International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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History of the Vegetarian Catering Association


The minutes of the IVU Executive Committee meeting, July 17, 1951 record that the newly appointed secretary had received support from several organisations in opening the new temporary office in London, one of which was the Vegetarian Catering Association. The same minutes note "After an excellent lunch provided by Mrs.English, Secretary of the V.C.A. & her staff, the meeting re-assembled ...."

The minutes of the IVU Executive Committee meeting, April 10/11, 1952, held near Haarlem, Holland record:

A proposal to issue some simple form of guidance to non-vegetarian caterers was submitted by the Vegetarian Catering Association of England, discussed & approved. The Secretary was asked to collaborate with the V.C.A.

A key figure in the VCA was Isobel Wilson (1908-1994), an interview (1992) and an obituary can be found at The interview includes:

Realising the difficulties facing vegetarians when on holiday and travelling was the main reason behind setting up Rothay Bank Guesthouse, which she ran for 30 years, and resulted in the formation of the Vegetarian Guest House Association in 1953. As the association formed stronger links with The Vegetarian Society it became the Vegetarian Catering Association, showing the organisation's aim of promoting vegetarianism among professional caterers.

From the above minutes it can seen that Isobel's memory was slightly out. 1908 was an auspicious year for anyone involved with IVU to have been born... she was the daughter of H. Julius Lunt, whose Manchester firm is mentioned in those same 1951 minutes as the IVU auditors. Her obituary, written or The Vegetarian by Maxwell Lee (IVU General Secretary, President and other roles from 1979 to the present) states:

Being a guesthouse proprietor led Isobel to becoming a member of the Vegetarian Catering Association and she was soon an active participant, subsequently becoming chairperson in 1969. When the Food and Cookery Section of the Vegetarian Society succeeded the VCA, Isobel became very much involved in the development of the Section's work, giving talks and cookery demonstrations in various parts of the country and becoming its chairperson in 1985.

It may be that she joined in 1953 and the interviewer got confused in the first article.

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