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Marly Winckler


 Marly Winckler is a sociologist and translator. She is the translator of more than 60 books including Animal Liberation by Peter Singer and Becoming Vegetarian by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis. Vegetarian since 1983 she created “Sitio Vegetariano”– the first webpage on vegetarianism in Portuguese–and the first discussion lists on vegetarianism in Portuguese and Spanish: veg-brasil and veg-latina (now ivu-latina). Latin American and Caribbean Coordinator of the International Vegetarian Union from 2000 to 2013. President and founder of the Brazilian Vegetarian Society from 2003 to 2015, now Honorary President. IVU chair 2011-2014 / 2018 - She lives in Florianopolis, the beautiful Island which hosted the 36th IVU World Vegetarian Congress in 2004, organized by her.
Marly, at the World Vegetarian Congress in Brazil 2004 - in a kimono presented by a Japanese Delegate
Chair of the International Council 2011-2014 / 2018-
IVU Regional Secretary for Latin America, 2000-2011

Congress Organiser, Florianopolis, Brazil 2004


Would Gandhi be a Vegan Today?

by Marly Winckler – Chair of the International Vegetarian Union (IVU)

In 1888, at the age of 19, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi left for London to study law. Shortly before, during high school, he befriended a Muslim a few years older, who, unlike Gandhi, was tall and had an athletic build. Gandhi began to eat meat under his influence, with the idea of becoming physically stronger, since he was thin and also a little fearful: he feared thieves, ghosts and snakes. His friend encouraged him to eat meat saying that he would be more courageous. He would have argued that "the vegetarian diet weakened Hindus, while a carnivorous diet gave the British the strength to dominate India." This idea started to hang around Gandhi's head, who in a hidden way started to consume meat.

But Gandhi did not feel good about eating meat. He belonged to a Vaishnava Hindu family, which ate neither meat nor eggs; they were lacto-vegetarian. One day, after eating goat meat, he dreamed that the animal was bleeding inside his stomach which made him awake full of remorse and guilt. But he soon remembered that eating meat would make him strong and he moved on. Whenever he ate these meals with his friend, he did not dine at home, which created some distrust in his mother, who started asking him questions. Gandhi made up different excuses, but that also left him feeling guilty. This whole process took about a year and he had no more than half a dozen meat meals when he stopped altogether.1

Before leaving for England, his mother made him promise not to eat meat. In London, young Mohandas was finding difficult to eat, because in addition to not eating meat and eggs, the type of food he found was very different from what he was used to. He walked a lot to find a place where he could have his meals. On one of these hikes, he came across a vegetarian restaurant on Farringdon Street, the Central Restaurant. The establishment also sold books and magazines and there he bought a copy of A Plea for Vegetarianism, by Henry Salt, whose reading convinced him to become a vegetarian by choice, and not just because of a religious requirement. He soon joined the London Vegetarian Society (LVS), which had recently become independent from the Vegetarian Society, based in Manchester. He served on its executive committee and wrote articles for its magazine, The Vegetarian.

LVS                                                                               London Vegetarian Society
In October 1889, LVS members founded the Federal Vegetarian Union (VFU), with the aim of bringing together vegetarian societies from around the world. Some of them had participated in the first International Vegetarian Congress in the previous month, in Cologne, Germany, and offered to host the next Congress in London, the following year (1890). 

a plea salt                                                                                                                   A Plea for Vegetarianism by Henry Salt

In May 1891, the LVS appointed Gandhi as its delegate for the meeting of the Federal Vegetarian Union in Portsmouth, England. At this meeting, he met Henry Salt, whose book had been so important in his life two years earlier. In June of that year, after graduating, Gandhi returned to India to begin his career as a lawyer. The Saturday before he left England, he organized a farewell dinner for vegetarian friends, where he expressed the hope that a future Congress of the Federal Vegetarian Union would be held in India.

Between 1894 and 1903, Gandhi continued to send articles to The Vegetarian, now from South Africa, to where he had moved. In the African country, he began to put into practice the principles of non-violence and passive resistance, first advocated by Leo Tolstoy (another vegetarian), and which he probably read for the first time when they were published in The Vegetarian in December of 1889. 

