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History of the Norwegian Vegetarian Societies

The following item was contributed by the Soyfoods Center:

Norski Vegetariski Forening (Den) [Norwegian Vegetarian Society (The)]. 1903. New vegetarian society. Christiania, Norway.
Summary: Source: Vegetarian Messenger and Health Review (Manchester, England). 1904. "News: Scandinavia." Feb. p. 52. "Norway has also got a vegetarian society, Den Norski Vegetariski Forening, formed at Christiania [renamed Oslo in 1925], on the 22nd August."

The following article comes from the report of the 1938 IVU Congress, held in Hurdals Verk, Norway:

Vegetarianism in Norway.
We are indebted to Dr. Rogler for the following summary of the position of vegetarianism in Norway.

The climate of Norway is favourable for the ripening of all fruits, vegetables and cereals which are required to satisfy the needs of its population of 2,800,000, and the mild winds of the western sea, as well as the influence of the Gulf Stream, make it possible to grow crops in latitudes more northerly than in any country in the world. Corn is still ripened within the Arctic Circle and potatoes and other vegetables are grown on land which reaches the Arctic Ocean. In the Middle Ages various kinds of vegetables were used by the people, especially cabbages and onions, which were important items in the diet of the Vikings on their long voyages.

The modern vegetarian movement in Norway is due largely to the activities of the Seventh-Day Adventists who first brought our ideas to the country about 50 years ago. The first Scandinavian Vegetarian Society was founded on the 29th March, 1895, in Ostersund, Sweden, by the late J. L. Saxon. The Danish Vegetarian Society was founded in Copenhagen on the 1st January, 1896, by Dr. Michael Larsen, and on the 13th February, 1903, the Swedish Vegetarian Society was founded at Stockholm. In the same year Mr. Saxon came to Christiania (Oslo) to assist in the formation of a vegetarian society in Norway, which was founded on the 22nd August, 1903. Thus the vegetarian movement in Norway this year celebrates its thirty-fifth anniversary.

Mr. O. J. Selhoe, who was succeeded by Mrs. Martha Leischer, both of whom did excellent work for the progress of vegetarianism in Norway.

On the 29th May, 1930, the Norwegian Vegetarian Association (Norges vegetariske Landsforbund) was founded, its first president being Mr. Hans E. Andersen, who in 1932 was succeeded by Mr. Magnus Karlson. The secretary of the Association and editor of the magazine Naturlo/egen ("The Naturopath") is Dr. H.J. Rogler.

The Association has branches in Oslo, Bergen and Stavanger. Natural diet is the first point in its programme and it excludes flesh-meats, fish and eggs. In its struggle for the defence of animals against all forms of 'scientific' cruelty, it works in harmony with the nature cure movement whose pioneer in Norway (O. Olvik) was the founder and first editor of the health magazine Naturlo/egen.

The vegetarian movement in Norway continues to progress, bringing its message of health, goodwill and real humanity into an ever-widening circle of the Norwegian people

In 1908 the Norwegian Society sent a letter of support to the first IVU Congress in Dresden, Germany, one of their members was present at the meeting but it does not seem to have been in an official capacity.

The report in the Vegetarian Messenger (VSUK magazine) of the 2nd IVU Congress, in Manchester, England, 1909 included:

Mdme. Lombard spoke in a spirited way for Sweden and Norway, and also read the Danish report for Dr. Larsen.

The next Congress report to mention Norway is from 1923, held in Stockholm, Sweden:

After extending a hearty welcome to all, he called upon the Hon. Congress Secretary, Madame Lombard (Stockholm), to read the Roll Call of the Delegates. Each rose as his or her name was called. The following is a full list : ... Norway - O. J. Selboe, Skögen, Director O. Olvik, Furuly Helsehem, Stord ; ...

We give the full list of papers in alphabetical order :- ...Dr. Olvik on "Sanataria in Norway," ... Byrachef O. J. Selboe for the Norwegian Vegetarian Society,

The report from the 1926 Congress makes no mention of Norway. The report from the1929 Congress says that Norway was one of the 13 countries represented but gives no further details.

