International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Att-Gordon Latto has died at the age of 87
Pioneer of vegetarianism and holistic medicine

from EVU News, Issue 3 /1998

Gordon Latto, the former president of the International Vegetarian Union and of the British Vegetarian Society died on 2 September 1998, at the age of 87. The international vegetarian community looses a man who was a charismatic pioneer for vegetarianism and holistic medicine.
[IMAGE: Gordon Latto]
Dr. Gordon Latto

Happy Childhood

Gordon Latto was born in Dundee, Scotland, June 25, 1911. His father was then Deputy Town Clark in Dundee and later became Town Clark. Shortly after the end of the War his parents were introduced to 'The Order of the Cross' and became vegetarians.

Gordon Latto had a very happy childhood, having remarkable parents and three brothers to whom he was deeply attached.

The Vegetarian regime, although it could from time to time be inconvenient, was no real problem during his school years. At the University the challenge to this way of living was very insistent and incessant, but his views which were then somewhat nebulous became concrete after reading 'On Behalf of the Creatures' by the Reverent J. Todd Ferrier and 'Addresses and Essays on Vegetarianism' by Dr. Anna Bonus Kingsford.

Convinced Vegetarian

Having read and reread these two books his faith in this way of living grew stronger and in his later years he was quite convinced in his own mind that this was one of the ways of living that would solve many of the world's problems.

The arguments against vegetarianism were frequently presented to him by students at the university and even some of the doctors and this was an invaluable training for him for the latter part of his life. Although at university he conceived the desire to become a professional golfer he surrendered to his fathers determination that he should become a doctor and qualified in Medicine in 1935 from St. Andrew's University.

His wife Barbara (German), whom he first met at one of the Order of the Cross Sommer schools in 1930 was then interested in Nature Cure which he studied and this strengthened his views on vegetarianism. After their marriage (1938) they toured Germany, where they learned about the Kneipp Hydrotherapy at Munich and visited several other Nature Cure Clinics

Famous Patients

In 1938 Latto had his first practice in South-on-Sea. At first he was regarded with strong suspicion because of his German contacts, his moral convictions (he was a conscientious objector) and his anti-vivisection attitude.

Gordon Latto was not only very acute in diagnosis but he also possessed the confidence to make his patients believe that they would get better. Especially children loved him very much and liked to visit him although he was rather restrictive in his treatments and diets. He believed in herbal remedies, vegetarian diets and water treatments. His success was remarkable as many patients came to him as a last resort when conventional doctors had given them up. He dedicated all his life to building up an enormous practice which extended the length and the breadth of England as well as to the continent. As he never held any position within the National Health service and did not write any scientific paper or book his reputation was built entirely on the recommendations of satisfied patients. Several well-known persons were among Latto's patients.

Francis Chichester, who sailed round the world was one of them. Chichester came to him with lung cancer. Latto succeeded in healing the malignancy and Chichester's circumnavigation of the world could take place. He followed Latto's advice that he should always get plenty of fresh air. Another well-known patient was Hammond Innes.

Contacts with Bircher-Benner

His wife Barbara had a lively correspondence with Dr. Bircher-Benner, convinced rawfood supporter and founder of the famous 'Bircher Clinic' in Zurich. After the Second World War the Lattos became good friends with Bircher-Benner and his children and were the only contemporary exponents of the natural medicine tradition practised in Switzerland and Germany.

President of the IVU

Both Lattos were instrumental in the founding of the South-on-Sea Vegetarian Society which was a lively, active Society and as he believed it served a very real purpose. Soon after the war the Lattos left and went to Hastings for a short time and subsequently came to Reading where they founded the Reading Vegetarian and Wholefood Society which served a very real purpose too. He had immense staminia and the ability to address large audiences on the need for the pure vegetarian diet. They gave many parties on behalf of the Vegetarian society and the Anti-Vivisection Society whose vicepresident he was. He was elected President of the Vegetarian Society of Britain in 1960. When the London Vegetarian Society and the Vegetarian Society amalgamated in 1969 he was elected President of the Vegetarian Society of U.K. Ltd. And remained in that office until 1987 when he no longer put his name forward for nomination. He was elected President of the International Vegetarian Society (IVU) in 1971 and remained in office from 1971 1990.

Extraordinary Energy

Latto had extraordinary energy. He got up very early in the morning and could not understand that his patients found it difficult to do the same. He remained a fine golfer into his eighties. He also liked tennis, croquet, ping-pong and skiing. (His other hobbies were reading, numismatics and gardening.) He was still doing medical work three days a week until 1995. He has five children four sons and one daughter. Three sons also qualified in medicine, his daughter became an osteopath. He has 12 grandchildren.

Sigrid De Leo