|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
Vegetarian World Forum
ADDRESS OF WELCOME AT DELHI
IT is my proud privilege as President of the Reception Committee of the Northern Region Session of the Fifteenth World Vegetarian Congress to extend to you all a most cordial welcome and to offer fraternal greetings to the distinguished delegates who have assembled here from all parts of the globe to participate in this historic session of the World Vegetarian Congress. Most sincerely I thank you all, particularly Shri Ayyangar, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, who has so kindly taken time out of his multifarious preoccupations to inaugurate the day's proceedings.
May I say it is a matter of pride for us in India to play host to a movement which had its roots in the philosophic humanism of Ahimsa, preached and practised in India as long as 5,000 years ago?
The shining lights of this land from Buddha, Mahavira and Ouru Nanak to Mahatma Gandhi in our day, have all been vegetarians. Vegetarianism in India has never been viewed only as a principle of dietetics. It has, in fact, been the hallmark of the Indian way of life. To most Indians, a faith in Immanent Divinity cannot be reconciled with the slaughter of living beings for food. Killing of helpless and harmless creatures merely to satisfy one's palate must surely be repugnant to very sensitive and conscientious believer in God. Vegetarianism is thus a symbol of man's faith in a loving Creator.
Rashtrapati Rajendra Prasad, in his stirring address at the Bombay Session of the Congress laid his finger unerringly on the cancer that is eating into the vitals of humanity-lack of respect for life. As he said, Vegetarianism is the answer to the atom and hydrogen bombs. A man who will not kill a bird or animal will surely not drop a hydrogen bomb on innocent men and women. A man who recognises the right of even animals to existence would not be prepared to destroy whole cities through rocket-driven, death-dealing missiles. Vegetarianism therefore, is not -a mere sentimental slogan or a principle of dietetics; it is the highway to peace and progress in the world.
LADIES and Gentlemen, it is not for me to expatiate on the virtues of vegetarianism from the medical and dietetic point of view. To do so before this distinguished gathering of nutrition experts, physicians and scholars would be like carrying coals to Newcastle. It is now generally accepted that flesh-eating is among the major sources of cancer, tuberculosis and many other diseases. The main argument in favour of meat-eating - high protein value of meat - has now been finally exploded. More than one vegetable contains a higher percentage of proteins than any kind of meat. Even the humble peanut is fully 100 per cent. richer in protein than over-boosted animal meat. It is, therefore, clear that the obsession with meat-eating among certain people has its birth in rank ignorance. If only facts about wholesome food could be made known widely, I am sure meat-eating would suffer a mortal blow. I, therefore, submit that it is up to us, upholders of the cause of vegetarianism, to help spread this knowledge and to warn the mass of people of the perils inherent in meat-eating. I hope, before this great Congress adjourns, some practical steps would have been taken to educate and enlighten men and women who continue to ignore the lessons of medical science. Only thus would we be able to serve the cause for which the International Vegetarian Union was formed 50 years ago.
It is interesting to recall that the first Vegetarian Society was formed in England in the year 1847 by a group of churchmen (sic) who felt that meat-eating was derogatory to the principles of both nature and humanity. The movement gradually spread and the first International Meeting of Vegetarian Societies was held in Germany in 1938 (sic). Successive sessions of the Congress were held at Manchester, Brussels, the Hague, England, Czechoslovakia and Denmark. The last session was held in Paris in 1955 under the Presidentship of Madame Clarence Gasque. As many as 200 delegates representing vegetarian and humanitarian organizations in over 20 countries attended. As a result of the great success of the Paris Session, vegetarian societies were formed in various countries of the world. (sic) The International Vegetarian Union has thus been in the vanguard of the vegetarian movement for more than half a century. Many hundred (sic) vegetarian societies throughout the world are now affiliated with the parent body. Both F.A.O. and U.N.E.S.C.O. have recognized the Union as official consultants on questions of diet and nutrition.
Ours is a mission of service, to man, and mercy to the animal kingdom, inspired by the high ideals of the founders of this noble movement we must go ahead and spread their message of compassion and goodwill to all sentient beings.
Fellow delegates, I once again welcome you to our part of India and assure you that we shall cherish the memories of our association for many a long day.