|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
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VEGETARIAN CONGRESS REPORT
Report on the 1st Asian Vegetarian Congress held in Goa between 14th to 20th October 2001 at Hotel Dona Sylvia, Goa.
Asian Vegetarian Union came into existence while the 33rd World Vegetarian Congress was held in Chiang Mai in January 1999. The European Vegetarian Union being the apex body of the Vegetarian Societies of Europe and Vegetarian Union of North America known as VUNA being the apex body of the Vegetarian Societies of North America are in existence. There is no apex body for the Societies of Latin America and similarly there is no apex body for the Societies of Asia to guide the societies to vegetarian cause and to form society to promote vegetarianism in the region. For promoting vegetarianism through Societies Asian Vegetarian Union came into existence.
The First President has been named one Mr. Jashu Shah and the Joint Secretary is one Dr. Phichai Tovivich of Thailand.
The Vegetarian Society - Reverence for Life having its office at Mumbai decided to host the First Asian Vegetarian Congress. After scouting several places like Mumbai, Jaipur, Delhi, Goa, and Ahmedabad etc. it was decided to have the First Asian Vegetarian Congress at Goa.
Then the scouting for hotels started and ultimately it was decided to have the first Asian Vegetarian Congress at Resort Dona Sylvia, Cavelossim Beach, South Goa, which is near the beach. The dates were fixed between 14th and 20th October 2001.
There were total 180 delegates out of which majority of them came from Mumbai but there were some from USA, UK, Bangladesh, Kenya, Switzerland, Sri Lanka and some came from outside Mumbai.
The opening ceremony of the Congress was done by His Excellency Shri R. Venkatraman, former President of India and the congress started with his blessings. We also opened the Goa Chapter of the Vegetarian Society. Reverend Dada Vaswani who in his keynote address stated that instead of talking about saving animals we must talk about the right of the animals as they also have the right to live. There were about 450 persons present at the opening ceremony of the Congress.
Throughout 15th to 20th October in the morning there were Yoga and Meditation classes starting at 6.30am.
On 15th October 2001 after breakfast at 9.00 a.m. the session started. After lunch everyday in the afternoon between 3.30 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. after lunch there were workshops where several people gave their ideas on different alternate medicines. There were well known doctors, Advocates, Literary persons, who came and delivered the lectures in Goa.
On 15th the session started with the lecture of Sports enthusiastic Dr. Kinjal Suratwala and he said that the human body is fit to be vegetarian. He also emphasized on exercise to be carried out by human being. Rohit Ganatra outstanding Architect also a well-known Vastu Shastri gave lecture on "energy of life" through slides, which showed what is the effect of food on human being and human mind. Dr. Kothari who came from Brussels also talked about food and philosophy.
The second day i.e. 15th October Bittu Sehgal talked about the Tiger Project and which led to the environment. Mrs. Kunda Ganatra talked about how to take care of eyes. Shantanu Chakravatory talked about magnetic therapy and how it can be used for the benefit of human being, Mr. Bittu Sehgal said that water is important portion in the life of the human being; if water vanishes the jungle vanishes and if jungle vanishes tiger vanishes and ultimately human being will vanish. In the afternoon Dr. Shailesh Divecha talked about how to look after your teeth, Dr. Arun Chande talked on Sujok therapy showing actual practical with human body. Pujya Chitrabhanuji talked about religious principles and vegetarianism.
On 16th October Shri O. P. Tiwari in charge of Kaivalyadhama, Lonavla talked about Yoga and vegetarianism, which was received well by everybody. Shri Narain Bhatia of Chinmaya Mission talked about Rudraksha and its effect on human body. Sigrid De Leo, Secretary of the European Vegetarian Union who had come especially from Switzerland talked about effect of food on children. She emphasized that the children who take vegetarian food are always with better temperament than those children taking non-vegetarian food. She also talked about her own experience as a teacher. Dr. Rosemary Turner talked about the history of American vegetarianism. David Pye Treasurer of International Vegetarian Union talked about International Vegetarian Union and gave a review of the 35th World Vegetarian Congress to be held in Edinburgh, Scotland and invited everyone. He gave a very good presentation about Scotland and Edinburgh Vegetarian Congress.
