Good evening everybody. It has been a great pleasure to be here. This is my second time in California. The first one was in 1995 when I came to the Vegan Festival in San Diego – and at that time I was convinced to become a vegan myself. So I am greatly indebted with California. I wish to pay back by coming here again and again to enjoy the Mecca of vegetarianism.
I´d like to give a big thank again to Dixie Mahy who put together this nice event – it is really a big effort and so many details to foresee and arrange. I´d like to thank Dilip Barman – our IVU Regional Coordinator of North America for being always ready to help. I´d like to thank also our manager John Davis who is all the time thinking and having good new ideas in order to advance IVU work around the world. And I´d like to thank all of you who came from different places around the world to be here and give your support to this noble cause.
In my experience as vegetarian I came to realize that the work of spreading our message in the educational field broadly speaking (congresses, courses, talks, videos etc.) is very important but not enough. We need to find other effective ways of taking our message especially to those who know nothing or little about it. One of this very effective ways is the offering of good veg food options. Not everybody has the possibility or is willing to cross the city to find a well prepared vegan meal but if it is offered around the corner many many more will choose veg meals – even those who are not veg. Tasty vegetarian food is a way to attract more people to vegetarianism. So having good restaurants of all kinds – frugal to gourmet, with raw or cooked food all over the city is very important and we should stimulate and support such initiatives as much as we can.
Promoting the vegetarian market is also very important – and the wonderful Fair organized by the SF Veg Society is a very good example of work in this direction.
Another very important way to spread vegetarianism is by occupying the political arena. We need to have a vegetarian representation in all political spheres. We need to combat it whenever someone tries to defend and foster the meat industry during political debate. The price of animal products must reflects the so far uncovered costs of water waste, forests devastation, biodiversity losses and so forth. Last year for instance in Argentina meat consumption decreased 17%. Why? More people become vegetarian? No. The price of meat rose.
We have also a big space in the government sphere. With the right approach we can advance a lot our programs with the government support and apparatus.
Many other things could be said. These are but a few highlights.
For certain I´m getting back home wiser and stronger to help vegetarianism reach the mainstream. So again many thanks to everybody. Have a safe trip back home. I hope to see you all again soon in another vegfest. Why not in Malaysia.
Marly Winckler - IVU Chair