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

Reports from Workshops and Discussion Groups

Date: Sat, 16 Jan 1999 20:53:57 +0000
From: John Wedderburn, Hong Kong, China

My talk on Animal Issues in East Asia was unscripted and anyway the text would mean nothing without the pictures (which are available to anyone on the EarthCare website).

It was aimed at health motivated as opposed to animal-suffering motivated vegetarians. Afterwards I realised that I should have asked my audience what they were. I suspect that most were the latter and therefore I was preaching to the converted. Anyway I was very gratified at the response. A very enthusiastic discussion followed about what could be done about the situations I had highlighted. This fitted in well with Vanessa's talk that morning about "Beyond Ahimsa" and I hope people left with their motivations strengthened to do what they can.

Just one small complaint for the attention of future organisers - I was disappointed with the dark screen provided which made all my photos appear dull and blue - I needed a white background for my projector. The hotel sheets didn't hack it - they were grey! And the wall you saw them on was even worse!

Best wishes.
John Wedderburn.

by Katherine Azzopardi, Tina Fox et al.

The purpose of this workshop was to encourage and give suggestions to those interested in starting a vegetarian group, and also to brainstorm ideas how to revitalise and revive some "dormant" groups.

In preparation for this workshop (perhaps not early enough) I had sent out a questionnaire on ivu-talk with the hope of receiving some feedback from existing societies regarding various points relevant to the topic. From the five which I received back it was clear that there truly is scope for getting together and exploring new ideas and methods in order to keep this movement growing strongly and healthily.

In the introduction I referred to the "Starting up Pack" of information, published by the Veg Soc of UK, which had probably been the only help I had when I, together with my husband and my yoga teacher, co-founded the VS of Malta. This pack of information, although intended for affiliated groups, local groups or information centres, is invaluable material to anyone wishing to start a new group outside of the UK. I also referred to a draft compiled by Dudley Ghiel, who also suggests many ideas on the same lines. It was confirmed to me by Tina Fox and Dudley Gheil that these two publications are available to anyone interested on request.

Since most of the points suggested in these publications were tackled in a previous workshop "International Networking for Vegetarianism and the Animals", I thought I should tackle the subject from a different angle. I started by expressing my opinion that it is good that we use workshops such as these to stop awhile and reflect on our work and make a little self-evaluation.

All of us know that every organisation, big or small, has a story. The story of an organisation is special in that it does not necessarily reflect the ideas of the author only but it is a reflection of the effect of many things, some of them dependent on us, and in this respect we have to do our utmost to use our potentiality in the best possible way, and of course some factors which may prevail or develop in a way completely beyond our control. We know that today in some areas of the world our work has become somehow easier, most probably as a result and thanks to our predecessors who were pioneers in the World veg movement. Still there are many places where vegetarianism needs to take root and all of us have a certain amount of responsibility to see that the slaughter of animals for food is reduced everywhere in the world.

The following points were presented and discussed. Most of the participants contributed in some way with their comments, which were all positive.


One thing which should come first and foremost is the aim of any vegetarian group, i.e to create vegetarians. This should be the first priority. The success of a society does not measure from how many years we have been around, nor from how many members we have, nor from how many businesses we run, or how much capital we have. If in the area where we operate, the number of vegetarians does not increase, then we have to do something about it.

Planning is vital in whatever we do. Even when choosing the name of the society we have to think what it is we want to achieve. The more general the name, ex. "The Vegetarian Society of Malta" the wider the outreach. If we choose a more specific name, eg. "The Catholic Vegetarian Society of ...." we are limiting our work to a specific group, which may still be good, if that is what we want. One participant mentioned that it even makes a difference when calling it "The Maltese Vegetarian Society" for instance. It is better to have the word "vegetarian" first, especially when it comes to certain directories. Once a group starts functioning, it is good to have regular activities, well planned ahead properly. This includes a certain amount of research, eg. whose needs and demands we are catering for, whether old or young, male or female, vegetarians or not, rich or poor, what issues and how best to tackle them. It is always wise to communicate with other more experienced groups, ex. Britain, Canada, etc. All of them are always more than willing to help and all of us have a lot to learn from their experience.

Whoever has worked in any philanthropic organisation knows that whenever you want to do something good, you have to go through a lot of struggle. If you are not struggling, probably you're just moving around in circles never getting anywhere. If you find opposition, it means you're affecting people, you're getting a reaction. Even negative reaction is good, especially if it's from the media. Take it as good publicity.

Always reflect from time to time on what you are doing, how you are progressing. See whether your work is being effective, if not ask yourself why, put as many questions to yourself as you can imagine and answer them sincerely. Check your methods, resources, whether they are outdated. Discuss with as many people as possible. Change where you need to change.

Individually and collectively we have to keep an open mind to changes in people's attitudes, lifestyles. If we don't change and grow ourselves we cannot pretend that others will follow our advice. We are not perfect and there's always space for improvement. We must think of life as a movement from imperfection to perfection. We move forward and push and pull each other along.

In order to be psychological, or diplomatic, we should never compromise our principles. Even if we differ between us on certain principles, it is important that we do not shy away from declaring exactly what we believe in. Of course we have to accept that other people have their own principles which may be different from ours, even though we may be working together in the same group, but if one day I'm saying one thing, and another day I'm saying something different just to please a few people, I am risking my credibility.

