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A History of Vegetarian Societies in Latin America & the Caribbean

1891 - The earliest records found so far for Latin America date from 1891 when there appears to have been a Vegetarian Society in Valparaiso, Chile.

1921 - there was a Brazilian Vegetarian Society at this time - with a speaker from the 'Naturist Society – Buenos Aires, Argentina.' - presumably the Asociacion Naturista de Buenos Aires, Argentina - which still exists and is a member of IVU today.

1923 - 5th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Stockholm, Sweden - [from a Congress report] . . . the Roll Call of the Delegates. . . . America (South) - Dr. Ruiz Ibarra ; . . . Spain - Dr. Ruiz Ibarra .... [from the list of papers] Dr. Ruiz Ibarra on "Nature Cure,"
The Chairman said that, owing to the great disturbance caused by the War the Committee felt as if we ought almost to make a new beginning and that the Constitution would need some alteration. He invited members for the International Vegetarian Union and the delegates from the following countries expressed their desire to join :- . . . Spain . . . S. America, . . .
Dr. Ibarra, photo right, was from Spain, and appears to have been acting on behalf of one or more societies in South America. Possibily one or both of those mentioned above.

1958 - We currently have nothing else until 1958 when Dastur F. Bode was appointed as 'Regional Secretary for The Americas'. In 1960 he was succeeded by Dr Jesse Mercer Gehman - though in reality they seem to have dealt with just North America. This arrangement continued until sometime between 1971-75 (some records are missing from this period).
- The Vegetarian World Forum, July 1958, carried a complete list of IVU " Affiliated Societies - and others in association with the I.V.U." These included:
- Asociacion Naturista de Buenos Aires, Canagallo 2541, Buenos Aires, Argentine.
- Sociedade Naturista do Brasil, Senor E. C. de Medonca, Avda Rio Branco 183, 10a, S. 1.007, Rio de Janeiro.
- Vegetarian Missionary Service, Mr. W. R. Puddicombe, P.O. Box 476, George Town, British Guinana.
- Edenia, Mr. T. de la Torre, Santa Anna, Costa Rica, S. America.

1963 - [from the minutes of the IVU General Meeting] . . . representatives from . . . Venezuela . . . Greetings were announced from Societies in . . . Argentina . .

1971 Lic. German Alberti Vasquez attended the IVU World Vegetarian Congress in September, in the Netherlands, and decided to organise a Regional Congress in his home country of Venezuela. He appears to have been elected to the IVU International Council during that Congress, as an Executive Vice-President, though the records are not entirely clear.
[from a report of the IVU Congress] The countries attending the event were: . . . Mexico, . . . Venezuela, . . . Argentina, . . .

1972 - 1st Regional Vegetarian Congress in Latin America - Caracas, Venezuela, December 1972. The links are to photocopies of articles from 'Ahimsa' the journal of the American Vegan Society, as reported by their President H. Jay Dinshah:

The picture, from page 4, is of German (pronounced 'Herman') - the organiser of the Congress.

1973 - Dr. and Mrs. Alberti were the only representatives from Latin America at the IVU World Vegetarian Congress in Sweden where the minutes record: "Gérman Alberti Vasquez, President of the Sociedad Naturista de Venezuela, and Secretary General of the Federacion Naturista Latino-Americana, reported swiftening interest in vegetarianism in all Latin American countries - in Mexico City alone there are 15 flourishing vegetarian restaurants. The move towards vegetarianism is specially marked among the young people." the photo left is from the 1973 Congress.

1974 - 2nd Regional Vegetarian Congress in Colombia. We have no further information at present.

1975 - It seems to have taken until 1975 for IVU to catch up with what was happening in the Americas. That year saw the first ever World Vegetarian Congress in the region, held in Maine, USA. The records show that the intention was to re-appoint Dr. Jesse Mercer Gehman as Secretary for the Americas, but this was changed to separate Regional Secretaries for North and Latin America. 'Lic G. Alberti V. (Venezuela)' was proposed for the Latin American post, but it was decided to appoint Dr. Becerra Limas from Mexico and he remained in the post until 1979. (Dr. Alberti remained as Executive Vice-President).
The 1975 records also show that Prof. M. J. Londono, from Colombia, was elected to the International Council. He may have been elected earlier, records are missing, but remained on the council until 1982.

1976 - 3rd Regional Vegetarian Congress, Santiago, Chile. 5th-11th April We have no further information at present.

1977 - Prof. Londono's report stated: "In the Latin American Region the 3rd Congress was held at Santiago, Chile from 5th-11th April 1976 with countries represented officially and unofficially. The 4th Congress is being hosted by Mexico from 24th Sept. - 1st October 1978."
The 1977 IVU Council election also appears to have added Snr. Rafael Lazeta, of Chile, making four Latin Americans on the council at the same time. [many records from this time a missing so it is not entirely clear, but he was listed in 1977]

The membership records of 1977 show that subscriptions had been paid direct to IVU in 1975, but after that were paid to the Regional Secretary. The following societies were members between 1975-77:
Soc. Naturologiia de Venezuela
Assoc. Cultures de Vida Natural de Panama
Assoc. de Veg.Nat. de Columbia
Assoc. Mexicana Naturista & Hip
Assoc. Nat. Gyuana.

1978 - 4th Regional Vegetarian Congress, Mexico, 24th Sept. - 1st October We have no further information at present.

