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Vegetarian Federal Union 1889-1911

From The Vegetarian (London) November 30, 1895:

Vegetarian Conference in Birmingham

The autumn congress of the Vegetarian Union was held on the 21st at teh Temperance Institute, Corporation Street, Birmingham. The Rev. J. C. Street (president of the local branch) occupied the chair, and amongst those present were Mr. A. F. Hills (president of the Vegetarian Federal Union), the Rev. A. Boddington (Uttoxeter), County Councillor Malins, Mr. O. Vora (a native of Bombay), Mr. and Mrs. Owen (Oswestry), Mrs. C. L. H. Wallace, Mr. B. G. Theobald, Mr. C. P. Newcombe, Mr. George Jones, Mrs. McDouall and Mr. Josiah Oldfield (London), Mr. J. Baillie (Chester), Mr. G. Price (Shrewsbury), Mr. W. Welch (Woolwich), Mr. Slatter (Brighton), Mr. W. C. Amery (Birmingham), etc. Apologies for absence were announced from the Dean of Durham, Sir Samuel Baker, Lady Blount, Mrs. Mona Caird, and others.

The PRESIDENT having offered a hearty welcome to the delegates, touched upon the subject which had brought them together. He knew that they were called "faddists", "dreamers," and "fanatics," but if they were fools and utopians they were certainly in very good company. (Hear, hear.) Their object was to close the shambles and the workhouses, and put an end to thecruelties inevitably associated with the slaying of birds, beasts, and fish for human food. It seemed to them that everything associated with the slaughter of animals was coarse, rude and brutal, and that every refined nature that gave a thought ot the subject shuddered at its horrors. They were told that everything was against them - appetite, custom, economics, science, and religion. That "appetite" and "custom" were their foes they knew and sorrowfully admitted. Bt the "economists" almost shouted them down. What was to become of the great industry of cattle breeding, of the multitudes whose capital and labour were engaged in the slaughter and distribution of the flesh of birds and beasts? But if an industry based upon cruelty and bloodshed disappeared, would not a thousand pleasant industries take its place? Would not the garden, the field, the orchard, be enlarged and enriched, and their produce turned to the best account? But science stepped in with its imperative negative - they could not live without flesh and fowl and fish. Scientific men said all those dreadful things about the temperance folk. They were to be puny, spiritless, and short-lived, but experience had proved that their lives were the healthiest and the longest. And so in like manner Vegetarians managed to live, were able to do all the work of life, their athleticism had been proved on many a field, they could endure fatigue, bear burdens, and sustain exertions as well as anyone else. It far too bad to call up "religion" against them. That voice could never be heard among their enemies, and it would indeed be a strange view of religion which necessarily associated it with the knfe of the butcher and the shriek of the victim. (Applause.)

The Rev. A. BODINGTON (Uttoxeter) read a paper on "Meliora," and contended that flesh-eating was inconsistent with Christianity.

A deputation consisting of Messrs. Josiah Derrington, Walter Preistman, J. Lawson, and Joshua Moseley attended on behalf of the temperance societies of the city.

Mr. DERRINGTON said the temperance people welcomed the vegetarians to the city as fellow workers. Vegetarians were, he believed, total abstainers from intoxicating drink - (hear, hear). Vegetarians had done much among thoughtful people to lessen the common craving for flesh food, and to improve the feeding of the children ; errors in which he believed were largely responsible for the prevalence of rickets, decayed teeth, and short sight in the rising generation. It was beginning to be generally understood that those who fed young children on animal food were pursuing the wrong course - (applause).

Mr. LAWSON and Mr. PPRIESTMAN joined in the welcome.

The PRESIDENT, in reply, remarked that the deputation were quite right in supposing that the Vegetarians were abstainers. In fact all reforms went together, just as all the virtues were linked together in a true and noble life.

Mr. G. B. THEOBALD read a paper on "The Claims of Vegetarianism." He contended that fully 75 per cent. of the diseases from which humanity suffered were directly or indirectly traceable to dietetic errors. The consumption of meat was unnatural, innecessary, unsuitable and attended by many evils - (hear, hear).

The subject "Is Vegetarian diet more conducive to health than a mixed diet?" was introduced by Mr. GEORGE JONES, who argued in the affirmative, contended that a vegetable diet was ample for the greatest mental and physical strength.

Mrs. C. L. H. WALLACE, dealing with the "foolishness of Fkesh Eating," produced a very charming paper as forcible as it was sound. It contained statistics and facts sufficient to support the important arguments that were based upon them.

A discussion followed, in the course of which Mr. GEORGE BASNETT, as one who only believed in Vegetarianism to a brief extent, observed that a reason why the movement did not make more progress was owing to the difficulty of obtaining the diet, especially by commercials travelling in many parts of the country.

Mr. HANSON said he had travelled nearly all over the world, and had found little difficulty in getting vegetable food.

