|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
Vegetarian World Forum
REPORTS OF DELEGATES
A SPECIAL Session was devoted to reports of the official delegates to the Congress. Owing to demands on space it is only possible to give a selection of the speeches which reflected a progressive and healthy state of affairs in the world vegetarian movement.
The Vegetarian Society delegate spoke of the history of the vegetarian movement and the principles which led to the first organised vegetarian society in Britain, and the civilised world - if we do not go back tothe time of Pythagéras.
In the year 1809, members of the Bible Christian Church, near Manchester, pledged themselves to abstain from fish, flesh and fowl, as food, and in 1820, the first vegetarian pamphlet and cookery book were published in England.
Then, in 1847, a hundred and eight years ago, some of the members of this small Church founded The Vegetarian Society in order that the appeal should be on a secular basis. It is from this Parent Society that all other Vegetarian Societies have received their impetus.
It should never be forgotten that the foundations of vegetarianism, as we know it in the West, were laid on ethical principle and the acknowledgment that all life is sacred sharing a common source - and that we have no right to destroy it for selfish purposes.
The early pioneers knew nothing about scientific nutrition, of vitamins, or even if vegetarianism was really suitable for a European climate. They went forward secure in the knowledge that it was wrong to take life needlessly. Fortunately they were able to demonstrate that what is right morally is right in practice - something, Madam President, the world at large has yet to learn.
All the scientific knowledge and medical testimonies we now possess came much later, and some quite recently, so that now we can claim with the utmost confidence, that vegetarianism is practical - that we can live well and happily without killing other living beings - that health is more probable without flesh foods, for children and elderly people, for sedentary and heavy manual workers - that our athletes in all branches of sport hold records out of all proportion to their numbers - and, as you will be hearing, that eminent medical authorities have recognised the value of our way of life.
The Vegetarian Society, which I have the honour to represent, acknowledges the vast importance of the scientific, medical and health aspects, but it does not forget that the basic principles are ethical and humanitarian.
So, in our propaganda to-day we are using scientific information, and all the favourable evidence we have at our disposal to reinforce the ethical concept. The sanctity of life is our central theme - the abolition of animal slaughter for food is our purpose, with better human health as the happy outcome.
Although we can claim, with every justification, that we have the secret of health and harmony in living, we believe the key to it is a life based on moral principle.
The London Vegetarian Society (Mr. Ronald Lightowler) gave British medical and scientific opinions on vegetarian diet:
Britain is a very conservative country so far as the adoption 0f new or unusual habits and customs is concerned. The British are not given to enthusiasms for cults which are strange to the majority. When, however, a new idea is finally accepted, it usually means that it has come to stay and it can be said now that vegetarianism is in the process of being accepted. The phase of antagonistic opposition has passed and those who are not vegetarian are now apologetic that they eat very little meat.
There are two excellent booklets which quote names and authoritative statements made by responsible and learned individuals in both the medical and scientific fields, and those of you who wish to follow up this line of though would be well advised to procure copies of them. They are: On Behalf of the Creatures, by the Rev. J. Todd Ferrier, founder of the Order of the Cross, and published by the Order of the Cross at 2/-, and Vegetarianism published by The Vegetarian Society at 6d.
First, I will give some names of medical and scientific men, with their qualifications and then a few extracts from their lectures or writings. These names will cover well over a century of thought and learned opinion on the subject of the non-flesh diet from both angles:
Professor W. Lawrence, F.R.S.; Professor Sir Charles Bell, F.R.S.; Professor Sir Richard Owen, F.R.S.; Dr. W. Benjamin Carpenter, C.B., F.R.S.; Dr. Edward Smith, LL.B., F.R.S.; Lord Playfair, M.D.; Sir Henry Thompson, M.D., F.R.C.S.; Sydney M. Whitaker, M.D., F.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.; Sir Benjamin W. Richardson, M.D., F.R.S.; Dr. Spenser Thompson; Dr. Jonathan Hutchison, F.R.S.; M. Beddow Bayly, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.; Dr. Leonard Williams; Dr. S. Henning Belfrage; F. J. Sykes, M.D., B.Sc.; Arthur E. Druitt, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P., D.P.H.; Alexander Haig, M.A., M.D., F.R.C.P.; Robert Perks, F.R.C.S., Eng.; Josiah Oldfield, M.A., D.C.L., M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.; Valentine Knaggs, M.R.C.S., Eng.; L.S.A.(Lond.); L.R.C.P. (Ed.); T. R. Allinson, L.R.C.S. (Ed.), L.R.C.P. (Ed.), and his son; B. P. Allinson, M.R.C.S., L.R.C.P.; Andrew Gold, L.R.C.P. (Ed.); Sir Peter Chalmers Mitchell, one-time Secretary of the Zoological Society of London; Charles Darwin; R. Hutchison; V. H. Mottram; Sir Robert McCarrison; E. R. Rost, O.B.E., M.RC.S., L.R.C.P.; Sir Jack Drummond, late Prof. of Biochemistry, London University; Sir John Boyd Orr.
