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Vegetarian Federal Union 1889-1911

From The Vegetarian (London) January 26, 1895:

VEGETARIAN FEDERAL UNION

ANNUAL MEETINGS AND CONGRESS

The Annual Meetings and Congress of the Vegetarian Federal Union are over, and most of the delegates have returned to their homes again. From many towns and far off districts they came to meet together, to converse together and help each other on in the pathway of a reformed life and by mutual intecourse to discover the best methods of pushing forward into its proper place of honour, that which will be the great movement of the twentieth century.

On Thursday morning, punctually at eleven o'clock the President took the chair, and then the minutes were read and confirmed, and the delegates names taken. Among those present were delegates from the American Society (Miss Yates and Mr. Broadbent [and Mr. T. A. Hanson as amended in in the next issue]), from the London Society (Lieut.-Col. Wintle, Mrs. McDouall, Miss C. B. Cole, Mr. A. C. Field and Mr.Hayward), from the Northern Heights Society (Mrs. Boult and Mrs. Phillips and Mr. Theobald), from the Portsmouth Society (Mr. G. C. Prior), from the Bolton Society (Mr. Brierly), from the Exeter Society (Mr. Pengelly). from the Irish Union (the Hon. Treas.), from the Halifax Society (Mr. Worsnop), from the Brighton Society (Mr. Slatter), from the Bristol Society (Mr. Parker), the Redhill Society (Mr. J. O. Quinton), from the West Ham Society (Mr. Barlow and Mr. Boden) from the Leicester Society (Alderman Biggs), while representatives of the Indian Societies were present in the persons of Mr. Changanlal Haridas Vora, Mr. Timbuklal J. Desai and Mr. Varma. Messages and reports were also reeived from The Dutch Vegetarian Union, The German Vegetarian Union, The New Zealand Societies, The Russian and Turkestan Societies, The Scottish Society, The Maidstone Society, The Birmingham Society, The Liverpool Society, The Cambridge Society, The Newcastle Society and the Sheffield Society.

The Agent for the Northern Province, (Mr. F. P. DOREMUS) read his report. The past twelve months, he said, had witnessed a decided advance in the Northern Province, and there was every likelihood of the progress being maintiained. On all sides the advocacy of Vegetarianism was admitted to be a step in the right direction. The press and the public generally regard the cause as a practical one, and no longer treat it as "a passing fancy." The class of persons they had been able to influence demonstrated that their principles were taking hold of the guiders of public opinion. Nearly 100 meetings had been held, attended by about 17,000 persons, the attendance ranging from 50 to 2,000. A happy feature of the year's work had been the removal, in many instances, of the feeling of isolation which had hitherto been felt by the numerous ardent Vegetarians. The various meetings had brought scattered Vegetarians together and caused them to realise they are not "a feeble folk." New Societies had been formed in Birmingham, Dereness Valley, Halifax, and Leicester. The Cambridge Society has been re-started. Scotland, thanks to the efforts of Mr. A. Bell, seemed to be waking up, and it was anticipated shortly that several new Societies would be formed in that part of the Northern Province. In February a new departure was made by the Union in the appointment of Mr. H. Saunders as sub-agent for Birmingham ; and in June Mr. W. G. Clarke was appointed in the same capacity for Newcastle. Both sub-agents were doing their utmost to promote the cause in their respective spheres. Mr. Sanders had addressed some thirty, and Mr. Clarke about fifteen meetings.

The agent for the Southern Province (Mr. R. E. O'CALLAGHAN), then submitted his report, from which it appeared that in Kent a new County Society had been formed. They had helped to set the ball a-rolling by a series limelight lecture tour in the New Year. Assistance had also been rendered to the county Society in Surrey, and in Sussex the work of the district had been considerably helped by the appointment of a sub-agent for Brighton. A sub-agent had also been appointed for Devon and Somerset for the formation for strong and permanent societies, while throughout the Southern province a large number of meeting had been held. Wales had also not been forgotten, and in fact "East and west, north and south, the watcher on the hilltop may note the cheery lights come forth, here few and weak, there many and strong, from Maidstone in the far east, to Plymouth and Swansea in the west, from the towns upon the Solent to the northern confines of Gloucester and Berks."

THE HON. TREASURER than read the Balance-sheet which showed a small balance in hand to commence the new year's work with.

