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2nd World Vegetarian Congress 1909

Manchester, England

The following Post-Congress Reports are from the Vegetarian Messenger, (the monthly magazine of the Vegetarian Society, based in Manchester, England) :


International Vegetarian Union

This year Manchester had the pleasure of welcoming the delegates sent by the various societies belonging to the above Union. When the Congress met in Dresden last year it was decided to meet at "Headquarters" in 1909, and the meeting being fixed in conjunction with the 62nd Annual Gathering of the Vegetarian Society and the Centenary Celebrations of the Bible Christian Church, the delegates were able to join in both these functions. This afforded great pleasure to them, and lent an added dignity and interest to the proceedings above named.

Most of the foreign guests arrived in Manchester on Friday, 15th October, and a hearty, but quite informal welcome was extended to them over a cup of tea at the Restaurant in Fountain Street. Dr. Axon spoke a few words of welcome, and some of the delegates responded briefly.

Miss Hompes assured the guests from the knowledge gained by her long residence in this city, that nowhere could they meet with greater courtesy and kindness. She knew that when their visit came to an end they would agree with her that the opinion so often expressed on the Continent of Europe that Englishmen were not polite, was a fiction based on imperfect knowledge ; and so well did our English friends bear themselves that several of the delegates did actually witness the truth of Miss Hompes' prophecy. They vowed that they had "quite changed their opinion about English people." Hospitality was extended by resident vegetarians so that the delegates were escorted to English homes after our little meal, and had not to go to hotels.

On Saturday morning we set to work in earnest. Delegates and friends met at 5, Fountain Street at 11 o'clock. Dr Axon occupied the chair and opened the proceedings with a fitting and well-considered speech, after which the delegates read or spoke their reports. It was a marked and surprising feature of the gathering that the foreigners all spoke such good English that no interpreter was needed.

Mr. Scott spoke for the "Battle Creek Idea," and explained how from very small beginnings Dr. Kellogg's movement had now grown to what one might fairly call gigantic dimensions. Vegetarianism is not their only tenet, but it is a very important one.

[this refers to the sanitorium run by Dr John Harvey Kellogg on behalf of the the Seventh Day Adventists in Battle Creek, Michigan, USA, since 1876. There was a comment elsewhere of a delegate from the US and presumably this was Mr Scott. He was probably representing the American Vegetarian Society whose President, Henry S. Clubb was also a Vice-President of the British Society having migrated to the US in 1853.]

For the Continent of Europe we had representatives from Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Russia, and Spain.

Germany was prevented at the last moment from sending its President, who is on the Committee of the International Union, but Mr Becker, a German residing in London, gave some account of the movement in his native country.

Miss Nicholson spoke of her excellent work in London, especially that connected with the feeding of poor children. Her heroic effort in this department has gained her public recognition from the Education Committee of the London County Council. Now that she had got her foot in, she said she did not meant to take it out, and she owed it all to vegetarianism. Her energy is amazing and she speaks well for the diet.

Dr. Ernest Nyssens, of Brussels gave an account of the movement in Belgium, and told how, from their very first meeting consisting of three, they had grown to a very respectable society, which stood well in the eyes of the medical profession. They made much of the scientific aspect of vegetarianism.

Owing to the unavoidable absence of Dr. Danjou, of Nice, which was all the more to be regretted because he was the projector of the International Union, Dr. Nyssens read a long letter from him.

Mdme. Lombard spoke in a spirited way for Sweden and Norway, and also read the Danish report for Dr. Larsen. The Swedish Society numbers over 1000 members, does much good work by lecturing and travelling, cookery schools, and propagandist lierature. Mr. Saxon unfurled their banner, which is of the colour of the sun, spreading light, also handed round their pretty badges for inspection, and soe of their books. Later in the day a proposal was made that this badge should be adopted as international, but there was an amendment that no existing badge should be adopted, for fear of hurting anyone's feelings.

Dr. Lybeck spoke for Finland and commanded attention by some of his illuminating remarks on personal affinity and influence.

Mr. W. Mann read the Spanish report, which had been sent by the president and translated by Dr. Axon. The Spanish Society is young, but has the vigour of youth ; it is growing, and supports two organs [magazines].

