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

General Secretary's Report - Chiang Mai January 1999

One of the principal achievements of the past 12 months has been a huge expansion of interest in IVU, fuelled by the exponential increase in the scope of the website with the addition are a vast amount of material in a large number of languages, thanks once again to our Webmaster and the many translators who volunteer their services in the interests of vegetarianism.

The resulting increase in workload has been reorganised with the establishment of a membership section as a focal point for initial inquiries and currently also for the processing of subscriptions and financial matters generally. The latter task has resulted from the inability of the Treasurer, for various reasons, to cope with the task. The concurrent inability of the President to devote any time to IVU has further hampered our attempts to take advantage of the huge increase in interest worldwide.

Nevertheless, there have been some major steps forward. In particular, co-operation from VUNA in sorting out financial and membership aspects and a more international outlook generally in North America has been a gratifying improvement on the situation described in my previous report. With the promise of a sophisticated custom built database the membership section will become a major resource for contacts and information,

Despite printing setbacks, the summer issue of IVU News ran to 3,000 copies and was very well received. The front cover design is becoming increasingly well known, which has helped in gelting IVU and its work more widely known and in bringing in new members. Among the articles was an appraisal of the situation in Japan, where I was offered a complimentary return tour by a specialist convention bureau, In the days preceding my departure several dozen organisations in the vegetarian/animal movement were contacted and I met members of several of them, including the highly active ALIVE (All Life in a Viable Fnvironment) who also joined IVU.

The next stage was to have been the consolidation of the achievements mentioned above and a major outreach exercise worldwide. However, the disastrous situation that I encountered on my visit to Bangkok at the beginning of this year, following the abrupt departure of the then organiser, meant that once the decision had been taken to undertake the task ourselves with help from our friends in Chiang Mai and in so doing to maintain IVU's international credibility everything else had to give way to the massive task of salvaging the present congress, whose success will surely vindicate those efforts.

So many new ventures could so easily be undertaken with the help of a committed council and officers. In this context, the plea that no one should stand for election who is not able and willing to devote a substantial amount of time and energy to the international aspect of the vegetarian movement represented by IVU has clearly been well taken and I look forward to meeting the opportunities and challenges ahead in the company of a full team of dedicated and hard working colleagues.

Francisco Martin