International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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PROJECT Profiles - Member Societies of IVU
OXFORD VEGETARIANS
from IVU News 2002

Oxford Vegetarians are a local voluntary group whose aim is to promote the vegetarianlvegan diet to the moral, physical, environmental and economic benefit of humankind. We believe that education, rather than confrontation, is the key to unlocking the hearts and minds of the public, encouraging more people to adopt a vegetarian or, better still, a vegan diet.

The group was founded in 1967 and currently has more than 200 members of all ages and from all walks of life. (Our oldest member recently celebrated his 90th birthday with a party at The Magic Cafe. Oxford's only exclusively vegetarian eating place. Itself run by one of our members.) We are affiliated to the Vegetarian Society of the UK, as well as being a member society of IVU. Most of our members live in Oxford, a city of just over 100,000 people, although we aim to cover the whole of Oxfordshire, a predominantly rural county in the heart of England. Oxford is, of course, inter-nationally famous for its university and many historic buildings. Vegetarian scholars of the past have included the poets Shelley and Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation.

We hold regular speaker meetings. social events and meals out, run infor-mation stalls at local fairs, and publish The Oxford Vegetarian Guide which lists local establishments catering for vegetarians. Our members receive a quarterly newsletter, The Oven. featur-ing articles of local and general interest and a diary of forthcoming events. Many of the articles from the newsletter are available on our web site - www.ivu.org/oxveg - which forms part of the IVU site. We have also negotiated a number of member discounts at local shops and restaurants, enabling our members to recoup the cost of their an-nual membership subscription over the course of a year. Highlights of Oxford Vegetarians nearly 35-year history have included cookery demonstrations to packed houses, helping to organize and run the Oxford Animal Charities Fair - a major event in the local calendar for over twenty years, arid many memorable speaker meetings and social events. Hun-dreds of people have been members of Oxford Vegetarians during this time, and we hope that we have had a positive im-pact on their lives, if we have helped them to adopt arid sustain a vegetarian or vegan diet then our existence has been justified. As secretary for more than eighteen years I have had the privilege of working with many wonderful and dedicated people. Their friendship and support has been invaluable.

The group is run on the proverbial shoestring budget, and financial assis-tance is always welcome! More impor-tant than this, however, is gaining the active support of local vegetarians and vegans. Although relatively large, our total membership represents only a small fraction, perhaps less than five per cent of the number of vegetarians in Oxfordshire. We are fortunate in that Oxford is a relatively "green" city (the local Green Party are particularly strong) with a high proportion of young people, so that we operate in a comparatively favorable environment. However, this also means that we are to some extent competing with other local campaigning groups for support. In recent years. we have found it especially difficult to at-tract student members, perhaps because there are so many other meetings and activities to draw their attention. Veg-etarianism is not seen as a campaigning issue in the same way as, for example, the environment, world development, or animal rights, although the lifestyle we promote affects all of these issues. Per-haps our greatest challenge is to make these links in the public mind, so that vegetarianism is not seen as an optional extra, but rather, as Thoreau put it, "a part of the destiny of the human race".

Vegetarians and vegans visiting Oxford are welcome to contact us for ad-vice on where to stay, shop and eat out. We have a busy calendar of events with activities most weeks, so your visit may well coincide with one of these. Details may be found on our web site, or you may contact us as detailed below. We look forward to meeting you in the city of dreaming spires.

Oxford Vegetarians, 57 Sharland Close, Grove, Wantage, Oxon O.V12 OAF, UK Tel. +44 (0)1235 769425 E-mail: oxveg@ivu.org Web site: hltp://www.ivu.org/oxveg