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11th IVU World Vegetarian Congress 1947

Stonehouse, England

From The Vegetarian News (London) Autumn 1947:

"THE International Vegetarian Union held its first congress since the war from July 29th to August 4th. Delegates from ten countries and membees of various societies were the guests of Mr. W. A. Sibly, Head Master of Wycliffe College, Stonehouse, Gloucestershire." The Times, as ever, gives an impeccable summary of the facts, but hardly conveys the quality of the occasion. All roads led to Stonehouse, and have now led our friends home again to London and Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh, Dublin and Belfast, Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen, Zurich, Paris and New York. In Berlin, Herr Siebeneicher has told our German comrades how, when the official delegates Feix and Bunnemann were refused permits to travel, a telegram brought him in haste from the Foreign Office special course in Buckinghamshire to fill the gap and help, as Mr. Sibly finely said at the farewell dinner, in the healing of nations. The official representative of the Czechoslovak Ministry of Food, Emil Just, has reported to his Government and perhaps to President Benes who, like the first President Masaryk, has been a staunch vegetarian for thirty years. Bernard Shaw at Ayot St. Lawrence and Mahatma Gandhi somewhere in Bengal have received messages of greeting that carry something of the spirit of the Vegetarian Congress. It was wonderful. Sunshine outside and inside, too. Good work done and new friendships made. Those are the important facts about the Eleventh Congress of the International Vegetarian Union at Wycliffe College, in the first bright days of August when Gloucestershire was indeed the transfigured "green and pleasant land" of William Blake's vision.

I.V.U. Elections
The formal achievements of the Congress were substantial. Revised rules for the I.V.U. were agreed unanimously. Mr. Sibly, a perfect host and target for bombardments of well-merited compliments on this, on his retirement after thirty-five years from headmastership of the college his father founded, and on his new plans to extend work with boys abroad, was persuaded to continue as President. "Uncle" Oluf Egerod was re-elected Treasurer, and as Johan Bolt is too heavily engaged in vegetarian and literary work in the Netherlands to act as I.V.U. Secretary, Mr. Kaj Dessau, of Denmark, who impressed everybody with his ability and modesty (as also with his charming Swedish fiance, Ingrid Peterson), was appointed. During a year of professional work in the United States, he will travel as I.V.U. Secretary, and then return to Europe to plan the Twelfth I.V.U. Congress. Sibly, Egerod and Dessau form the small working Executive, and in Mr. Sibly's absence abroad James Hough will deputise. The Executive can also co-opt any members of the larger International Committee, to be composed of representatives from each nation, nationally elected. The International Committee will be consulted by the Executive on all important matters.

International News
Johan Bolt's proposals for an international magazine were warmly supported, but it was decided that an English-language paper would not commend itself sufficiently to readers abroad, and the production of the same magazine in each language (in addition to the national periodicals already existing) was too elaborate an enterprise for the present. Instead, the Congress asked the Executive to endeavour to find an Editor for an I.V.U. news-bulletin of about four pages, to be edited from reports sent in and other material, transmitted in English to all national vegetarian editors, and-this was strongly and rightly emphasized by the proposer, Kaj Dessau - printed in full by them in their own languages. This interim arrangement will be reviewed at the next Congress, and it was encouraging to find all delegates impatient to shorten the interval of three years. The Twelfth Congress will be in Holland in 1950 or, if possible, in 1949. I.V.U. News will be welcomed in full in Vegetarian News and given support in other ways by the London Vegetarian Society. But it will be unable to encourage the free flow of ideas between the nations to the same extent as the proposed international magazine, and it is for national editors to impart to their own pages a more cosmopolitan outlook. The summer article, A Vegetarian in the Tropics, and the articles of special interest to Indians in this issue indicate that this is already the policy of Vegetarian News. In the winter number will be contributions from Dr. Ralph Bircher of Switzerland and Johan Bolt of the Netherlands, and we hope subsequently to publish an important article on the vegetarian youth and sports movement in Sweden.

