History of Indian Vegetarian Societies

The first Indian Vegetarian Society that we know of was established in 1889 in the Punjab, but it was not immediately reported in England. There was apparently an earlier society in Bombay but we have no specific details of that (see below).

logoIn 1890 or 91 Mohandas K. Gandhi joined the committee of the London Vegetarian Society and contributed many Indian perspectives to their weekly journal The Vegetarian. The full collection of his articles is available.

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), May 1892, p.142:
For a long time past several zealous friends - both Indian and European - have been using their influence for the establishment and promotion of Vegetarian principles, and the formation of organisations to carry on this work. Some of these friends combined a few years ago to form a society, but the support accorded was inadequate, and the society did not long continue in existence. The spirit which animated these friends, was, however, unquenched; and as time has passed along, new sympathisers have been enlisted, the number of willing workers and supporters has increased, and now another effort has been made in Bombay, and we hear from Mr. D. D. Jassawalla that the "Natural Living Vegetarian Society" has been borught into existence. It combines in its founders both Indians and Europeans, and is open to receive all who will join it without distinction of race. The friend to whose unfluence the former effort was due is Mr. Byramji D. Panday, who is the treasurer of this new society, the president being Mr. D. Gostling, and the hon. secretary Mr. Jassawalla. The society's formation has been noticed in some of the Indian papers, and in one is an article "by an occasional reporter," which is apparently intended to poke fun at the new Vegetarian Society by announcing a meeting to start " A Beefsteak and Mutton Chop Society" for Bombay. The chairman of the meeting is represented as proposing "that the society shall be called 'The Society of Unatural Livers' in order to be distinguished from the 'Natural Life Vegetarian Society' recently started".

From The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), September 1892, p.280:
India. - We have received a note from Mr. Bacha Ram Chatterjee, who writes from Quetta, Beluchistan, and says: "I am glad to inform you that a Vegetarian Society has lately been established at this, the local Arya Samaj, and this society has about seventy Vegetarian members on the rolls. Lectures are being delivered fortnightly, on the advantages of Vegetable diet. The educated Indians are taking interest in such movement." We heartily wish the new society success.

The following item was sent by the Soyfoods Center:
Source: The Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review (Manchester, England). 1908. Aug. p. 201. The section titled "Parsee Vegetarian Society (Bombay)" states: "This Society has been recently formed in Bombay to consist exclusively of Parsees. The members will abstain from fish, flesh, fowl, and eggs, and from all alcoholic drinks and narcotic drugs, as opium, tobacco, etc. The founders aim to bring again the Golden Age referred to in their ancient teachings. Meetings open to outsiders will be held frequently, and the following subjects will be discussed: Religion, humanitarianism, psychology, ethics, medicine, physiology, scientific economy, etc., etc. The hon. Secretary is Jamshedji Dhanjibhai Shroff, 54, Cawasji, Patel Street Fort, Bombay."

'Parsee' (or Parsi) is an ethic group in western India, originally from Persia and following the Zoroastrian religion, that society was mentioned again in the early 20th century. A 'Bombay Natural Living Society' was also mentioned.

1923 - The first Indian involvement with IVU was at the 1923 Congress in Stockholm, Sweden, the following extracts are from the reports of that Congress:
... After extending a hearty welcome to all, he called upon the Hon. Congress Secretary, Madame Lombard (Stockholm), to read the Roll Call of the Delegates. Each rose as his or her name was called. The following is a full list : .... India - M. Dayal, M.A., Oxon ... We give the full list of papers in alphabetical order :- ... Dr. D. R. Har Dayal on " Vegetarianism in India," ...
Delegates normally represented a member society, but we were not told which society Dr. Dayal represented. There was no mention of India in the reports of the subsequent Congresses in the 1920s or 30s.

1947 - From the reports of the 1947 IVU Congress, held in Stonehouse, England:
... Messages of good wishes to the Congress were also received from the Bombay Humanitarian League, ...
Dr. P. D. KAPUR (Hon. Secretary of the India Society for the Protection of Animals) and Mr. HENRY POLAK (at one time associated with Mahatma Gandhi, in South Africa) also addressed the gathering. [this refers to a post-congress meeting in London]

1950 - From reports of the 1950 IVU Congress, held in the Netherlands:
... and in Dr. and Mrs. Edal Behram, India had two worthy delegates. ...
Brief speeches were made by delegates from the countries represented ... Dr. Edal Behram (India), ...
Farewell Dinner.... Dr. Edal Behram (India), ... also spoke, ...

