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 Saiyud Kerdphol

General Saiyud Kerdphol is the well-known Supreme Commander, now retired and helping the organization of volunteer citizen groups for observing and controlling the election in Thailand. As strong as a military man, he is also a strict vegan who strictly and mostly enjoys eating only raw foods like salads, fresh fruits and sprouts for about 7 years. Even now at age of 78, he still plays tennis everyday. He devotes himself to the society and citizen politics. He is the Founder and President of Thai Vegetarian Union and now the President of Bangkok Vegetarian Society.

The Vegetarian Movement in Thailand - Presented on Tuesday Jan. 5th, 1999

Being a Buddhist country, Thailand is highly acquainted with the concept of vegetarianism. It is our view that vegetarianism is a means of cleansing not only our bodies, but also our soul, and therefore prepares us for our ultimate reward. reincarnation into a higher life.

As part of our Buddhist tradition, it is interesting that we periodically reach out for this simplicity even though it may not fully present in our daily life. On each lunar day of the month, days of the new and full moon and the quarter-moons, which are called "Wan Pra" or Buddhist Holidays, those aspiring to the next life will leave home to surrounding themselves by the simplicity of a monastery, where they will sleep on the plain pallet and take only vegetarian food.

Thais of Chinese descent, during the month of October, have an annual two week vegetarian festival called "Tesakarn Kin Je", connected with the ninth month of Chinese calendar is a colorful event attracting many tourists, especially at PHUKET in the south of Thailand. Meditators too, know that their practice and the attainment of a quiet mind, is helped by maintaining a vegetarian diet. As well as the Thai, Hindu and Thai Sikh communities practice vegetarianism, by tradition and by birth, according to their belief. More recently, health conciousness is causing more and more people to seek a healthy lifestyle through self - care, which includes a change of diet towards a vegetarian one. As is known, in B.E. 2513 A Buddhist group, "SAMNAK POO - SWAN", under leadership of Mr. Suchart (now in the mankhood) set up a vegetarian restaurant at his headquatrers to convince followers of the diet's benefits. The vegetarian community of "Chom - Rom - Arhan - Maugsa Virat" with about 2000 members.

Vegetarian food received wide attention recently when it became known that retired Maj. Gen (then Col) Chamlong Srimueng, secretary to the Prime Minister General Prem Tinsulanonda, followed a strict vegetarian diet, even during official functions. Vegetarian food became more popular when Chamlong became a political party leader and deputy prime minister. He helped set up vegetarian restaurants in many places in Bangkok and up country. Most of his followers are members of the Buddhist sect called "Santi Asoke". His organisation is called "Vegetarian Community" or " Chomrom Nakmungasavirat" with many members.

The Seventh Day Adventists faith is one of the very few religious denomination , who believe in total vegetarianism. Accordingly, at the hospital they have opened a health center, where only vegetarian food is served. Khun Pornthep Srinarula, a Namdhari Sikh, initiated the Bangkok Vegetarian Club in 1992 which now has 58 members. The Vegetarian Club of Bangkok participated the 1991 International Vegetarian Congress. Later, in 1996. The Vegetarian Club of Bangkok helped organize the Vegetarian Club of Chiang Mai, now with about 100 members. Veg Bangkok and Veg. Chiang Mai, with support from many organizations, such as; Ministry of Public Health and other non-governmental organizations, such as; The Thai Centenarian Club, Vegetarian food club, and primary healthcare community etc., agreed to set up the Thai international vegetarian congress (TVU) or the Vegetarian Federation in Thailand in early 1998. They agreed that the TVU will serve as the coordinating body for all the vegetarian communities by setting up a vegetarian network in Thailand with The International Vegetarian Fund (IVF) and other facilities to support and promote vegetarian activities in Thailand. Being the host for the organization of the World Vegetarian Congress, it gives us the good opportunity and the first time that the vegetarian societies and groups in Thailand are linked, united and become the Thai Vegetarian Union (TVU).