A new Society Norges Vegetariske Landsforbund was founded in 1930 by a Mr. Røgler.

The 1932 and 35 Congress reports do not give a list of countries represented and has no specific mention of Norway elsewhere.

The 10th World Vegetarian Congress was held at at Hurdals Verk, Norway in 1938. - follow the link for a detailed report, including many photos and the summary of the history of vegetarianism in Norway reproduced above.

From reports of the 1947 IVU Congress, held in Stonehouse, England:

... nine years have elapsed since the last congress of the International Vegetarian Union was held, in Norway, ...

... Brief speeches were made by the overseas delegates ... Mr. M. Karlson (Norway), ...

... Mementos of the Centenary of The Vegetarian Society [UK] were presented from Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Holland, ...

... The business included reports from representatives of Societies affiliated to the I.V.U., and were given by ... Dr. H. J. Rogler (Norway), ...

Norwegian delegates at the 1947 Congress:

Mrs.Røgler & Mrs Christensen

Mr K.J.Mellbye & Mr Karlson

Dr H.J.Røgler

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

Brief speeches were made by delegates from the countries represented. ... M. Karlson (Norway), ..

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

Farewell Dinner. ... Dr. H. J. Rogler (Norway) ... also spoke,

- - -

From the Minutes of the Meeting of the Executive Committee held at Bloemendaal, near Haarlem, Holland over Easter 1952:

It was agreed that the next meeting be held at Stevangen in Norway from September 20th to 23rd & that Magnus Karlsen be asked to make accommodation arrangements on our behalf.

- that meeting never took place but no explanation was given.

The minutes of the Business Meeting at the 14th World Vegetarian Congress in Paris, 1955, mention an official delegate from the Norwegian Society.

In 1958, Dr H.J.Røgler (Norway) was a Vice President of IVU, possibly earlier and/or later. Vice Presidents at that time were normally representatives of member societies.
1958 - The Vegetarian World Forum, July 1958, carried a complete list of IVU " Affiliated Societies - and others in association with the I.V.U." These included: Norwegian V.S., Dr. H. Rogler, Rosenkrantzgatan 10, Oslo, Norway.

In 1960 the IVU records mention the 'Forbundet Allnordisk Folkhalsa' as a member society, but without any further details.

The Congresses for 1960, 1963 and 1965 all record an official delate from Norway.

Mr N.Neilsen, Norway, was a Vice President of IVU from 1963 until at least 1975.
The minutes of the Executive Committee meeting held at Paris: 24-26 April 1964, note: "LETTERS from Mr Nielsen (Norway) and Dr Robinson (Israel) were read and discussed."

The minutes of the 1977 Congress, in India record:

The Congress expresses its deep and sincere regrets on the passing over of our following colleagues:- ... Mr. Niels Nielsen (Hon.Vice President I.V.U.) (Norway) often official delegate for the Danish Veg.Soc. and well-known tennis player until late in life.

The minutes of the 1979 Congress, in England record Dr.rer oec Ralph Bircher (Norway) as an Hon.Vice President;

EVU News Issues 3+4, 1995 reported:

Ernst Røgler sends the following information:
Last summer, the "Norges Vegetariske Landsforbund", which was founded in 1930 by Ernst's father, joined with a vegetarian youth association.
The new society is called "Norsk Vegetarforening" and has 300 members. They work together with other groups of similar ideas, like animal rights. Unity makes stronger! All the collaborators in the society are volunteers.
They put a special emphasis on giving information to the public through press, radio and in their magazine "Vegetarnytt" which has 1000 copies. They organize cooking courses and give out recipes . A vegetarian library and a health food store is at their disposition. Several times a year they have a stall in Oslo where they distribute leaflets and vegetarian food from Ernsts restaurant "Vegeta". Vegeta is in the center of the city and offers vegetarian dishes to upto 400 guests a day. The restaurant is also meeting-point for their monthly assemblies and in december there is going to be a big Christmas Party.

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