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from EVU News Issues 3+4, 1995

Historic Vegetarian Year in Switzerland

The year that soon comes to an end, has seen three important events in Switzerland from the "vegetarian" point of view:
  1. Birchers Müesli is 100 years old.
  2. The vegetarian label has appeared for the first time on food.
  3. The recently elected Minister of Traffic and Energy, Moritz Leuenberger, is vegetarian.
1. On the 20th of October the Swiss remembered the 100 years of "Bircher Müesli", which Dr. Maximilian Otto Bircher (1867-1939), the incomparable medical doctor and philanthropist from Zurich, has made become very popular.

By the way, "Müesli" is the only word from the Swiss dialect that is known worldwide.

When Dr. Bircher reccomended to ill as well as to healthy people his pulp of fresh fruits and cereals, he was far ahead of his time: meat and cooked food had the highest ranking a century ago, and therefore he was fought by nearly all his doctor colleagues.

That Bircher was right, came out when vitamines where discovered soon after the first world war, and he was fully rehabilitated.

Today, you can find Birchers "Müesli" everywhere, in ordinary restaurants, in fast-food restaurants, family kitchens, on journeys and on sports grounds. It is a symbol for health, fitness, pureness and naturalness, although there is not much left today of what Bircher had meant a hundred years ago.

Bircher had found out empirically, that the raw, uncooked food was the best to heal and cure even the most chronic diseases. With raw food, he was convinced, you could get energy and sunlight in its original form, and that is why it has such a strong healing effect.

Meat was the last carrier of energy, he argued, because the animals have used all the intaken energies already for their own living.

In 1959 the first industrial produced "Müesli" appeared on the Swiss market and cleared the way for more than 100 different products that hardly deserve the name of "Bircher Müesli" anymore.

While Bircher had emphasised fresh fruits and fresh cereals, in the industrial "Müesli" we find treated cereal flakes, a lot of sugar and even chocolate.

Bircher invented also a certain grater, especially created to grate apples, a very important ingredient, into his "Müesli". The grater, contrary to his popular dish, has not been changed at all up to today.

Here once again Dr. Birchers original recipe (for one person):

  • a spoonful of porridge oats (Haferflocken) soaked in a bit of water for 12 hours
  • juice of half a lemon
  • a spoonful of condensed milk
  • 200 gr. of apples, grated into the meal
  • a spoonful of nuts
The "Müesli" has to be prepared just before the meal and can be eaten at any time of the day.

2. "Migros" the biggest Swiss supermarket chain has introduced some weeks ago 7 vegetarian products as meat substitutes. (It seems to be a copy of the English "Quorn".)

On the packing there is for the first time in Switzerland the international vegetarian label. Renato Pichler, president of the Swiss Vegetarian Society had been smart enough to have the label registered and protected for his society. (This is advisable to do in any country: go and have the label registered and protected.) Now "Migros" has to deal with him, and he can, for example, oblige them to use only eggs from free hens, or to make the product vegan, if they want to use the label.

3. Journalists will be very cautious when writing about vegetarians in future: The new minister Moritz Leuenberger, recently elected (one out of seven) has been vegetarian for a couple of years. The young lawyer Leuenberger is very popular. He comes from Zurich, the only large city in Switzerland, and is said to be modern and intellectual.

With 1/7 of the Swiss government being vegetarian we have become definitely socially acceptable!

Sigrid De Leo

International Demonstration for Animal Rights in Zurich

7th of October 1995 [image: demo]

Several hundreds of participants from Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany and Italy had followed the invitation of European Union for the prevention of cruelty to animals, to come together in Zurich and to demonstrate for animal rights, vegetarian lifestyle and against vivisection. The famous shopping street "Bahnhofstrasse" of Zurich was completely crowded, while demonstrators and pedestrians mixed and marched together to the "Münsterhof" where several lectures and stalls informed the public about the above mentioned subjects.

Vegan Summer Camp for Children in Switzerland

Exactly the same week when the Americans had their Vegan Festival at San Diego, the Swiss Vegetarian Society (SVV) had organized a Vegan Summer Camp for children in Switzerland. 24 kids aged from 7 to 13 had come to stay in the beautiful Pestalozzi Children Village in Trogen Appenzell.

A girl from Slovenia (without a word of German) and a boy from Germany had joined the Swiss congregation. Only 8 children were strict vegetarian the others eat sometimes a little fish or meat. Or they are at home vegetarians but at school eat what is offered.

The theme of the camp was sports, games and hiking.

Except for one day the weather was nice and warm, so we had a lot of swimming, jogging, roller-skating, tennis, basketball, badminton and several other sports. Competitions and races of all kind, with a lot of precious prizes to win, stimulated the activities. The kids had a great time.

A few children were allergic to dairy products, so in order to avoid complications we had from the start decided to have only vegan meals for all prepared. The first two days we were often asked for sweets, icecreams, cola drinks and so on. We explained to them that there was not going to be any of that stuff and there were no more demands for them. Instead there was a lot of fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, cereals and almonds. There was no possibility to go shopping by themselves and we had asked the parents to avoid giving them anything like that.

