|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU ONLINE NEWS - December 2004
WE'RE ALL NUTS ABOUT BRAZIL!
The 36th IVU World Vegetarian Congress has come and gone - Brazil is a wonderful country and few of us wanted to come home again. The final tally was about 500 in residence, representing a record breaking number of 32 different countries. The most frequently heard comment was: "this is the best food ever" (100% vegan of course), and many said that the location was the best ever too - the Costao do Santinho was in an idylic spot on Santa Catarina Island where the tree-covered mountains meet the sea. It has glorious beaches, an amazing variety of wildlife along the woodland trails and facilities of a very high standard in the resort itself. Add to that a tantalising choice of up to five lectures and two cookery demos at every session (in a mixture of English, Portuguese and Spanish), plus dance and fashion shows in the evenings, and there really was something for everyone.
But this Congress may turn out to have been of greater sigficance, and we need to go back a bit to put it in perspective. The previous 35 IVU Congresses have all been inspiring for those fortunate enough to attend them, but just a few have achieved a wider role - 1908, 1929, 1957 and 1975 are the most obvious of those. That last one, 1975, was held at the University of Orono, in Maine, USA, and was the first IVU Congress ever to be held in North America. About 1,500 visitors were in residence, still a record outside of India, and recent commentators have seen it as the launch pad for organised vegetarianism in the region. There were veg groups in North America before 1975 of course, the first being as far back as 1850, but they were generally rather small and isolated, along with a large number of even more isolated individuals. After Orono hundreds of veg societies sprang up, along with a dozens of conferences, festivals and publications - many of them founded by people who first met at that extraordinary Congress.
It doesn't always turn out that way of course - there were high hopes that the 1999 Congress, held in Chiang Mai, Thailand, would have a similar effect for the South East Asian region as that was the first there too, but there were never more than a few ripples from it. This isn't the place to analyse why it didn't reach its full potential but it does remind us that we have much to learn about such things.
The 2004 Congress already shows signs of having a much wider impact than just one week in Florianopolis. Until the last few years Latin America was rather a 'dead' region for IVU and this was the first time that anything on this scale had been attempted there. It was always going to be a gamble, but the IVU International Council provided as much support as it could, both practical and financial. The Council then, crucially, stood back and allowed the Brazilians space to run their own show - the result is that all the vegetarian leaders in Latin America will have gained enormous strength and confidence from the stunning achievement that was Florianopolis 2004.
The Argentine Vegetarian Society led the way by holding their first, and highly successful, National Congress just before the IVU event, now they have the support of the Vegetarian Union of Latin America (UVL), launched during the Brazil Congress and which is already planning another meeting in Bolivia next year. The new Union was announced during the IVU General Meeting by one of the Spanish speaking delegates, demonstrating the solidarity between the Spanish and Portuguese speaking veg communities.
The dazzling cruelty-free veg fashion shows, held during the Congress, attracted huge audiences from outside the Congress itself and are now set to become an annual event in their own right. But the biggest result of this Congress has to be the wonderful number of young Brazilians in attendance, a great inspiration for the future and the Brazil Vegetarian Society (only founded last year) is now well into planning it's own National Congress in Sao Paulo next year.
We'll have to wait and see if Florianopolis achieves the full 'Orono effect' for Latin America, but the indications are very promising (see the new IVU Members below). It is just possible that, in years to come, those of us privileged to be there will be able to look back at the time we witnessed one of those rare moments that changed the course of vegetarian history.
Even if you couldn't be there in person you can still share a virtual experience of the Congress - simply go to http://www.ivu.org/congress/2004 where you'll find:
- texts and photos of lectures
Lots more to come in the next few weeks.
- if so we still need more of all the above, lecture texts, recipes, photos of everything.
And, if you attended any previous IVU World Vegetarian Congress we still need more from those too.
- or do you have old copies of your Society's magazines/newsletters with reports on IVU Congresses? If so we would like copies of those too - in any language.
This is all part of our archive of all Congresses since 1908 - the details of the Congresses in the early 1990s (pre mass-internet days) are particularly thin and many of you reading this must have attended some of them.
So do help by sending your old texts and photos to the IVU Webmaster, John Davis - firstname.lastname@example.org - if you can't scan them please send potocopies, just ask for the postal address.
For everything we have so far see: http://www.ivu.org/history
Unión de Vegetarianos del Uruguay - www.vegetarianosuy.org
Sociedad Vegetariana de México
Homo Vegetus (Chile) - www.grumete.tk
Sociedad Naturista de Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Bangladesh Vegetarian Society
Vegetarian Moscow - www.unclepasha.com/vegetarian_russia.htm
Centre for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Ukraine) - www.cetalife.h10.ru
Followers of Kabir (IL, USA)
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