esperanto Congress.
... at the end of 1906 the Society had a membership of about 100 … This year 34 new members have joined.

The Friends Secretary at that time was Mr J A Gill, and he was almost certainly responsible for the decision to hold the first IVU meeting in Dresden. Mr Gill was a keen Esperantist and therefore already planning to visit Dresden, and he knew that quite a lot of other esperantists were also vegetarians and that the Esperanto Congresses always make sepcial provisions for vegetarians (Tolstoy was the Hon.President in 1908). He also knew that there was an active Dresden Vegetarian Society.

The October 1908 issue of the Vegetarian Messenger reporting on the creation of IVU in Dresden, mentions "Mr. J. A. Gill, Tunbridge Wells, representing the Friends' Vegetarian Society"

In November 1908 the same magazine reported the creation of 'International Union of Vegetarian Esperantists', no doubt Mr Gill had some involvement.

In December 1908 the Messenger included the following:

Vegetarianism and Language. - Mr. J. Arthur Gill writes :- "At the recent International Congress in Dresden there was opportunity for observing the part which language can play in the spread of a movement.. The present writer is an Esperantist and a vegetarian who attempted to attend both series of meetings. After one of the vegetarian meetings, he found a German regarding him with friendly eyes, and at once tried to fall into conversation with him. But no! after each had cudgelled his brains for a few stray words in the other's language, the whole and sole result was the following scene : - 'Vegetarian? Yes!' 'Vegetarian? Yes!' violent and delighted handshake. When this had been repeated two or three times, one began to feel a need for further details, and the interest waned. How different was the case with a charming vegetarian, who, oh joy! Spoke also Esperanto! It was a noticeable thing, too, that whereas the day meetings consisted largely of just the delegates who had come to lay down the foundations of the future International Vegetarian Federation, the four vegetarian restaurants were filled day by day with Esperantists, who were actually vegetarians, or that way inclined. What delightful places those Dresden restaurants are! Picture a little group of half-a-dozen sitting round a table and vastly amused with everything around, and especially one another, all speaking with interest and animation. From the conversation it was impossible to learn of their nationality, yet one would be a Finn, another a Tyrolese, another a Frenchman, and so on. The function of the Internacia Unicio de Esperantistaj Vegetaranoj, is to supply services to vegetarians, through the instrumentality of their International language. If any vegetarians in England, for instance, desires to travel, or desires to correspond, he will write to Sinjoro R.de-Ladevèze, Hamburgo, Altonaer starsse, 67 III, who will give him addresses of vegetarian restaurants, pensions, etc., or will put him into communication with kindred spirits for the interchange if ideas."

After this very active involvement at the first IVU Congress, there is no mention of the Friends Vegetarian Society in the reports of any subsequent Congress. The Society does appear on the lists of members for 1977 and 79 (the only surviving lists).

The Friends Vegetarian Society today does not have website or an email address. Contact:
Friend’s Vegetarian Society, 9 Astons Close, Woods Lane, Amblecote, Nr. Stourbridge, West Midlands DY5 2QT, UK.

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