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History of Vegetarianism

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The story of IVU's attempts to communicate with its members

Compiled by John Davis, IVU Manager and Historian

The first communications from IVU to its members and supporters were done entirely by the individual Society hosting each Congress, IVU had no funds of its own until 1913 when the first General Secretary was elected. But that turned out to be the last Congress for 10 years.

From the report from the 1923 Congress, held in Sweden:

The Hon. General Secretary of the International Vegetarian Union, Miss Mathilde Hompes (Manchester), read a full report on the work of the Union, . . . . During the long gap from 1913 to 1923, we could do very little, but the members of Committee have not lost touch. We have kept up a fairly lively exchange of opinions by correspondence, and have from time to time published any matters which we deemed of sufficient importance, in the organs of the various Vegetarian Societies. . . .

INTERNATIONAl. CORRESPONDENCE. The Esperantist Delegates asked that the organ Vegetarano should become the organ of the International Vegetarian Union. After some discussion the matter was left for the Committee to decide later. It was resolved that:- The General Secretary should issue a short bulletin every three months.

General Secretary : Miss Hompes expressed her desire to retire. . . . Miss Ortt was duly elected to the office of Honorary General Secretary of the International Vegetarian Union.

The quarterly bulletin was published as planned, we are not aware of any surviving copies but some brief extracts were reprinted in The Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester).

As early as 1923 we have the three main options:

  1. IVU publishes its own bulletin/newsletter/magazine;
  2. member societies are invited to reprint items in their own publications;
  3. another journal is used to include IVU's news.

From the reports of the 1926 Congress, held in London:

From time to time the Hon. Secretary had issued bulletins containing reports of the activities of affiliated societies, and giving the Hon. Treasurer's statement of the financial position.

Miss Ortt intimated that she was not able to continue to act its Hon. Secretary, and her resignation was accepted with keen regret. . . The following officers were elected .. Hon. Secretary, Oluf Egerod, Esq., Denmark.

The reports from the 1929 Congress make no mention of publications. Mr. Egerod became the treasurer and was replaced as General Secretary by Hans Feix of Czechoslovakia. However, the report from the 1932 Congress stated:

It was agreed, purely on the ground of expense, to discontinue the publication of Vegetarano and to issue in its place a duplicated news sheet from time to time. At this juncture the members present expressed their grateful thanks to Mr. Oscar Bunemann for his work as Editor of the magazine.

- which suggests that, at some point, the Esperantists 1923 offer of using their publication as the official IVU news medium had been taken up (option 3). There was no further mention of any publications until IVU was re-formed at the 1947 Congress in England:

Introduced by Mr. J. H. BOLT (Holland), consideration was given to the publication of an international vegetarian magazine, and it was finally agreed that it be a recommendation to the I.V.U. Committee that they take steps forthwith to have I.V.U. news circulated along the following lines :-

(a) The news to be sent in English to a central editor who will edit, duplicate and remit this news sheet to National Societies who will be asked to translate it into their own language and to publish it in full in this language in their magazine.

(b) Each national representative to the I.V.U. to be responsible for the news supplied to the editor.

What they appear to have agreed was not to produce an IVU magazine (option 1), but instead to distribute articles for local publication - back to option 2.

In 1950 IVU appointed a full time salaried General Secretary, Mr. Jon Hanworth Walker, thanks to financial support from a wealthy American woman. The meeting of the Executive Committee on July 17, 1951, minuted:

It was agreed that we aim at producing our own World Magazine at the opportune time in the future, but that the present time was too early for such an important venture. A duplicated bulletin should be used for the present.

- back to option 1. ...

The Rudd Solutions

However the report by Mr. Walker to the 1953 Congress included:

A significant step was that when the proprietors of the international vegetarian magazine World Forum agreed to their excellent publication being used for IVU news, notices, and articles.

- this was confirmed at the meeting of the Executive Committee on October 18, 1953:

The secretary drew the attention of the meeting to the valuable and friendly co-operation given by the proprietors of World Forum stating that free and extensive use of the pages of this excellent magazine was always available and that we were mainly indebted to Mr.Geoffrey Rudd for this invaluable assistance to our work.

This was an independent publication, more correctly titled The Vegetarian World Forum (many issues now online, opens in a new window), edited by Geoffrey Rudd. So now we're back to option 3.

