International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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History of the Bulgarian Vegetarian Union

The first mention we have of Bulgaria is in the Vegetarian Messenger (VSUK magazine), January, 1923, which reports on the existence of the Bulgarian Vegetarian Union, made up from societies in many small towns. It said the founder was a friend of Tolstoy.

a postcard featuring Tolstoy, published by the Bulgarian Vegetarian Union in the 1920s or 30s. (pictures from Jan Stastny, Prague)
click on the pictures for a bigger image

From the report of the 1923 IVU Congress, held in Stockholm, Sweden:

... The Chairman said that, owing to the great disturbance caused by the War the Committee felt as if we ought almost to make a new beginning and that the Constitution would need some alteration. He invited members for the International Vegetarian Unon and the delegates from the following countries expressed their desire to join :- .... , Bulgaria, ....

The report from the 1926 Congress, held in London, England, makes no mention of Bulgaria. From the report of the 1929 Congress, held in Steinschönau, Czeckoslovakia:

... The Congress was not without its revelations and perhaps the most remarkable of all was that of the Bulgarian delegate who told us of a White Brotherhood in his country, numbering 35,000, every member of which is an abstainer from fish, flesh and fowl as food, from intoxicating liquors and from tobacco. ...

... The very list of speakers at the Congress was impressve. Including as it did, the names of ...., M. Pamporov (Sofia), .... Thirteen nations in all were represented at the Congress - ..., Bulgaria, ..

From the report of the 1932 Congress, held in Berlin & Hamburg, Germany:

...[from a talk by Valentin Bulgakov, Prague] Tolstoy had been a great power, and his teaching had borne fruit over a very wide area, not only in Russia, but in other countries, e.g., Bulgaria. ...

Valentin Bulgakov was Tolstoy's Secretary for some time, so it could have been him who was responsible for setting up the Union in Bulgaria in 1923.

The 1935 Congress report makes no mention of Bulgaria, but the report from 1938 opens with:.

Many circumstances threatened to mar the success of the tenth International Vegetarian Congress, originally planned to be held in Bulgaria and at comparatively short notice changed to Norway.

- there was a note of apology for absence from the Bulgarian Society.

The 1947 Congress report makes no mention of Bulgaria but, by that time the country was under communist control and vegetarian societies were probably banned.

Further details from this period will be added as they become available, but vegetarianism would have been suppressed during the communist era.

For details of Bulgaria today go to and select Europe/Bulgaria

If you have any more information about anything on this page please contact John Davis -