Two 8 year old twin boys who had been a bit agressive in the first days became calm, peaceful and very attached to me and my son, who helped me run the camp. On the day of departure I learned from their grandfather that the boys had trouble because of their agressive behaviour at school and nursery, where thay stayed during the daytime. There was no mother and their father worked.

This experience confirmed the observations I made during the last 26 years of teaching and working with children of all ages: there is a strong correlation between nutrition and behaviour, especially in children. Not only meat and dairy products are to blame but also all kinds of sweets and processed food.

The last fullmoon evening after supper we had a camp-fire in a nearby wood. While we were trying to make the fire burn well a boy came to me and asked: "Where are the sausages?" I felt my heart sink down, but I explained another time that sausages where made from the nice pigs and cows we had been seeing and caressing on the beautiful hills in the surroundings. He understood.

We all had a great time together and more than one child even cried when we had to part. Everybody promised to keep in touch and to come back next year.

Sigrid De Leo.

How to win people's mind

An idea to copy: Exposition

It was Dr. Alex Herschaft, speaking at the World Vegetarian Congress 1995 in The Haag about "How to win peoples mind", who had made me think about a way, how to pass on the vegetarian message to the public. He had emphasised that we should bother more about the young generation, because young people more easily give up eating traditions.

The idea of an exibition became more and more clear on my mind.

At home I came to know, that a classmate of my daughter, a 19 year old student, had died of cancer. He had been suffering a lot before he died. As a grandson of a butcher he had always eaten a lot of meat and had not paid any attention to what he had been eating or drinking. No doctor had ever spoken to him or his family about a wholesome diet; radiations and chemical medicine where the only means that had been taken.

I went to the headmaster of the highschool (400 students, aged 15-20) and asked him, whether he would agree to have an exposition "Vegetarianism and Health" in the entrance hall of the school. He consented under the condition, that we would not make any publicity for certain products like for "tofu" etc.

Together with the Swiss Vegetarian Assosiation (SVV) we covered nine posterwalls (180 cm x 180 cm) on both sides with posters. The different subjects were: general health, environment, animal welfare, religion and ethics, politics, economy, names of famous vegetarians, quotations of famous vegetarians and prejudices. Besides the written posters, we hung up several fotoposters showing fresh fruit and vegetables, pictures of hens, pigs and cows (held under dreadful conditions in factory farms). A poster on which little pigs were castrated, obviously without anaesthetic, and a big poster with a nice, clean, intelligent looking pig saying: "My flesh belongs to me, if you want to eat meat, bite into your own arse".

Some examples of what we have published:

1. General health : the results of the longtime studies on vegetarians, a statistics of the growing consumption of meat compared to the growing number of diseases. Anatomic composition of carnivors and frutarians. Statements and quotations of professors of medicine, "Physical and mental fitness". "Nutrition and allergy", "Iron" and "Proteins".

2. Environment: the consequences of factory farming on soil, water, climate, third world, ecc.

3. Animal welfare : "Humane slaughtering", "Could we not bring up animals without suffering", etc.

4. Religion and Ethics : quotations from the Bible, "Bible and vegetarianism", "Christian religion" and a lot of general quotations from priests ecc.

5. Politics and Economy : comparison of subsidies for meat and plant production.

6. Famous vegetarians: quotations from Aristoteles, Basil the Great, Bircher-Benner, M.O. Bruker, Diderot, T.A. Edison, R.W. Emerson, M. Gandhi, Sven Hedin, Hieronymus, Horaz, A. v. Humboldt, A. Huxley, F. Rousseau, A. Schopenhauer, M. Schwantje, A. Schweitzer, G.B. Show, I.B.Singer, R.Steiner, B. v. Suttner, H.D. Thoreau, L. Tolstoi and F. Voltaire.

7. Prejudices: "They are only animals", "Man has always eaten meat", "First comes man", "Man is biologically a meat-eater", "I alone cannot change anything", "Animals eat one another too", ecc.

Newspapers and the local radio reported about the exposition. We estimate that the message about the exibition reached nearly two hundred thousand people. For two weeks there were always crowds of people reading or discussing near the posterwalls. Not a lesson during the two weeks, that the students did not discuss with their teachers about the vegetarian way of life.

I was aproached by mothers who asked me what to cook, because their son or daughter would not eat meat any more, after having seen the exposition.

When we showed the exibition at the 5th European Vegetarian Congress in Bratislava, even the "insiders" where astonished about all the information and I heard words of approval.

We are translating all the documentation in English, so if anybody has got an opportunity to organize an exibition in a school, university, youth- or shopping-center and so on, we would gladly pass on our documentation. Just write or give us a call and any help will be offered.

Sigrid De Leo
Schweizerische Vereinigung für Vegetarismus, Postfach 9, CH-9466 Sennwald.