The Forum was further discussed at the meeting of the Executive Committee on May 1-2, 1954:

The position linking the IVU with World Forum was discussed and Mr Rudd - the Founder & Editor of this unique magazine said that he is most happy to place World Forum at the fullest disposal of the IVU.
Secretary stated that if World Forum could be developed & its revenue employed by the IVU this would enable us to employ Mr Rudd fully in IVU work.
Mr Rudd expressed the view that World Forum as a business concern should be quite apart from direct IVU control and finances.

By this time Mr. Rudd was a member of the committee and had become assistant treasurer. The employment of the salaried secretary was terminated in 1956 and he was replaced an unpaid General Secretary. In 1958 Mr. Rudd became the (unpaid) IVU General Secretary.

By 1960 Mr. Rudd was also the (salaried) Secretary of the Vegetarian Society (Manchester) which had combined with the London Vegetarian Society to produce a joint magazine 'The British Vegetarian'. The British Vegetarian report of 1960 IVU Congress, held in Germany began:

THE Proprietors of The British Vegetarian have very kindly agreed to allow The I.V.U. to publish its news and reports in this magazine, and the facility is gratefully acknowledged. Secretaries of Societies affiliated to The I.V.U. already receive free copies as part of the service given to the movement by The Vegetarian Society and The London Vegetarian Society, so it will be greatly appreciated if Secretaries will watch these columns for official announcements and also keep us constantly in touch with all developments in their countries so that a helpful and interesting feature can be published in each issue.

- so we're still on option 3, but now in a different magazine, still under the supervision of Mr. Rudd, and it it did contain many frequent articles about IVU over the next few years (many articles from the British Vegetarian are included in the reports of IVU Congresses in the 1960s - see ). In 1968 Mr. Rudd stood down as General Secretary and was replaced by Brian Gunn-King. The use of The British Vegetarian appears to have gone with Mr. Rudd as reports about IVU suddenly became very sparse.

IVU Newsletter

We have no records of any mass communication with members for the next 11 years. In 1979 Maxwell Lee became the General Secretary. At the meeting of the International Council in May 1980, the minutes record:

The meeting approved the suggestion from the General Secretary that a regular newsletter should be produced to enable him to keep in touch with Members The first issue would appear later in the year and Members were invited to send in suitable news items for it. In addition the General Secretary hoped to develop the link with Members which was available through the "Vegetarian Voice" produced by the North American Vegetarian Society.

- now back to option 1, not used since the 1920s. From the next meeting, in July 1981:

The Hon. General Secretary reported that the newsletter had been used by the Regional Secretary for Australasia in his local information sheet and that the Swiss vegetarians had translated the newsletter and printed much of it in their magazine 'Regeneration'.

A number of messages welcoming the newsletter had been received. Members of the International Council were invited to send in any items they might have for the next issue of the newsletter.

The Council meeting of July 1983 noted:

Members expressed appreciation of the newsletters produced by the General Secretary. It was agreed that they served a valuable service to members.

The meeting of August 1985 gave an alternative offer:

A suggestion from Mr Keith Akers of Washington, D.C. that he and others in his area should produce a newsletter for I.V.U. on a quarterly basis was discussed. It was suggested that it might offend the N.A.V.S. as they included I.V.U. news in their publication. Various views were expressed but it was decided to postpone a decision until the World Congress.

At the meeting of March 1986, they changed their minds:

The Hon. General Secretary reported that he would be happy to accept the kind offer of Mrs Madge Darneille and Mr Keith Akers to undertake the production of the I.V.U. Newsletter. The International Council agreed that it would be willing to pay the reasonable expenses for this and expressed gratitude for the offer.

- this appears to be a specific IVU Newsletter produced in the USA, rather than including some IVU news in another publication.... the meeting of August 1987 minuted:

Hon. General Secretary's Report The General Secretary reported his appreciation of the work being done on the Newsletters by Mrs Darneille and Mr Akers.

IVU Newsletter: It was agreed to discuss the matter at the Toronto Congress. Mr. Akers indicated he might not be able to continue to help in its production. It was emphasised that information should be sent in if a successful newsletter is to be produced.

The minutes give no indication of what happened for the next few years but, by the Council meeting of January 1993 we're back to the UK:

It was reported that the IVU Newsletters were still being sent to some societies and individuals who did not reply at all. This was in line with an earlier decision of the International Council. It was agreed that this should cease where there was a lack of response over a period of time. There were favourable comments about the Newsletter and it was agreed that we should aim to move towards four issues per year.

