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Malta: a Small Island with a Big Heart
Vegetarian Society of Malta
IVU News 2-97

logoWhen the Vegetarian Society of Malta was founded in October 1992, there were very few vegetarians in Malta and 99 per cent. of the island's 330,000 inhabitants had probably never even heard the word. In just five years, that situation has been radically altered by a small group of people dedicated to getting the concept of vegetarianism widely known throughout Malta. The Vegetarian Society itself now has some 300 members and there has been such a huge increase in interest encouraged also by the tourist trade that the majority of restaurants now include a vegetarian menu.

From the beginning, the society placed maximum emphasis on the need to educate the public and therefore to publish as much information as possible in a widely accessible form. Besides a monthly newsletter for members, the society publishes a free magazine three or four times a year in the Maltese language. This has been extremely successful in reaching the estimated 50 per cent. of the population who do not read English, and as Malta is a small place the vegetarian message has reached every corner of the island. This in turn has brought many new members and participants in the societys activities, which include social gatherings, meals, public discussions and other events.

logoA regular feature in the society's calendar has been the "Reverence for Life" programme in October. Activities include a stall at the City Gate in Valletta, video shows, vegetarian functions, and so on. On the last occasion, a peaceful joint march through the city with environmental and animal rights groups, including Ananda Marga and Island Sanctuary accompanied by positive slogans, music and singing was such an enjoyable and successful occasion that it is likely to become a regular event. Like most societies, all the society's work is done by volunteers and the first five years have been quite a struggle. However, the results have been fantastic. Articles in local newspapers and participation in radio and television programmes have brought such positive results that there is now at least one vegetarian in virtually every place of work in Malta.

Particularly encouraging has been the number of teachers who have joined the society, as they are well placed to educate and inform the younger generation. The society is often contacted by schools seeking information and the response from the wonderfully open-minded young people of Malta has far exceeded expectations. Now that the ball has been set rolling, they will ensure that it does not stop.

Members of the society send greetings to vegetarians around the world, and especially to those who dedicate time and effort to achieving the beautiful ideal of a vegetarian world. Human beings must come to understand that they should eat only those foods which will have a beneficial effect on body, mind and spirit, and to appreciate that all forms of life humans, animals, birds, fish, plants have a right to be treated with respect. Those basic principles, together with a firm determination to succeed, will ultimately bring about the revolution of consciousness so urgently needed by planet earth and all its inhabitants.

[Based on information supplied by Katherine and George Azzopardi of the Vegetarian Society of Malta.]

Contributions to IVU News are welcomed. Material published does not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or the policy of the International Vegetarian Union.