International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Reports from the President and Hon.Gen Secretary
from IVU Newsletter, April/May 1996

From the President's Desk

Let us do our duty with faith in the future.

Many of us will be gathering at the 32nd World Vegetarian Congress at the Pittsburgh University Johnstown Campus on 29th July to learn and to convey to others information about the activities we and our organisations have undertaken since the world congress in 1994. How much has the movement grown or progressed? Do the teachings of awareness through literature and practical work really attract people particularly when we emphasise that the vegetarian food is nutritious, balanced, concerned about cruelty and the killing of living creatures as well as being tasty, health promoting and ecologically superior?

If the answer is positive we feel pleased but should continue the efforts for greater success more vigorously. If not, should we not consider the causes of failure so that we may take corrective action? Those who work for the cause should themselves be models. Our approach to people should be with love and a smile, whether to new members or to those we hope to interest in the cause, if we are to be effective. Never call a non vegetarian bad but remember that we disapprove of non vegetarianism.

We all work in different societies and in different circumstances. Our combined strength is our force and we must strive to make the centre i.e. The International vegetarian Union, financially strong, scientifically more effective to create more and more awareness, through literature in selected languages and by sending around good and effective speakers to address the young to generate with a view to encouraging compassion in them. Catch them young. In India efforts are being continued through the promotion of Karuna Clubs (compassion) in schools.

In every country there are generous and wealthy people who believe in and follow the vegetarian and humanitarian way of life. An approach to them should be made by leaders of our movement in each country and I feel confident that a good response will be forthcoming from them.

May I appeal to each of our vegetarian societies to make this effort. Even Governments may help if we can provide them with the scientific evidence that the environment, ecology and health all benefit from a vegetarian diet without chemical additives and poisonous pesticides. Part of the model from us could be the setting up of appropriate farms. Any members with farms might be asked to use organic manure for their produce and help to promote our model.

Let us look at how 'vegetarianism is a human imperative'.

1. Nutritionally speaking, meat is not a necessity at all; a fact which is not generally recognised by almost all learned nutritionists today.

2. There exists a positive correlation between meat eating and major diseases.

3. Studies of various people living in different regions of the world at different times have shown that the healthiest and longest living societies in the world are and have been vegetarian societies.

4. For the very survival of humanity, vegetarianism is a must and also for the sake of our own non-human animal brethren.

My earnest appeal to every member is to actively promote healthy and happy living through vegetarianism universally.

Surendra M. Mehta, President, International Vegetarian Union


Report from the Hon. General Secretary

As I write this, vegetarianism is even more in the news than usual. The state of the British beef industry is such that many people are at last learning something about the disgusting practices of the meat industry. Feeding the remains of other animals and even animal manure to cattle has produced the biggest problems ever for the British meat industry. The BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) problem and the manifestation of Creutsfeld Jakob disease in humans have presented the greatest threat ever to the British meat industry. Other countries are possibly confident that they will avoid the problems faced by the British beef industry but this cannot be certain. BSE can take a decade or more to manifest itself and the incidence of CJD in humans is increasing in Britain and could also accelerate in other countries.

Whilst the present emphasis is upon BSE or 'Mad Cow Disease' it is unwise to dwell on just this one problem since many other diseases are associated with the consumption of meat and other animal products. Only this morning I heard a farmer on a news programme complain about the attention being given to relatively few people dying from CJD whilst he was more concerned at the fact that four members of his family had died of cancer!! Obviously, he does not realise that research evidence shows there is a close correlation between animal consumption and the incidence of a number of cancers.

What should we, as vegetarians, do at the moment in respect of the current problems? In my view, we should not make too much noise. We should be looking to sympathise at the loss of life, human and animal. We should point out that there is an alternative and that a vegetarian diet is much healthier and less likely to lead to illness or premature death. We do not wish to see farmers out of work or made paupers by their own efforts. We wish to see a vegetarian approach to agriculture that shows respect for the land and the whole ecosystem. This would mean a complete change in the approach and much less land being needed for food production since vegetable production requires much less land to provide the same amount of protein and other nutrients provided by meat. As the President says in his address, "meat is not an essential food" and people can and do live well and a healthy life without it.

Where will this approach take us? We must face facts and the major fact is that, if we do not eat the animals, then they will not be artificially produced. What would become of the animals if they were kept just to produce eggs, milk, cheese and other dairy products? We could not afford to maintain them in special areas or animal reserves, the numbers would be so great. As a result, there would be a much reduced demand for animal products and they would gradually disappear from the diet. Science and better knowledge of the potential of a number of plants and vegetarian foods, lead to the production of a range of substitutes for animal products. These are already available now and they are becoming increasingly accepted and enjoyable.

Given another fifty or one hundred years, the world's agriculture is likely to be very different from what we know today and we can only hope and expect that this will be due to the demise of animal production for food. May the remaining animals be allowed to enjoy their existence in special reserves which are increasingly being developed in many countries. Perhaps then we will no longer need the International Vegetarian Union or the many and growing band of vegetarian societies around the world. Perhaps the future will see a small and diminishing band of meat eater societies catering for those who have found it most difficult to give up their desire for the flesh of other creatures.

MEMBERSHIP

If you have not yet paid your annual subscription to IVU, now is the time to do so. Only paid up member societies and those granted free membership will be allowed to vote at the meeting of member societies during the world congress. We will also have to discontinue sending newsletters to those who do not register and pay now. Even those with free membership need to write in to confirm their situation has not changed and to ask for the continuance of their free membership.

Write now to keep your membership alive. We rely on you and your support to promote vegetarianism in the world. Why not become a Patron as an individual and avoid the need for annual payments?

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.