|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
23rd IVU World Vegetarian Congress 1975
Orono, Maine, USA
from Vegetarian Voice Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec 1975:
It was an inspiring and stimulaing experience attending and participating in the World Vegetarian Congress. Meeting 1500 people from all over the world who share similar ideals, was truly thrilling. Often we fell alone in our thoughts of compassion and our search for good health and spiritual ideals.
The many excellent lecturers included medical doctors from Europe and Latin America, spiritual leaders from India and Japan, and natural hygienists from America and Australia.
Many thanks to Freya and Jay Dinshah and their small staff of hardworking volunteers who co-ordinated this great undertaking. Through their wise leadership, the Congress became a focal point for uniting and promoting vegetarianism in North America. I am sure many of us never realized that vegetarianism is alive and well and living right here.
We are such a large area, that we have not been able to get together, but now we have a continent-wide organization, the North American Vegetarian Society, that can help us get in touch with each other, and help us to reach out to others not yet so fortunate to know that "Vegetarianism is Good For Liefe" - the theme of this Congress.
There were several "firsts" at this Congress. Although it was the 23rd IVU World Vegetarian Congress held in the past 67 years, it was the first one eve held in North America (the next one will be in India in 1977), and it had the greatest number in attendance and in the number of speakers and teachers participating. It was also the first time the intensive public-education and classroom techniques were utilized.
Although there were many viewpoints represented in regard to diet, health regimens, religious backgrounds, etc., there was unity in spirit toward seeking a better life which does not involve killing to survive, and a sincere effort to alleviate suffering and hunger in the world, to promote compassion for animals as well as humans, and to promote peace through the spreading of non-violent ideals of vegetarianism.
Although there were differences of opinion as to the techniques of maintaining good health, there were several healthful points on which all would agree:
1) Meat in the diet is not only unnecessary, it is unhealthful!
2) Refined foods should be eliminated from the diet completely - white sugar, white flour, polished rice, etc. - as they are, along with meat, the major causes of degenerative diseases so prevalent today.
3) At least 60 to 80% of the food eaten should be raw or as close to the natural state as possible to ensure maximum nutrition: it should also be organically grown if possible.
4) If cooked foods are eaten, they should not be overcooked as they lose all their enzymes, many of the vitamins and minerals and their life essence which has not been duplicated or defined by science.
5) Food should be chewed well as digestion begins in the mouth, especially for carbohydrates.
6) In addition to a vegetarian diet, good health is promoted and maintained by adequate rest, exercise, sunshine, pure water and air, and positive mental attitude and outlook on life.
As the representative of the San Francisco Vegetarian Society, I attended a class in each time-slot offered every day. Unfortunately I could not get to hear every speaker, as up to 22 were scheduled simultaneously; therefore I tried to select the lectures and classes which would be of most interest to our local Society, and the speakers I had not heard before (and perhaps not have the opportunity to hear again). With so many from which to choose, it was obviously difficult choosing which to attend.
Although the educational meetings, lectures and classes were the focal point of the Congress, and important aspect was the opportunity of meeting socially people from all over the world and renewing old acquaintances.
My own participation in the Congress, in addition to attending lectures, etc., included speaking briefly on opening night and chairing the Plenary Session the following evening; I also gave a progress report on the San Francisco Vegetarian Society at the IVU Business Meeting and the NAVS Business Meeting. At the latter I was elected to the NAVS Board of Trustees and appointed West Coast Coordinator. I also attended one of the Board Meetings at the Congress. At the banquetm I performed a modern dance, as part of the evening's entertainment.