His Excellency the former President of India Shri R. Venkatraman also opened the Goa Chapter of the Vegetarian Society and they arranged one evening where Shri Jashu Shah Secretary of the Vegetarian Society gave information about how vegetarian movement is going round the world. Other speakers were Shri Chitrabhanuji, D.I.G. Karnal Singh of Goa, and Smt. Tarla Dalal gave a Cookery demonstration with the help of Smt. Sylvia Albuquerque.
On the 17th October Dr. Anil Kadakia spoke on achievement and achievers. Dr. Fernandes talked about Accu-pressure and Aromatherapy. Kitchen queen Tarla Dalal talked about her own experience and how she changed her husband from non-vegetarian to being a vegetarian. In the afternoon David Boje talked about vegetarian capitalism and Mahinda Paliwanda talked about Buddhism and vegetarianism in Sri Lanka. Shri Navinbhai Shah a Naturopath practicing since 40 years gave 5 principles of naturopath. He insisted that everybody must laugh for 3 to 5 minutes without any restriction. This laughter will remove the stress from the body.
In the evening Suresh Dalal outstanding poet of Gujarat and Saurabh Shah Editor of Midday Gujarati talked about Reverence for Life.
In the evening there was another function whereby vegetarian of the year National Award was given to Dr. Bhamgara, Vegetarian of the year International was given to Dr. Rosemary Turner and the best vegetarian Restaurant of Mumbai was given to Samrat Restaurant by the President of the Vegetarian Society.
On 18th Swami Tejomayanda head of Chinmaya Mission talked about vegetarianism in most common language and stated that if the people talked about eating animals than why not eat human beings. His lecture had a profound effect on the audience. Ajit Grewal talked about organic farming and Biodynamic and invited everybody to his farm near Alwar. Dr. M. M. Bhamgara, Outstanding Naturopath and crusader of vegetarianism talked about vegetarianism in detail and gave good information. President of the Goa Vegetarian Society Dr. Pande talked about the vegetarian in Medical Science.
The end of the Congress was coming nearer. On Friday the 19th Dr. Ghanekar of Goa who is a cancer specialist and now yoga teacher talked about yoga and vegetarianism. Dr. Kulin Kothari renowned eye surgeon from Mumbai talked about eye donation after death and enlightened the people about the growing awareness of Eye Bank and donation. Smt. Pramodaben talked about vegetarianism and its approach for life. Smt. Pramodaben is a member of the vegetarian society since its inception. In the afternoon a Parsi Priest Dr. Rooyintan Peer talked about vegetarianism in Zoroastrian religion. The congress concluded with the lecture of Child specialist Dr. Pankaj Parikh who gave dos and don't about children and tips to parents.
Everyday there was a musical entertainment programme. Mandira Tracy gave a Bharat Natyam recital at the opening ceremony. There were one programme or the other like Goa Folk dance, Goan dance and twice Gurudutt Shirde made the people feel at home by singing Gazals and old songs and entertained everybody with his music. Pushpaben Jain also gave some Bhakti Geet and Linimaben, Pramodaben and Pushpaben recited prayers.
What started has to come to an end. The closing ceremony was headed by His Excellency Mohd Fazal Governor of Goa who is also a vegetarian he delivered a valedictory speech quoting Manu and other old scriptures. President Pujya Chitrabhanuji gave his blessings and the entire congress came to an end.
The Speeches were so effective that one Mr. Felix a resident of Goa heard the speakers and decided not to kill any animal for food. He became a vegetarian. Mr. Michael who had come to do video coverage of the entire congress on behalf of Astha Channel also became a vegetarian and they were honoured. This was the effect of 7 days profound hearing of the speakers talking about the Reverence for Life and vegetarianism. Every life is precious and every life is required to be preserved was the ultimate message given at the Congress.
Mr. Jashu Shah, President
of the Asian Vegetarian Union said that the people came, people read the
souvenir, people heard all the speakers. People who came will spread the
message of Reverence for Life.