The Congress Lectures
Dr. Cyril Pink lectured on Vegetarianism and Childbirth, and it is hoped that this paper will be jointly published in pamphlet form by the London Vegetarian Society and the Vegetarian Society. Dr. Ralph Bircher's excellent talk may also be printed; he is the youngest son of the famous Dr. Bircher Benner and Editor of the Swiss vegetarian magazine, Wendepunkt - The Turning Pojnt. Donald Watson, founder of the Vegan Society, had his lecture printed and ready to circulate at the end of the session; it was the subject of vigorous discussion and criticism the same evening, when Mrs. Fay Henderson also championed the Vegan cause. There appeared to be widespread agreement on the objective of eliminating foods of animal origin from human diet, but much controversy about some particular claims and arguments advanced by Mr. Watson. On the last full day of the Congress, Johan Bolt justified Mr. Sibly's introduction of him as "the philosopher-statesman of our movement" by a remarkable report on the experience of vegetarians in war-time, beginning with information about the food situation in various countries and culminating in a realisation of the whole pacific way of living in harmony with nature, of which the dietary question is but one, although a vital, aspect. It is part of this discourse that we hope to publish at Christmas-time in these pages.

Pigs and People
The other lecture was by Mr. Herbert Jones of Manchester on world food problems. Giving alarming figures for soil erosion, Mr. Jones marshalled the inexorable facts to show that freedom from want for an increasing world population cannot be attained if primary vegetable calories are squandered to produce only a small fraction of their value in meat used for human consumption and great tracts of arable land are used for pasture. A resolution was dispatched to Sir John Boyd Orr, Director of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, which also expressed the gratitude which everybody feels for that great Scotsman's efforts to raise the vital matter of world food supply above the present level of competitive economic nationalism. In subsequent discussion, Roy Walker pointed out that importing countries were also to blame; the policy of the British Ministry of Agriculture was to allow farmers to retain up to twenty per cent of their millable wheat and barley grown in 1948 for feeding to additional fat hogs and poultry, although the Paris Cereals Conference in July had issued the grave warning that "no improvement over the last two years in world grain supplies could be expected," estimated the deficit in food cereals alone this year as twelve million tons, and urged "that one of the problems which should be attacked from the outset was the degree which live-stock feeding could be curtailed to enable at least minimum levels of grain for human conrumption to be maintained." By way of contrast, the Anglo-American policy in devastated Germany, as reported to President Truman by Herbert Hoover, has been "to slaughter during 1947 over five million head of cattle, hogs and sheep, in order to lessen the animal consumption of ground crops." London Vegetarian Society representations to the Ministry of Agriculture to modify policy in the light of the appeal from the Cereals Conference and put thin children anywhere before more fat hogs at home have been unsuccessful.

London Receptions
The International Vegetarian Union Congress ended happily with a reception at the Attic Club, where delegates from abroad met and were entertained to tea by the Committee and officers of the London Vegetarian Society. In the absence abroad of Dr. Bertrand Allinson, the Executive Chairman, Mr. Sydney Hurren, welcomed the visitors, and one of the Cice-Presidents of the London Society, Dr. Frank Wokes, Ph.D., Director of the Ovaltine Research Laboratories, was also present. Some of the foreign visitors are to be seen in a photgraph taken at the reception, which appears in the supplement to this issue. The official groups taken at Stonehouse and some skilful portrait sketches by Miss Elva Blacker appear in the Vegetarian Messenger. Miss Blacker, who is nothing if not versatile, also recently painted the L.V.S. offices in Adam Street, as a voluntary service to the Society! In September, the London Vegetarian Society arranged a similar reception at the Attic Club for the new Secretary of the I.V.U., Mr. Kaj Dessau.

UNITED NATIONS - Vegetarians from Czechoslovakia, the United States, India, Denmark, Eire, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and England. A few of the fifty guests who attended the London Vegetarian Society's Reception for International Vegetarian Union delegates at the Attic Club, High Holborn, in August.