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5th World Vegetarian Congress 1923

Stockholm, Sweden

The following reports are from the Vegetarian Messenger (VSUK magazine):

1923 January/February

International Vegetarian Congress.
By the kind invitation of the Swedish Vegetarian Society the 5th annual Vegetarian Congress will be held at Stockholm from the 19th to the 21st May, 1923. Reports will be given by all the delegates of Societies which are members of the International Vegetarian Union, and papers read on all aspects of the vegetarian movement. There will also be an Exhibition of Vegetarian specialities, literature, etc. 'The arrangements are in the hands of the Swedish Vegetarian Society, and all communications respecting papers, etc., should be sent to its president, Mr. J. L Saxon, Lästmakeregatan 12, Stockholm, who will also he helpful to intentding visitors. Miss Hompes, 26 Denham Street, C-on-M, Manchester, is the General Secretary. There is no vegetarian hotel at Stockholm, but there are several good temperance hotels and also some vegetarian restaurants. The cost of the double journey will be from £23 to £29 for travelling, not including hotel expenses.

The languages in which papers may he read and discussion conducted are :- Swedish, English, French, German and Esperanto.


International Vegetarian Union.

The fifth Congress of the International Vegetarian Union was held in Stockholm, from May 19th to 21st, 1923, by the invitation of the Swedish Vegetarian Society. It was in many ways the finest meeting we have ever had. By the generosity of the president or the Swedish Vegetarian Society, Mr. J. L. Saxon, who was also the president of the International Vegetarian Union for the current year, very ample arrangements were made for the accommodation and entertainment of the delegates. At his invitation over thirty foreign delegates were housed at the "Hotel Continental," and the Swedish guests at his own country-house at Stocksund, about twelve miles outside the city. No single item for our comfort was left unprovided. "Marshals," as our Swedish friends call them, were constantly at our service to take us about and to give information ; motor cars were provided for those who did not care to walk.

Throughout the meetings excellent music was rendered to lighten the very full programme of speeches and papers, or to soothe any impatience which might trouble us during intervals at dinner. A choir of young people, led by a vegetarian conductor, Mr. A. Bergsten, sang some beautiful national songs ; Madame Leffle-Schwartz, a Viennese operatic singer, gave fine renderings of Wagner, Beethoven and Grieg. We had, besides, excellent violin playing and some volunteer singing from some of the delegates.


At 11 o'clock on the morning of the 19th May, the Conference was formally opened in the commodious room of the Christian Association Hall, by the president, Mr. J. L. Saxon, of Stockholm.

After extending a hearty welcome to all, he called upon the Hon. Congress Secretary, Madame Lombard (Stockholm), to read the Roll Call of the Delegates. Each rose as his or her name was called. The following is a full list : America (South) - Dr. Ruiz Ibarra ; Denmark - Dr. Carl Ottosen (Head of the Skodsborg Sanatorium), Oluf Egerod and Margerethe Noll, Copenhagen ; England - Miss Mathilde Hompes (Editor of Vegetarian Messenger, General Secretary of the International Vegetarian Union), Manchester ; W. A. Sibly (Headmaster, Wycliffe College), Stonehouse, Gloucestershire ; James Hough (Secretary of the Vegetarian Society), Manchester Henry B. Amos (General Secretary of the Vegetarian Cycling and Athletic Club) London ; Charles W. Forward (London Vegetarian Society) ; Finland - Mrs. Anna Kurimo (Secretary of the Finnish Vegetarian Union) and Miss Ante Kurimo, Uleaborg ; Holland - Professor Hugo Nolthenius (President of Dutch \/egetarian Society), Laren N.H. ; India - M. Dayal, M.A., Oxon ; Norway - O. J. Selboe, Skögen, Director O. Olvik, Furuly Helsehem, Stord ; Portugal - Capt. Antonio Cavalho Brandao ; Spain - Dr. Ruiz Ibarra ; Switzerland Dr. Oberdörfer ; Germany - Dr. G. Schläger (President of German Vegetarier Bund) ; Georg Förster (President of Vegetarier Verein) and Frau Martha Förster, Dresden ; Czecho-slovakia - Moriz Schnitzer (Union of Nature Healers and Adalbert Schnitzer, Warnsdorf; B. O. Dürr, Komotau ; Karl Micka, Deutsgabel ; Hungary - Major Tibor Boeserdy ; Austria - Richard Schwartz and Mrs Schwartz, Vienna.