At the beginning of the 20th century, the London Vegetarian Federal Union came to an end, but shortly after, in 1908, the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) was founded, with a more global perspective. The new organization was launched at the 1st World Vegetarian Congress in Dresden, Germany. The London Vegetarian Society became a prominent member of the IVU and, in 1926, hosted the 6th World Vegetarian Congress in its former home - Memorial Hall on Farringdon Street. 

congress photo

                                                    IVU foundation - Dresden 1908

In 1931, Gandhi returned to London to talk to the British government about India's independence. Taking advantage of his presence in the country, the Vegetarian Society of London organized a special meeting, where he addressed its members. Beside him was his old friend and mentor, Henry Salt. At the conference given on the occasion (“The moral basis of vegetarianism”, which would give name to the booklet that would be released years later), Gandhi shared some ideas on his principles related to food. Throughout this period, and for another twenty-six years, all IVU World Vegetarian Congresses would continue to be held in Europe. 

gandhi salt                                              Gandhi and Henry Salt at his right in a meeting of the London Vegetarian Society - 20 November 1931

 Gandhi's desire, expressed in 1891, for a Congress to be held in India, did not materialize during his lifetime, cut short by the murdered man in January 1948. However, in the early 1950s, a group of Indians began efforts to achieve this goal - and, finally, in December 1957, they held the 15th World Congress of the IVU, the first outside Europe, in Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta and Madras - an event of great repercussion in the country, with the participation of the main Indian statesmen, including President Rejendra Prasad, Prime Minister Jawaharal Nehru and at least five ministers of state. 

IVU 1957 souvenir
                                                                              Souvenir of 15th IVU World Vegetarian Congress - India - 1957

Gandhi, of course, was remembered at the event. In the words of Rukmini Devi Arundale, chairman of the Congress reception committee and vice president of the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) for 31 years: “If Gandhi were still alive, he would have been 88 – and he would certainly have been the guest of honor at the Congress. "I hope, as a result of this Congress, Government itself will be convinced of the necessity of promoting vegetarian diet at least from the nutritional and economic point of view, if not for humanitarian reasons, though I believe that the Government of a people who call Gandhiji the Father of the Nation should be happy to govern in the light shed by his principles. Two of our greatest leaders, Dr. Annie Besant, who was my own Guru, and Gandhiji, were of the opinion that they would rather not live than kill an animal, bird or fish for food."2
rukmini                                                                          Rukmini Devi - president of the All India Reception Commitee

Mahatma Gandhi adopted many of his values ​​and principles from ancient Indian scriptures, such as the Vedas and the Upanishads. These moral codes - including truth, celibacy, non-violence (ahimsa) and non-possessiveness - neti, neti (not this, not that), as the Vedic method of denying advocates - became the principles most dear to Ghandhi and shaped his activism, politics and philosophy for the rest of his live. Food was also a matter of principle for him and he believed that people should eat in moderation and fast occasionally.

Unlike other vegetarian activists of his day, like Herbert Shelton, Gandhi believed that the motivations and moral consequences of vegetarianism should be emphasized, not their physical benefits. Gandhi said that people who interrupted their vegetarian diets were usually those who became vegetarian for health reasons or because they were suffering from an illness. That is, when health was restored, they returned to the harmful diet. Thus, he concluded that in order to remain vegetarian there must be a moral basis. Still in England, Gandhi began to question milk consumption, believing that it is our moral duty not to live on other animals. He stopped consuming cow's and buffalo's milk, despite consuming goat's milk, which he later called “the tragedy of his life”. The following excerpt, taken from the booklet The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism, a collection of Gandhi's writings on the subject is illustrative of his thinking:

“I have always been in favor of the pure vegetarian diet. But experience has taught me that, to keep us perfectly fit, the vegetarian diet must include milk and dairy products, such as curd, butter, ghee, etc. This is a significant departure from my original idea. I excluded milk from my diet for six years. At that time, I didn't feel anything bad about it. But in 1917, as a result of my own ignorance, I was struck by a severe dysentery. I was reduced to a skeleton, but I stubbornly refused to drink milk or curds. But I couldn't maintain my body and be strong enough to get out of bed. I had vowed not to drink milk. A doctor friend suggested that when making the vow I could have had cow's and buffalo's milk in mind; why should the vote prevent me from drinking goat's milk? My wife supported him and I relented. To tell you the truth, for those who stopped drinking milk, although at the time of making the vow only that of cow and buffalo were on my mind, milk should be taboo. All animal milks have practically the same composition, although the proportion of components varies in each case. So I can say that I kept only the letter, and not the spirit, of the vote. Anyway, the goat's milk was brought in immediately and I drank. It seemed to bring me a new life. I got up quickly and was soon able to get out of bed. Because of these various similar experiences, I was forced to admit the need to add milk to the strict vegetarian diet. But I am convinced that, in the vast vegetable kingdom, there must be some type that, while providing the necessary substances that we derive from milk and meat, is free from its disadvantages, ethical and other”. 

Perhaps Gandhi surrendered here to a "wishful thinking", that is, deep inside, perhaps, he wished to drink milk. 

