International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Kaj Dessau

IVU General Secretary 1947-50

World Vegetarian Congress 1947, England:

. . .as Johan Bolt is too heavily engaged in vegetarian and literary work in the Netherlands to act as I.V.U. Secretary, Mr. Kaj Dessau, of Denmark, who impressed everybody with his ability and modesty (as also with his charming Swedish fiance, Ingrid Peterson), was appointed. During a year of professional work in the United States, he will travel as I.V.U. Secretary, and then return to Europe to plan the Twelfth I.V.U. Congress. Sibly, Egerod and Dessau form the small working Executive, . . .

. . . Mr. KAJ DESSAU (Denmark) was unanimously elected. . . .

. . . the Congress asked the Executive to endeavour to find an Editor for an I.V.U. news-bulletin of about four pages, to be edited from reports sent in and other material, transmitted in English to all national vegetarian editors, and-this was strongly and rightly emphasized by the proposer, Kaj Dessau - printed in full by them in their own languages. . . .

. . .In September, the London Vegetarian Society arranged a similar reception at the Attic Club for the new Secretary of the I.V.U., Mr. Kaj Dessau. . . .

1949 American Vegetarian Convention:

Of the Americans who worked for this result, and on whom now falls the burden, we shall surely hear more. This is the time and place to pay tribute to the Honorary Secretary of the International Vegetarian Union, Kaj Dessau of Denmark, who drove 56,000 miles around America, neglecting urgent family and professional affairs in Europe, to make the Union possible in a country that is really a continent. One morning at The Coffee Shop in nearby Walworth, a few American and European friends tried to show Kaj how they felt about his tireless idealism. They gave him a symbol of his work in America - an empty pocket-book. Not quite empty. There was a blurred, but still legible copy of the constitution of the American Vegetarian Union, unanimously adopted a few hours before, and a cheque negotiable in no ordinary bank, signed by all his friends, and pledging them to pay him any amount of goodwill at any time the I.V.U. might need it.

1950 World Vegetarian Congress, The Netherlands:

Mr. KAJ DESSAU (Denmark), in a vigorous call to action, spoke of "The Future of the International Vegetarian Movement." (full text online)

From the Vegetarian Messenger, (Manchester) following the Congress:

. . . Of direct application were two eloquent addresses, by Kaj Dessau, the retiring Secretary of the I.V.U., on "The Future of the International Vegetarian Movement " - this was a clarion call to vigorous action . . .

The vigorous address of Kaj Dessau, which is included in this number, is a clarion call to action. It is sincerely written by an idealist with a real concern for the future of the international movement and we agree entirely with him when he says "I know we could do much, much more." The complete answer to Mr Dessau's challenge is provided by himself in his address- "Until we give all, we do not give enough" and this explains his disappoint-ment with the progress made in our movement. But there is not one person in a million who can give all or even nearly all, and if we started afresh to-day with new organizations, new officials, etc., the problem would still be an individual one and the progress or otherwise of the movement would still advance in proportion to individual enlightenment. Organizational problems are important but whether there is one or half a dozen organizations working for the same object, that particular movement can only expand with the rate of development of the individual consciousness. Indeed, a rapid expansion would give much cause for suspicion because emotions can swayed backwards and forwards in response to any clever orator at almost any time. Human consciousness does not ordinarily develop rapidly, nevertheless, it is on this development that the real stability of the vegetarian movement is based. Mr. Dessau's criticism could be applied equally to Christianity and its progress during the past 2,000 years, or to any other movement which demands from the individual some sacrifice-and the reason for the comparatively slow development of all is virtually the same. It is important that we should understand this fundamental fact which, to a large extent, regulates the progress of our movement. Nor does it mean that because we are cognisant of this obstacle we be complacent-no one should be complacent in the world of to-day, but as Bernard Shaw says in his Postscript to Back to Methuselah. "We must not stay as we are, doing always what was done l ast time, or we shall stick in the mud. Yet neither must we undertake a new world as catastrophic Utopians, and wreck our civilization in our hurry to mend it."

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