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History of the French Vegetarian Societies

Some individuals from France:

Michel Eyquem de Montaigne 1533-1592

Pierre Gassendi l592-1655

Rene Descartes 1596-1650

Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet 1627-1704

Philippe Hecquet M.D. 1661-1737

Voltaire 1696-1778

George Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon 1707-1788

Jean-Jacques Rousseau 1712 - 1778

Jean Baptiste Pressavin b.1734 -

Bernardin St. Pierre 1737-1814

Élisée Reclus 1830-1905

Cécile Chaminade (1857-1944)

Romain Rolland (1866-1944)

From the Dietetic Reformer and Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), April 1885, p107:

[Extracts from a lengthy article]. . . a few words regarding the progress of the cause here [Paris]. For some time past it has been rather neglected, the original society having ceased to hold meetings and discontinued it publication, La Reforme Alimentaire. A new society has, however, recently been organised under the most favourable auspices, having as its head, as president, one of the most effective writers of France, M. de Wogan, the author of several excellent and popular works on health and right living from the Vegetarian standpoint. Five distinct nationalities are represented in the attendance upon the meetings of the new society, a fact well indicating the wide prevalence of the Vegetarian reform. These meetings are being held, for the present, weekly at No.34, Rue Truffaut, the residence of the Secretary, Madame Sezzi, a lady already known in connection with the Society for the Prevention fo Cruelty to Animals. One immediate result of the new organisation will be an increase in popular hygienic literature in a form and by methods of distribution calculated to reach the masses. The President has led the way by writing an apt and exceedingly vigorous pamphlet entitled La Vie à Bon Marché, and addressed especially to the labouring classes. . . . At the last meeing of the society it was decided to print immediately a popular tract for gratuitous distribution by the members, and one thousand copies were immediately subscribed for by those present. The wish was expressed to cop-operate with like societies in other countries, and several distinguished advocates of hygienic reform in England, Gemany, and the United States were chosen honorary member. . . - Edwin F. Bacon, Corresponding Sec. to Vegetarian Society.
Postscript.- The Vegetarian Society of France desires to establish or aid in the establishment of a Vegetarian restaurant in Paris, and would be glad to receive any suggestions from those hwo have had experience in this field of usefulness in England.
[there were no further reports of this society - in July 1889 a lecture and discussion in Paris was reported which ended with an implication that a Society might be formed.]

From the Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), April 1899, p151/2:

Vegetarian Society of France. - The French nation which is apparently less inclined to flesh food than most European nations has, strange to say, not been very receptive of vegetarianism. Early in the eighties there was a society called first the Société Vegétarianne de Paris and afterwards Société Vegétarianne de France, but it made little impression and after two years work was dissolved. Dr. Bonnejoy, however, continued to impress on his countrymen the advantages of vegetarianism. We are glad to learn from La Réforme Alimentaire that the French vegetarians have again decided to form a Vegetarian Society to be called, like its predecessor, the Société Vegétarienne de France. The offices are at Boulevard de Strasbourg, 75, Paris, and by a very sensible arrangement with the Societé Belge pour l'étude de la Réforme alimentaire, the two societies will have as a joint organ the interesting little magazine La Réforme Alimentaire, which is now in its third year, and thus becomes the organ of vegetarianism throughout the whole of the French speaking world. We wish the Vegetarian Society of France a long and prosperous career. It will be able to find plenty of work and we hope will take steps at once to arrange for a vegetarian restaurant at the Paris Exhibition of 1900.

From the Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), October 1899, p337:

France. - The Société Vegétarianne has put itself in communication with Herr Phillip Hotz, with the object of establishing vegetarian restaurants in France. The Society has invited Herr Hotz over to Paris for the purpose of opening a restaurant, and to remain to conduct it for the first twelve months. HerrHotz has shown himself an expert in this department.

from Jan in Prague:

A brief note from "Prirodni Lekar", czech magazine from 1906, october : " Vegetarian Association in Paris - " Societé Vegetarienne Paris" has 800 members this year.

In 1910 the editor was Dr Nyssens, president of the Belgian Society, he appears to have been the editor of La Reforme Alimentaire for several years.

The following extracts are all from the Vegetarian Messenger, the magazine of the UK Vegetarian Society at that time:

July 1908
International Vegetarian Federation. - Arrangements are in progress for carrying out the suggestion made by Dr. Danjou [Vice-President of the French Vegetarian Society] at the 60th Anniversary of the Vegetarian Society [October 1907] for the inauguration of an International Federation of Vegetarian Societies.

Vegetarian Fellowship. - At Nice a "Groupement Végétarien" has been formed under the presidency of Dr. Danjou for the purpose of bringing together any vegetarians who may be staying in the town. It frequently has happened that such have come to Nice for the winter, and have felt isolated. Now they have somewhere to foregather. The "Groupement" was started at one of the meetings addressed by Dr. Danjou on April 9th, at the "Palais Marie Christine," where Dr. Danjou has set a room at the disposal of the members. A second meeting was held on May 9th.