The mind has its "tricks" to make us believe what may be a wish. The renowned medical nutritionist, dr. Eric Slywitch, specialist in vegetarian diets, comments on this testimony from Gandhi from a nutritional point of view, following a request from us:

“In view of current medical and nutritional knowledge, it is perfectly feasible to maintain a vegetarian diet with the absence of milk and dairy products. The diarrhea condition calls for abstaining from the use of milk, as the enzyme lactase, which digests milk carbohydrate (lactose) has its production decreased by the intestine when there is any inflammatory process, whether infectious or not. Diarrhea and milk are combinations banned in current nutrition. From a nutritional point of view, the two nutrients that we could focus on in Gandhi's diet with the exclusion of dairy products would be calcium and vitamin B12. Neither of these two, when disabled, cause diarrhea. There is no nutritional diagnosis that can be associated with an improvement in the intestinal condition with the resumption of the use of dairy products. In the current medical condition, the investigation and treatment of diarrhea would be different, and it would certainly not be necessary to use milk again.”

As for the ethical aspect, it is worth remembering that in Gandhi's time, animals, especially the cow and the goat, which, in this case, were the animals that produced the milk he consumed, were raised in a very different way than today.

In fact, due to the way in which, for example, cows are currently treated, milk cannot be included in the list of foods that do not imply suffering or damage to a living being - if it ever was able to -, being contrary, therefore, to the principle of ahimsa that Gandhi advocated.

Quite the contrary, cows are perhaps the beings that suffer most throughout their lives in the current breeding and exploitation system, being subjected to cruel treatment: confinement, separation from the calf (who is usually killed shortly after being born as having no economic value), artificial insemination, overload of antibiotics, genetic manipulation, artificial feeding and incessant milking by sucking machines that cause painful inflammation in the breast tissue (mastitis) etc. After a few years, when they could live for a long time, they are taken to the slaughterhouse, often being left days without water and food, not to mention all the stress they are subjected to in transport and rough handling. At the slaughterhouse, cows are stunned with a pistol that fires a retractable plunger that causes serious brain damage and, if they are lucky, loss of consciousness. They are then lifted by one of the hind legs and beheaded while they are still alive, so that blood is expelled from the body. Sometimes cows are still conscious when they are beheaded. 

Ahimsa is the abstention from any kind of violence. It doesn't just mean not killing, but not voluntarily inflicting any damage, suffering or pain on any living being, by words, thoughts or actions. It means the highest degree of harmlessness. Not causing violence or harm to any living being is an integral part of ahimsa. Eating in a way that does not cause violence or harm to any living being is one of the requirements of this central principle of Gandhi's philosophy and life. Strict vegetarian eating, that is, without any animal ingredients, is a fundamental and integral part of a world without violence, healthy, sustainable and that respects all forms of life. This was the world that Mahatma Gandhi sought. 

It is difficult to say with any certainty, but I want to believe that today, with the worsening of the environmental impacts and with the discoveries of science favorable to strict vegetarian diet, and, above all, due to the fact that the animals started to be confined in industrial farms, being bred and slaughtered in appalling conditions, Gandhi would be a strict vegetarian, by conscious choice, a vegan. 


1. M. Mehta, Man & Mahatma, Pustak Mahal, 2013, p. 16.

2. Gandhi and International Vegetarianism, International Vegetarian Union (IVU) website. https://ivu.org/history/ivu/gandhi.html

3. Margaret Puskar-Pasewicz (editor), Cultural Encyclopedia of Vegetarianism, Greenwood, 2010, p. 114.

4. M. K. Gandhi, The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism, Ahmedabad, 1959, p. 2-3. (https://ivu.org/history/gandhi/the_moral_basis_of_vegetarianism.pdf).



The International Vegetarian Union (IVU) in Latin America

The International Vegetarian Union (IVU) was founded in 1908, in Dresden, Germany. Since then, a series of world vegetarian congresses have been held on all continents. In 2008, IVU returned to Dresden for its centenary, with the 38th IVU World Vegetarian Congress. 
ivu dresden 1908IVU Foundation - Dresden 1908 ivu dresden 2008IVU Centenary - Dresden 2008

IVU is divided into eight regions: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Asia-South and India, Asia-West, Middle East, Europe, North America and Latin America and the Caribbean. The Regional Representatives of the IVU are appointed by the International Council, which also elects its Chair.

ivu regions
IVU Regions
vegfest ivuThe aim of the IVU is to promote vegetarianism throughout the world. The affairs of the IVU are governed by the International Council, whose members are elected by email by its more than 120 member organizations.

As of 2012, its most important world event was renamed “IVU World Vegfest”.

In 2019, at the IVU Vegfest in Berlin, the name was changed to IVU World Vegan Festival. Thus, the first event that will carry this name will be the 48th IVU Vegan Festival, in Beijing, China, supposed to be in 2020, but for pandemic reasons postponed to 2021
Vegetarian societies and congresses in Latin America
This report does not intend to exhaust all the societies and events that have always occurred in Latin America, but rather those of which we have news, and some of the most important. We more or less followed the investigation initiated by John Davis, for IVU, consulting mainly the archives of the Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom and added other information to which we had access.

The first record of a vegetarian organization in Latin America is from 1891, which is the Vegetarian Society of Valparaíso, Chile.

