International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
Delhi/Bombay/Madras/Calcutta, India

From the Vegetarian News (London), Autumn 1957:


The thoughts of vegetarians everywhere will be turning more and more towards India and the XVth International Vegetarian Congress as the month of November draws nearer.

We in the West are hopeful of a great consolidation and a great forward movement of vegetarianism as a direct outcome of this first great international public link-up between the East and West and there are good reasons for this hope.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that there exist certain common interests which can unite people of all races, creeds and colours and that the people themselves want to get together, are sick and tired of labels and barriers which keep groups of people apart, and are fast losing patience with so-called Leaders, be they religious or social, who use such separative techniques to achieve their often dubious ends.

This desire for unity has been demonstrated for several years past by the success of the daring and unique experiment undertaken by the townspeople of Llangollen in Wales. Here the unifying principle is found in music and kindred arts, and the great enthusiasm of the people of Llangollen (not to mention the numberless sacrifices made by them and by the thousands of guests who come from every corner of the globe to share in this Festival) provides concrete evidence of the passionate desire for peace and friendship which burns in the heart of the common man and woman. If it were possible for the Nobel Peace Prize to be awarded to a community instead of to a single individual, then we should like to see it awarded to the town of Llangollen for their great work for peace and friendship through many years.
The Geophysical Year recently inaugurated provides further concrete evidence that it is possible for sixty countries to work together in harmony, pooling resources and the results of the scientific findings for the benefit of all humanity.

It is not without significance, we feel, that our own unique International Congress will come right in the middle of the Geophysical Year itself and will provide the evidence that vegetarians of both East and West are aware of the need to get together, to become better known to each other and to strengthen existing bonds, in order that we may be the better able to bear effective witness to the great Cause which unites us, a Cause which is concerned both with the well-being of all mankind, both physically and spiritually, and with that of defenceless creatures.

We stated above that we had good reason for believing that great and beneficial results might be anticipated as a direct result of the forthcoming Congress. We will now try to express some of the reasons on which our hope is founded. Perhaps the greatest single factor is that many vegetarians in India have already awakened, while more are awakening, to the fact that, unless they do organize themselves quickly and effectively, then millions of their younger people will be deluded by the false notion that Western ways are superior to those in which they have been reared for generations and which they have followed from habit and custom. This is very specially the case so far as vegetarianism is concerned.

Fortunately, the leaders who are awaking in India realise that we vegetarians in the West possess an impressive body of medical, scientific and economic evidence upon which the advantages of a vegetarian way of life can be presented on a rational basis, and this is what is most urgently required in order to stop the rot before it progresses too far. Young Indians are very much awake and possessed of very fine minds, but they do require the evidence and arguments which will convince them logically that their traditional and religiously based vegetarianism can, provided the diet is scientifically balanced, be of the finest nutritional value and can go a long way towards relieving the near starvation of the vast millions in India without turning the country over to the enormously extravagant system of cattle breeding which the general adoption of flesh-eating in India would entail.#

The potential benefit to the Vegetarian Cause of a properly organised Movement in India is tremendous, as the numbers run into tens of millions, but it does not stop there. In addition to the numerical significance of Indian vegetarianism there is added also a qualitative significance. By this is meant the fact that many of these millions of practising vegetarians can claim traditions of this way of living going back three thousand years in their own particular families. Looked at from this angle the tragedy of a wholesale reversion to the barbarism of flesh-eating would be utterly unspeakable.

We must do all we can to give our brothers in India all the information and assistance we possibly can to help them to arrest the reversion which is going on already, to see through the specious Western claims to "progress" 'and "scientific advancement" and to understand that, at any rate in a moral sense, and when truly understood in a hygienic and nutritional sense also, our much boosted "high standard of living" is indeed a very low one.

World Forum, which is the official organ of the International Vegetarian Union, has, we feel, done a great service in setting forth in the Summer issue a great many of the arguments and a great deal of the statistical material which will provide the Indian vegetarian movement with that which it so vitally needs at this time. So we do look forward to the forthcoming Congress with great hopes and we trust that it will, under the patronage of the President of the Republic of India - Dr. Rajendra Prasad (himself a vegetarian) who has agreed to act as President of the Congress, achieve great things. Of primary importance we feel, at this moment of history, is the establishment of a strong vegetarian movement in India and the strengthening of the links which unite vegetarians all over the world.