First Asian Vegetarian Congress in Goa- India
- personal report from Sigrid De Leo
The first Asian vegetarian
congress was a great success. There are three main purposes for vegetarian
Nearly 200 like minded
people from 4 continents ( only Australia was missing) and 8 or 10 countries
had followed the invitation of "The Vegetarian Society of Mumbai"
to pass a week together in Goa, south west India. Unfortunately a delegation
of 40 members from Thailand had cancelled their participation due to fear
of war. The war in Afghanistan was also the reason why some speakers had
preferred to stay at home. Jashu Shah, long term vegetarian promoter,
General Secretary of the
Jashu and his friends
had visited a couple of nice places and finally decided for the Goan Dona
Sylvia resort, a little village in a beautiful surroundings of palm trees,
white beeches and lovely warm weather. I already miss the long walks on
the beach accompanied by my friends the friendly stray dogs. Soon we discovered
that the owner of the resort, Mr. Victor, was a vegetarian for 16 years,
which was a very pleasant thing to know. The programme was well balanced
and all aspects of a vegetarian/vegan/ raw food lifestyle were discussed.
I was specially impressed by the talks of
The food was very good and tasty, with a lot of spices as everybody would expect from an Indian kitchen. My regret was that there was only a small choice of raw food in a country where you should think that there must be an ample choice of fruit and vegetables. The staff of the restaurant and kitchen was extremely nice and helpful. You couldn't think of something you wished and the nice young men already served you with it.
The conference alone would not have been enough to make the event known in a huge country like India. Thanks to very prominent guests the First Asian Vegetarian Congress got all the same a very good media coverage. The congress was indeed inaugurated by India's former president, R. Venkataraman who at the high age of 91 had flown 4 hours from Delhi to honour the vegetarian event in Goa. Goa's governor was as well present as several other highly decorated guests from the public, religious or science world. The local newspapers and a TV channel interviewed speakers and participants and reported about the event in a country where 60 % of the population is still vegetarian and where even an Italian restaurant like "Little Italy" inMumbai is completely vegetarian.
On occasion of the
Asian Vegetarian Congress a new chapter of the Vegetarian Society was
opened in Goa to make sure that the vegetarian Idea will revive in a country
where more and more people are taking to meat eating. Following the inauguration
of the new Goa chapter an invited guest was impressed by the speeches
and decided spontaneously to become a vegetarian. The same can be said
of the TV camera man Micheal, who followed the whole sessions and thus
was initiated to vegetarianism.
Sigrid De Leo
Secretary of the
European Vegetarian Union
Club Veg Nature Tour of Costa Rica
Feb 15 - 24, 2002
You will sense it the minute you arrive in Costa Rica: a feeling of physical and mental well-being. Costa Rica is synonymous with contentment and relaxation. Few nations in the world combine such a friendly population with such beautiful natural surroundings. The purpose of this 10-day tour is to immerse you in Costa Rica's natural beauty while offering ample opportunities for healthy activities and excellent vegan cuisine.
Great efforts have been by tour organizers to assure participants not only quality vegan meals on this tour, but delicious meals, prepared under hygienic conditions. Our Costa Rican hosts have worked closely with Club Veg representatives in meeting all the club's dietary requirements. Everyone involved with the tour is excited about preparing meals you will truly enjoy.
Sawtelle Travel Service
has organized the trip. In creating the itinerary, Sawtelle has drawn
on experience gained during more than a dozen nature trips to Costa Rica
by its agents. Sawtelle's objective in choosing destinations for this
trip has been to find comfortable lodges in beautiful, biologically
From the coolness of the cloud forest to warm sand on an uncrowded beach, the locations on this tour promise incomparable scenery and immediate stress reduction. Take this tour and you will agree that Costa Rica offers the treasures of life.
Day 1 - Feb. 15
The preserve also is home to white-faced capuchin monkeys, squirrel monkeys, sloths, coatimundis and many butterflies. You'll have the rest of the day to enjoy the reserve at Punta Leona. Dinner and night at Punta Leona.