October 1908
[report on the first IVU Congress in Dresden] ... After he had spoken a few words of welcome, the President read the names of the Societies, which while in fullest sympathy with the formation of an International Vegetarian Union, had been unable to send delegates. The ... ... French ... ... Vegetarian Societies all sent letters and telgrams of greeting and good wishes. ... ... Mr. Albert Broadbent, who on behalf of the Vegetarian Society, had called together the Congress, then explained the proposal to found an International Vegetarian Union had emanated from Dr. Danjou, vice-president of the French Vegetarian Society ...

January 1909
Dr Danjou has paid a visit to the vegetarian friends in Spain. Both guests and hosts appear to have derived great pleasure and profit from the intercourse. El Regimen Naturalista , the organ of the Spanish Vegetarian Society, and Revista Vegetariana, which represents the "Lliga vegetariana de Catalunya," give long and appreciative accounts of the meetings, which Dr. Danjou addressed. And on his part the Doctor is announced to speak at several meetings in various towns in France; he appears to give much time in this way and we feel sure that he will be a very welcome speaker.

August 1909
The French Vegetarian Society, according to its latest report, had at the end of 1908, 1,175 members. There were 134 new adherents during the year, as against 154 in 1907. But the latter is stated to have been an abnormal year. During 1906 there were 124 new members, and the number has been steadily rising since 1900. …

December 1909 [reporting on the IVU Congress in Manchester]
Owing to the unavoidable absence of Dr. Danjou, of Nice, which was all the more to be regretted because he was the projector of the International Union, Dr. Nyssens [Belgium] read a long letter from him.

March 1910
The Third Congress will take place in Brussels ... The Comité d' Honneur are ... le Dr. Jules Grand, prest. de la Soc. Veg. de France ... Organising Committee :- ...J. Morand, Paris ... The work of the Congress will -be divided into four sections, which can sit simultaneously or consecutively according to the amount of matter in hand. 1.Vegetarianism and Hygiene, under the guidance of M. J. Lefèvre, Prof. of Biology at Havre. 2. Therapeutic Vegetarianism, i.e., the treatment of disease by means of the vegetarian diet, under the guidance of M. le Dr. Pascault, of Cannes. 3.- Social and Economic Aspects of Vegetarianism, under the guidance of M. le Dr. Danjou, of Nice ....

July 1910 [report on the 1910 Congress in Brussels]
The President of the French Society, Dr. Jules Grand, was unable to attend, but sent a Paper, which was read by the secretary of the French Society, M. Morand. It struck a very high note against the cruelty of slaughter and sport and hunting. Those who have read Dr. Grand's contributions to the vegetarian journals, know his standpoint.
... one [paper] on the proportion of albumin required in our food, by the Professor of Physiology at Paris, Dr. Marcel Labbé.

September 1910
La Reforme Alimentaire for September 15th, contains the address given by Prof. J. Lefévre at the Brussels Congress, where he had charge of the section of Physiology. He stated that vegetarianism had entered the ranks of Science, and therein lay its force and its future. He alluded to the valuable experiments conducted by Prof. Atwater and others, and asked for experimenters to use the utmost care and judgement, and not lay down all anything of which they did not feel absolutely convinced. And even then there always remained the "scientific doubt," the open mind which would yeild its convictions on higher proof being forthcoming. That was indeed wisdom itself

August 1913 [report of the 4th IVU Congress at the Hague]
On Monday morning we proceeded to Hotel Zeerust at Scheveningen for the business part of our Congress. Here we had the sea in view as we sat, which was very refreshing. We had plenty of business on hand, thirty-four papers on the programme, not to mention Presidents' introductory and closing addresses, discussions, etc., Messrs. J. Morand, of Paris, and Saxon, of Stockholm, were appointed presidents.
The following is a list of the papers:-
Those marked with an * were read.
J. Morand, of Paris, *"The Vegetarian Movement in France."
J. Morand, of Paris, *"Some Objections to Vegetarianism Discussed."
Dr. G. Danjou, of Nice.
Dr. Carton, of Brévannes (France), "The Salt Question."
L. Michaud, of St. Maurice (France), *" The Danger of Fruit in Cases of Hyper-acidity."
Dr. G. Petit, of Paris, "Danger of High Feeding for Tuberculous Patients.''
Dr. Jules Grand, of Paris.*

The 1916 IVU Congress was planned for Paris, could not ahead because of the war. At the next IVU Congress, held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1923, there appears to have been no representation at all from France.

Some extracts from the 1926 Congress, held in London, England:

the delegates were introduced to the assembly, and the following is the order in which they responded to the roll call ... Dr. Héléne Sosnowska (France), ...

... Dr. HELENE SOSNOWSKA (France) in acknowledging the toast on behalf of the foreign delegates, said they were all brothers and sisters and that, while men and women had a right to poison themselves with animal food if they chose, they had no such right to poison their children. ...

... Taking part in the discussion, Dr. HELENE SOSNOWSKA said that their movement was not the result of the clash of material forces, but was part of an intelligent evolutionary process. They had to recognise the close relation that existed between the physical, the emotional and the intellectual kingdoms, and that vegetarianisrn would not only help to quicken the intellect, but would also help them to transmute their egoism into altruism. ...

