International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

History of the Canadian Vegetarian Societies

The first record we have of organised vegetarianism in Canada is the formation of the Calgary Society in 1943, then Toronto Vegetarian Association in 1945 (referred to as the Calgary and Toronto Units below). For a brief history of TVA see: .

The was also a note in the report of the 1947 IVU Congress, held in England:

A telegram was received, from the Secretary of the CALGARY VEGETARIAN SOCIETY with the message :- "Vegetarians owe a debt of gratitude to the founders of The Vegetarian Society and to those who have upheld its principles since its inception."

This refers to the Centenary of the original Vegetarian Society, founded 1847, which was celebrated during the Congress.

At that time IVU only accepted national societies as members and it seems likely that the Canadian Vegetarian Union was formed to overcome that restriction, with local societies joining the CVU.

From The Vegetarian World Forum, Spring 1948:

Canadian Vegetarian Association (now applying to join the I.V.U.)
April 19th is a date for celebration for the Calgary Unit of the Canadian Vegetarian Association. This year we shall be five years old, for our Society was organized in 1943. Although still a mere infant in comparison to our sister societies in England, we feel that we have accomplished a lot in making our voice and influence heard in the community.
During these past five years, we have held three vegetarian banquets each year. These are our main activity, and we know from the large numbers who attend that there are many who are ready and anxious to hear what we have to offer. The average attendance is around one hundred. The dinners are held in the dining hall in one of Calgary's largest down-town churches. The ladies' group of the church cater for us and, having become familiar with the type of meal required, serve delicious, home-cooked dinners, plentiful and varied. We have recently had the good fortune to hear two distinguished out-of-town speakers, Dr. Scott Nearing and Mrs. Corinne Heline of Los Angeles, California.
The Society's News Bulletin, edited by the Secretary, is published every three months. It is usually a four-page (sometimes six) mimeographed paper, containing a lengthy article on one of the many aspects of vegetarianism, a poem, news items - both local and international - a page on health, diet and vegetarian recipes. The present circulation has reached four hundred, and goes to distant parts of the world.
On occasions during the past years we have expressed our views on national and international matters through letters of protest and recommendations to our own Government representatives in Ottawa; also to the United States Government, as on the occasion of the atomic bomb tests, when our members expressed in no uncertain terms their disapproval of the use of the four thousand animals in the experiment.
Because Canada is the only country in the world where the sale of margarine is prohibited, our Society sent recommendations to Ottawa that this ban be lifted so that those who desire margarine he able to buy it.
During the war-time rationing of meats, our members requested the privilege of using their meat coupons for extra rations of butter. During the month of January, letters of protest have been sent to all leaders and the Minister of Health at Ottawa, vigorously protesting the now-existing embargo placed on the importation of fruits and vegetables into Canada from the United States. As a result of the ban, all citizens, and especially vegetarians, are finding it extremely difficult to obtain the proper balance of vitamins and minerals when lettuce, celery, tomatoes, parsley, grapes, etc., cannot, be bought in Canada to-day.
JUNE KIMBALL. 2211-14 A Street, West, Calgary, Alberta.

From the reports of the 1950 IVU Congress, held in The Netherlands:

... The Canadian Vegetarian Union was vigorously represented by Professor Arthur Stevenson. of Toronto, ...

... Brief speeches were made by delegates from the countries represented. ... Professor Arthur F. Stevenson (Canada), ...

... Brief reports of work accomplished in the various countries -given by delegates from ... Canada, ....

... The following applications for membership of the International Vegetarian Union were confirmed: ... (2) Canadian Vegetarian Union; ...

... [resolution passed] "That representation should be made to all national Governments requesting that provision should be made to enable vegetarian soldiers, sailors, and airmen to maintain their fleshless regimen. " (Professor A. F. Stevenson, Canadian Vegetarian Union) ...

... At the concluding session Mr. Sibly, said that the Congress had been a very successful and happy one and that it had been distinguished for the first time by the presence of delegates, as distinct from visitors, from North America and Canada. ...

... Mr. Sibly was followed, in his expression of thanks to our Dutch hosts, by ... Prof. Stevenson (Canada), ...

Some Canadian Societies listed by the first mention we have of them as IVU members:

  • 1960 - Calgary Unit Vegetarian Union
  • 1960 - Toronto Unit Vegetarian Union
  • 1993 - Winnipeg Vegetarian Association
  • 2003 - Northern Vegetarian Society
  • 2003 - Atlantic Veg Association


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