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First International Meeting on Vegetarianism and Animal Rights in Spain
IVU News 2-97

photoFor four days in June the Europark Hotel in Tossa de Mar was taken over by vegetarians, vegans and animal rights activists from all parts of Spain (including the Balearic Islands) and Portugal, as well as from other parts of Europe and the United States. The animal protection society APAP (Asociación Protectora de Animales) and the IVU brought individuals and groups together to fight against cruelty to animals and to promote a healthier lifestyle based on respect for all living beings.

Superb vegan food was provided by the same hotel that catered for the 7th International Vegan Festival in 1993 and the cost was once again kept very low indeed for an event of this kind. A boat trip around the coast was also laid on at no extra charge by courtesy of the mayor, who presided at the inaugural dinner and helped to attract a lot of favourable media coverage. Thanks also to the mayor, bullfighting is banned in this picturesque resort on the Costa Brava, where a sanctuary for abandoned animals is run by Chari Cruz of APAP who recently opened a shop selling T-shirts and other items with an animal rights message.

photoThere were talks by a number of people from various countries. Francisco Martin (Spain), IVU Hon.General Secretary and President of the Spanish Vegan Society AVE (Asociación Vegana Española), emphasised the advantages of a healthy diet for the sake of animals, humans and the environment. Jordi Bigas from the editorial team of Integral, a widely read alternative health publication, spoke of the recent adoption of new legislative measures in Cataluña which will benefit animals and humans.

Vicki Moore (UK) described how she had been seriously injured by a bull during a village fiesta and was lucky to escape with her life, but this has not stopped her organisation FAACE from continuing the Fight Against Animal Cruelty in Europe. Stéphanie Dartinet spoke of the work of WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals) and invited suggestions as to how it could be more effective in supporting those at the sharp end, that is, the local groups. Other topics included the European Vegetarian Congress, a new vision of green consumerism from the Pharus group, the benefits of raw food, the legal status of animals in Spain and the campaign for the recognition of animals as sentient beings, the latter being introduced by Professor Priscilla Cohn (Ferrater-Mora) who had come all the way from Pennsylvania.

The conference attracted considerable media coverage and brought together activists from all over the Iberian peninsula to campaign for the reform of the penal code to make cruelty to animals a punishable offence and to implement the necessary strategies and actions to end bullfighting and other atrocities. A number of participants also agreed to form a regional network under the auspices of the Spanish Vegan Society to spread the dual message of veganism and animal rights throughout Spain and Portugal, from new branches in Alcoy (Alicante), Barcelona, Mallorca, Valladolid and Oporto.

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