International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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IVU News

President and Hon.General Secretary's Reports
from IVU Newsletter, February/March 1996

From the President's Desk

Friends,

Writing this letter early in the year, it is my pleasure to wish you all a happy and healthy 1996 and let us all pray for peace on this Earth among all living beings.

Interest in vegetarianism is growing. It has become more popular all over the world. People are turning to vegetarianism mainly on two counts (1) for reasons of health and (2) for ethical reasons (killing creatures and eating them is unethical). To have a more ethical world at peace the killing must stop, whether people or animals.

Let us build a better world of peace and harmony of love and laughter.
If, indeed, a new world is to emerge, we must strive against ignorance, poverty, injustice and cruelty. The use of knowledge and power for destruction and not for service to mankind, is, in my view, a form of cruelty. Is mankind using the power and knowledge attained for service or for destruction? Sympathy and compassion are fundamental to any attempt to build and beautify the world. This is in the interest of all humanity Awareness and education are essential and they offer a role for us to play.

To me all life is sacred so when considering ethics we should not be concerned with mankind alone but also with animals. We should help all life, have sympathy with all life and avoid injury or cruelty to anything living.

To educate all to this approach to life we need to create a league of mercy or karuna - compassion clubs in all schools and in every country. Such a network will considerably help our young boys and girls (the future citizens) to have compassion towards all creatures.

In India during 1995, which we declared as Vegetarian Year the Indian Vegetarian Congress undertook as a project the setting up of Karuna Clubs which were formed in many schools. It was found that children whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian wanted to join the clubs.

Governments have their charters giving citizens rights such as the right to live, right to habitation, right to move freely, right to justice, right to education and many other rights. Should we not now look towards a charter for animals? Life is dear to all creatures. Animals need to be cared for and protected. We need to co-exist and avoid destroying the many species which are now threatened. In an ideal world everyone would consider the creatures and promote their rights to ensure they can enjoy their life as free from human intervention as possible.

The vegetarian movement involves Ahimsa, animal welfare,ecology, co-existence, health hygiene, environmental concern, nutrition, self-restraint and many other things.

The world has limited resources to meet our needs but it cannot satisfy our greed. Therefore those in the vegetarian movement need to have a broad vision. We need to look to ensuring their nutrition is right and natural as well as healthy. Agricultural produce needs to be free from insecticides and grown with the help of natural fertilizers rather than chemicals. This will help to maintain Earth's natural environment and give us healthy and abundant food.

Compassion towards all creatures will ensure co-existence which is in the best interest of humans. We should treat animals as our kith and kin. Let us help to alleviate their suffering and show them love and respect. Those who do not accept such a philosophy need our encouragement and help to move them towards a more humane approach. Not only is vegetarianism good for the animals but it is good for humans too.

The 32nd World Vegetarian Congress taking place in late July is being hosted by the North American Vegetarian Society. May the congress help the North Americans to lead the way and show the world the right path for peace, health and happiness. Let us all work to spread the message.

Having completed three terms as President of IVU, I shall not be eligible for re-election to the post so will stand down during the world congress. I have enjoyed my period of office working with my colleagues to promote the cause. I have tried to to help and improve the resources of the IVU and improve awareness of vegetarianism. I look forward to meeting many of you at the world congress.

I repeat what our Hon. General Secretary has often said, that IVU will consider helping any society or association promoting vegetarianism and wishes to have strong bonds with all such organizations.

Best wishes,

Surendra M. Mehta, President, IVU


Hon. General Secretary's Report

It is good to hear from member societies and individual members. Silence is not very informative. Some regularly communicate and this is most welcome. Others are silent most, if not all, the time. Sometimes one wonders if they are still there!! Unless people communicate, one does not know what to think. Perhaps the fact that newsletters are not returned by the postal authorities means that the message is still getting through. Perhaps they just throw away the newsletters. How can we tell? Do remember that there is a living human being at this end and he thrives on comment and communication.

Whilst on this point, I would like to thank all who have written in since the last newsletter. It has been very encouraging. I wrote an article Animals and Why They Matter originally for one magazine which had asked me for an article. Subsequently, I decided to revise it somewhat and to publish it in the IVU newsletter. It has occasioned a great deal of interest and comment and it is being published in a number of countries and languages. Little do we know when we start something where it will lead.