Although this is a list taken almost at random, we must, I think, admit that it is impressive and that the favourable points of view, which all these individuals have held and expressed during many years, undoubtedly have had a considerable effect in modifying public opinion, both lay and professional, towards the practice of flesh-eating in general.
The following are a few of the opinions which have been expressed on various aspects of this question by some of the individuals named above:
In more recent days in Britain we have received added confirmation of the soundness of our way of living from one who became a well-known public figure as the first Radio Doctor. This is Dr. Charles Hill, who later became Minister of Food, and it was during the course of his lecture entitled Food Fads and Fancies - the first Armstrong Memorial Lecture - which he delivered before the Royal Society of Arts in London on December 12th, 1951, that he made the statement:
Since then other medical men speaking the radio have made similar statements.
So far the references have all been to medical and scientific men but my record would be sadly lacking if I made no reference to the great work and testimony for vegetarianism and against vivisection made by that brilliant and attractive lady, Dr. Anna Kingsford. In the story of her outstanding achievement back in 1880, when the medical schools in Britain were closed to women students, it was to Paris that she came and it was at the Paris Faculté that she studied and passed her .Doctorat Examens and here she wrote her famous thesis LAlimentation Végetale de lHomme, by means of which she won her diploma. (Later published in England as The Perfect Way in Diet).
This remarkable woman refused throughout her days as a student here in Paris to permit any experiment on a living animal to take place in classes she attended. Although the emphasis of her later work was more specifically spiritual, she never wavered from her deep conviction concerning the importance of vegetarianism or failed to bring all her scientific knowledge to bear on arguments in its favour. Her conviction is expressed in the following words taken from her own writings:
I ardently believe that the vegetarian movement is the bottom and basis of all other movements towards Purity, Freedom, Justice and Happiness.
I consider the vegetarian movement to be the most importatst movement of our age. I believe this because I see in it the beginning of true civilization.
The Dutch Vegetarian Society (Mr. J. van der Schaaf): A two years period is too short to make over an extextensive report to an International Society, that from it a definitive tendency about the progress of the vegetarianism in our country could be concluded. Therefore, I shall be obliged to restrict myself mainly in stating the topic of this period: The celebration of our 60th anniversary in September, 1954.
From a propaganda point of view, this celebration was excellent. Not less than three times we were allowed to broadcast our vegetarian ideals and speak there about our organisation. Various interviews were held and published in the papers. But also in turn, for our members themselves this celebration was encouraging. It appeared at the reception, visited by about 300 people, that the ideals of vegetarianism are supported by a great number of societies of all kinds. We perceived, to our very great contentment, that the influence of vegetarianism has penetrated to many societies in tire humanitarian, ethical or modern religious field. Many of them are conscious, that for them no lasting progress is possible with out the aid of the vegetarian movement. For all of us present there, it was really stimulating.
It was at our annual congress in May of this year, that the love for our society came to a spontaneous expression. When discussing our budget for the coming year, and a deficit appeared unavoidable, it was our members who proposed to raise their fees!
Our number of members has somewhat decreased and amounts to 3,500 at the moment. The decrease is caused for the greater part by the fact that our organisation has relatively a large number of older people. And we all knew old people must die, there is no exception, not even for vegetarians.
Fortunately, about a year ago, the young vegetarians have united in an organisation, which gives good hope for the future.
Still another encouraging fact. Representatives of the official medical science have contacted with us and asked for our assistance. In Sigtuna we could refer to the so-called vegan research at the Leiden University, with the partipation of Dr. Frank Wokes from England. Now our co-operation was requested by a semi-government institute to assist with the research on the influence of a lacto-vecgetarian diet on the human body. A big significance is given to the results. Medical officials discovercd to their amazement, after small scale tests on some groups of the population, that the health of non-meat-eating men was much better than that of those who consumed the normal meat-diet. The relation between nutrition and arteriosclerosis will be the aim of their studies. Owing to the fact, that more people die of that illness than on any other.
Generally speaking there was not a big activity on our part in the past two years. It becomes more and more clear to us, that we, as an organisation, must have time and patience, in order to be able to adjust ourselves to the strongly fixed human mentality. This process of adjusting is slower than we like, but the sympathy for Our jubilee and scientific interest show, that the vegetarian ideals go on teadily in the Netherlands.
OFFICALS ELECTED AT THE CONGRESS