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Vegetarian Federal Union 1889-1911

From The Vegetarian (London), July 13, 1889:

Important Meeting
OF THE
Executive Committee
OF THE LONDON VEGETARIAN SOCIETY

After a two months' interval, the Committee of the London Vegetarian Society met at the offices in the Memorial Hall on the 5th inst. [July 5, 1889]. On the conclusion of the formal business, the President, inaccordance with his notice on the agenda, brought forward for consideration the "future policy of the Society." . . . he proceeded to take a brief review of the policy which had hitherto been adopted by the London Society, during the two years and half of its existence. He strongly emphasised three points as its leading characteristics : (1) Full freedom of individual expression ; (2) Full recognition of financial responsibility ; (3) Strong disavowal of autocatic authority. The first point implied that no check was to be placed upon individuals in thier search after Truth ; the second, that no subsidy was to be expected from new-born societies ; and the last, that no Committee was to assume the right of dictation to the less organised branches. In a word, the policy of their Society had been one of large and liberal tolerance of opinion - more ready to give than to receive, more eager to proclaim the principles of Vegetarianism than to number up its converts.

With this introduction, the President proceeded to unfold a scheme for the federation of all Vegetarian Societies, much of which, as he said, had been suggested by Mr. Forward's admirable paper on "Organisation." [now apparently lost]. A general discussion followed, but the opinion was strongly expressed that more time was required for the consideration of such important matters. It was therefore resolved, on the President's proposal, seconded by Mr. Forward, that a Committe of sixteen should be appointed to consider the whole question of the Federation of Vegetarian Societies.

The following ladies and gentlemen were elected to serve on this Committee : Mrs Hawkins, Miss Harding, Mrs Leigh Hunt Wallace, Professor J. E. B. Mayor, Mr. A. F. Hills, Mr. C. Forward, Rev. G. Villiers Briscoe, Mr. Oldfield, Mr. Alderman Phillips, Mr. A. Hanson, Mr. Beurle, Mr. Boult, Mr. J. Newton Wood, Mr. R. E. O'Callaghan, Mr. F. P. Doremus, Mr. W. S. Manning. . . .


From The Vegetarian (London), July 27, 1889:

DRAFT OF SUGGESTED CONSTITUTION FOR
THE VEGETARIAN UNION
(for consideration and criticism)

In accordance with the resolution adopted at the last meeting of the Executive Committee of the London Vegetarian Society, appointing a Committee "to consider the whole question of the federation of Vegetarian Societies," a meeting was held at the Society's offices on Monday evening last, the President of the Society in the Chair, when the matter was thoroughly discussed, and the following constitution drafted :-

  1. Name. - Its name shall be "THE VEGETARIAN UNION"

  2. Constitution. - It shall consist of a Central Council, representing all phases of Vegetarian thought and activity, for the purpose of mutual help and encouragement.

  3. Officers. - Its Officers shall be a Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Treasurer, and Secretary, together with the Council, which shall consist of Delegates duly elected by the several Societies they represent.

  4. Election of Delegates. - These shall be elected without distiction of sex or opinion, in the following proportion : 25 members, one delegate ; 100 members, two delegates ; 250 members, three delegates ; 500 members, four delegates ; 1,000 members and upwads, five delegates.

  5. Function. - The function of the Vegetarian Union shall be primarily that of uniting in one common brotherhood all those who are in sympathy with the principles and work of Vegetarianism.
    (a) The Vegetarian Union shall therefore put forward no Creed or Platform (negative or positive) as binding upon Vegetarians, but rather shall insist upon that perfect law of liberty which gives to the individual that freedom of thought and conduct which is the very essence of virtue and morals.
    (b) The Vegetarian Union shall in all its work be honorary - neither giving nor exacting payment.
    (c) The Vegetarian Union shall have no authority at all over its affiliated Societies, save that supreme moral authority which springs from the approval or disapproval of earnest, devoted and united men.

  6. Rules. - In accordance with the above conception of its true function, the Vegetarian Union shall recognise no specific code of rules as binding upon its affiliated Societies. Honest difference of opinion shall be no bar to harmonious co-operation where agreement is unbroken. Some Societies make a distinction of privilege and power between their Members and Associates ; some make no distinction at all. Some Societies make one scale of payment for membership, some another. Some connect Vegetarianism with all efforts after a more perfect life, e.g., the Temperance movement, the Anti-Tobacco movement, the Anti-Vaccination movement, the Anti Vivisection Movement, etc. Some are moderate, some extreme. Some are active, some are not. For all these differences there can be no common formula, no single equation which will satisfy all without offence ; and therefore the Vegetarian Union takes no formal official cognisance of such differences at all. It opens wide its arms of affection, and welcomes all who are in any measure in sympathy with its work. It retains the individuality of its members, and so multiplies the momentum of its energies. It eliminates friction with its oil of love, and so makes easy the progress of its principles.

  7. Meetings. - The Vegetarian Union shall meet once in every three months, at some suitable centre to be determined upon from time to time.
    All expenses of delegates in connection with the Meetings of the Union shall be defrayed by their respective Societies.
    All expenses in connection with the work of the Union shall be defrayed by voluntary contributions on the part of the affiliated Societies.

  8. Duties. - The duties of the Vegetarian Union shall be to receive and consider the reports of its affiliated Societies as to the work done and advance made during the past quarter. It shall approve or reprove, in accordance with the circumstances of the case ; and in so doing shall express the moral sentiment of the Vegetarian world. It shall have the power of discussion upon all points of dispute and dificulty ; and shall, again, by its decision to express for the timethe verdict of Vegetarians. It shall also consult together as to the best methods of furthering the progress of Vegetarian propaganda, and shall obtain from the concentrated variety in many minds that true Union which is strength. And in all this there is room for the development of brotherly and sisterly kindness, which is the only atmosphere in which Vegetarianism or any other social reform can flourish. There is room for definition without dogma, for dogma is dead and cannot grow ; there is room for charity without creed, for creed crystallises and cannot live ; there is room for reason without rule, for rule hinders and cannot help.