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3rd International Vegetarian Congress 1893
Chicago, USA

from the Vegetarian Messenger, Manchester, February 1894, pp 57-61:


In the new part of Food, Home and Garden, the Editor, the Rev. Henry S. Clubb, makes the following interesting comments on the central event in the history of the Vegetarian propaganda in 1893, the International Congress held in connection with the Chicago Exhibition :-

"When in 1891 we visited Chicago with a view to take the necessary steps to hold a World's Vegetarian Congress in connection with the World's Fair, it was with much trepidation. We doubted whether the movement would be regarded as of sufficient public importance to place it among the recognised reforms of this century as worth a place in rank with the temperance, peace and other great movements, so as to secure the privilege to be heard at the World's Congresses under the management of the World's Congress Auxliary. We approached our old time peace Friend, Jonathan Plummer then on Lake Street, C hicago. He was, we understand, one of the originators of the Congress Auxiliary idea. His was mainly a peace movement. To him we confided our plan for a Whole World's Vegetarian Congress, and he kindly promised to introiluce the matter to the committee of which he was one and of which Mr. Bonney, now so well known and honoured, became the chairman.

"We held a meeting at the Grand Pacific Hotel, and one at the Bible Institute, College Place, and a very pleasant reception was had at the residence of Mrs. Mason. The subject of the World's Congress was spoken of, but seemed to be regarded with some trepidation, even by Chicago Vegetarians. However, after correspondence, we in due time received from Mr. Bonney the pleasant assurance that a Vegetarian Congress might be held succeeding the great Temperance Congress. We then wrote to the Vegetarian Federal Union, London, and invited the organisation to hold its meeting for 1893 in Chicago, as one of the World's Congresses. The invitation was accepted, and Mr. Doremus appointed commissioner to make arrangements. He came to New York, but even be expressed his belief that it would be a failure, and that the Chicago papers would ridicule the movement. We replied we had no fear of the Chicago papers as they had show us great courtesy and friendship. Mr. Doremus returned to England without even coming to Philadelphia, owing to serious family bereavement in which he had our sincere sympathy. The Congress was held, and its success heralded by the the Chicago papers.

"The other Congresses were held, and in the Humane Congress and the Parliament of Religions, Vegetarianism was so well discussed as to become the prominent subject both on the platforms and in the preess.

"Our Buddhist friends took care to ventilate their views on the cruelties and slaughter promoted by Christian missionaries in their countries, and Vegetarianism thus became prominent. Thus the subject which it was feared would be ignored, the stone that it was expected would by the builders be refused, became 'the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doings and it is marvelous in our eyes'. (Ps. cxviii, 22-23.")

This is confirmed by the testimony of C.E.W., writing in the Journal of Zoophily. This writer says :-
"The most striking feature perhaps of the International Humane Congress held at Chicago last month, was the prominence given to the idea that it might be wrong to kill animals even for the purpose of furnishing us with food. This may have been owing to the presence of so many Hindoos who were there, and who spoke earnestly of the doctrine taught by Buddha, that man in order to live a higher and spiritual life must avoid the use of meat. These speakers admitted that the poorer people among the lahouring classes sometimes made use of a flesh diet, but that the consistent Buddhists, those who were devout and of an elevated turn of mind, scorned the idea of partaking of nourishment which required the killing of aninials in order to obtain it. To them it seemed most inconsistent, they frankly admitted, that we, who were engaged in the humane movement, should make the protection of animals the business of our lives, and yet should not hesitate to approve of and partake of a kind of food which subjects those animals to cruel death, and in many cases to a long course of barbarities, before the infliction of the final death blow. The terrible sufferings and acute agony which these creatures often experience in transportation both by land and sea, particularly the latter, are all in consequence of our making use of them for our food. The Hindoos who spoke on the first day, the Rev. B. B. Nagarka, described his feeling of horror, when during his first voyage to England, he saw on the steamer a basketful of fowls being killed in a careless, ruthless manner in preparation for the dinner of the day. Unable to endure the sight, he walked away to the side of the vessel, and gazed out upon the ocean, wondering that the great English nation, so superior in many respects, should tolerate what seemed to him such an atrocity when he was joined by a lady who asked him what he thought of the sight he had just witnessed. As he hesitated a little at expressing his opinion, she said, ' Is it not disgraceful and horrible?' 'Yes madam,' he replied, 'but you are English, do you not approve of it?' 'By no means,' she returned, 'I am a Vegetarian.' What impresses us as more remarkable even in the utterances of these Indians, who being Buddhists, would naturally defend the tenets of their religion, wasthat the Rev. Thomas C. Hall, the last speaker of the Congress, in alluding to the progress of humane ideas, said 'The time may come when we shall think it wrong to support life by taking life.'