The Hon. General Secretary of the International Vegetarian Union, Miss Mathilde Hompes (Manchester), read a full report or the work of the Union, of which the following is a short summary :-

The International Vegetarian Union owes its inception to Dr. Georges Danjou, of Nice, whose suggestion, made at the Annual Meeting of the Vegetarian Society in 1907, was responded to by a preliminary meeting being called by its Secretary to be held at Dresden in 1908. At this meeting, which was attended by delegates from England, France, Germany, Holland and Norway, the International Vegetarian Union was constituted under its present name.

It was decided that the next gathering be held in Manchester, as the Centenary of the Bible Christian Church - out of which the vegetarian movement grew - would be celebrated in 1909. The Congress was held ii conjunction with the Sixty-second Annual Meetings of the Vegetarian Society. It was attended by delegates from France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Russia and Spain, and was a very successful and memorable meeting.

The Third Congress was held at Brussels. It was organised by the Belgian Society on the occasion of the Universal Exhibition in 1910, and was conducted in the Exhibition Buildings. Dr. Henri Huchard, membre Le i'Academie de Medecine, presided. Representatives attended from England, Germany, Holland, France, Russia and Sweden. At this Congress it was decided that a meeting of the International Vegetarian Union should be held every three years, and an invitation was accepted from the Dutch Vegetarian Society to sit at the Hague in 1913, at the time or the opening of the Peace Hall.

The Fourth Congress accordingly met at the Hague in 1913. The following countries sent delegates :- England, France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium and America. The last named was represented by Mrs. Wright-Sewall, the Hon. President of the International Council of Women of U.S.A., and Chairman of the Initerniational Council's Committee on Peace amid Arbitration. She was the bearer of an inivitation to the International Vegetarian Union to hold its next Congress, in 1915, at San Francisco, in connection with the International Exposition, but it was not found practicable to accept this invitation.

At a meeting of the General Committee at the end of the Conference, rules were drawn up for the Constitution or the International Vegetarian Union, and Miss Mathilde Hompes, or Manchester, was elected to be the Honorary General Secretary.

In the regular course the next Conference was planned to take place in Paris in 1916. But alas the cruel war intervened, In 1916 France and other nations were engaged in bloodshed and destruction, and when the war was ended France was poor. Also some bitter feeling was left among the contending nations. Vegetarianism should be international in spirit, and bitter feelings should be far from us-but vegetarians are human, not yet superhuman. For many reasons it seemed impractical to hold a Conference in Paris. A neutral country was deemed better, Sweden has stepped into the breach.

During the long gap from 1913 to 1923, we could do very little, but the members of Committee have not lost touch. We have kept up a fairly lively exchange of opinions by correspondence, and have from time to time published any matters which we deemed of sufficient importance, in the organs of the various Vegetarian Societies. I have answered many inquiries from Societies which are not yet members of the International Vegetarian Union, and I feel that many would join us if Europe were not so wretchedly poor, that even the contribution of about one penny per member on the books, which was fixed at the Hague, is felt to be more than most Societies can afford to pay at present.

We look into the future with the hope that before another three years have passed the International Vegetarian Union will count among its members all the European and perhaps even more distant Societies.