1954 - the IVU Executive Committee received a request to hold a World Vegetarian Congress in India in 1957, but it was decided 'must be held in Europe out of loyalty to the nations who had built the IVU.' - all Congresses had been in Europe up to then. The plans for a 50th anniversary Congress in Germany in1958 eventually fell through and the offer from India was accepted.

1955 - Extracts from the minutes of the Business Meeting at the 1955 IVU Congress, held in Paris, France:
Present: Honorary Officials and Official Representatives of National Societies including ... India, ...
... The following additional Vice Presidents were elected:- (present Vice-Presidents being re-elected en bloc): Mr.J. N. Mankar (India); Mrs Nehna Vakil (India); ... Mrs Rukmini Devi Arundale (India); Mr Magenlal Shah (India); ...
... Humanitarian Societies: It was agreed to admit local groups and Societies with humanitarian ideals or with the object of furthering vegetarianism provided the control is vested in vegetarians. ... [this appears to have been for the benefit of the Bombay Humanitarian League]
In Indian and Other Religions - A Historical Survey subnitted to the Congress by J. N. Mankar

mankar1957 - 15th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Delhi/Bombay/Madras, India
Vegetarianism in India - J. N. Mankar
The Bombay Humanitarian League - A Pioneer Humanitarian Association, its why and what; by J. N. Mankar (Joint Honorary Secretary)

1958 - Jayantilal N. Mankar (right) appointed as Regional Secretary for India and the East - 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:
- Bombay Humanitarian League, Mr. J. N. Mankar, 149, Shroff Bazar, Bombay 2, India
- Ceylon Vegetarian Restaurant Proprietors Association, Mr. A. Coomaraswamy, 149, Maliban St., Colombo 11.
- India Vegetarian Society, Dr. Lal, 106-389 P Road, Pampur, U.P., India
- Universal College, Mr. W. S. Fernando, Panadura, Ceylon
- Vegetarian Club, Amrit Lal Jindaf, 116 Sundar Nagar, New Delhi, India.

1960 - at the 16th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, held in Germany, the President and Past President had both died since the last one, and the Deputy President was unable to attend. The Congress invited Rukmini Devi Arundale to take the chair. She had been a Vice-President since 1955 and remained such until her death in 1986.
- the Bombay Humanitarian League, the Ceylon Vegetarian Society, and Vegetarian Club of India were recorded as a members of IVU, and the Indian Vegetarian Congress joined during the Congress.
The Rajkumar of Vizianagram was elected to the IVU Executive Committee during the 1960 Congress, and remained until 1967, possibly 1969 (records are missing)
'Report from India' (J, N, Mankar) and 'An Eastern Message' (T. L. Vaswani) - from The British Vegetarian Nov/Dec, 1960
A Message from India - talk by Rukmini Devi Arundale at the Congress

1963 - Regional Secretary's Report, from J. N. Mankar, mentions the formation of the Bombay Vegetarian Society Affiliation of the Bombay Vegetarian Society was welcomed and approved

1964 - All India Animal Welfare Association; Vegetarian Club of Delhi

1967 - 19th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Delhi/Bombay/Madras, India - organised by Jay Mankar

1973 - the list of participants at the IVU Congress in Sweden shows: Mrs Rukmini Devi Arundale, Mr Surendra Mehta, Mr J. N. Mankar, from a group of 14 Indians.