The same applies to our example as vegetarians and the work we do to promote the cause. We frequently despair of achieving success and wonder why we make so much effort with so little reward. Then suddenly something happens to make it all worthwhile. Working for vegetarianism is an important task since it will lead to a more humane world at peace with the animal kingdom and with each other. Overtime we hear of someone converting to vegetarianism, we should celebrate since it means the message is getting through and we are making progress towards a brighter future, a vegetarian future.

For IVU to succeed we need to have a growing membership, so that international organizations take us seriously, growing funds to enable us to develop and increase our activity and efficient systems in place.

Members need to register annually and pay their membership subscription. This will help IVU and make the task of the Hon. General Secretary easier as well as saving unnecessary correspondence. We have been quite generous in not immediately removing from the circulation list those who have not paid. However, IVU cannot afford to continue such a practice since our resources are very limited. The membership subscription is quite small for most organizations to help those who struggle to pay anything. Free membership is granted where an organization is unable to pay for some reason. However, even those organizations need to re register annually if they are to continue to receive IVU communications.

Please send your annual subscription now. Payment is due for 1996 and for 1995 if you have not paid it. Those receiving free membership at present should write in to confirm they are still unable to afford the annual subscription. If we do not hear by the beginning of May, we will have to assume that your organization no longer exists or that you do not wish to maintain contact with the international vegetarian movement. Only those who have paid up to date will be permitted to vote at the meeting of member societies during the world congress in Johnstown. Only paid-up members can nominate anyone for office. Payment must be received by the start of the congress to be eligible.

The Internet

Modern technology is a wonderful thing when used properly and for good and moral purposes. IVU is now using modern technology to promote the vegetarian cause. We are now on the Internet. This will not mean too much to those not familiar with the new language and the technology that enables people around the world to communicate instantly and at minimum cost. Access to the internet is often through a local telephone exchange so calls are not very expensive. It is possible to prepare messages to people all over the world and then press a button sending them immediately via various computer systems. Recently, I have received such messages from various parts of Europe, North America, Thailand and Australia.

Even better is the fact that IVU now puts its information on what is called the World Wide Web. Anyone with a computer and a modem is able to access this information and print it out should they so wish. We have put full details of the world congress, the history of IVU, membership information and parts of the last newsletter on the Web.

Our information was originally on what is known as the Vegetarian Pages but is now accessed by going onto the Internet at http://www.ivu.org/ which is the access address for IVU. It was not put on the internet until early December, and the service was not available over Christmas, but IVU's pages were accessed nearly 1000 times in December. However, the possibilities are very exciting since it is an excellent way of getting in touch with people all over the world. In November the Vegetarian Pages were accessed more than 120,000 times and the figure is rising. Material from a large number of vegetarian and animal concerned organizations is also there. The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom has put much of its information on the Internet so you can find all the VegSocUK information sheets by accessing it. The information pages cover all aspects of vegetarianism and diet from A to Z.

There is a growing group of people interested in vegetarianism, veganism and animal matters who enjoy regular contact by sending each other E-Mail messages on mailing lists. You could send a message asking to join them and make a lot of new contacts (see the Global Directory). We need to make the most of the technology that is developing to bring the vegetarian message to the attention of all as effectively as possible. The Vegetarian Pages are among the top five percent of all material available in terms of the number of times they are accessed. This illustrates the growing popularity of the vegetarian message.

As more and more people go on line it will become easier to make contacts and to spread the message without leaving our computers. Instead of giving out leaflets or flyers we will be able to put them on the internet and circulate them far and wide. It will become much easier to promote the vegetarian message.

It all sounds too easy doesn't it? We still need to remember the multitudes of poor who cannot aspire to the internet or a computer. It is just as important to win them for vegetarianism as it is the more affluent. We also know that it is not only in the interest of their health and the welfare of animals that they should become vegetarian, but also that it will be in the interest of their finances to do so.

We all need to work on this. My best wishes for the rest of 1996.

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.