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The Vegetarian World Forum

THE VEGETARIAN No. 4 Vol. 3 - WINTER 1949 pp.11-12:


AFTER a day or two of chaos in which three hundred and fifty travel-weary delegates from all over the United States, Canada, and Europe, were bedded down in accommodation suitable for two hundred and fifty, The First American Vegetarian Convention settled down to serious work and proceeded to build an organisation worthy of that great nation.

Even the promoters do not claim that the Convention was well organised, yet its success is a tribute to their dogged efforts against terrific odds. Not only were the vast distances of the American continent a severe test, but the Conference was held against a background of violent conflict, which ranged from racialism to personalities. To ignore or gloss over these difficulties would detract from the ultimate achievement.

The thought of a hundred extra guests was too much for the Camp Aurora staff, so half of them walked out. Our first bouquet, therefore, goes to Dr. Robert Anderson, an over-70-year-old nature curist, who shouldered the catering burden, raided the surrounding country for real vegetarian food, and galvanised the remaining staff and helpers into feeding the multitude.

Our second bouquet goes to Dr. Jesse Mercer Gehman, whose masterly and almost ruthless chairmanship kept the discussions on the rail, and smoothed over the undercurrent of strong personal disagreements. Finally, we pay a tribute to that great political writer and debater, Scott Nearing, whose sound commonsense and forthright utterances repeatedly saved the Convention from wandering into vague and pointless by-paths.

We went to America under the impression that it is a matriarchal country - we were soon disillusioned. If " Momma" rules in the home, she is certainly kept out of public life, and if we might be permitted one rather severe criticism of the American Convention, it is that there were no women speakers.

We were wondering how best to express our feelings about the Convention, when a letter arrived from Mrs. E. M. Gordon Kemmis, one of the Europeans present. Since it gathers up most of what we felt and would like to express, we give it thankfully:

"Several weeks have passed since the time of fellowship by Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, and looking back one is aware that many things were accomplished during those days of sunshine, of committee meetings, business meetings and talks; of exercises on the grassy slopes, and bathing in the clean waters of the lake,

Yes, something was achieved in the coming together at one time and in one place of three hundred and fifty food reformers from many parts of the States - something vital which, notwithstanding the many difficulties that had to be overcome, will prove of permanent value if followed up by high idealism and a practical application of the laws of life to the problems confronting humanity to-day.

Much was presented during that week of interchange of thought which shed light upon the problems of nutrition and health, the soil and agriculture, the deliverance of the creatures from their bondage of cruelty and oppression, and the science and art of daily living in a well-ordered community.

What a wonderful thing it would be for the world, and for mankind if from the American Vegetarian Union there should flow a stream of knowledge, nourishing all peoples, concerning the true laws of Nature and the Universe.

As guests we sympathised with the burdens of responsibility carried by the promoters of the Convention; we admired the patience and kindness of the local helpers who took the deepest interest in the proceedings as well as in the menus, and we formed new ties of friendship which will bring us closer in understanding of one another in the years to come. Many went their way from this Conference to consider afresh the task ahead, and the need for education and training if we are to be equipped for the work to be accomplished.

It was indeed a valuable experience to have had a week of community life entirely free from flesh foods and the fumes of the cooking of it, free also from alcohol and tobacco; and to spend the days with a joyful, healthful company of 'young people' of all ages enthused with zeal for a noble cause. May the highest influences from that assembly be felt in many lands, bringing inspiration and encouragement to countless others to follow-on."

The first official act of the American Vegetarian Union was to apply for membership of the International Vegetarian Union. We can assure a warm welcome for any Americans who find it possible to attend the next meeting of the I.V.U. at Arnhem, Holland, in July, 1950.


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