1977 - 24th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Delhi/Bombay/Calcutta/Madras, India Jay Mankar died, aged 82, shortly before the Congress which he had largely organised. During the Congress Surendra Mehta (of the Indian Vegetarian Congress) and Dr. M. M. Bhamghara were appointed as joint Regional Secretaries for India and the East.
from the General Meeting minutes: Hon. Vice Presidents:- ... Sri Lanka - Dr.Jaysuria;

dinshah1979 - Right: Surendra Mehta with Jay Dinshah of the American Vegan Society during the 1979 IVU Congress in England.
The IVU Membership records for 1979, for the India and The East Regions:
All India Animal Welfare Association, Bombay
Bombay Humanitarian League
Bombay Vegetarian Society
Hinsa Virodhak Sngh, Ahmedbad, India
Indian Vegetarian Congress,
Calcutta Indian Vegetarian Society,
Bangalore North Indian Vegetarian Union, Jullundur,
Punjab Academy of Nandhari Culture

1982 - North India Vegetarian Union
Reports were presented from the following societies:- ... Sri Lanka Vegetarian Society

1983 - Vegetarian Society (Reverence for Life), Mumbai

jashu-shah1986 - Surendra Mehta elected as the first non-european Deputy President of IVU Jashu Shah appointed as Regional Secretary for India and the East. Jashu had been elected to the IVU Council in 1982, and remained as Regional Secretary until 2006. The photo right is Jashu at the IVU Congress in Edinburgh, 2002:

1990 - Surendra Mehta elected as President of IVU, the only President ever to come from outside of Europe or North America, He was re-elected for the statutory three terms, until 1996.

1993 - 30th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Madras, India
- during the Congress, Diana Ratnagar of Beauty Without Cruelty (India) was elected to the IVU Council. She remained on the Council until 1996.

1994 IVU Membership records for 1994 show the following member societies in India: Indian Vegetarian Congress Bombay Humanitarian League Veg.Soc.(Rev.for Life) Bombay Beauty Without Cruelty (India), Sri Lankan Humanitarian Society

1996 - Hiren Kara, Mumbai, elected to the IVU Council and became Assistant General Secretary until 1999 when he became Secretary until 2000.

1997 - Asian Regional Congress, Mahabaleshwar, India
A letter from Sri Lanka - IVU News
Vegetarian Society of Sri Lanka formally relaunched in Colombo - IVU News

1998 - Sri Lanka now has several Vegetarian Societies
(scroll down) - from IVU News

1999 - Pre-Congress Press Report from Sri Lanka
The Vegetarian Movement in Sri Lanka - Bandu Masakorala, delegate of Sri Lanka Veg. Soc.

South Asia in the 21st Century


The Diet of Early Humans

A collection of articles:

Read more: The Diet of Early Humans

History of Vegetarian Societies in SW Asia (Middle East)

1952 - (via soyinfocenter.com ) Vegetarian News Digest (Los Angeles). 1952, winter issue (vol. 2, no. 17, p. 19): A letter from a vegetarian in Israel states: "There are about 8,000 vegetarians in Israel and their number is steadily increasing. On the 17th of October the Vegetarians of Israel had a meeting in Jerusalem. There is already a vegetarian settlement in Mishmar Hashivah. The founding of a new vegetarian village has begun, also a Vegetarian Home for Children; also every effort will be made to open vegetarian restaurants in Jerusalem, Tel-Aviv and Haifa."

1953 [minutes of IVU Executive Committee] The secretary stated that his travel plans for the ensuing year included visits to . . . Israel, for the last country a joint mission having been planned with Richard St.Barbe Baker, founder of the Men of the Trees. In connection with this expedition to Israel Mr.Woodland Kahler expressed his willingness to accompany the secretary at his own expense and the offer was gratefully accepted.

1957 - 15th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India
Report from Israel - Mr. Pinehas Nasich of Rishon Le Zion, from the Souvenir Book of the Congress
The Hebrew Religion of Israel
- from the Souvenir Book of the Congress

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: - Israel V.S., Dr. O. Robinson, 3 Shmaryahu Levin St. Haifa, Israel

1960 - 16th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Hannover and Hamburg, Germany
Minutes of the Business Meetings representatives from . . . Israel, Permission was granted to the committee to accept the delayed nomination of new Vice-Presidents from . . . the Vegetarian Union of Israel. (Note: Dr O Robinson and Mr B Niedzwidz were subsequently nominated by the Israel Society . . .).
list of Member Societies from the General Secretary's Report - Israel Vegetarian & Hygienist Union

1963 - 17th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Barcelona, Spain
Official Delegates from . . . Israel,
- Report from Israel, by Dr Otto Robinsohn Vice-Presidents elected: Mr B Niedzwiedz and Dr Otto Robinsohn (Israel)

1965 - 18th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Swanwick, England:
Minutes of the Business Meetings: delegates from . . . Israel, . . . Vice Presidents: . . . Mr B Niedwietz (Israel). . .Dr O Robinsohn (Israel), . . . The President announced that he and the General Secretary would be visiting . . . Israel early in 1966 to help arouse a greater interest in the vegetarian movement.. . . . reports of activities in various Member countries.. . .Dr O Robinsohn (Israel),
The news that the newly formed Vegetarian Society of Iran was applying in due course was also welcomed.