The rest of the forenoon was occupied with reports of delegates about the work done in their respective countries. Some of these reports developed into papers on different aspects of vegetarianism. After an interval for lunch, we were driven in motor cars to the lovely Park and Museum "Skansen" where a very pleasant social afternoon was passed. Photographs were taken, a splendid dinner served and all went merry as a marriage bell. It was 9 o'clock in the evening before we were conducted back to our hotel.

On our way home we were driven to the theatre where all the films which had been taken during the course of the Congress were thrown upon the screen.


This was the day fixed for the Annual Meeting or the Swedish Veg-etarian Society, to which all the delegates and visitors were invited. At conducting a brief business meeting for the National Society, the proceedings of the International Congress were continued.

An interesting and beautiful ceremony occurred. A very fine silk banner, with the emblem of the Swedish Vegetarian Society worked on gold, was presented to Mr. J. L. Saxon in recognition of his work. It was waved aloft, not only on this occasion, but very frequently during the Congress.

The platform was decorated by smaller flags representative of the different nations. When any delegate was speaking or reading a paper the flag of his or her country was placed near to that person. But one or pushed it away with the words : "I am International" These small flags also decorated our motor cars as we drove about the town.

We give the full list of papers in alphabetical order :-

Mr. H. B .Amos (London) on " Diet for Strength," Ernest Axon "Seventy-five Years of the Vegetarian Society," Oscar Bünemann "Report for Esperaritist Vegetarian Society." Capt. Antonio Cavalho Brandao on " Vegetarianism in Portugal." C. De Clerq "The Miracle of the Sun," Dr. D. R. Har Dayal on " Vegetarianism in India," Josef Drahovsky " Report for Hungary," Oluf Egerod " Report for Danish Vegetarian Society," C. W. Forward (London) on "Vegetarianism and its Basis of Scientific Truth," Georg Förster on " The Work Done by the German Vegetarier Verein," Mrs. Martha Förster on " The German Women's Vegetarian Union," - Halsingar "Report for National Vegetarian Society, U.S.A.," Mathilde Hompes " Report for International Vegetarian Union," James Hough (Manchester) on " Methods of Propaganda," Dr. Ruiz Ibarra on "Nature Cure," Anna Kurimo "Report for Finnish Veget-arian Society," Hugo Nolthenius " Report for the Dutch Vegetarian Society," Dr. Oberdörfer (Switzerland) on "The Goal of Man," Dr. Olvik on "Sanataria in Norway," Dr. Ottosen (Copenhagen) on " The Digestion in the Intestines," J. W. Rose ''Report for Vegetarian Publishing Company, New York," Dr. G. Schläger, of the German Vegetarier-Bund, Moriz Schnitzer on "The Nature Healing Institutions in Germany and Austria," Byrachef O. J. Selboe for the Norwegian Vegetarian Society, W. A. Sibly on "The Work Done at Wycliffe College" (with lantern slides), Rev. Walter Walsh " The Ladder of Life," Frank Wyatt " Report for London Vegetarian Society."


On Monday, the 21st May, the business meeting took place, of which the following are the minutes :-

Mr. Hugo Nolthenius was elected to the chair.

The Chairman said that, owing to the great disturbance caused by the War the Committee felt as if we ought almost to make a new beginning and that the Constitution would need some alteration. He invited members for the International Vegetarian Unon and the delegates from the following countries expressed their desire to join :- Denmark, Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria, Holland, Sweden, England, Norway, Finland, S. America, Austria, Czecho-Slovakia.

Some discussion arose as to the advisability of admitting Nature Healing Societies as members of the International Vegetarian Union. Mr. Schwartz, Miss Hompes, Dr. Oberdörfcr, Mr. Egerod, Mr. C. W. Forward, Mr. Schnitzer, Mr. Sibly, Mr. Noithenius and Mr. Hough took part. It was resolved :- That any National Food-Reform Society whose executive power is vested only in its vegetarian members shall be eligible for membership of the International Vegerarian Union.

The Conference advised all Vegetarian Societies to have two classes, A and B, or members and associates.

