International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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The Vegetarian World Forum
No. 3 Vol. IX - Autumn 1955 pp.51-53:

Hanworth Walker

THE 13th World Vegetarian Congress in Sweden, in 1953, marked the termination of that first period in I.V.U. history when our organisation had the advantages and responsibilities of an established office, and the Secretary’s report, given at the opening of the Sigturia Congress, clearly shewed the vital necessity of maintaining such a permanent office.

The 1953 Congress, however, served a greater purpose to our movement in that it acted as a powerful stimulus to our efforts and as an uplifting encouragement to the Committee and its Secretary. For this timely impetus we are indebted to the principal organisers of the Sigtuna Congress, namely, Ernst Killander and Josef Pedersen, also to the Swedish Vegetarians generally, and further to all those who participated, for those present generated, in exemplary fashion, that spirit of goodwill and harmony that alone can sustain our work and fulfil our ideals.

The impetus born in Sweden two years ago has carried us forward to this 14th Congress in Paris and it is both just and proper that we acknowledge gratefully and dutifully the earlier labours and sacrifices of those colleagues whose industry and devotion have played such a large part in making this present Congress possible.

In the past two years the I.V.U. has evolved from a little known and comparatively uninfluential association to being one of the best known and most influential humanitarian organjsations in the world. Yet it is only five years since our President, Mrs. Gasque, decided that the time was opportune for the I.V.U. to establish a permanent office, and we must remain thankfully aware of the fact that whatever position the I.V.U. occupies to-day is due to the foresight and generosity of this one visionary. From this adventurous inception five years ago we can now say that the I.V.U. is in active co-operation with more humanitarian groups in the world than any other organisation outside U.N.O., F.A.O. and U.N.E.S.C.O. We have built up this network of international collaboration for two reciprocal reasons - first - because we know that no organisation can be self-sufficient and that it must accept the principle of interdependence among all kindred groups in all lands and - secondly - because we can better introduce the advantages and ethics of the Vegetarian Way of Life to other sympathetic organisations when we have forged a close and harmonious relationship with them. The vital and urgent problems facing the world to-day can only be solved by a united and resolute world humanitarian alliance and the I.V.U. is taking the lead towards fulfilling this urgent need.

The necessity for building up this intimate and loyal world team dominates our daily work and the spirit of trust and constant co-operation engendered by the members of the I.V.U. International Executive is an example of harmonious industry and brotherly goodwill that might well be followed in more official circles of international activity.

This committee has shewn that the barriers of time and space need be no obstacle to the closest understanding and the fullest co-operation and the impossibility of frequent meetings has been no deterrent to our progress.

THE two most important undertakings during these past two years have been the I.V.U. mission to Israel and the tour of India in preparation for the 15th World Vegetarian Congress in Bombay in 1957.

The expedition to Israel, apart from any results achieved, serves as a model on which to arrange similar journeys in the future and a short study of this tour will expose our present shortcomings and reveal how these may be rectified in the opportune years ahead.

Such a mission to any land must be dealt with in three separate though interlinked parts. First the preparation of the ground which calls for many months of letter writing and associated office work and the widespread and wholehearted reception received in Israel shewed that this preparatory work had been well accomplished. Secondly the visit to the land itself is a rapid sowing of seed in the prepared soil and letters received since our return indicate that the ground was receptive and fertile.

The third stage is the following up and the development of all connections made during the tour so that the sparks kindled in a miriad different centres may be fanned into a fire that will enlighten a whole nation, and in this third and final responsibility we have failed, and we have thereby revealed our distressing wea ness. We left Israel with our highest hopes immeasurably exceeded by the interest shewn and the enthusiasm generated. From the Governmental and the religious leaders, through all departments and walks of life and ranging to the isolated communities, there was a burning eagerness to learn more of the economic, ethical and hygienic advantages of the vegetarian doctrine and it would have needed but little encouragement for the authorities in Israel to have adopted vegetarianism as part of their national policy. In that nation we saw the vivid truth of economic necessity forcing man on to his moral path, a persuasion that the whole world is even now being asked to heed a lesson which when learned will lead mankind to te ways of economic stability and spiritual concord.

When one nation, however small, adopts vegetarianism as the basis of its policy of re-educating people, then our work in all other lands is considerably simplified. Israel came within measurable distance of taking such a step, and as Israel is the
microcosm of the world, the extent of our failure is painful indeed.

Until the I.V.U. is adequately staffed we will never be able to bring our efforts to fruition and discharge our full responsibilty to the world and this urgently needed expansion of personnel and means mus surely seriously exercise our mnds during this congress.