In 1909, there are records of a Portuguese-Brazilian vegetarian magazine, O Vegetariano (1009-1935), edited by Amílcar de Sousa, in Porto, Portugal, reporting various activities in Brazil.

In 1958 we have the Naturist Association of Buenos Aires, Argentina and the Sociedade Naturista do Brasil, in Rio de Janeiro.

In 1971, German Alberti Vásquez attended the IVU World Vegetarian Congress in the Netherlands and appears to have been elected to the IVU International Council during that event, although the records are not entirely clear. From this congress German Alberti decided to organize a Regional Congress in his country of origin, Venezuela, which was the pioneering Latin American vegetarian congress in 1972.

From 1972 to 1980, there were five regional vegetarian congresses in Latin America:
1st Latin American Vegetarian Congress, Caracas, Venezuela 1972
2nd Latin American Vegetarian Congress, Bogotá, Colombia, 1974
3rd Latin American Vegetarian Congress, Santiago, Chile 1976
4th Latin American Vegetarian Congress, Mexico, Mexico 1978
5th Latin American Vegetarian Congress, Brasilia, Brazil 1980
german alberti
German Alberti in 1972
1 congresso LA
1st Latin American Congress, 1972

As mentioned, the 1972 Latin American Vegetarian Congress, held in Caracas, Venezuela, was a pioneer: it was the first international vegetarian congress in the Americas. We have very little information on the last four, but there is a report by Jay Dinshah, president-founder of the American Vegan Society of Congress in Venezuela, that he participated. Later, in 1975, Jay would organize one of the most successful IVU Congresses, in Maine, USA.1

This 1st Latin American Vegetarian Congress in itself is an impressive event, given its precociousness and the difficulty of communication of the time. This is probably explained, in part, by the movement that took place a few decades earlier, from vegetarians who moved from Europe, especially Spain, to Latin American countries. In fact, many Spaniards, during the Spanish Civil War, from 1936 to 1939, and in the immediate postwar period, in what is known as Spanish republican exile, were forced to leave their homeland and move to other countries. Many came to Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Chile, Cuba, the Dominican Republic etc. There was a Vegetarian Society in Spain since 1905. On Latin American soil, not only did these vegetarians continue their dietary practice, but they extended it by creating associations, writing books, founding clinics, etc. It is not the purpose of this text to delve into this, but it was a very rich moment of vegetarianism on our continent. There was some communication between these vegetarians from different countries. We have news of this especially in the Southern Cone, through various magazines that were founded and other documents and even reports from people.

Brazil, on the other hand, had strong contact with vegetarians in Portugal, where a Vegetarian Society existed since 1911, founded by the committee that published the O Vegetarian magazine, created in 1909. This magazine later began to circulate in Brazil as well. In 1914, we found in the editorial of O Vegetariano, the information that the magazine is in its fifth year of existence, being a Portuguese-Brazilian organ. To get an idea of the activity of the vegetarian movement in Brazil, we find references in the 1917 edition to at least nine vegetarian societies in Brazil, namely: Sociedade Renascença Naturista (São Paulo); Sociedade Vegetariana "Eliezer Kaminetzky" (Santos); Sociedade Vegetariana da Bahía (Bahia); Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira (Rio de Janeiro); Sociedade Vegetariana Riograndense (Porto Alegre); Sociedade Vegetariana da Paraíba (Paraíba); Sociedade Vegetariana do Ceará (Fortaleza); Centro Naturista Maranhense (Maranhão); Centro Naturista de Recife (Pernambuco).
o vegetariano
O Vegetariano 1917

It is worth mentioning that the naturopathic societies of the time, contrary to some of the ones today, promoted vegetarianism. In fact, this is how the editorial of O Vegetariano reads: “These philanthropic societies aim to promote the health and well-being of humanity, advising food and hygiene in accordance with nature. They claimed meat as food to be:

1. The violation of one of the most important laws of physical health that govern human beings and, therefore, the cause of most of the pain, suffering, disease and social depravity.
2. The transgression of the moral law of love because it involves the daily slaughter of animals and the practice of absolutely unnecessary cruelty”.2

Previously, there was a regional secretary of IVU that covered all the Americas, but in 1975, there was a formal separation between North America and Latin America, which has since had its own Regional Secretaries. Dr. Becerra Lima, from Mexico, was appointed Regional Secretary for Latin America, remaining in the position until 1979. Also prof. M. J. Londono, from Colombia, was elected to the IVU International Council, remaining until 1982. In 1977, Rafael Lezaeta, from Chile, was elected to the IVU Council.

