International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

IVU News

Reports from the President & Hon.General Secretary
from IVU Newsletter, October 1995

From the President's Desk


I enjoyed participating in two events this summer, the European Regional Congress in Bratislava, the Slovak Republic from 23rd-28th July, and the International Vegan Festival, in San Diego, USA, from 6th-13th August.

Both the events were well attended and it was particularly pleasing to see so many young people attending these conferences with enthusiasm and a desire to learn and help spread the vegetarian message. The recent popularity of vegetarian food in the West supports the growing appreciation in all parts of the world of the moral and health benefits of vegetarianism.

I had the privilege of addressing both events in my capacity as President of IVU. I very much appreciate the holding of congresses in different parts of the world since they focus attention on the importance of the vegetarian message and create awareness where previously none might have existed. I emphasised two major points in my speeches, namely:

1. The importance of nutrition based on plant sources which promotes health in mind and body;

2. The need to co-exist with all creatures in the world for both moral and ethical reasons.

Our emphasis on non-violence and the absence of cruelty benefits the modern world, not only by creating a world in which kindness means that all creatures may live in peace and harmony but also put an end to many of the environmental problems which beset Earth today.

Humans and the environment are interdependent. Endless attempts to satisfy human desires through excessive material consumption and misuse of nature's resources have placed Mother Earth in dire need of healing which can no longer be ignored. Galloping, so called, progress in science and technology plunders natural treasures and threatens the very existence of the human race on Earth. The heritage built up over many thousands of years becomes more dear the greater the threats to it. Our ancestors adopted a more realistic approach to the relationship between mankind and the animal kingdom. They did not destroy the environment they relied on for their ability to survive and we should learn from the past.

My appeal to colleagues is to work in harmony for the good of the animal kingdom and mankind, with full respect for the variety of approach we offer. Peace on Earth and the human future rely on us all making every effort to convince the world that the vegetarian way is better. Let us all continue to ring the bell of vegetarianism which will lead to a happy, healthy world.

Surendra M.Mehta

Hon.General Secretary's Report

Recently it has been suggested that IVU should do more for its member societies and that they do not get enough from their IVU membership. You might find such an idea appealing or you might find it strange. I must confess that I find it a strange idea that anyone should join such an organisation as IVU for what they get from it.

IVU's role is to promote vegetarianism worldwide. Without a paid staff; and with complete reliance on volunteers, this is a very difficult task. Normally people have their paid employment and that, together with any family commitments, would normally be their main responsibility. Any spare time is what might be devoted to good causes and IVU is certainly a good cause. Until such time as IVU is able to employ staff; the potential for development of its work will remain very limited. It amounts to the amount of time that volunteers, especially the Hon.General Secretary, are able to devote to the work.

The major aim of IVU is to promote vegetarianism worldwide by promoting knowledge of vegetarianism as a means of advancing the moral, spiritual, mental, physical and economic well-being of mankind. To this end IVU aims to do the following:

1. Promote both world and regional congresses to publicise and develop interest in the vegetanan cause and to give opportunities for vegetarians to meet together.

2. Encourage the formation of vegetarian organisations and co-peration between them.

3. Promote research into all aspects of vegetarianism and encourage the holding of conferences on vegetarianism.

4. Publish and encourage the publication of material on all aspects of vegetarianism.

5. Represent the vegetarian cause on appropriate international bodies.

6. Act as a contact organisation for enquiries about all aspects of vegetarianism from any part of the world.

Surely, these are objectives we would all wish to see achieved and they are ones that national and local societies are unlikely to be able to achieve internationally.

In fact, as an international organization, IVU now receives invitations to events organised by certain United Nations agencies and only international organisations are invited. This is obviously a function that national societies cannot perform.

The major problem IVU faces in the future is that of being so well developed as to be able to seize the opportunities internationally as they become available in order to promote the vegetarian message. Returning to the opening remarks, it is quite obvious that IVU's major role is not to give to established vegetarian societies unless they are in urgent need. Its role is to help weak societies and new ones and to use its funds to publicise and promote the vegetarian message internationally.

It is a sad fact but true, there are more countries in the world without vegetarian societies than there are those with them. As interest in vegetarianism grows in Western countries, so does interest in meat eating rise in Developing Countries. Poor people see meat consumption as a sign of affluence and Western living. Unfortunately, many such people aspire to Western levels of consumption and meat is part of this. Our task is to encourage them to realise that there is a price to pay if they follow the Western example.

The price is increased levels of cruelty to animals, poorer health in the long term for those who turn to meat consumption and a rise in environmental degradation and problems.

If one wishes to think in terms of what do we get out of IVU membership, then one needs to think about the international work IVU does and is doing to promote the cause. The question needs to be asked, if there were no IVU, then who would undertake the international activity currently done by IVU. What we get from IVU is an organisation which undertakes international work that no other organisation sees as its role.

Surely, what we should be asking is what can we do for IVU and how can we help ensure it can perform its tasks effectively.

Where does this leave us? It leaves us as it has so often in the past with me as Hon. General Secretary reminding everyone of the need to give full support to IVU. Volunteers are good but a paid staff would be better and ensure IVU could develop and perform its role much more effectively.

Sometimes it is said that money makes the world go round. It certainly enables us to perform better. Without the funds, IVU's future is limited and the potential not very good.

Next year I shall retire as Hon.General Secretary after some 17 years in the post. When I took it on I did not realise how absorbing it would become and how demanding. Several years ago I told the International Council that it should start thinking about a successor since I planned to give up. This is not because I despair of IVU achieving its goals, but because, after so long in the post, I feel it is time for someone new to take over. I like to think there are some achievements to mark my period of office and I hope my successor will be able to take IVU forward to greater things.

I hope you, the members, will make this possible by giving the full support that is necessary for this to happen. If we all put into IVU as much as we can, then we will get something out of it. If nothing more, we will get the satisfaction of knowing that our efforts and support have enabled IVU to achieve some, if not all, of its goals. Surely, this is something which would give each and every one of us great satisfaction and make us feel we have really got something out of our support for IVU?

Maxwell G.Lee

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.