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Vegetarian Society of Sri Lanka formally relaunched in Colombo
IVU News 2-97

photo Originally founded in 1982 by the outstanding philosopher and humanitarian Dr.E.W.Adikaram, the Sri Lanka Vegetarian Society had become inactive in the capital although the vision of its founder was kept alive elsewhere in the country, particularly by the branch in Matara thanks to its dynamic secretary Mr.D.C.Pieris. On June 1st, however, the society was relaunched at a meeting in Colombo attended by more than 100 individuals and representatives of vegetarian and animal welfare interests, including the well known Humanitarian Society of Kandy which has long been affiliated to IVU and is a powerful force in Sri Lanka on behalf of the animals.

Among other societies represented were Gal Gava Mituro (Friends of the Cart Bull) and Sattva Mitra (Friends of Animals). Those who attended were drawn from all walks of life and from the two main ethnic/religious communities, Sinhala Buddhist and Hindu Tamil, as well as probably some Christians. Due to the wide cross-section of people, it was necessary to conduct the meeting in Sinhala, Tamil and English, which most of those present understood.

photo At the meeting the following statement of aims was adopted: "We are appalled by the cruelty and inhumanity that are fast taking root in our society. We value life in all its forms and realise the tremendous societal, ethical and ecological harm that has resulted from the barbarities that we have adopted in our new ways of living. We wish to do all that is in our power to turn this tide. We feel that vegetarianism is a practical response to our deep-seated religious and ecological impulses, which have been cruelly thwarted by the nature of the society in which we are compelled by circumstances to live our lives. Furthermore, vegetarianism is a way of life that satisfies many of our ethical, spiritual, aesthetic and environmental values. Our main aim is to spread these essential values, most particularly among our children and young people, through the promotion of vegetarianism and the dissemination of information about issues related to health, animal rights, the cruelties of killing and its effects on our own inner character.

We also wish to promote solidarity among vegetarians and create facilities for them which are severely lacking in our society. We want vegetarians to stand up against the "freak" image that non-vegetarians harbour of us and often try to foist upon us. We are not only for animal rights but also most emphatically for vegetarians' rights."

In furtherance of those aims, the following practical possibilities are to be explored: photo

  1. Publication of literature on medical issues etc. related to vegetarianism, demonstrating that a balanced vegetarian diet is good for health.
  2. Similar publications on ethical, moral and ecological issues, indicating the deep harmony that exists between vegetarianism and the religious values upheld by the vast majority of Sri Lankans (even though these values are not often observed by them).
  3. Determining the most frequently asked questions about vegetarianism and preparing appropriate answers to them.
  4. Preparation of video and other material to show the barbaric nature of the rearing and killing of animals for human consumption.
  5. Other awareness-raising activities such as vegetarian cookery demonstrations (indicating ways of preparing healthy vegetarian food), exhibitions of paintings and posters, essay and song competitions, lectures to students at Sunday school and other schools, issue of vegetarian mementoes and stickers.
  6. Collection of modern data on vegetarianism and health food from world-wide sources using facilities such as the Internet.
  7. Working towards an all-island federation of vegetarian and humanitarian societies.
  8. Establishing links with the fast spreading world-wide vegetarian movement spearheaded by the International Vegetarian Union.
  9. Formation of a register of outstanding Sri Lankan vegetarians in the various professions, with a view to mobilising their talents for the common cause.
  10. Formation of action committees for the above purposes (e.g. publicity, publications, international dealings, data-gathering etc.)
  11. Encouraging the creation of a chain of vegetarian restaurants, at least in the major cities of the island.
  12. Incorporating the Sri Lanka Vegetarian Society as a government-approved charitable organisation.
It was decided to have eight action committees for:
  1. Publicity and awareness-raising activities.
  2. Educational activities targeted mainly at school children.
  3. Data-gathering and publications.
  4. Co-ordination with other organisations, national and international.
  5. Creation of facilities for vegetarians.
  6. Formation of branch societies, youth clubs, etc.
  7. Fund-raising.
  8. Social activities within the society.
The aim is to get the entire membership involved in planning activities and implementing them.

A resolution was adopted to issue an appeal to the people of Sri Lanka to consider the glaring incompatibility between the country's religious traditions and meat-eating. The appeal is to be advertised in those newspapers with the largest circulation in the island. It was also decided to revive the society's newsletter under its original name of Mituru Lova (Friendly World). Letters expressing interest in joining the society and enthusiasm for its purposes have continued unabated since the announcement of the relaunch.

For further information, contact: SLVS, c/o 136 High Level Road, Maharagama, Sri Lanka, tel./fax 94-1-851739

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