1. England (co-operatively from the Vegetarian Society and the London Vegetarian Society).
2. From Switzerland, but its delegate, Dr. Oberdörfer. was willing a let it stand over to the next Conference but one. He pointed out that Switzerland is the centre of Europe and a Federation.

The invitation from England was accepted and expressions of preference for London were recorded.

FINANCE. The Hon. Treasurer (H. Nolthenius) next proposed that the fee for membership be settled. The present fee was considered rather high. He proposed a fixed tee of £1 for each Society. Mr. Egerod spoke -in favour of a percentage payment. It was resolved:-

That each Society joining the International Vegetarian Union shall pay annually one per cent, of its income from subscriptions, as shown on the balance sheet for the current year.

INTERNATIONAl. CORRESPONDENCE. The Esperantist Delegates asked that the organ Vegetarano should become the organ of the International Vegetarian Union. After some discussion the matter was left for the Committee to decide later. It was resolved that:-

The General Secretary should issue a short bulletin every three months.
ELECTION OF OFFICERS. President : According to the Constitution Mr. Ernest Bell becomes the President for the period from this Congress to the end of the next. A hearty Vote of thanks was given to the retiring president, Mr .J. L. Saxon and he was unanimously elected 'President Emeritus for Life with consulting and voting power.

General Secretary : Miss Hompes expressed her desire to retire. This was reluctantly and regrettully accepted and sue was elected General Secretary Emeritus for Life, with consulting and voting powers. Miss Hompes proposed the Honorable Miss Ortt or the Hague as her successor and Miss -Ortt was duly elected to the office of Honorary General Secretary of the International Vegetarian Union. She accepted the office.

Hon. Treasurer: Mr. Hugo Nolthenius, of Laren, N. Holland, was re-elected.

NATIONAL DAY. Proposed by Mr. Schwartz of Vienna that a National Day should be appointed, say the second Sunday in September, when fruits are ripe, for a Vegetarian Demonstration throughout the world. Th proposal met with favour but no resolution was passed. The matter was left to the Committee, as were also details for further revision of the Constitution.

This ended the Congress proper but a great treat was still in store for us on


Carriages called for us at the "Hotel Continental" and we were drive for some hours to visit public buildings, including the beautiful Town Hall which is in course of erection, and then round by the splendid harbour back again to the hotel. But we were only just given time to recover ourselves, as it were, when we were once more summoned bv the marshals to our coaches, this time to be driven through delightful scenery for about twelve miles until we reached "Vegetalia," the country-house of Mr. Saxon, at Stocksund. Here Madame Saxon gave us a hearty welcome. She is as enthusiastic a vegetarian as her husband, indeed, I understand that she was the means of converting him to our regime. He has been fired by her enthusiasm, and their son, Lars, a fine young man of about 22 years of age, is a life vegetarian.

Lunch was served at Stocksund, and amidst all sorts of good cheer and expressions of gratitude to our host and hostess, much handshaking and regrets at parting, these happy, interesting, and we feel sure, profitable meetings, came to an end. We were driven back to our hotel, whence each left the town according to our several plans.

To say that our meetings were animated would he putting it very mildly. With so much foreign ardour as was displayed, and the number of languages which were spoken, it was almost unavoidable, that despite the strenuous efforts of the interpreters and the chairman, occasionally a little noise and confusion might be laid to our charge. But it all helped to make us feel at home. It was so hearty, so harmonious, with never a discordant note, that we all might be said to love one another before we parted. To this end, I think, staying as a party in one hotel materially contributed. Dr. Oberdörfer happily expressed it in one of his speeches :

"This is Whit-Sunday, we have spoken in diverse tongues, but in spirit we are one, and in heart and spirit we understand each other though the words are foreign."

On leaving we were each presented with a copy of Mr. Saxon's little book entitled "Konsten att bli gammal men vara ung " (The art of remaining young though growing old), which contains a very good portrait of Mr. Saxon.


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