International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
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From the Secretary
IVU News 2-97

photo: Francisco Martin Since I took over as General Secretary last year, the duties and responsibilities that come with this privileged opportunity to serve the cause of vegetarianism have been overwhelming but very satisfying.

Making new contacts with vegetarians in Thailand and in India on an exploratory visit to co-ordinate arrangements for the 33rd World Vegetarian Congress in Thailand, and as a participant in the Regional Vegetarian Congress, in Mahabaleshwar, India, were enriching and motivating experiences, contributing to a broader vision of the strengths, weaknesses and future needs of the international vegetarian movement.

The undeniable increase in popularity and acceptance of the vegetarian lifestyle continues to be hampered by the deliberate distortion of our clear and powerful message by huge vested interests which stand to lose a great deal in financial terms when consumers throughout the world wake up to the malicious lies presented to them as facts and begin to see the products that they have been taught to call foods as disgusting, inedible and unhealthy items with a high monetary, health and environmental price tag attached.

Another important factor which can limit the potentially strong growth of vegetarianism in the near future is apathy and lack of motivation on the part of those better equipped to convey the clear and forceful message needed to counteract the increasing public deception and political machinations of professional lobbyists and canny politicians.

Better co-ordination of world vegetarian activities is also essential to identify the areas requiring greater attention and support, such as Latin America and Africa, where new vegetarian groups are starting to emerge, sometimes in a very hostile social environment where meat consumption is still, incredibly, regarded as a highly popular and unquestionable necessity.

The ambivalent attitudes and at times downright hostility encountered by vegetarian activists throughout the world when traditional cultural or religious views are shaken by the introduction of an entirely different ethical and social concept, such as vegetarianism, can be very frustrating and discouraging. However, considering the enormity of the task and the important changes being advocated, one cannot but feel positively hopeful about the results achieved thus far.

The need to put health, ethics and sound environmental practices back on the list of human priorities requires a radical change in mental and dietary terms, calling for the exclusion of offending foods and ideas, which only an open and non-violent mind, full of enthusiasm and determination, can achieve.

Each and every one of us must therefore play our part in bringing these important and necessary changes to fruition as rapidly as possible. I therefore look foward to your continuing support in the busy and exciting times which lie ahead for IVU and also to seeing as many of you as possible at the 6th European Vegetarian Congress in Bussolengo, Italy, in September.

- Francisco Martín

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