Interviews with Vegetarian/Vegan Activists
Interview with IVU Liaison Officer for Europe
Below is an interview with Hildegund Scholvien, IVU Liaison Officer for Europe and one of the main organisers of the 100th anniversary World Vegetarian Congress in Dresden, Germany, 27 Jul – 3 Aug, 2008.
1. You are the IVU Liaison Officer for Europe. How long have you held that position?
I have been in this position since 2004, and my role is primarily to liaise between IVU and EVU (European Vegetarian Union).
2. How were you involved in vegetarianism before that?
My first active participation in organised vegetarianism was in 1982, at the IVU World Vegetarian Congress in Neu-Ulm/Germany. Later, I was the German delegate to the founding committee for the EVU in 1985, I was EVU’s president for some years, and I’m now its treasurer. Also, I am deputy chair of the German Vegetarian Society (VEBU) and have served on the IVU Council since 1994.
3. Wow! That’s a lot for one person! How did you learn about IVU?
At the Congress in Neu-Ulm.
4. How is the vegetarian movement different in the former Soviet Bloc parts of Europe compared to other parts of the continent?
The Cold War was a very difficult time for vegetarians in the former East-bloc region. My family had friends in the Eastern part of Germany, and we had to use all sorts of tricks to provide them with information, food, and even simple equipment for the daily life. Vegetarian organisations were forbidden, and even now, there is a lack of organised structures to promote vegetarianism. It is hard work to bring the people together to form active vegetarian societies. Fortunately, a few societies are quite successful, such as in the Czech Republic, but most of the countries need support.
5. You are one of the main organisers of the 2008 IVU World Vegetarian Congress to be held 27 July to 3 August in Dresden, Germany. When did you begin organising the Congress?
My husband and I started about four years ago, allowing us enough time for the preparations.
6. What are two features of the upcoming Congress that you are especially proud of?
We are very proud that the Congress is coming home to Dresden as a jubilee congress, 100 years after the very first congress, and we are doing our best to make it an unforgettable event. At the moment, it is rather hard work to put a lot of bits and pieces together. It will only be next August (2008), when everything is over and the congress has been a success that we can be really proud.
7. As IVU liaison officer for Europe, what are some of your plans for promoting vegetarianism in your region?
Together with others in EVU and IVU, I hope to meet many people from the Central and Eastern European countries at the congress, and I would like to encourage them and find ways to build closer cooperation with vegetarian societies in those countries.
8. Do you do your Liaison Officer to EVU work full-time, or do you have a regular job, too?
Working for the VEBU, EVU and IVU is more than comparable to a full-time job. At the beginning of this year, I retired from my full-time job in our town library, in order to have enough time for the preparation of the congress.
9. Please share a vegetarian joke with us.
This is the most difficult point of the interview, but I’ll try.
Two chickens pass a house and hear the human family talking about their meals. “We are almost vegetarians by now ... . “ Upon hearing that, the chickens immediately hurry to get away from the house. While running away, one chicken says to the other, “I know that kind of talk; it’s dangerous!”