... Dr. HELENE SOSNOWSKA read a Paper contributed by Dr. JULES GRAND, President of the French Vegetarian Society, on ''The Importance of Vegetarianism from the Universal Point of View," ...

The report of the 1929 IVU Congress, in Czechoslovakia, mentions that France was represented at the Congress, but gives no further details. The report for the 1932 Congress, in Germany, does not give a list of countries represented and makes no mention of France elsewhere in the report. However the Vegetarian Messenger, in 1929, mentions two French Societies: Trait d'Union (with their magazine: Regeneration) and the French Vegetarian Society.

The following extract is from the report of the 1935 Congress in Denmark:

Vegetarianism and Health.
Dr. JEAN NUSSBAUM (France), took for his subject "Life and Health," and opened by saying:- A vegetarian to be truly healthy must have, not only a well nourished body, but also a well developed mind and soul. If man thought only of his body he committed a grave error. A boxer thought only of his muscles, a nun of her soul, and many teachers only of their intelligence. We must develop all three.

A visit to the Antwerp Zoological Gardens had led him to study the anatomy and physiology of animals, and he found that animals like the lion, the tiger and the panther had short intestines. With the carnivora, food remained only a short time in the intestines, an excellent arrangement for the meat-eater, for if the food remained longer it would putrefy. The intestines of man were, relatively, much longer than those of the carnivora, and the food, therefore, remained for a much longer time in the body. For that reason it was wise to select foods that did not putrefy quickly. The carnivorous animals that lived longest were those which retained the food the least time in the intestines, and those which ate coarse foods.

There was no animal equal to the camel. He was always at work but never tired - he was a vegetarian ! The horse was fleeter than any other animal - he was a vegetarian ! The elephant was the strongest of all animals - he was also a good-tempered animal - he was a vegetarian! You could play with an elephant, but not with a lion.

Dr. Nussbaum, in conclusion, said that for the attainment and maintenance of good health it was necessary to take into consideration the alimentary system and the food eaten.

He spoke of the necessity for a wisely selected, properly balanced diet, and condemned those foods which had been robbed of their nutritive elements in the processes of manufacture. In spite of modern scientific knowledge there was more illness than fifty years ago and this was due mainly to perverted dietetic habits. The future was with the vegetarian and we must continue to aim at making vegetarianism a world-wide movement.

The report of the 1938 IVU Congress makes no specific mention of France.

From reports of the 1947 IVU Congress, held in Stonehouse, England: "... Brief speeches were made by the overseas delegates ... Mr. A. J. Perroud (France), ..." [the photo on the right is from a group of 'overseas delegates' at the Congress, the caption said 'A.J.Perroud (France) ]

From reports of the 1950 IVU Congress, held in The Netherlands: ... Brief speeches were made by delegates from the countries represented. ...A. J. Perroud (France), ...

Dr. Jean Nussbaum was a member of the International Council from 1953-67, and helped organise the 14th World Vegetarian Congress in Paris, 1955 . Dr Nussbaum died in 1967.

1958 - The Vegetarian World Forum, July 1958, carried a complete list of IVU " Affiliated Societies - and others in association with the I.V.U." These included:
- Vega Club, Mr. and Mrs. Brobecker, 21 rue de Diane, Argenteuil, Paris, France
- Vivre en Harmonie, M. Raymond Dextreit, 5 rue Emile-Level, Paris 17e, France
- L'Association Vegetarienne de France, Mr. Woodland Kahler, 87 av Henri martin, Paris 16e, France

mentioned in IVU records:

  • 1960 - The Vega Club (France)
  • 1960 - Vivre en Harmonie (France)
  • 1963 - Association Vegetarienne de France

From a meeting of the Executive Committee (now the International Council) in 1963:

Donation of £10 from Madame Bruse on behalf of the Association Végétarienne de France was appreciated by the Committee.
French Vegetarian Movement: Dr Nussbaum was authorised to study the matter of re-activating the French Vegetarian Movement and to suggest possible methods.
It was agreed that if the next Committee Meeting was in Paris the opportunity should be taken to invite a Conference with French Vegetarians.

The next meeting was held in Paris,in 1964, and includes the following in the minutes:

"FRENCH VEGETARIAN MOVEMENT Dr Nussbaum reported the situation in France where there are a number of independent groups. It was suggested that the President might seek the advice and co-operation of Mr Dextriet. "

In 1977 and 1979 the Association Végétarienne de France was listed as a paid up member society (these are the only years for which lists of members have survived).

The program for the 1979 Congress, in England, included: "Discussions on Union Nationale des Végétariennes by M.P.Trouve" and "Discussion on 'Why there are problems in Vegetarianism in France' Mme.M.Galliard".

The Vegetarian Movement in France today is mainly represented by Alliance Végétarienne - - which was founded in1995.

From 1998 - Vitaverde, was an IVU member for a few years before closing.

Newer groups in France:

  • 2000 - Societe Holistic Conseil (France)
  • 2001 - Douceur et Harmony (France)

See for more IVU members and supporters in France.


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