In the 1977 IVU records, the following Latin American members appear:

Society of Naturology of Venezuela; Natural Life Cultures Association of Panama; Vegetarian Association of Naturology of Colombia; Asociación Mexicana Naturista and Asociación de Naturología de Guyana.
In 1979, in addition to the above, two more appeared: Sociedade de Naturopatia do Brasil; Naturist Association of Buenos Aires and Cultores de la Vida Natural Association, Bolivia.
In 1981, eleven vegetarian societies are reported in Latin America, members of the Latin American Vegetarian Federation.
In 1982, Dr. German Alberti was elected IVU Regional Secretary for Latin America.
In 1984, Ms. Nelly Fernandez-French was elected to the IVU Council, where she remained until 1990.
In 1986, Joaquim Him, from Panama, was elected to the IVU Council, where he remained until 1994.3
In 1994, there was a decrease in the participation of Latin America in IVU, since the only IVU member was ASCUVINA (Assoc. Cultores de la Vida Natural), from Panama.
In 1997, Luis Escala, from Ecuador, was appointed Regional Secretary of IVU for Latin America.

sitio veg110In 1998 the discussion lists of vegetarianism veg-latina and veg-brasil are created in addition to the website Sitio Vegetariano (SitioVEG). They were pioneering lists and sites in Portuguese and Spanish for discussing vegetarianism. With this, an important channel of communication was established between vegetarians from all parts, especially in Latin America, speaking Spanish and Portuguese respectively. From then on new organizations, sites and all kinds of initiatives for the propagation of vegetarianism began to emerge. A very important instrument that made all this communication possible was undoubtedly the Internet. And with all this begins a new moment of the vegetarian movement. It is fair to say that there were many vegetarians scattered everywhere, and a desire to share what did so much good to them. So these communication resources found fertile soil in which to flourish.

In 2000, Marly Winckler, from Brazil, was appointed IVU Regional Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, becoming the first woman to hold this position. In this same year the Argentina Vegetarian Union (UVA) was founded.

In 2003, the Brazilian Vegetarian Society (SVB) was created, which would organize, in 2004, the 36th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, in Florianópolis, Brazil
According to John Davis, administrator and historian of IVU: “The new beginning of IVU really came in 2004, with the first IVU Congress in Latin America. The 36th IVU World Vegetarian Congress was a great success, kicking off more vegetarian activities throughout Latin America”4.
ivu 36WVC

The event had 700 subscribers from 35 different countries and 1,300 participants in total. Ten Latin American countries were present, and the Latin American Vegetarian Union – UVLA was founded at this time.

UVLA logoIn 2004, we had also the 1st Argentina Vegetarian Congress, organized by the Argentina Vegetarian Union (UVA), which in 2001 had started a magazine, El Vegetariano, which circulated for ten consecutive years.

In 2005, soon after the IVU Congress in Brazil, the Uruguayan Miguel Facal was elected to the IVU Council. Miguel was present at the Congress in Florianopolis and later also at the Latin American one, in São Paulo. In this same year, the Vegetarian and Vegan Union of Uruguay was founded.

In 2005, the IVU Regional Coordinator for Latin America, Marly visited Montevideo, Uruguay, at the invitation of the Uruguayan Vegetarian Union (UVU) and the Uruguayan Vegetarian and Vegan Union (UVVU), many of whose members later, in 2006, participated of the Latin American Congress in São Paulo and in 2009 of the Vegan Festival in Rio.
uvvu logo 
Unión Vegetariana y Vegana de Uruguay
members uvvu
 Members of UVVU

In December 2005, the IVU coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean visited Argentina for the 2nd National Vegetarian Congress, organized by the Argentina Vegetarian Union (UVA). On this occasion, Marly Winckler met Delio Esteve, an 80-year-old historical vegetarian and her son Claudio Esteve, whose grandfather Juan Esteve Dulin was a famous naturalist.
manu marlywinckler delio
Manuel Martí / Marly Winckler and Delio Esteve
marly winckler congresso argentina
2nd Congreso Nacional Vegetariano of UVA

In 2006, the Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira (SVB) organized the 1st Brazilian Vegetarian Congress and the 1st Latin American Vegetarian Congress, at the Memorial of Latin America, São Paulo.

1 congressoLA 2006
In 2009, Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira (SVB)
organizes the
12th Vegan Festival in Rio de Janeiro.
This event for the first time comes to a
Latin American country.

In 2010, the Vegetarian Union of Paraguay (UVPy) organized the 1st Subregional Seminar "Vegetarianism & Health", in Asunción. The IVU Regional Coordinator for Latin America, The chair of IVU was present, as well as Miguel Facal, IVU Councillor. members uvpy
Members of UVPy

In 2011, Marly Winckler was elected president of IVU.5 She is the third woman and the first Latin American to hold this position. In the same year, Manuel Martí, president-founder of the UVA, is appointed Regional Coordinator of the IVU for Latin America and the Caribbean.

In 2016, the Argentina Vegetarian Union (UVA) organizes the 44th IVU World Vegfest in Buenos Aires. They were 4 days full of activities and efficient dissemination of vegetarianism. People from 17 countries attended this event: Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, United States, Switzerland, Poland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Mexico, France, Austria, Panama, Taiwan and Australia.


