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

An Address by Dr. Annie Besant before the California Animal Defence and Anti-vivisection Society

How far do we acquiesce in the perpetration of suffering upon others provided it ministers to our own well-being? What are we eating, wearing, using, that is a product of cruelty and suffering?

Furs? Feathers? Leather?

In India Gandhiji is protecting the cow, and one can obtain from a Wardha establishment leather certified to be from cows dying a natural death. One wishes that this same establishment would carry this principle of harmlessness to include the other "little ones of God" the goats and sheep and reptiles.


You may not be taking cod-liver oil or insulin, but perhaps your drugs contain glycerine or other products commonly of animal origin. Even the digitalis you use may have been tested at the expense of the intolerable agony of those highly intelligent animals - the cats.

Are you taking tests of one kind or another in which animals are used?

Injections of Vaccines and Serums?

All other than egg-cultured are the product of suffering.

One is glad that the Pasteur Institute, France, which responsible for so much of this work, is devoting some of its energies now to that intriguing field - bacteriophage, the spontaneous principle within germ life which replaces the evil cholera, for example, with health in an incredibly short time, and which many scientists feel should have a larger application in actual practice.

Soaps, Soap Powders and Cleansers?

These are often made from slaughterhouse refuse, though some firms put out a "kosher" or "vegetarian" product.

Food and Confections?

A fertile source of animal matter. Your canned vegetable soups may hide a meat stock. Your restaurant vegetable soup will probably have one. In fact most prepared foods one eats abroad are flavoured with some form of animal product - bits of bacon may even appear in a vegetable salad. The bakeries indifferently use lard or the vegetable shortenings according to the preference of the baker or the question of which is cheapest and handiest. The only exceptions are such bakeries as "Kosher" and "Brahmin" which for religious reasons exclude it. Infants' cereals may have in them bonemeal, and one of necessity must question all products which mention the addition of extra vitamins and calcium content. Cod-liver oil may even be added to irradiated milks, though "directly irradiated", are safe. Some of our baking-powders are of animal origin. Only when strictest supervision is observed are butter and ghee free from animal fat adulteration. Hard cheese is set with an infinitesimal bit of rennet from a calf's stomach. Gelatine, even in the forbidden form of glue, is to be found in many candies, and practically all western ice-creams, while we have our "jell" deserts and salads, and may use it in commercial establishments to keep up the whipped cream.

Must we give up all the necessities and the few luxuries in which we have been indulging after reading the formidable list above? Not at all. The one with the sensitive Conscience will take the trouble to question the producers until eventually they will develop a similar Conscience to protect the earth's younger children. [Conscience, p. 167 30. 9. 1997]

Note on above : Agar Agar furnishes a delicious vegetable source of "gelatine" and is easy to use in powdered form. Calcium in the lactate and glucomate forms is non-animal. Soft cream cheese does not need to contain rennet. A vegetable rennet has been made in India. Many vegetable soups, baked beans, etc. are marked "Vegetarian." Many gland remedies are now synthetic, as, for example thyroxin, anti-thyroxin, but most of the products on the market boast of their animal origin. The vitamins themselves, including "A" and "D", have synthetic forms preferred by many physicians, but still we have "shark's and other fish-liver oils" on the market in large quantities. Vitamin B-Twelve many doctors prescribe where they once used liver-extract. But huge quantities of liver-extract are still prescribed, often without even a blood test, by thoughtless doctors. A patient should frankly ask his doctor: "Does this medicine contain any animal product?" Then he can make his position clear if he does not want to prolong his life at the cost of animal suffering and torture.