International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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1st IVU World Vegetarian Congress 1908

Dresden, Germany

Notices and Reports from Vegetarische Warte, 1908:

Activities of [vegetarian] societies

Dresden. Vegetarian Society
Monday, Aug. 17th and Tuesday August 18th
International Vegetarian Congress in the small hall of the clubhouse, Zinsendorffstr. 17. Monday evening reception, Tuesday discussion, Tuesday evening public assembly.
(Vegetarische Warte, August 5th, 1908, issue 16, Page 196)

Dresden. Vegetarian Society.
After long discussions the meeting of members which was held on Friday, August 5th, in the restaurant "Freya" and was attended by 16 persons, finally decided on the preparatory work and activities for the international meeting. Georg Förster
(Vegetarische Warte, August 19th, 1908, issue 17, Page 20)

International Vegetarian Congress

The vegetarian idea exists worldwide, and we speak of a vegetarian world view (philosophy). That suggested the plan, to unite humans from everywhere with a vegetarian thinking. The best representatives of the vegetarians of all countries wished to realise this idea for a long time already. A French physician, Dr. Danjou, initiated this plan last year at the 60th birthday celebrations of the English Vegetarian society at Manchester, and the English friends supported that plan at once. It was Dr. Danjou's intention to cultivate a friendship among vegetarians who lived far away from each other, to stimulate and intensify their promotional work by a mutual exchange of experiences, and to induce the international press to more and more keen comments on vegetarian issues. The friendly and interested signs of consent, that reached us from all countries where vegetarians lived, showed that this idea was up-to-date. And we Germans are very proud that our country was chosen for the venue of the first international meeting. The representatives of the regional vegetarian societies were invited to come to Dresden, and the congress of the Esperantist at Dresden was meant to make it easier to attend the meeting. This last point, although a good idea, turned out to be doubtful. Almost none of the participants was an Esperantist.

The number of delegates at Dresden was not high. Only Germany, England and Holland were represented, and only at the very end of the meeting a member of the three northern countries showed up. As a matter of fact, the members of the Dresden Vegetarian Society were the majority of the participants. Mr. Broadbent, Mr. Simpson and Mr. Harris came from Manchester, Mr. Gill from London, Mr. Meyroos, the secretary of the Dutch Vegetarian Society, came from Rotterdam. The German Vegetarier-Bund was represented by the president Mr. Selss and the second deputy president Mr. Rothe, the board members Mr. Heinicke (Dresden) and Mr. Luck (Berlin), the chairmen of the regional group at Dresden, Mr. Dressler and Mr. Förster, and Mr. Lentze from the regional group of Leipzig.

Not only all representatives present did answer in the affirmative to the main question of the meeting, whether the instant foundation of an international union of vegetarians was desirable, but also the letters of the societies of Scandinavia, Denmark, Russia, Austria, Spain, France, Belgium and North America made us sure, that all organised vegetarians of the world wanted the union unanimously.

On the basis of their authority and empowered by the written consent of the mentioned societies, the delegates founded the planned union on Tuesday, Aug. 18th, and christened it "International Vegetarian Union". The next meeting was scheduled for 1909 in Manchester combined with the centenary celbrations of the oldest vegetarian group, the Vegetarian Church. Until then it was agreed not to establish society funds, because we hoped for a greater number of participants from abroad in Manchester and a better quorum.

The provisional committee of the union was elected: Mr. Broadbent (England), Mr. Meyroos (Holland), Mr. Selss (Germany), and they were empowerd to coopt others. The elected committee members promised to elaborate the legal basis of the Union until the next meeting and to get in contact with the countries that were not represented.

The reports of the three represented countries followed. I gave a short review of the histrory of vegetarianism in Germany and of our society and explained our present situation. Mr. Broadbent spoke (in English) about the exemplary promotional work of the English vegetarians and presented the flyers of his society, which were maily drawn up by himself. Mr. Meyroos presented himself as delegate of the youngest but most successful vegetarian society, the Nederlandse Vegetariersbond, and described in German its victorious development with the beginning 11 years ago and the actual flourishing situation.

The fact, that Mr. Broadbent did not understand German, forced him to pass on the chair of the meeting to me, although the honour of the chair had been due to him as representative of the oldest vegetarian organisation, which had done most of the organising work and paid most of the costs. I chaired the meeting during the whole time and often acted as translator at the same time, and Mr. Dressler, the president of the Dresden Society supported me with much understanding.

Two social evenings took place during the meeting, Monday and Tuesday. Both, but especially Tuesday evening were well attended and provided nice company and artistic enjoyment. The singers Mr. Harris and Miss Cooper, the piano player Mr. Thesmar, and the violin player (a member of the Dresen Society, I am sorry I cannot remember his name) appeared on the stage. Our friend, the painter Schwenk* and a lady from Dresden gave poetical recitations. In the first evening Mr. Dressler gave his welcome speech in English and German, and also the English and Dutsch firiends gave pleasant speeches. Mr. Otto from the sporting club "Vegetarians" of Karlsruhe gave a short speech on the significance of sport for vegetarians. At the last moment a Norwegian Esperantist and vegetarian appeared with a message from the northern vegetarians and with a letter of greeting from Mr. Saxon. We say many thanks to all contributors.

The friends in Manchester have organised the congress. Above all, the homour is due to them, that this new important union could be founded which is meant to unite vegetarians of all countries across all country borders, mountains and oceans to find teach other joined by the idea of vegetarianism. Many thanks to all who have contributed.

We also thank the Dresden Vegetarian Society who helped to made this congress possible by their preparatory work. We appreciate this contribution very much, as this organisation is rather young and not very strong yet. Expecially Mr. Dressler and Mr. Förster did great service to the event.

We also mention with due respect the local press, who had sent several reporters during the whole meeting and who has supported our cause by a detailed and benevolent coverage. And I do not want to forget the innkeeper of the protestant club house, where our meeting took place in a comfortable atmosphere. His vegetarian dinner (although quickly improvised) met all our vegetarian expectations in the best way.

Luckily the delegates from far away, who came together for the first time, alltogether found comfortable accomodation in the international pension of our untiring and venerable friend, Mrs. Thesmar, where it was possible to get to know each aother also in a more private atmosphere. She and her musical son were very keen and helpful to facilitate the days of work by the comfort of their home.

On Wednesday a trip to the Saxonian Switzerland and the return by an Elbe-steamboat finished the significant days with a beautiful impression. A group photograph will document forever this important first International Vegetarian Congress, which will be unforgettable for all participants.

Dr. Selss
(Vegetarische Warte, September 2nd, 1908, issue 18, Page 214)


Photo from Vegetarische Presse 1908, published by the Dresden Vegetarians.
click on the photo for a larger version