In recent years, Latin America's participation in IVU has grown a lot. We now have six Latin Americans on the IVU Board: Alex Fernandes (webmaster), from Brazil, Ignacia Uribe, from Chile, Carlos Naconecy, from Brazil, Cynthia S. Paim, from Brazil, Manuel Martí (Regional Representative for LA), from Argentina and Marly Winckler (chair), from Brazil.

At this time many vegetarian events are being organized by all Latin American countries. The vegetarian / vegan movement is growing exponentially, and the prospects are the best possible.6

In view of the discovery of the existence of the five Latin American Vegetarian Congresses mentioned, we started to count, as of 2006, these events in the numbering of our Latin American Congresses / Vegfests.
1. Full report in:
2. O Vegetariano Magazine, Sociedade Vegetariana Editora, Porto, 1917.
3. In 1994, the author of this article participated in the IVU Congress in The Hague and met Joaquim Him, from Panama.
4. John Davis, Learning from the developing world, IVU, 2010. https://ivu.org/index.php/blogs/john-davis/147-learning-from-the-developing-world
5. John Davis, Latin America leads the Veg World, IVU, 2011. https://ivu.org/index.php/blogs/john-davis/124-latin-america-leads-the-veg-world
6. For a report on the history of Vegetarian Societies in Latin America see: https://ivu.org/lac/history.html Much of the information in this article comes from there, as well as from https://ivu.org /history-legacy-pages.html

46th IVU World Vegfest – Nairobi, Kenya 23-24th November 2018 – Oswal Center

by Marly Winckler - IVU Chair

Another IVU World Vegfest is just over and again the sensation is that always it is worthwhile. This is the 46thIVU World Vegfest (previously Vegetarian Congress) to be held during the 110 years of IVU. The first one was in Dresden, in 1908. In the beginning all were in Europe, then we went to US and India and then around the world, in Asia, Middle East, South America and Australia. Now for the first time IVU came to Africa. So this is a historic Vegfest!

kenya vegfest 2018

The event was mainly organized locally by people from the Indian community – and it is easy to know why, since India has a strong tradition in vegetarianism and many adepts of this diet still today. We can see that in the Indian community more and more people are becoming strict vegetarian (vegan) and the event was – as all IVU events are, since 1996 on – a totally vegan one (the food served, the stalls and the message).

The venue - IVU Vegfest took place in the beautiful Oshwal Center
.The venue - IVU Vegfest took place in the beautiful Oshwal Center


Read more: 46th IVU World Vegfest – Nairobi, Kenya 23-24th November 2018 – Oswal Center

47th IVU World Vegfest Report

ivu meeting

IVU Vegfests come and go and the 2019 edition has just come to the end. Every IVU Vegfest is different and every one is good - with peculiarities unique to the local, the hosting country and hosting group.

The 47th IVU Vegfest fit pretty much the moto chosen by ProVeg, our main host: IVU World Vegfest Goes Vegan Summer Festival Berlin. This was very much the case, as it was more a visit than an integral participation as is often the case. Still, IVU had some participation in
every aspect of the event: some talks in the main tent, an artistic presentation and our IVU Network Tent - which worked well as a space to meet, talk and share experiences. IVU’s high point at this Vegfest was the IVU Leaders and Simpatizers Meeting, held at the ProVeg office.


  pdf >> IVU 2019 年會回顧 - 于柏林的蔬食夏令節 (2.06 MB)



Marly Winckler - IVU Chair

The word yoga (Yoga) comes from the Sanskrit Yuj, which means ‘to join’. According to Hindu philosophy, the human soul, or Jivatma, is a partial facet or expression of the Over-Soul, or Paramatma, the Divine Reality, the source of the manifested Universe. Although in essence the two are the same and indivisible, yet Jivatma has become subjectively separated from Paramatma and is destined, after going through an evolutionary cycle in the manifested Universe, to again unite with Him in consciousness. This state of unification of the two in consciousness as well as the mental process and discipline by means of which this union is reached, are both called Yoga

Patanjali was the great compiler of the ancient tradition of yoga - and did so masterly. The system outlined by Patanjali consists of eight parts, being called Ashtanga Yoga. The system contemplates eight angas or limbs, designed as stages that follow one another in a natural sequence. They are: yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi.

Character Construction

The first two angas of Yoga, yama and niyama are intended to provide a proper moral basis for yoga training. For the purposes of this preface we will only be with Yama, the first aspect.

Yama are vows of self-restraint or abstention and comprise five parts: ahimsa (abstention from violence), satya (abstention from falsehood), asteya(abstention from stealing) brahmacharya (incontinence or sexual abstinence), aparigraha (abstention from covetousness). For the purposes of this article, we will focus only on the first topic of Yamaahimsa.

Ahimsa is the abstention of any type of violence. It does not only mean not killing, but not voluntarily inflicting any harm, suffering or pain on any living being, by words, thoughts, or deeds. It means the highest degree of harmlessness.