Dr Meyroos spoke for Holland, where vegetarianism is growing apace and commanding attention in the public press. Holland has good vegetarian restaurants, a sanitorium, a children's home, a good organ, De 'Bode, and has borne a child in the Vegetarian Society of the East Indies.

Mr. W.M.Mann craved the attention of the Conference for Esperanto. The Esperanto Society worked like the Vegetarian Society for humanitarian ends ; it is desired to bring the peoples of the earth into closer union, and therefore the two should shake hands and join in their efforts. On his suggestion it was decided that at the Conferences of the International Vegetarian Union, Esperanto should be recognised as one of the languages in which papers may be submitted.

Mr Broadbent spoke a few words as to the home movement. Next year's Congress, which it has been decided to hold at Brussels, was discussed, as also some future methods of work and the name of the Union.

The following resolution was passed and sent by telegraph:- "The International Vegetarian Congress now in session at Manchester, sends Mr. A. F. Hills a grateful message of sympathy and appreciation for his many services to the cause of a humane diet. - William E.A. Axon, Chairman. - Oct. 15th 1909.

[Mr Hills was the founder/president of both the London Vegetarian Society and the Vegetarian Federal Union, as well as being involved in many other vegetarian projects (and a long standing Vice-President of the Manchester based Vegetarian Society). Way back in 1890 the VFU had organised a pioneering International Congress in London but had been unable to sustain the idea. In a later issue of the Messenger Mr Hills is described as being ' on his back in an invalid chair' though no further details are given.]

The meetings occupied also the whole of the afternoon, and were much enjoyed, as well as profitable. The Congress then merged into the social gathering and other proceedings of the Annual Meeting. Greetings and good wishes were received from Dr.Dressler, Mr George Förster and Mr. Heinrich Rothe, Dresden, Mr. Karl Mann, and Mr. Emerich Rath, Prague.

M. Hompes.

The Vegetarian Messenger also carried a longer account of the Vegetarian Society annual meeting at Whitworth Park. Many of the foreign guests were speakers and several of their talks were printed in full in the December issue.

In 1910 the Messenger contained a further report about the Manchester Congress:


International Vegetarian Congress

Our continental visitors have sent very appreciative reports of our October gatherings to their respective organs. The Vegetarische Warte [Germany] embodies the impressions of Mr. W. Becker, who gives a detailed report of all our proceedings and some account of the Bible Christian Church, pointing his readers for further information on this institution to Dr.Axon's book.

The Vegetarische 'Bode [Netherlands] contains Dr. Meyroos' glowing account. He evidently had a good time among us, and from what we remember of him, I should say he carries his own good spirits with him everywhere. Whether he liked that happy name some one found for him, or not, "the genial giant" certainly suits him. Dr. Meyroos is impressed with the English way of work. He holds that we all feel the ethical side of our movement (I hope he is right) but we do not neglect the business side of our organisation. The English business spirit pervades all. He refers to our stores, which are carried on at a profit, and withal do a grand service to our members, and we pay our officials in a fair manner, so that they can devote themselves to our service. Dr. Meyroos highly appreciates our hearty welcome to the visitors and the home-hospitality held out to them. This gave a sense of common, brotherly feeling, a hearty, living spirit "which they have carried home and should turn to profit. This meeting, " concludes Dr. Meyroos, "may well stand as a model for future International Congresses." The Dutch version of the paper which Dr. Meyroos read at Manchester appears in the current issue of the 'Bode.

In La Réforme Alimentaire [Belgium/France] Dr Nyssens is hardly less enthusiastic than our Dutch friend. He says that we "extended to all delegates that hearty hospitality for which Englishmen are noted. Our every desire might have been anticipated ; we were everywhere surrounded by that hearty sympathy which should blind all who work and battle in a common cause towards a common end. We owe them heartfelt thanks, which I here tender in my own name and in that of the societies which I represented. All good things come to an end, and we left the busy manufacturing city of Manchester with deep regret as we said good-bye to our friends. We hope to meet them again in Brussels in 1910, and I hope to give the programme of that Congress in our next issue." Brussels is about to open a Natura-Vigor, it is hoped on December 15 - on the model of the Paris establishment.

Dr .Ernest Nyssens announces that the International Vegetarian Congress will take place at Brussels from 10th to the 12th June next.

If you can help with any further information about the 1908 Congress, please contact John Davis