Day 2 - Feb. 16
Dinner and night at Punta Leona.
Day 3 - Feb. 17
Accommodations in Bosque de Paz are clean, comfortable and quiet. The dining room is beautiful, featuring skillfully carved wooden furniture and a lovely view of cloud forest slopes out the window. Dinner and lodging at Bosque de Paz.
Day 4 - Feb. 18
At 5,000 feet above sea level, Bosque de Paz is always cool and refreshing. Eleven well-maintained trails meander for miles through forests rich with orchids, ferns and bromeliads. In a large clearing outside the tastefully appointed lodge, hummingbird feeders often attract as many as 6 different kinds of hummingbirds at once.
An orchid collection and butterfly garden enhance the reserve's bio-diverse appeal. Two optional guided walks are scheduled during the day, as well as a fascinating night tour.
Meals and lodging at Bosque de Paz.
Day 5 - Feb. 19
Cano Negro offers a truly exceptional concentration of wildlife, viewed in a pristine setting.After lunch, we will return to Bosque de Paz, where we'll have plenty of time to rest and clean up before dinner. Dinner and night at Bosque de Paz.
Day 6 - Feb. 20
On this walk, we'll have a chance to swim in the lagoon, or in the Pacific - fresh or salt water within 100 yards of each other. The beaches around Drake Bay are as scenic and unspoiled as any you will find anywhere.
Dinner and night at Drake Bay Wilderness Resort.
Day 7 - Feb. 21
Day 8 - Feb 22
Dinner and night at Drake Bay.
Day 9 - Feb. 23
Day 10 - Feb. 24
Vegan Nature Tour of Costa Rica
To Learn More
You can view photos from last year's tour on your computer at www.photopoint.com. Under "visit albums" type firstname.lastname@example.org.
For additional information about vegan cuisine on the trip, contact Amie Hamlin at email@example.com
A Note About Vegan
[note: views expressed in this debate are those of the individual contributors, not IVU -ed]
First, two URLs. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, while not a vegetarian organization, is highly sympathetic to the vegetarian viewpoint. They have, in the current issue of their newsletter, "Nutrition Action," considered the issue of genetic engineering from the safety standpoint, as well as benefits to society. The URL is: http://www.cspinet.org/nah/11_01/index.html.
The second is to
an article I published several years ago in Satya Magazine, on potential
benefits to vegetarians from genetic engineering. The URL is:
Paul Appleby asks for examples. Here are several examples (a few of which were mentioned in the Satya article) of genetically engineered products that are, or could be, of great benefit to vegetarians (many more examples could be envisaged):
1. Insulin used to be derived from pig intestines. Ethical vegetarians would be in a quandary if that were the only practical way to obtain this life-saving medicine. Most (hopefully, all) of us certainly wouldn't condemn diabetics to death by denying them the ability to obtain insulin, even if a pig had to be slaughtered to get it. This is no longer a problem for vegetarians. Now, the gene for insulin has been inserted into bacteria. The bacteria are grown, and make insulin, which is purified from the bacterial culture and used medically. No more pig intestines, because of genetic engineering.
2. Many vegetarians who transition to vegan miss cheese. Meeting the demand, a number of vegetarian oriented companies market substitute cheeses. Many of these contain a protein called "casein," which is derived from milk. Those substitute cheeses which avoid casein usually do poorly on taste tests, from my experience. Even the casein-containing cheese substitutes do not fully replicate real cheese, but they're better, and make for a reasonable transition food en route to vegan. Enter genetic engineering. It is entirely possible to manufacture casein in bacteria (just like with the insulin example above), by putting the gene for this protein into a bacterial organism. The casein purified this way would not involve any passage through, or exploitation of, an animal. This genetically engineered casein could now be used in substitute cheeses, and would meet vegan ethical standards, while providing us with a tastier product. In this case, vegetarians would actually look for the label saying "Made with genetically engineered casein." (This example is still, regrettably, hypothetical; while genetically engineered casein made in bacteria has in fact been reported in the literature, there have been, as yet, no commercial applications of this product.)