Ahimsa is part of the preliminary preparation for the practice of yoga, the basis for the construction of the multi-store building which is yoga. Without this moral basis provided by Yama and Niyama (purity, contentment, austerity, self-study and self-surrender), it is not possible to advance much in integral yoga, being restricted to physical postures (asanas) and breathing (pranayama), and thus not having the indispensable elements for the higher yoga constituted by the more advanced stages: pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. Only the practice of postures already brings benefits, but yoga is much more than that.

The first of Yama's abstention is Ahimsa - or not violence. Not to cause violence or damage to any living being is an integral part of Ahimsa. Feeding yourself in a way that does not cause violence or harm to any living being is one of Ahimsa's requirements. Vegetarianism, not by chance, is indissolubly linked to the practice of yoga and, not by chance, India, the birthplace of yoga, is also a traditionally vegetarian country. This from time immemorial, when the conditions with which the animals were treated and slaughtered did not even come close to the barbarities and cruelties with which this happens today. 

Types of food 

According to the Hindu tradition, the construction of the physical body results from the food and drink we ingest, and of course the quality of its constituent elements depends to a great extent on the quality of this food. Knowledge of the nature of different food species and experience enabled Indian scholars to classify them into different categories.

The most familiar classification is the division into three groups: tamasic, rajasic and sattvic. Tamasic foods are those that stimulate inertia, rajasic, those that produce activity and sattvic, those that produce harmony and rhythm. It is in the latter group that the practitioner of yoga has to base, as much as possible, his or her diet2. Meat is classified in the first group.  

The grains from which new plants will come out and which are full of the most nutritious substances, the fruits, all the products whose next development, during the life cycle, is growth, are rhythmic foods, saturated with life, proper to constitute a body to the body. The same time sensitive and vigorous, more appropriate to the practitioner of yoga3

Impacts of a meat-centered diet

Meat-centered feeding besides imposing enormous suffering on animals also creates strong impacts on the environment. On the other hand, human health benefits a lot from vegetarian eating. A good practitioner of yoga should enjoy good health, for, as Rohit Mehta says, with a sick body and a sick mind it is not possible to advance on the path of yoga. 


Several renowned international organizations such as the American Heart Association (AHA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Kids Health (Nemours Foundation), College of Family and Consumer Sciences University of Georgia) and the American Dietetic Association have a favorable opinion of vegetarianism, the latter claiming that nutrition professionals have a duty to encourage those who express their intention to become vegetarians. 

The vegetarian has a reduced risk of chronic and degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, gallbladder disease and hypertension. The vegetarian has 31% less heart disease, 50% less diabetes, fewer cancers, 88% less than large bowel cancer and 54% less prostate cancer, just to name a few5.


The environmental impact caused by the creation of exorbitant amounts of animals to supply (and stimulate) the demand for meat is colossal. In Brazil alone, around 200 million cattle and about one billion chickens, chickens, pigs, etc. are raised annually.6

According to FAO, livestock farming is among the top three causes of any significant environmental problem, including land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water scarcity and contamination, and loss of biodiversity.  

Beef consumption is the main cause of burning, deforestation, silting of rivers and loss of biodiversity, use and contamination of water, among other environmental problems, such as the generation of exorbitant amounts of animal waste. The consumption of other meats (chicken, pork, fish etc.) and products of animal origin (dairy products and eggs) also generates enormous impacts.



The meat industry is the main responsible for clearing the forests (80% of the destruction of the Amazon is due to livestock and soybean (to turn into animal feed). Cattle breeding is responsible for the deforestation of 93% of the Atlantic Forest, 80% of the Caatinga, 50% of the Cerrado and 18% of the Amazon7.

Global warming

In the report Livestock Long Shadow, the FAO says that emissions from excrement and flatulence, deforestation to open pastures, and the generation of energy spent on livestock management account for 18% of the greenhouse gases emitted annually in the world. According to this report, livestock farming aggravates the greenhouse effect more than the transport sector, responsible for 13% of emissions8

Water use and contamination 

The meat industry accounts for more than half of the water consumed for all purposes. About 15,000 liters of water are needed to generate one kilogram of beef, while only 195 liters are needed to get 1 kilogram of beans, 42 liters to get 1 kilogram of potato, etc.

Each kilogram of meat generated in the confinement system leaves behind 7 to 9 liters of excrement, which cannot be absorbed by the soil. This waste goes directly to streams, wells and groundwater.


Industrial fishing is extremely predatory. The oceans are collapsing rapidly. By 2006, 29% of fish and seafood species had already collapsed. Shrimp yields only 2% of the total amount caught annually, but accounts for 35% of total waste. The "discard" is now valued at 27 million tons per year of fish and other marine organisms considered "of the wrong size or type"9.

Most fish and other marine creatures caught annually are not consumed directly by humans but given as feed to animals. 45 kilograms of wild fish are needed to create one kilogram of salmon raised in captivity10.

