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Vegetarian Federal Union 1889-1911

From The Vegetarian (London) November 7, 1896:

Vegetarian Federal Union

On Thursday last the Federal Union held its annual congress at Bristol. The meetings were held at the Redland Park Hall in the morning, afternoon, and evening. Delegates were present from several parts, and capital discussion followed the various papers. Mr. A. F. Hills was to have presided, but he was detained until the afternoon. Those who were present included Mrs. Pengelly, Mr. W. Chudley (Exeter), Mrs. McDouall (London), Mrs. Hunter (Bridge of Allan), Misses Midwinter (Bath), Mrs. Hume Bournemouth), Mr. A. Broadbent (Manchester), Mr. R. E. O'Callaghan (secretary), Mr.Scammell (Bristol).

The CHAIRMAN, in opening the morning conference, explained the objects of the Union, sayng that it bonded together the Vegetarian Societies throughout the whole world, and existed for the mutual encouragement of them, as well as to proclaim Vegetarianism. In coming to Bristol they were breaking up fresh ground, and he trusted there would be good results from this their first visit. He reminded his heares that the chief opponents they had to Vegetarinanism were prejudice and ignorance ; and that they, individually as well as collectively, might do something for the cause in which they were so interested by dispelling the views which many held about Vegetarianism.

Papers were then read from the pens of Councillor Joseph Malins on "My Experience of Vegetarianism" ; Mr. W. E. A. Axon on "The increase of cancer - a warning note" ; Mrs. C. L. H. Wallace on "Why you eat flesh-meat" ; and Mrs. McDouall on "Spiritual Science in Vegetarianism."

At the afternoon conference Mr. A. F. Hills presided and offered a hearty welcome to those who were present. He expressed regret that they had not a thriving Vegetarian society in Bristol. They had, he believed, had a society there - never at any time a very large one - and he hoped one result of the congress would be that the society would be re-started. Giving reasons why persons should become Vegetarians, the speaker urged that true, substantial temperance reform must be set upon the basis of Vegetarianism. In both movements a keen war was carried on against stimulants which resulted in vital exhaustion. At present they had the medical profession against them, but he believed that in time this opposition would cease, and the doctors would no longer say there was strength in beef and mutton, or beef tea, as they used to say there was strength in brandy. All the hardy peasantry were practically Vegetarians, and those who had adopted the practice found how beneficial it was. To put it at the lowest level, it might be said Vegetarianism was safe. Those who studied the feeding of the people must recognize that the supply of fish, flesh and fowl were limited, and if the people of this country were to be cheaply, hwolesomely, and healthily fed, Vegetarianism must become part of the national system of diet. Mr. Hills, in concluding, strongly urged those present to make this experiment, and to band themselves together in a social union for that object.

Papers were read by Miss A. A. Hopper, "Our Work in the Board Schools, as I know it" ; Mr. J. Cheal on "Fruit Growing" ; Mr. J. I. Pengelly on "Some pressing needs," and Miss E. E. Cole on "The common good uncommonly developed."

In the evening the delegates and many local visitors enjoyed a conversazione in the large hall, when there was a very satisfactory attendance. The programme consisted of vocal and instrumental contributions by Miss. E. Kempton, Miss F. I. Nicholson, and Mr. R. Brock, a recitation being given by Mrs. McDouall, whilst speeches from Mr. Arnold. F. Hills (president of the Vegetarian Federal Union), Mrs. McDouall, Mr. J. Pengelly, Miss Hopper, were also on the programme. The Rev. U. R. Thomas presided, and, in the course of interesting remarks, expressed his gratification at the invitation he had received to be present with a group of earnest people who were working for reforms in the region of diet. He at once avowed that he himself was not a vegetarian, but that for three or four reasons he was not out of sympathy with the movement. One was that the majority of those who preached and practised vegetarianism were in so many directions earnest social reformers and Christian philanthropists, and that they aimed at life with purer habits, and the dealing with the temptation of intemperance, and were in antagonism to the careless indulgence in the pleasures of the table. Vegetarians, like teetotalers, had long to fight against both ridicule and controversy, and though, as far as he was at present informed, the arguments for vegetarianism were not as conclusive to him as the arguments for abstinence from alcohol. There was so much to be said against over eating and reckless indulgence in the direction that led to gluttony, that whenever it could be proved that vegetarianism was a help to a sound mind and a sound body he believed it was the duty of all who were working for the welfare of the people to espouse that cause. During the evening light refreshments, including fruit, were partaken of.

The various papers used at the Congress will appear in the pages of the Vegetarian and the Vegetarian Review.