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Vegetarian Federal Union 1889-1911

ANNUAL REPORT 1897

BERKSHIRE.

In presenting my Report for the past year I feel bound to express my conviction as to the general awakening of the people in relation to our movement. As I journey up and down my District I am continually meeting people who are considering the matter, and are attempting to follow our principles as far as they can in the circumstances in which they are placed thus showing that the seeds sown are bringing forth plants, which will in time bear fruit, although sometimes apparently a long time in fructifying.

I am persuaded that our Cause is rapidly growing far more rapidly than our membership indicates. For instance - many of our converts are reformers in other ways, and have their hands full of work, and so they do not join a Society for fear of having more work to do; others, who are poor, would join were it not for the subscription while there are those who are with us at heart, but the circumstances in which they are placed will not allow of their becoming Vegetarians outright. Some would become members at once if their wives would cook Vegetarian meals for them, or would do so if they could get fruit, nuts, etc., at a more reasonable price than they at present can in country towns and villages. Others are satisfied that our principles are right, but they are afraid of being classed among the "faddists," and so, while discontinuing the use of meat at home, when they go out they take a little, for fear of inconveniencing their hosts or to prevent disparaging remarks from those in whose company they are.

These are all obstacles with which we have to contend, but which doubtless will be overcome as time goes on.

The proportionate number of Vegetarians in and out of our Societies is, I think, very similar to the Temperance Movement, for therein it is found that the number of workers and members of Societies in proportion to the whole body of Total Abstainers is exceedingly small, and I therefore do not think we should be discouraged on this account. As our movement becomes more popular, the membership of our Societies will, I believe, increase more rapidly.

Meetings held. - The year just ended has been a busy one in my District, every opportunity possible being taken in the time at my command to spread the knowledge of our truths. Every town in Berks. and South Oxon. and many of the villages also have been visited and meetings of some kind held, as more particularly noticed further on in this Report.

I have acted as Secretary of the Reading Society, and in connection therewith have organized several successful public meetings, a cookery demonstration, and attended the monthly and other committee meetings. Besides local friends who have taken part in these meetings we have had Mrs. McDouall, Mrs. F. L. Boult, and Dr. Oldfield, who have rendered good service, and Mrs. A. B. Bonsor, who gave a useful Cookery Demonstration.

I organized a Debate at Culham Training College for Schoolmasters, which passed off very successfully, and was the means of instructing the future teachers of the youth of our country in our principles.

Stands were arranged at three Trades and Cookery Exhibitions, and these were of very great benefit in bringing our objects before a large number of people, and in introducing us to those who were already in sympathy with us. It also enabled us to discuss our principles with many whom we might not otherwise reach, and I consider that this has been one of the best means of propaganda during the year.

I attended the whole of the meetings of the Jubilee Congress, rendering help when required, and gaining fresh knowledge and inspiration for my work. I also attended the Jubilee meetings of the Vegetarian Society in Manchester.

Lantern lectures have been given in the towns of Reading, Newbury, Maidenhead, Didcot, Abingdon, and Wallingford; also in Pangbourne, Earley, Checkendon and other villages in the district. Addresses have been given at l.O.G.T. Lodges, Juvenile Temples, Bands of Hope, Temperance and other Societies the full list of engagements including six public meetings, thirteen public lantern lectures, three bazaars, two debates, three exhibitions (twenty-seven days), two fruit banquets, one cookery demonstration, Congress five days, and forty-one other meetings.

Formation of Societies.- A branch of the Ivy Leaves has been established in Reading, which promises to be of great usefulness in teaching the children the principles of our movement.

New Experiments.- I contested one of the Wards of Reading for a seat on the Board of Guardians as a Vegetarian anti-Vaccinationist. I was successful, and have attended every meeting of the Board. During the contest I became acquainted with Vegetarians of whose existence I was previously unaware, and in my canvass I was often able to introduce our principles to persons who otherwise I should not have been able to reach. While on the Board I have endeavoured to improve the diet of the inmates of the Union, and I have strenuously opposed the execution of the Compulsory Vaccination Acts.

The cookery teachers of the School Board have been supplied with cookery books, and as a result many Vegetarian dishes have been taught the children

Press.- The local newspapers have shown sympathy with us during the year, the Reading Observer and Berks. Chronicle having accepted paragraphs of general interest, and the Reading Standard has agreed to insert Vegetarian Cookery Recipes weekly during the year 1898.

Literature.- I have attended three Bazaars with cookery books and other suitable literature, and have sold and otherwise distributed books, etc., at all the meetings I have attended during the year.

The Vegetarian and other publications have been pushed wherever possible, and our local newsagents have been encouraged by our ordering through them for our members in their various districts.

Arrangements have been made for a number of meetings in the year 1898, which promises to be a year full of work.

Signs of encouragement are to be seen on all hands, which I trust will develop during the coming year, so that the adherents to our cause will have increased and multiplied into a great army, ready to go forth, conquering and to conquer for the right, and to win, the world for our great and glorious cause.

D. W. BISHOP ACKERMAN
Provincial Secretary for Berks. and District.

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