1969 - 20th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Jerusalem, Israel
From the minutes of the Business Meeting The Secretary said that he . . . did not know why Mr Pick, who had been invited as Representative of the Israeli Organising Committee was absent.

1971 - 21st World Vegetarian Congress The Hague, The Netherlands
from a Congress report: . . . delegates . . . Turkey, . . . Lebanon. . . .

pick1973 - 22nd IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Ronneby Brunn, Sweden
With One Voice
- article from the UK magazine includes extracts of the talk by Dr O Robinsohn (Israel),
from a Congress report: VEGETARIAN Essence in Comparative Religions was the subject of a working party headed by Philip Pick, (right) President of the Jewish Vegetarian Society. Among their findings . . . "Vegetarian propaganda of a general nature, however efficient, appears to affect only that proportion of the population that is totally uncommitted; the remainder, in their traditional beliefs, consider that this must compromise all that is required of them in the way of ethics." Among their recommendations . . . a campaign directed to religious leaders, and research to be carried out to support the original doctrines embracing vegetarianism.
The list of participants at the Congress gives - Israel: Mrs. Zilla Zippora Reznik, Mr. Otto Robinson, Mrs. Blanka Robinson, Mrs. Batia Vexler, Mrs. Genia Wolf.

1975 - 23rd IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Orono, Maine, USA
from Vegetarian Times, no.12:  ISRAEL: Progress in spite of national problems. A veg. village was founded 16 yrs ago. There are 7 branches of the Israel Veg. Soc., they conduct symposiums & lectures. Monthly mag, circ 1,500.
from the General Meeting minutes Members of the International Council . . . Mrs L.Raaf (Lebanon); Hon.Corr.Sec. for the Middle East: Mr. P. L. Pick (England)

1977 - 24th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Delhi/Bombay/Calcutta/Madras, India
from the General Meeting minutes:  Members of the International Council . . . Mrs L.Raaf (Lebanon); Hon. Vice Presidents:- . . . Israel - Mr.Alex Hary, . . .
from the list of Member Societies 1975-77: Israel Vegetarian Movement

1979 - 25th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Loughborough, England
INTERNATIONAL COUNCIL: . . . Mrs Louise Raaf (Lebanon); HON.Vice-Presidents: . . . Mr.P.L.Pick (U.K.); . . .
HON.REGIONAL SECRETARIES: . . . Middle East: Hon.Corr.Sec. Mr.P.L.Pick
reports were read out : Jewish Vegetarian Society - Mr.P.L.Pick
from the program: Mr.P.L.Pick "Future trends in I.V.U."
from the list of Member Societies 1977-79: Israel Vegetarian Movement

1981 - {minutes of International Council] World Congress 1984 . . . A suggested venue for the Congress was Israel . . .
Middle East: The report from Mr Pick indicated that, apart from in Israel, there is a lack of vegetarian achievement in the region. There was a possibility of some progress in Egypt soon and the way in which animals are treated there makes such development very desirable. In Israel interest in vegetarianism is growing and the Israeli Vegetarian Union has recently become a member of I.V.U. There are three vegetarian orientated magazines and the Jewish Vegetarian Society is working to set up a Vegetarian Naturopathic College

1982 - 26th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Neu-Ulm, West Germany
Middle East: Mr Philip Pick, who was unable to attend the Congress, sent a written report. He commented on the problems associated with the attitude to animals in many countries in the area. In Israel interest in vegetarianism had continued to grow and the movement was flourishing. Venue for the 1984 World Congress: There were three offers to host the 1984 World Congress, . . . one offer for Israel. (it went to the USA)
Reports were presented from the following societies:- ... Israeli Vegetarian Society - Mr.A.Beharav 
from the General Meeting minutes: Elected Members of the International Council: . . . . Mr Moshe Stolov, (Israel) Hon. Regional Secretaries . . . Middle East - Mr Philip Pick,