THE PRESIDENT, in rising in rising to move the adoption of the report, said he would like to congratulate the delegates most heartily upon the success of their work during the past twelve months. He recognised that he was speaking to the chosen representatives of the various Societies, and he would like to convey to these Societies his congratulations and very hearty regard for the work done during the past year. One could not helo feeling struck by the extraordinary change which had of late come over the attitude of the press and the public with regard to Vegetarianism. The Union now had forty or fifty Societies affiliated with it in various parts of the United Kingdom, and Societies also in India, Russia, Turkestan, New Zealand and many other parts of the world were also becoming affiliated. There was in fact growing up all over the world a feeling of sympathy with the desire for a simpler diet, for the cessation of the shedding of blood and for putting an end to the destruction wrought by man upon the animals of the world. All the things tended to to make them very hopeful for the future, They had difficulties at times to overcome, but it seemed now as if the reward was coming ; as if a door was being opened to make clear the light of the future. He could not tell one tithe of the energy and devotion which had been used in the work of these Societies. They had to fighta hard and difficult battle often in the face of opposition and ridicule. But he thanked heaven that the work was going on, that many were fighting on our side, many devoted to our cause, supporting our determination to put an end to the shedding of blood. The foundations of the movement were laid in the past in doubt and difficulty, but there were sings now of a more rapid development of public opinion in favour of the movement they represented. He vetured to say that no organization of Vegetarianism had received more ample treatment or shewed more healthy life than that which they saw to-day, for during the past twelvemonth the signs of progress and activity had been greater than ever during the previous year. Before moving the resolution he would like to say one word as to the value of local organizations being affiliated with the central Federal Union. They were to-day celebrating the fifth or sixth anniversary of their Union which was a central organization and federation of the Vegetarian Societies of the world. The desire was not for any one Society to take the lead, but that they might work in cooperation, giving their help and sympathy to each other in many ways, but still not becoming subordinated to any other Society in any way, but working on equal lines with other Societies. This was the purpose of the Central organization; every Society should be represented in it, the delegates directly representing the individual Societies. Each Society had its power of control, and expressed its views in proportion to the strength of its membership upon any question that was discussed at the Federal Union meetings. While leaving the independence of local Societies it was desirable that they should be banded together in one strong central Union, and if they were prepared to recognise some central authority then he thought the road lay open to a very great development of Vegetarianism. The local Societies would have local control, but would be responsible to the central authority. The purpose of the Federal Union was to bring to an end the difficulties and disputes of the past, by reliance upon the central authority : and while there would be an open field for individuals in local Societies, at the same time there would be a strong central authority with a settled policy and purpose. For this reason he asked them to join in conveying to their respective Societies what perhaps they have yet but little under-stood, the true meaning of this Federal Union, that it is the banding together of all the Societies which are working for the spread of Vegetarianism; that they might gather more strength and courage than they had done before, so that they might be able to make more headway against the forces opposed to them. These forces were not easily beaten or over-come; hence the need for co-operation.

MRS. MCDOUALL (London) seconded it and pointed out that while some might think that one society more or less could make no difference, she knew too well that every sound link added to the chain was not only a crown of the past but a foundation stone for the future. She had watched with the keenest interest the tiny lights kindling here and there upon the dark waters of the night, and while she sorrowed when any disappeared she was filled with a deep and lasting joy when she saw them burning fairer and brighter, and growing year by year in numbers and in brilliancy.

MR. PENGELLY (Exeter) then proposed, and MRS. MCDOUALL (London) seconded that the officers for 1895 should be as follows: President, A. F. Hills; treasurer, William Theobald; hon. sec., Josiah Oldfield; hon. solicitor, J. Cosens Prior. This was carried.

Mr. PENGELLY (Exeter), then proposed and Mr. WORSNOP (Halifax) seconded that the Vice-Presidents should be Rev. Professor J. E. B. Mayor, Rev, Henry Clubb, W. Theobald, C. Cozens Prior, J. Nayler, Rev, J. H. Napper Nevill, M.A., William Addy Hall, Sir Isaac Pitman, Rev. J. C. Street, H. S. Bathgate, Rev. F. W. C. Bruce, being Vegetarian Presidents of Vegetarian Societies together with Mr. W. Harrison, Mr. W. E . A. Axon and the Rev. James Clarke. This was carried.