"Altogether it seems to us that the movement in favour of Vegetarianism has made much progress of late years. Not being as yet a convert to its theories, we feel able to look upon it to a certain extent dispassionately, and we must admit that we find in it much to admire. Whether the human race would be so strong, so enduring, and so capable of great physical effort without a flesh-eating diet as with it remains to be ascertained. Certain it is, in our opinion, that men would be less brutal, less likely to yield to the lowest animal instincts of their nature, and more susceptible to ennobling influences in such a case than they are now.'

Fhere is another side of Chicago life which was not represnted at the Congresses held at the Art Museum. A vivid picture of the horrors of the slaughter-houses of Chicago was drawn by the Special Correspondent of the Daily News. He declares that the method of killing was most clumsy. "The beast," he continues, Was driven into a strongly-boarded enclosure of sufficient size to permit of its standing upright without turning round. A slaughterman on a platform above aimed at its head, between the ears, with a hammer of the size and shape of the implement with which Hodge breaks his stones by the highway. The. blows were continued until the victim fell with a heavy thud, and as the man passed on to operate upon the next the side of the enclosure fell down, a chain was passed round the hind legs, and the stunned steer was hauled up swiftly, struggling faintly perhaps, and as it so hung the knife terminated Act One. In an incredibly short space of tine the heast was skinned, cut up, and every serviceable portion whisked away to be dealt with in its proper place. Of the four beasts I saw clumsily hammered, not one was brought to the gronnd without three blows, and one of them was battered nine times before the hammer had crashed on the right spot. It seems that after trying all the patent methods for dealing the death-blow, the slaughtermen have as the best humanitarian policy, gone back to this primitive fashion. I believe the beasts are shot sometimes. As for the pigs and sheep they appear to be seized, hoisted up by machinery, and stuck simultaneously. There could not have been more. expedition there. What a scene on the slaughter-house floor, with scores of men reeking with gore, and cutting and slashing right and left as if they revelled in their sanguinary work. The shouts of the men, the groans of the cattle. the rattle and bang of the machinery, the ring of hoofs against the sides of the pen, the thud of the hammer, and the dull sound of the falling carcase, the swish-swash of blood as gory labourers swept it into the gutters, the clatter of pulleys and chains as the severed portions of beef were shot out of sight, the inevitable odour of the place, in spite of rigorous precautions - these make an experience not to be forgotten. Yet one would think it was a sight to shudder at rather than to see! It will be a wholesome change to get out of this shambles of all shambles. 'This gentleman will show you the way,' said a man, whose naked arms, high boots, clothes, and face were crimson, pointing to another employee, reeking with grease. After the fresh air you are better able to look around the works of the 75 wealthy companies that do the packing or follow the hides, or the entrails, bladders, stomachs, horns, bones, aye blood itself, every particle being utilised for trade in its own department. The carcases are run off by machinery to refrigerators.''

In the new number of that excellent and important paper, the Asiatic Quarterly Review, Mulji Devji Vedaut gives his impression of the Chicago Exhibition. Amongst other things he says:- "While our eyes are enjoying the sight of skilful work in gold, silver, copper, brass, iron, ivory, wood, silk, cotton, wool, etc., and the mind is absorbed in the happy reflection that man can produce such marvels out of such rude materials, our attention is suddenly drawn towards a butcher's den by the shocking smell of hides, carcasses, tails &c., designated by the name of 'furs.' The barbarous tribes of America used to kill their fellow beings to adorn themselves with human scalps. The more humane tribes of the world desist from killing man for the sake of utilising any portion of his body. So, also, amongst the flesh-eaters less cultured societies 'murder' lower animals for the sake of making ornaments and garments, and the better cultured only for food. This desire of decorating themselves with skins and dead birds is a remnant of the barbarism of the ancient times; a remnant of which even the most barbarous communities ought to be ashamed in this era of science and art. Bentham and Spencer agree that 'that depravity, which, after fleshing itself upon animals, presently demands human suffering to satiate its appetite' should be prevented by 'making criminal gratuitous cruelties.'" The aboriginies of America have no reason to give up their liking for ornaments of teeth of sharks, skins of animals, and of feathers, so long as their civilized conquerors do not show their superiority in this themselves. The most lamentable circumstance about this barbarism is that it is cherished by the fair sex, which should be the source of gentleness, purity, and kindness. Such is the light in which some of the products of Western civilisation appear to a representative of the older thoughts of the Aryan races.