International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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Congress Logo 33rd World Vegetarian Congress
Chiang Mai, Thailand, January 4 - 10, 1999
'Vegetarianism is the Way'
an unforgettable visual, cultural and gastronomic experience

Pre-Congress Press Report from Sri Lanka

The following appeared in the Sri Lanka newspaper 'The Island' of Tuesday January 5, pp 6 & 7.

33rd WORLD VEGETARIAN CONGRESS

The International Vegetarian Union (IVU) in collaboration with the Thai Vegetarian Union will host the 33rd World Vegetarian Congress at Chiang Mai, the ancient capital of Lanna Thai, fabled as the "Kingdom of a Million Rice Fields", from the 4th to the 10th of January, 1999.

The programme will offer "a huge range of culinary wonders without the use of any animal products whatever and a wide variety of activities, ranging from international panels and workshops on the humanitarian, ecological and medical benefits of the vegetarian life style to alternative therapies, cookery and fruit carving, meditation and yoga, excursions to temples and villages and visits to sanctuaries where dedicated individuals strive to care for rescued animals, from monkeys and bears to majestic elephants, and to encourage people to treat them with the respect to which they are entitled".

The lectures and presentations will focus on the economic, spiritual and scientific aspects of vegetarianism and on the search for practical solutions to stem the global food crisis and the increasing ecological and social upheaval caused by wrong food choices and the consequent proliferation of animal farms which constitute a threat to vital eco-systems. The programme will also address different techniques and campaigning methods for the promotion of vegetarianism.

The count of delegates as at 17th December was: UK 38, India 32, USA 29, Australia 17, with smaller numbers from Austria, Botswana, Canada, China/Hong Kong, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden and Trinidad. Plus a large number of people from Thailand, of course. Sri Lanka Vegetarian Society will be represented by Executive Committee member Mrs Bandu Masakorala.

In a message of welcome, Mr Francisco Martin , the Hony. General Secretary of IVU, the parent organisation uniting the vegetarian societies of the world since 1908, says: "It is especially appropriate that this congress should take place in Thailand, a country whose beauty and hospitality are legendary and where spirituality and compassion have traditionally been upheld in preference to the shallow pursuit of wealth and status. It is also appropriate that Thailand should be the venue for the international launch of the World-wide Millennium Pledge for a vegetarian world in which all living beings are accorded respect and the right to life.

The lush country and glorious scenery of Lanna Thai will be a perfect backdrop for a happy and productive gathering at which individuals and families come together from every corner of the earth to have fun, to enjoy the wonders of this amazing country and to promote a better lifestyle than the all too prevalent flesh-eating culture in which millions of living beings are exploited for their flesh, their skins and other unnecessary products, while children starve to death alongside fields of grain destined for the miserable victims of western factory farming.

HISTORIC DECLARATION FOR A COMPASSIONATE WORLD IN THE 21ST CENTURY

On 4th January 1999, a statement of intent - a mission statement of historic importance - will be made to delegates brought together by the International Vegetarian Union from every continent on earth. The statement sets a goal for the human race to create a world which is compassionate, merciful and planet- friendly. The declaration will inspire and motivate generations of people throughout the world in the coming century until the goal is achieved. The text is as follows:

THE WORLD-WIDE MILLENNIUM PLEDGE

"We hereby pledge to bring about a 21st century in which the human race will finally make peace with the animal kingdom. Human beings will no longer kill, maim, torture or exploit fellow beings for food or other purposes. Animals will have fundamental rights which will be internationally recognised.

It is clear beyond any doubt that the survival of the human race depends upon the survival of the forests and other natural resources and of the animals with whom we share this planet. We pledge to protect all of them. We oppose the introduction of animal genes into human beings and the genetic manipulation of animals and plants.

The human race will reach the pinnacle of civilisation when it extends the hand of friendship and compassion to the animal kingdom and returns to the healthy plant-based diet best suited to the moral and physical needs of our species, thus avoiding the related evils of animal exploitation, human starvation and environmental destruction.

At the close of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, let us make a tryst with destiny to create a world free of violence towards all living beings who are dependent on our love and compassion. Together let us embark on that long journey which will bring about a world in which all animals are treated with compassion and mercy and accorded rights that human beings take for granted."

A new regional body, the Asian Vegetarian Union, is also due to be launched during the congress in Chiang Mai, bringing together vegetarian societies and kindred groups from all over Asia to spread the vegetarian message throughout a continent where , in the words of Mr Martin, "interest in the vegetarian lifestyle is growing day by day and where understanding of the relationship between animal exploitation and human starvation is essential to safeguard the forests and other vital resources and to protect the rich variety of human and non-human life for which this planet provides a home".