Mr. Worsnop (Halifax) proposed, and Mr. Parker (Bristol), seconded that the agenda as proposed by the V.F.U. executive should be postponed till after the reading of the first three papers which dealt with organisation. This was carried.

Mr. J. J. PENGELLY accordingly gave his paper on "Vegetarianism in the Provinces," in which he claimed that the Vegetarian movement had not organisations enough and that local authority should be strengthened and made more independent of central assistance.

The next paper was read by Mr. R. E. O'CALLAGHAN under the title of "Organization and Finance." It proved however to be a scathing criticism on the present conduct of Vegetarian journals, and strongly advocated their being brought more up-to-date, and to contain "more brains." Mr. O'Callaghan also urged the advantages of having a weekly newspaper under the control of the Union, and expressed the opinion, that in his view there was a grave danger in allowing Vegetarian newspapers to be in the hands of private owners, for they might even ultimately become the property butcher! (Mr. O'Callaghan afterwards explained -away many of the strong points of his paper the congress remitted it back to him for correction and elimination before it could be considered as received.)

It transpired that Mr. C. W. Forward's paper on "The Value of Literature as a means of propaganda" could not be read at this point, as had been intended, and an interesting discussion on two papers already submitted was opened by the Chairman who suggested that Mr. Pengelly's remarks alone called for consideration at that moment. The paper covered very much the same ground as the scheme put forward by the Union, and in fact many of the suggestions seemed already to be coming into existence. They however welcomed all ideas and well thought out plans for the development of the movement. He strongly believed in the necessity for a central autha-rity but the agent in each locality could still devise special remedies for particular localities under -his charge. He considered it impracticable however that the money raised in each province should be paid into the treasury of that province. The result would be that the central authority would have no subscriptions at all, and the organization would be entirely destroyed. He also could not agree with the suggestion provincial agents should of necessity be required to raise their own salaries. Under such circumstances he thought some of them would be very badly off indeed. That there was an absolute lack of organization amongst vegetarians he absolutely denied. He did not suppose there was any movement so highly organized as Vegetarian movement, and in fact it had been suggested to him that they spent too much time in multiplying machinery. Owing to these two opposing criticisms he thought they must be steering pretty evenly between the extremes. As to Mr. O'Callaghan's paper, he thought they had no reason to be ashamed either of the Vegetarian or the Vegetarian Review.

It was pointed out by Mr. PRIOR that if Mr. Pengelly would prepare an abstract of his paper showing the points of difference between it and the suggestions made by the executive that the meeting would be better able to grasp what were the suggestions of the Society he represented.

Mr. HAYWARD proposed that depots for the sale of Vegetarian literature should be opened in all th principla towns and even in small ones.

MISS YATES suggested that reading circles should be formed, as in America. These would form a nucleus from which ultimately new Societies might spring.

A resolution was then submitted to the meeting "That the Executive Committee consider the advisability of forming circles, and of pushing our publications by opening depots wherever possible."

It was further pointed out that many stationers would be willing to keep a stock of Vegetarian literature "on sale or return," if liberal terms were offered, and the advisability of an arrangement of this sort was emphasized, particularly when a meeting was about to be held in a county town, at which it could then be announced that at so-and-so's shop any publication could be obtained. A resolution was also proposed and carried requesting the Executive Committee to consider the advisability of preparing a circular pointing out the advantages of fruit culture for issue to the newly constituted parish councils.

The afternoon sessions on Thursday was occupied in discussing the suggested scheme of organisation of the V.F.U.

In the evening a Conversazione took place in the Library of the Memorial Hall.

[detailed accounts of the evening followed]

From The Vegetarian (London) Febrary 2, 1895:

VEGETARIAN FEDERAL UNION

ANNUAL MEETINGS AND CONGRESS
(Concluded.)

On Thursday afternoon the conclusion of a discussion re organisation, the chair was taken by Mr. J. I. PENGELLY, who very briefly but succinctly sketched out the lines of progress on which Vegerarianism was working, and gave some very practical and valuable information as the result of his experience.

[several papers were read including reports on Vegetarianism in Germany, New Zealand, India and Holland - but no overseas delegates appear to have been present.]

[ a description of the vening's entertainment followed]

[On the Friday a considerable number of further papers were read]