1984 - 27th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Baltimore, USA
Minutes of the IVU General Meeting  Middle East: In the absence of Mr Pick, the Hon.General Secretary reported that the situation in the Middle East was still difficult due to political problems. Only in Israel was vegetarianism a force. There was growing interest in vegetarianism in Israel and there were a number of vegetarian communities and societies. Reports were presented from the following societies:- Israeli Independent Association of Vegans and Vegetarians - read
Hon.Vice Presidents: . . . Mr Philip Pick, Hon.Regional Secretaries: . . . Middle East - Mr Philip Pick;

1986 -28th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia
Reports were presented from the following Societies:- Israel Vegetarian Movement, Israeli Nature and Health Venue for the 1990 World Congress: Offers to host the Congress came from Israel and India. There was a vote of delegates and it was decided to accept the offer of Israel. 1988 World Congress: . . . .It was agreed that should it not prove possible for the congress to continue in Mexico then either Israel or India should be asked to put on a congress in 1988. Hon.Vice Presidents: . . . Mr Philip L.Pick, Hon Regional Secretaries: . . . Middle East - Mr Philip Pick,

- Minutes of a Meeting of members of the International Council and represetatives of the Israeli Vegetarian Society at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel, Ramat Gan, Israel on 1st April, 1989.

1990 - 29th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Tel Aviv, Israel
from the General Meeting minutes: Manker Foundation and Trophy The President spoke of the work of Shri Manker and the reasons for the trophy which was awarded for outstanding work for the international vegetarian cause. He announced that it had been decided to award the trophy to Mr. Philip Pick who was founder President of the International Jewish Vegetarian Society and Regional Secretary for the Middle East. He mentioned that Mr.Pick was celebrating his eightieth birthday and that he had given outstanding service to the vegetarian cause. In reply Mr. Pick spoke of his friendship with Mr. Mankar and the delight he felt to be honoured in this way.

1993 - 30th IVU World Vegetarian Congress in Madras, India
from the General Meeting minutes: The meeting noted with great sadness the death of Philip Pick . . . who had long served the vegetarian cause and who had been very active in the international movement. Following the death of Mr Philip Pick, the Hon. General Secretary had sought advise from the Jewish Vegetarian Society about a successor for the Middle East. It seemed that a suitable person would be found in Israel and this was approved.
Mark Weintraub (Israel)
appointed as Regional Secretary for the Middle East (he appears to have stood down in 1996 and was never replaced)

1994 - 31st IVU World Vegetarian Congress, The Hague, Holland
from the General Meeting minutes: Middle East - The Hon.General Secretary read out the report from Mr. Mark Weintraub who was unable to attend the congress. He reported the continuing problems of communication within the Middle East due to the political situation but hoped that the easing of tension would lead to greater association and future potential for the vegetarian movement. In Israel the vegetarian movement was growing and quite strong. f
rom the list of subscriptions paid to IVU 1991-94:
Israeli Movement of Vegetarians and Vegans

1996 - from IVU Newsletter: There is a small group of vegetarians in Iran but, as far as I know, there are none elsewhere in the Moslem world.

1997 - Jewish philosophy of vegetarianism by Philip L. Pick. from EVU News, Issue 4 /1997

1999 - 33rd IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Chiang Mai, Thailand,
Introduction to Natural Hygiene or Life Science as a Way of Life - A talk given by Malieh Jafari, Iran
International Panel: Vegetarianism and Disease Prevention - Dr.Khosrow Taheri (Iran)

SW Asia (Middle East) in the 21st Century


Quotations and Poetry

These quotes are collected as being of interest to vegetarians, the people quoted are not necessarily vegetarian themselves.

Quotes are arranged in approximate chronological order within each subject.


Read more: Quotations and Poetry

History of South Asian Vegetarian Societies

The first Indian Vegetarian Society that we know of was established in 1889 in the Punjab, but it was not immediately reported in England. There was apparently an earlier society in Bombay but we have no specific details of that (see below).


Read more: History of South Asian Vegetarian Societies