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Global News Round-Up
from IVU Newsletter, April/May 1996

Meat Eating in Germany

by Thomas Schönberger

Two German magazines, 'Wochenpost' and 'Focus', undertook a survey into the significance of meat in the German diet. Both inquiries showed that meat eating was significantly less important to a large percentage of the population than it was formerly.

Only 34% of those questioned answered that they eat meat once or more times per day. Some 46% reported that they ate meat 2 or 3 times per week and 18% less often. 36% stated that they now eat less meat than they did ten years ago, whilst 45% continue to eat as much meat as they did ten years ago and 14% now eat more meat than ten years ago.

Wochenpost's results suggested 2% of the population is vegetarian whilst Focus reported 3% as vegetarian.

The important finding from the surveys is that people in Germany are now thinking more about what they eat and many are reducing their intake of meat. It is thought that the objections to the transportation of animals, the effects of scares about Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), popularly known as 'Mad Cow Disease', and scientific reports about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet are combining to encourage reduced meat consumption. This is a real boost to the work of the vegetarian movement in Germany. The most positive development is the fact that annual meat consumption in Germany averaged 69.7 kg. in 1988 but had fallen to 60.5 kg. in 1994 a drop of some 10 percent in six years.

This is the first time since the middle of the last century, except during war time, that meat consumption has fallen in Germany.

This is good news from Germany. Hopefully, this experience is being replicated in other countries. What is you experience?


Botswana Vegetarians

Welcome a new vegetarian society in Africa! The Vegetarian Society of Botswana was formed last year and has now joined IVU. They are struggling to get off the ground but have a nucleus of 25 members. They welcome contact with other vegetarian societies and would be pleased to receive copies of vegetarian magazines and other vegetarian material. They are producing their own newsletter and anything we can do to provide material for it would be welcomed.

To make contact, please write to:-
Dr P. K. Jain, Chairman, Vegetarian Society of Botswana, P. O. Box 2178, Gaborone, Botswana.


Polish Development

The interest in vegetarianism continues to grow in the former communist states of Europe. A young man in Poland is trying to develop a vegetarian club and produce a vegetarian magazine in his home town. For more information about his plans and how they develop you could contact:

Janusz Lesniewicz, ul. Fordonska 225/6, 85-752 Bydgoszcz, Poland.

He can be contacted by E-Mail on gacek@blue.maloko.waw.pl


EVU Meeting in May 1996

The Annual General Meeting of European Vegetarian Union will take place at the Pestalozzi Village in Trogen, Eastern Switzerland 16th - 19th May. The main business meeting is Friday, 17th May and there is a very attractive sightseeing programme for participants in this beautiful part of Switzerland. All are welcome and the cost is low so write to:
Sigrid De Leo, Bluetschwitzerweg 5, 9443 Widnau, Switzerland
Tel/Fax 00 41 726445

Exotic Meat!?

The problems over the possibility of getting BSE from beef consumption and the history of scrapie (a similar condition in sheep) have led to loss of market and a desire to stimulate interest in eating alternatives. This has led to meat producers beginning to focus on more exotic wild animals for meat and an attempt to encourage people to accept eating wild animals as a desirable thing to do. Will this help their survival as species or finish them off?

Not only are the meat producers trying to encourage the farming and consumption of wild animals but scientists are now changing the genetic make-up of certain animals to produce mutations and, possibly, new animals. Sheep are now being genetically engineered so that are completely identical.

Ostriches, rheas and emus are being farmed and offered as a low cholesterol non BSE alternative to beef! Commercial organisations are asking people to invest in such animals and promising high financial returns to those putting their money into the trade. Ostrich, lamb and turkey burgers are on sale and llama sausages are available. At least they might lack the offal usual in more normal sausages! What will they do next to avoid the logic of going vegetarian? What effect will it have on wild animals? What do you think?


And finally ...

Another newsletter comes to an end as I sit reflecting on the ways in which it might serve the needs and requirements of member societies. Some people write and say they like it whilst most say nothing and nobody writes to say they do not like it. How can this be interpreted? Does IVU serve a purpose and need for member societies and how can we build on this to ensure that IVU really serves the whole membership. We know that new societies find IVU helpful and that they look to us for help, support and advice. We try to build up the international network of vegetarian societies but there are many gaps. Today I received a telephone call from the BBC World Service asking me to put them in touch with vegetarians in the Arabic speaking world. I had to admit that we have no member societies or even individual in North Africa or in the Middle East except in Israel. Why is this so? Moslem members have written that the Koran encourages compassion to animals. There is a small group of vegetarians in Iran but, as far as I know, there are none elsewhere in the Moslem world.

IVU is doing its best to encourage new vegetarian societies where none exist. You can play a part in this by sending your magazine or other literature to help them. Of course, there is the language problem but increasingly people worldwide speak English so English language publications are in particular demand. Whilst the internet and world wide web make vegetarian material increasingly available, this is little help to the majority yet since they do not have a computer or modem to enable access. There is still much to do. Please give your support by paying your annual subscription to IVU and supporting new vegetarian societies. Please act now!

Maxwell G. Lee
Hon. General Secretary


Contributions to IVU News are welcomed. Material published does not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or the policy of the International Vegetarian Union.