The Hon. General Secretary indicated the problems he had with a printer and the fact that the present computer system was not able to operate a desk top publishing system for the Newsletters. It was agreed that a desktop publishing system and a good printer, possibly a laser printer, should be purchased. The cost was left open and the Hon. General Secretary agreed to seek the best deal possible.

The meeting of the International Council in July 1995 minuted:

It was agreed that the Hon. General Secretary should be asked to include a statement in the IVU newsletter indicating the various reports etc. that were available from the Research Officer of the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom.
It was felt that it was desirable to resuscitate SCIVU [Science Council of IVU] but that the name of the organisation should be The Scientific Committee of the International Vegetarian Union. The Hon. General Secretary was asked to put an article in the Newsletter about the possibilities for such a development.
[re regional reports] Due to the lack of time, it was agreed that the Hon General Secretary should consider giving other reports in summary in a future newsletter if they are sent to him.

The Age of the Internet

In December 1995 the IVU website was created to further the aims of mass communication and attracted 1,000 page views in the first month online (in 2009 it attracts about 1.5 million page views per month). The newsletters produced by Maxwell Lee, at two or three month intervals during 1995/6 are available online at

At the July 1996 Council meeting, the General Secretary's report mentioned: " The increasing importance of the internet for communication was leading to a growing need for IVU to lead the way and to take some responsibility for the Vegetarian Pages which were becoming more and more popular." [Vegetarian Pages was the major website at that time, now largely defunct].

In 1996 Francisco Martin became IVU General Secretary and produced 3 issues of a more substantial, glossier, magazine up to the summer of 1998. The full contents of these issues can also be found at

The September 1997 meeting of the International Council commented: "The General Secretary was congratulated on the quality of the newsletter. It was agreed that its value in promotional and recruitment terms justified the cost of producing it. New members received a newsletter straight away. Although sales revenue was not great new membership subscriptions were generated."

In February 1997 the '' domain was registered.

In December 1998 the IVU webmaster started a monthly email newsletter, IVU Online News. Apart from a few of missed issues this was sent to up to 2,000 readers every month until 2006. Subscription is public but only news by or about IVU members and supporters was normally included.

Shortly after Online News began, IVU also took over the running of the 'veg-news' list, now called 'ivu-veg-news'. This has news items forwarded from the many online newspapers around the world by any of the list members. This is open to the public and currently has about 450 subscribers, most of them activists running other magazines or newsletters, either in print or online, and many of them re-use the news items in their own publications. There have also been a couple of attempts to create a 'syndicated' email list, whereby original articles can be sent to editors of publications produced by IVU member societies for their own use. This has met with limited success.

The ivu-sci email group replaced SCIVU in 1999, and is open to scientists and all editors of IVU member society publications. This has removed the need for scientific articles to be distributed by print & post. It currently has about 140 subscribers.

There are also many other ivu email discussion groups with several thousands subscribers between them, many carrying local or specialist news items.

In January 1999 Paul Turner was appointed IVU magazine editor and produced 5 issues of IVU News up to the summer of 2002. Most of the contents of these issues are also linked from .

At its July 2000 meeting, in Toronto, the International Council had some discussion about the magazine:

Paul Turner discussed the production of the IVU magazine and reviewed areas of difficulty. He suggested we have a theme for each issue; new and regular contributors (such as Rae Sikora and Dr. Claus Leitzmann); a letters page would be included; a Q & A section; more advertising; and member society contributions.
The next issue might have the theme of local and regional organizations. The Regional Coordinators should submit their reports for the upcoming issue.
Paul requested more regular input from Council members and more local and regional societies' reports. It was agreed that Gerry, Tina, and Saurabh would prepare a report on the Congress for the next issue.

At the 2002 Congress a new magazine editor was appointed, but no further issues were ever produced.

In 2005 the International Council decided to produce an Annual Report, to be printed and posted to all members and supporters. This was commenced with the 2006 report and there were plans to continue in this way, but they never materialised.

In 2006 George Jacobs took over as editor of IVU Online News and expanded the content whilst maintaining more regular publication than had been previously achieved. It also moved to becoming primarily web based, but with the email version going to those requesting it - all these issues are online at . The success of these editions has ended any further discussions about printing and posting news - IVU news is now fully online.

In 2009 IVU added a new database for news at - - this opens up further possibilities for the future...

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