3. Continuing on
the subject of cheeses, as a vegetarian, I applaud the recent introduction
of genetically engineered "cheese-making enzymes" instead of
the animal-intestines derived rennet used traditionally in cheese-making.
Although I have been near-vegan for a number of years now, so this is
pretty much a moot point for me personally, I know that for the many years
that I was lacto-ovo, I was constantly looking for "rennetless"
cheese, which was hard to find and often not very good when I did find
it. Even "kosher" cheeses allow the use of rennet, to my continued
amazement, since the kosher ethic requires no consumption of meat and
milk together. (It's considered an extra insult to the animal to "cook
the kid in its
4. Albumen is a useful protein derived from animal sources, and when used as a food additive, is usually from eggs. This is another very suitable candidate for a genetically engineered food product; a gene for albumen could be placed in bacteria, and the bacteria would produce the albumen. There would be no need to go to animals for this product anymore, and we would look for labels specifying "genetically engineered albumen." (This example is also still, regrettably, hypothetical.)
5. Some extremely strict vegetarians won't use photographic film or go to movies because of gelatin in the film. (I find this too extreme for the world which we happen to inhabit at this point in time; we should work towards and support technologies such as digital imaging that don't need the gelatin, but not disengage from society.) Here's another case how genetic engineering can actually be of great benefit to ethical vegetarians: gelatin is a form of the animal protein collagen, which can be easily manufactured in bacteria, by using the information in the gene for collagen and inserting that information (in the form of DNA) into the bacteria. Gelatin produced this way should be acceptable even to the strictest vegetarians, who could start going to the movies again (and maybe even eat vegan jello).
6. In my email some time ago, I received a posting from a vegetarian list: "I have had a thyroid disorder for several years, but never knew that there was a vegetarian substitute...I live in the U.K. and have never heard of it here, is it available by mail order... I couldn't possibly consider taking pig glands unless my life was at risk." This individual needs thyroid hormone, until recently, derived only from animals. Once again, genetic engineering to the rescue. The information for this hormone has been genetically engineered so that it is made in bacteria, and is ethically correct.
7. Another email posting described an article in the August, 1997 issue of Harper's Magazine, "The Inhumanity of the Animal People." A quote from the article reminded me again of how modern molecular biology, genetic engineering, and recombinant DNA has the potential to alleviate animal suffering in ways that the vegetarian movement is usually unaware of. Take the case of "premarin," quoted from the article: "Premarin, an estrogen drug for menopausal women, comes from the urine of pregnant mares. This is a whole new industry that results in the births of approximately 75,000 unwanted foals each year. Off to the slaughterhouses the little ones go, to be turned into...something else." I expect it would be relatively straightforward for a biotech or pharmaceutical company to clone the relevant gene or genes responsible for the synthesis of premarin in horses, so that premarin could be produced in bacteria or yeast or tissue culture, and no more unwanted foals would have to be "turned into... something else." I have heard that there is a synthetic form of Premarin available, but is not profitable to produce, so the drug companies continue to promote the "natural" form, generating those unwanted foals. But if the drug companies were to produce Premarin in bacterial cultures by genetic engineering, the profitability issue would likely be resolved, and those foals wouldn't have to be produced as a byproduct, destined for slaughter.
I could go on, but the "Nutrition Action" article describes many of the other potential benefits to society, though not necessarily because of our vegetarian perspective. Here's just one brief additional example that is not veg-related: Genetically engineered coffee without caffeine has been developed, so that the chemical treatments of coffee needed to make decaffeinated would no longer be necessary. Clearly, a benefit to coffee lovers and those who want to limit their caffeine intake.
The question I pose to Paul and all my other well-meaning ethical vegetarian comrades: do we really want to expend our political and ethical capital fighting things like GE coffee without caffeine, or do we want to fight our battles over the abuse and slaughter of animals? Especially when one considers that genetic engineering provides an alternative way to obtain products which are now derived from animal slaughter, for me the answer is very clear: we should, as a movement, back off this issue and stay rooted and focused on our core concern, the wanton and unnecessary slaughter and abuse of animals.