The Rev. A BODINGTON and Mr. OWEN also took part in the discussion.

The morning session concluded with a vote of thanks to the Chairman.

During the interval between the Sessions Mr. SATCHELL placed himself at the disposal of the delegates and conducted them round the chief places of interest in Birmingham. The Town Hall, Art Gallery, Library &c., were duly visited, and some idea of the splendid way in which the people of Birmingham are provided with public educational advantages was obtained.

Charming vegetarian luncheons were provided at te Orchard in Bull Street, and the Garden in Paradise Street.

Lieutenant-General PHELPS presided at the afternoon meeting, and in some introductory remarks alluded to the zymotic death-rates in Birmingham and Leicester. Although in the latter town it was much lower than in Birmingham, still al deaths from zymotics were preventible, and were a discgrace to the community that prmitted them to take place. Then the death of children, he argued, was a violation of the natural law, as old age was the only natural cause of death. The increase of cancer, and the prevalence of lunacy were grave matters which required consideration from the deitetic standpoint. Again, there was the drink question, for which Vegetarians claimed to have a remedy. He ventured to think that Vegetarianism might partially solve the disease defects he had mentioned.

Mr. E. J. BAILLIE delivered a short address on the commercial, educational, philanthropic, and religious aspect of Vegetarianism, and after a discussion arising thereon, the Rev. J. C. STREET read a paper supplied by Miss Isabel Southall (Edgbaston) on "Vegetarianism and the Christian Missions." The writer contended that the practice of killing cattle by missionaries for the purposes of food in Vegetaian countries, where such killing was looked upon with the greatest disfavour, retarded the progress of Christian missionary work.

Mr. VORA (Bombay) said nothing had lowered Christianity in the esteem of the Hindoos more than the eating of meat by missionaries.

"Vegetarian diet in cancer" was the subject dealt with by Mr. OWEN, who expressed the opinion, derived from personal observation, that vegetarianism was a factor in the treatment and cure of cancer.

Mr VORA remarked that, speaking generally, cancer was unknown among the native population in the Presidency of Bombay, where vegetarianism was largely practised.

Mr. A. F. HILLS believed that flesh food was one of the causes of cancer in the 19th century.

The discussion was continued by Mr. OLDFIELD, the Rev. J. C. STREET, Mrs. WALLACE, the CHAIRMAN, and Mr. LOWE.

Mr. JOSEPH (sic) OLDFIELD contributed a paper on "The necessity of leather and some experiments with vegetarian boots." He exhibited some pairs of boots which had been made from vegetable substances and said he was satisfied that a vegetarian boot could be made equal to those at present in use without the employment of a particle of leather.

A paper on "The testimony of the five senses," by the Rev. H. S. CLUBB (Philadelphia) was read by Mrs. MCDOUALL, and Mr. W. C. AMERY spoke on "A carnivorous vegetarian's difficulties," in which he sketched the inconvenience of getting vegetable food owing to a lack of its provision in the various centres of population.

The meeting closed with thanks to Lieutenant-General Phelps for presiding.

Papers by Mr. KENNETH ROMAMES on "German Vegetarianism during 1895" and by Mrs. LICHTENSTEIN on "Vegetarianism in its Hygeine and Economic aspects" were also presented.

In the evening the Conversazione was very largely attended, the hall being crowded to its utmost limit. Mr. Alderman WHITE, who presided, in a very kindly and gentle speech, told them his repugnance to all forms of cruelty and killing, and that this was the reason which drew him at eighty years of age, to come and preside at a Vegetarian meeting.

Mr. BAILLIE, of Chester, in a very delightful speech, pointed out some of the beauties of the simple yet higher life. Mr. HILLS then followed, and in a vigorous and eloquent speech, covered the wide ground of scientific, economic and humanitarian arguments for Vegetarianism.

Mrs. MCDOUALL touched upon the greta function of the New Woman in all reforms, showing that the future lay with the higher life.

Mr. Councillor MALINS made a very happy speech, giving his own experience during the last six months since he had adopted Vegetarianism. He had crossed the Atlantic twice, spent some time in Norway, Sweden, France and Germany, had traversed England from North to South and from East to West, and his mature experience had been that he needed meat less, and that he could live at a higher level on a Vegetarian than on his previous mixed dietary.

Mrs. WALLACE gave a practical speech to the mothers, and since she was a personal example of the advantages of the precepts she inculcated, there should be many who went away determined to try the better way in diet.

Songs and recitations were given to the mothers, and since she was a personal example of the advantages of the precepts she inculcated, there should be many who went away determined to try thr better way in diet.

Songs and recitations were given by Rev. A. Bodington, Mr. J. T. Breakspeare, Mr. H. Burton, Miss Elfie Hewitson, Mrs. M. A. Rollason, Mr. W. G. Sutton, and Miss Emily G. Watkin.