We cannot speak of this mission to Israel without recording gratefully our acknowledgement to our executive Vi ce-President, Woodland Kahler, who not only cheerfully withstood the rigours of this concentrated and strenuous tour but who also paid all his own expenses.

This appreciation of Woodland Kahler’s devotion to our cause leads naturally to the second major work of the I.V.U. since we all met in Sweden. He and his equally enthusiastic wife, Olga, which good lady has also worked so devotedly for the success of this present Congress, made an extensive tour of India in the spring of this year. Despite the long distances to be covered and the inconveniences to be endured, these two faithful colleagues visited a very large number of vegetarian and humanitarian centres, were received by many high officials including Pandit Nehru, delivered many addresses, gave press conferences and generally blazoned the name of the I.V.U. across this great country which originally gave the non-hurtful concept of vegetarianism to the whole world. Not only for their noble work but also for their generosity in bearing the whole cost of this expedition themselves, the world vegetarian movement is grateful to Woodland and Olga Kahler.

The success of their venture is partially told by the many fine press reports from Indian newspapers and further evidence of their achievement will be related during this Congress by our dear brother Jayantilal Naradlal Mankar, the Secretary of the Bombay Humanitarian League, which órganisation is mainly responsible for the arrangements of the 15th World Vegetarian congress to be held in Bombay in 1957. We are fortunate ihdeed in having such a highly efficient organiser as our representative in Bombay and our united thanks are offered as a tribute to Rao Bahadur Mankar.

WE meet now for this 14th World Vegetarian Congress in the leading international city of the world, surely a fit location for the most important and timely Congress ever organised by the I.V.U. We have a progranime dealing with urgent human problems and the vegetarian movement is given this golden opportunity of reaching out to all mankind offering a message of hope, of economic security and lasting peace. It seems strangely significant that only last week in this very hall in which we now meet, the leaders of the movement for World Government were gathered together to discuss their problems and plan their future. We dare .to suggest that the Vegetarian Way of Life has the solution to at least some of these problems and that no plan for the future of mankind can hope to succeed unless it is based on the principle of non-hurtfulness implicit in vegetarianism.

Organising such a Congress as we now attend is no simple or easy task but the hour will always find the man and this historic moment in our history has lifted up a man who, for many decades, has laboured patiently, faithfully and tirelessly in the vegetarian cause. Recognition may come late, but to-day it comes fully and we here and now honour the name and praise the work of Dr. Jean Nussbaum.

Whatever measure of success this Congress achieves is due to him and the 14th World Vegetarian Congress will always be associated with his honourable name.

While concentrating on the present, the I.V.U. is also constantly reaching into the future for the furtherance of our teaching and for the improvement of our methods, and this very Congress, even while it is still in session, has already provided us with many urgently needed lessons and the weaknesses and shortcomings exposed during this week will be strengthened and overcome before the organisation of the next Congress in Europe in 1948. In this way the mistakes of the present can be moulded into the foundation of the success of the future. Heartfelt thanks are offered to all those many individuals and groups who have encouraged and sustained the I.V.U. office in the past years. First we mention those member societies who have provided such friendly advice and loyal assistance; then those many humanitarian groups in many lands who have so generously and willingly co-operated; further thanks are offered our many illustrious Vice-Presidents for their wise counsellings; then thanks again for the loyalty and experienced wisdom of the International Executive Committee; and finally we mention the free-flowing inspiration and generosity of our gracious President, Mrs. Gasque.

It is my privilege, to be at the pulsating heart of this great world movement and to see how the vegetarian influence and teaching are spreading. At the same time it is my painful burden to see how very little we are achieving compared with the unprecedented opportunities that modern world conditions and mankind’s spiritual awakening are offering to our hands. Past generations of vegetarian devotees laboured in faith for just such momentous times as now confront us and it is our bounden duty to honour our responsibility to these bygone pioneers.

There are clear signs that mankind is seeking a worthier way of life, we hear our lowlier brethren of the animal kingdom crying out for an end to man’s cruel exploitation and the earth itself pleads mutely for wiser husbandry. Vegetarianism holds the key to this New Age, to this era of peaceful brotherhood and prosperous sufficiency. Our courage, our vision and our industry must accept this challenge so that the generations to come thay be the kingdom of heaven on earth.

Therefore I beg you to provide us with the workers, the resources and the facilities that will launch us confidently and resolutely on our future programme and make it possible for us to fulfil the destiny of our vegetarian movement which is to be the greatest humanitarian organisation of all time.

(Ed. - Owing to pressure of business this Report was not presented at the Paris Congress).


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