1979 - The agenda for the 1979 Congress shows the position of Regional Secretary for Latin America as 'vacant'. During the General Meeting 'Mr German A.Vasquez' was appointed. It was noted that the Regional Secretaries were now responsible for collecting annual subscriptions from IVU members in their regions.

The following societies were listed as members of IVU between 1977-79:
Soc. Naturologia de Venezuela; Assoc.
Cultures de Vida Natural de Panama
Assoc. de Veg.Nat. de Columbia
Assoc. Mexicana Naturista & Hip
Sociedade Naturopatica Do Brasil
Asociacion Naturista de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Asociacion Cultures de Vida Natural, Bolivia

1980 - 5th Regional Vegetarian Congress, Brasila, Brazil
[from minutes of 1982]
Latin America: - Dr German Alberti informed participants that interest in vegetarianism was growing in Latin America. A successful Congress had been held in Brasilia in 1980.

1981 - 6th Regional Vegetarian Congress, Santiago, Chile
[from IVU Council minutes]
Proposed International Congress in Chile 1981 - The General Secretary reported a request from German Alberti that the regional congress for South America to be held in 1981 should be recognised as a World International Congress. [this was declined] The General Secretary reported a request from Dr Alberti for support for a university of natural medicine in Latin America. It was decided that there is no possibility of financial aid from I.V.U
Latin America - Dr Alberti reported that 5 Congresses had taken place since 1972 in his region and that the Latin American Vegetarian Federation had been set up to co-ordinate activities and to represent I.V.U. in the region.
Venezuela had been chosen as headquarters for the organisation and Dr Alberti is Executive Secretary for the region.
A Congress will take place in Santiago, Chile in late 1981. Eleven countries have Societies or groups of Societies which are members of the Latin American Federation.

1982 - [minutes of the 1982 IVU General Meeting] "Latin America - Dr German Alberti informed participants that interest in vegetarianism was growing in Latin America. A successful Congress was held in Brasilia in 1980. (we currently have no further details of that Congress). During the 1982 IVU Congress, in Germany, Dr. Alberti was appointed as Regional Secretary for Latin America.

1984 - Dr Alberti of Venezuela had proposed, in 1981, that the 1984 World Vegetarian Congress should be held in South America. But in 1982 it was reported "Dr Alberti felt that Venezuela would not be possible for 1984." [it went to the USA]
Also in 1984 Mrs. Nelly Fernandez French, of Colombia, was elected to the International Council, and remained a member until 1990.

1985 - [from 1984 minutes] Dr. German Alberti reported that there would be a Latin American Regional Congress in 1985. [we have no further information about this]

1986 - Joaquim Him, from Panama was elected to the IVU Council, and remained a member until 1994

1988 - an IVU World Vegetarian Congress was planned for Guadalahara, Mexico, but was eventually cancelled for 'adminstrative reasons'.

1990 - [from the General Meeting report] There was now no contact with the previous regional secretary for Latin America.

[Dr. Alberti appears to have remained as Regional Secretary but there had been no contact with him since the IVU Council meeting held in Mexico in 1987. He does not appear to have been replaced for several years. The 1994 and 1996 IVU Congresses had reports from all Regional Secretaries, except Latin America...]

1994 - IVU memberships records show that the only Latin American member Society between 1991-94 was A.S.C.U.V.I.N.A. (Panama)

1997 - Luis Escala, from Ecuador, was appointed as Regional Secretary for Latin America. He was very active in his own society in Ecuador but was unable to make much progress across the region. Luis died suddenly and tragically at the age of 38 in 2000.
Bermuda: Another World - from IVU News
Vegetarianism in Latin America - from IVU News
Subscriptions paid to IVU in 1997 by:
TAPS, Brazil
Trato Etico de los Animales (TEA), Ecuador
Vegetarian Society of Bermuda

1998- veg-latina (Español) launched

1999 - Sitio Vegetariano and veg-brasil (Português) launched

2000 - Marly Winckler, Brazil, appointed as Regional Coordinator for Latin America & the Caribbean.
Unión Vegetariana Argentina (Español) founded - now a very active IVU Member Society.
Regional Report - Latin America - from IVU News Oct 2000, by Marly

2002 - The Vegan Biker... a man with a mission - how one Brazilian travelled to the IVU Congress in Edinburgh.

2003 - Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira (Português) founded - with Marly as President. This was given some financial help from IVU so that they would be able to organise the IVU Congress the following year.

2004 - 36th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, held in Florianopolis, Brazil, November 2004. The first IVU World Congress to be held in Latin America and enormously successful. The photo right is Marly at the Congress, in a Kimono presented to her by a Japanese delegate.
Unión Vegetariana Latino-Americana
(Español) - regional organisation for Latin America created during the Congress.

2005 - Unión Vegetariana y Vegana del Uruguay (UVVU)
(Español) founded, Miguel Facal, of UVVU, joined the IVU Council.

2006 - UVLA organised the first 1st Brazilian and Latin American Vegetarian Congress , Sao Paulo, Brazil 2006
Vegetarianism in the country of the meat - Argentina - April 2006
Regional Report from Latin America - from IVU Annual Report 2006, by Marly Winckler
36th IVU World Vegetarian Congress - the impact on Brazil since 2004 - - from IVU Annual Report 2006, by George Guimares

2009 - proposed International Vegan Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

For current IVU Member Societies, and other organisations in Latin America, see the database at IVU in Latin America & the Caribbean

If you have any more information about anything on this page please contact John Davis -