Unsustainability and inefficiency

Half of all the good land in the world is destined for pasture. Half of the world's grain harvest is consumed by cattle worldwide. Raising livestock is a very inefficient way of using resources. An average of 7 to 9 kilograms of cereals and grains is required to produce one kilogram of beef. The ratio for pork and chicken is 3.5 and 1.7 kilograms, respectively.

In a world where hunger is a reality, eating meat is ethically unacceptable.  

Social impacts

In addition to the ecological footprint, the social problems generated by the meat industry are also very serious. Most of the slave labor complaints made at the Ministry of Labor in Brazil come from livestock. Another major problem is clandestine slaughter, responsible for approximately 50% of the national market, where child labor is also recurrent.

The working conditions in the slaughterhouses are degrading and generate physical and psychological problems in the workers. Accidents are commonplace. In the fridges, the productive processes are aggressive. Either the heat is excessive, above 40 degrees, reaching 95 degrees at various points, or very cold, below 12, reaching up to 35 negative in the cold chambers. The noise is deafening, and ear protectors reduce the noise level very little.

Humidity is everywhere, coming from the vapors or hoses that are incessantly driven to clean the blood from the floor. The odor is unpleasant, reaching unbearable levels in some sectors. The pace of production is mind-boggling, dictated by the speed of the pulleys with hooks that carry the pieces of the animal on the rails, which is dissected to each section.11

Cruelty to animals

Countless cruelties are committed in the creation of so-called "consumer" animals, that is, to be slaughtered to become food. The suffering inherent in slaughter is not the only thing to consider. Idyllic images of farms where animals live happily and contentedly with their offspring populate our imagination, but agribusiness is making it a thing of the past. The trend today is to raise them in industrial farms, where they live confined and subjected to cruel treatment. Practically one hundred percent of pigs and chickens are reared today in confinement, and cattle and fish walk to it.

The puppies are separated from the mother as soon as they are born and raised in abominable, totally artificial conditions, generating much stress and disease, combated with even more execrable measures: cut of the beak, tail, teeth, and genitalia, all without anesthesia. They only leave this difficult situation for slaughter. There, they are plucked, skinned, scalded, and quartered, most of the time, still alive.

Never in the history of mankind have animals been so disrespected and mistreated as it is now in the 21st century on industrial farms. As Peter Singer puts it, "Animals are treated as machines that convert low-priced forage into high-priced meat, and any innovation will be used if it results in a lower 'conversion rate.'12

More than 70 billion terrestrial animals are killed for food each year in the world.

Eating meat and other animal products is a long-established habit, especially in Western societies. Many yoga practitioners in the West believe they need to eat meat in order to have the strength required in practicing yoga postures. K. Pattabhi Jois, the creator of the yoga style that most demands physical fitness, Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, stated that the vegetarian diet is a requirement for its practice. So did his son, Manju Jois, on a recent visit to Brazil, when I intercepted him about it. Pattabhi Jois was initially reluctant to teach yoga to Westerners because they ate meat. He only opened the door for Western students when he realized that they could become vegetarians even though they were not born vegetarians.13

Humanity calls for peace, but peace will not be possible as long as it associates itself every day with the bloody and cruel acts indissolubly linked to the creation and slaughter of thousands and thousands of helpless beings who, like us, also feel pain and terror.

All the cruelty and other impacts associated with meat and other animal products are not compatible with the first precept of yoga: ahimsa. Strict vegetarian food (vegan) is a fundamental and integral part of a non-violent, healthy, sustainable world that respects all forms of life. It is the diet of the yoga practitioner.


1. Taimni, I.K. The Science of Yoga. The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, p. 13. https://www.theosophy.world/sites/default/files/ebooks/Science_of_Yoga-Taimni.pdf

2. Taimni, I.K. Self-Culture in the light of Ocultism. TPH: Madras, India, 1976, p. 56.   

3. Annie Besant. Introdução ao Ioga, Círculo do Livro, p. 160

4. Rohit Mehta. Yoga a arte da integração. Editora Teosófica, 1995, p. 106

5. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19562864/

6. IBGE, 2010.

7. João Meirelles Filho. Você já comeu a Amazônia hoje? http://goo.gl/twmKK

8. Livestock's long shadow: environmental issues and options, FAO, 2006. http://goo.gl/MQIXE

9. Paul Watson. Consider the Fishes, VegNews, March-April, 2003:27 

10. Impactos sobre o Meio Ambiente do Uso de Animais para Alimentação. SVB, 2007 p. 12. http://goo.gl/gn7Ty

11. Frigorífico deve adequar condições de trabalho. Repórter Brasil. http://goo.gl/G5n6w

12. Singer, Peter. Animal Liberation, Editora Lugano, Porto Alegre, 1990. p. 110.    

13. Sharon Gannon. Yoga and Vegetarianism, p.26.