In an interesting discussion which arose on this point, Peter McQueen and Dudley Geihl gave their opinions that spokespersons for an organisation should, when talking in public, express not only their personal feelings but also those of the other members of the group, even to have as large an outreach as possible.

Many people may be as strong as you are in principle, but not so confident when it comes to spreading the message. Study how best to include them, enrol them in your ideas. Give out tasks, support them, work together, push them (not everybody agrees that we should push) praise them. If there's a job to do and you just go ahead and do it, it will be you who will have to do it again next time. If you can get 4 people to do it together, next time you can do something new and different. Teachers are precious. Enroll as many of these as you can. Their influence on tomorrow's generation is tremendous.

Cooks are as important. No matter how sensitive people are towards animals, if you don't show them that they can enjoy their veg and pulses it might not be easy to convince them. Include food at every opportunity. Meals are the best form of socialising. But they can also become boring if we do not use some imagination. Combine meals with other things, eg show a video and have a meal afterwards. Organise a good strong cooking team. This can also be one good way of networking with other groups. One example from Malta was the case of a society known as the Island Sanctuary, young volunteers taking care of 150 abandoned dogs. Every month they used to organise a fund-raising dinner which was not vegetarian. Only one member of the board of eight was vegetarian. Once we offered to cook a vegetarian dinner for their members, to replace their monthly fundraiser. After the dinner, all except one turned vegetarian. After that this group always participated in our Reverence for Life Activities which we organise in October.

Another example is staff dinners and parties. Suggest that once you will organise a vegetarian cooking team to cook dinner for the staff of your workplace. It happened once in my school. 44 teachers ate vegetarian and liked it. Many of them ask me: When are we going to do it again?

Any kind of publication is important, magazines, recipe books, etc. but the most important is a regular newsletter for members. Members like to be remembered, even just an A4 printed on both sides, especially if it is monthly. Besides being a means of communicating and keeping the members in touch, I find that it helps to keep me always thinking up ideas for activities, as well as having to keep up with what's happening in the veg world, just to have something to pass on in the newsletter.

It is important to use the local language as much as possible. In Malta for example, English speaking people have a lot of material available, but a section of the population who cannot read English were just waiting for us to happen. We found so much response from an area of the population which had been completely unaware of the health - cruelty - environmental impact of food, just because it had never been brought to their attention before.

When doing any good work, always find time for yourself. Whatever benefits others, has to benefit you too. Of course the word "benefit" has different meanings according to one's mentality. Some people may think this is being selfish. But it's ok to be selfish in some ways. Look after yourself, find ways of strengthening yourself, body and mind, and you will find that the more you love yourself the more love you have to give. Never allow bitterness and hatred to overshadow the work that you do. Even when dealing with people of unacceptable nature, try to seperate the person from their action. Condemn wrongdoings but love everybody. People will be automatically drawn to someone who proves that it is love which drives him and not vengeance, bitterness, or other wrong motives.

At the end of the workshop we gave out samples of publications, stickers, flyers. There was also an exhibition of photos of various activities of the Veg Soc of Malta, as well as photocopies of the letter which was the start of the Veg Soc of Malta, and other letters to the press, advertisements, etc.

This workshop could have gone on for quite a while, exploring ideas and exchanging experiences. It proved there is a lot of potential still untapped. If we make maximum use of our resources and share whatever we have, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

- Katherine Azzopardi

handout from the workshop

Chaiyong RUJJANAWATE Ph.D. (Pharmacology)

Flowers of many common kinds can be eaten and served as a distinctive flavorful dish. Naturally, flowers play an important role in the process of reproduction of flowering plants. The beauty of blooming flowers is recognized and contributes to the decoration of gardens, indoor places and tables. The value and beauty of edible flowers is appreciated if one knows how to make a suitable recipe.

Not all flowers are edible and not all edible flowers are suitable in culinary art. However, some of the most common garden-variety flowers can be used to liven up cuisines, as a garnish or as a proper and tasty dish. This lecture will present of flower recipes, details of common edible flowers and how to pick them properly. Examples of oriental floral salads, soup and condiments are shown in colorful slides.

Vegetarianism and the universal Force

Vegetarian food consist of plants, non animal products and the green fiber. All plants have chlorophyll which can photosynthesize and produce foods from sun light, cosmic and universeal force together with water and natural nutririon. Part of human body, such as our skin has the same function in receiving the light, the Cosmic and the Universal Energy and then convert them to our energy. Human bone and organs have the formation like the crystal, and it also, as all the plants do, can synthesizes the light and universal energy to be the life one.

With the inner smile, we can get in touch with our organs, bone and skin. At the same time our organs can also connect with the universe, cosmic, and light. The cleaner diet from vegetarian food and green will help to transform our body and we can get in touch with the universe and the nature more and more.

Master Mantak Chia

Having studied Tao, and many other ancient knowledge together with medical science and anatomy, he set up the healing Tao Center in New York in 1979, leading to setting up other center around the world, including the International Healing Tao at the Tao Garden in Chiang mai, Thailand. Being a warm, friendly and helpful man, he can present the healing Tao System in a simple , practical manner , always expanding his approach to teaching