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IVU Online News February 2009
To receive your own copy of this Enewsletter in plain text by email (better for printing) go to:

Table of Contents

  1. Interview with IVU International Council Member in Botswana
  2. History Buffs, Get Ready for a Feast
  3. ‘Plant Based Nutrition’ Now Available Online in Spanish and English
  4. IVU Congress on TV - Now on Our Website
  5. Welcome to New IVU Business Supporters
  6. Upcoming Events
  7. Is Donating to Veg Organisations a Worthwhile Donation?
  8. Another Example of the Food or Feed Dilemma
  9. Vegan Inauguration Party
  10. Welcome to Organisations That Have Recently Registered with IVU
  11. Other Online Sources of Veg News
  12. Please Write for IVU Online News

Interview with IVU International Council Member in Botswana

Professor P K Jain is a member of the IVU International Council, an IVU Fellow and an IVU Patron:

Hi, P.K. What made you decide to become a vegetarian? When did that happen? How old were you at the time?

I was born in a Jain, religious, vegetarian family, and was brought up as a vegetarian. In fact, up to the age of about 20 years I had not even seen what meat, cooked or raw, looked like. It was only after I left home for further studies that I was exposed to the look of meat. Just to add about the Jain dietary practices, I would like to draw the attention of readers to an article on the subject available on the IVU website which has also been translated in to a number of languages:

What made you decide to become active in promoting vegetarianism?

When I came to Africa about 25 years ago, I discovered that the concept of vegetarianism was totally alien here. Not only could one not find reasonable vegetarian food in hotels and restaurants, but these establishments were casual about serving it, for example using the same spoon to dish out vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. It is for this reason, and of course because of my emotional attachment to vegetarianism that I together with a group of likeminded people formed the Vegetarian Society of Botswana in 1995.

What are the special challenges and opportunities in promoting vegetarianism in your country?

Most of Botswana is covered by desert, with very little annual rainfall and no major surface water sources (rivers, streams, lakes) except the Okovango Delta in the north, and the ground water is either very deep or not fit for consumption. As a result, there is very limited agricultural activity, and people have mostly relied on meat consumption from hunting and cattle farming. Meat eating is deeply ingrained in Botswana culture, tradition, and lifestyle. It is, therefore, extremely difficult to convince an average person to pursue vegetarian options.

What is it that sustains your desire to be active?

Less than 1% of the population in Botswana is fully or partially vegetarian, either because of their faith, such as Seventh Day Adventists and the Rastafarians, or for health reasons. This presents ample opportunity to create awareness about vegetarianism in the country. But as stated earlier, people in Botswana are traditionally cattle farmers, and meat eating is part of their culture and tradition to which they are emotionally attached. The cattle population of the country is about twice the human population, and Botswana is a major exporter of beef products to EU. It is thus an important source of the national revenue. This makes the propagation of vegetarianism a daunting task. There are risks of being misunderstood as being un-nationalistic for speaking against an important sector of the economy.

In addition to your activism in support of vegetarianism, you are also a university professor of Physics. Do you see any connection between the two?

Although, vegetarianism and related matters are not directly linked to Physics, diet and nutrition are major academic fields in which large amount of research has gone on, and still continues. Vegetarianism, as we know, has its origin in religion, compassion towards animals, and respect for all life. It is only through academic research in the past half a century or so we have learnt about the health and medical benefits of vegetarian diet, environmental ills of the meat industry etc. Amongst the “converted” vegetarians today, the majority are because of this newfound knowledge, rather than because of religion. Thus, academics has played a major role in propagating vegetarianism in the modern information based society.

What is an obstacle that you face in remaining active in promoting vegetarianism? How do you overcome this obstacle?

Most of Africa has had little to no exposure to vegetarianism. Most African tribes had been hunters, gatherers, herders and warriors, with limited opportunity for agriculture. When tribal Africa came in contact with the outside world, it was with Arab traders, the slave traders, the missionaries, and the colonists, none of whom carried the vegetarian message. In many cases, the outsiders were plain savages who killed human and beast indiscriminately. In the last fifty years or so, as Africa has been emerging from the bondage of colonization, it has been exposed to alternate lifestyles. Fifty years is a rather short period to overcome the barriers of traditions. This poses the biggest hurdle to vegetarianism. As to how I overcome it, all I can say is that persistent effort, no matter how small, may some day bear fruit.

Do you have any fundraising tips for vegetarian organisations?

In Botswana, we have raised funds mostly through organizing vegetarian dinners. One way of doing this is to negotiate with a reputable hotel/restaurant to provide a respectable western vegetarian menu, and sell tickets above the cost price. This we have organized for up to 200 guests. This is a costly option, and it is getting more difficult as the costs keep going up. Another way is to involve volunteers to cook food, and organize at some private venue. For this, one can sell cheaper tickets, if one is able to find people to donate most of the food and services.

In addition, if you publish a newsletter or a magazine, it can be made self sustaining through selling advertisement spaces, or by outright business sponsorship, and by negotiating discounted rates for printing or photocopying.

You have been active on the international vegetarian scene for many years. What changes have you seen?

In the past decade or so, the information explosion, easy access to information through internet, and globalization have significantly changed all aspects of life. Vegetarianism is no exception. In the West, vegetarian and vegan awareness has grown phenomenally, and there are many more young and old vegetarians today than two decades ago. In Africa, many vegetarian societies and related groups have become active, networking has grown, and all are trying to do something within the limitations of their financial and human resources. In contrast, young generations from the traditionally vegetarian societies, such as the Hindus and the Jains, are beginning to embrace non-vegetarian food habits under peer pressure, or due to easy access to meaty food from fast food retail chains at almost every street corner and their aggressive advertising.

History Buffs, Get Ready for a Feast
IVU historian, John Davis, has put together an online library of old (with a couple more recent works) veg-related books (many from the 19th century and earlier) - complete copies, mostly courtesy of the scanning being done by Google and Microsoft.

We now have a collection of 186 old books and journals in the IVU Online Libary - these are mostly complete original books in PDF format (some of them quite large so do check the file size).

All the books are old and out of copyright - the earliest being printed in 1700, but most are from the 19th century. A few are just plain text files, and some have been converted to web pages, especially the extracts from old magazines.

If you are interest in vegetarian history, or just want to see what the old books looked like, then check out the huge range at: - all in English so far but we plan to add books in other languages soon.

The idea of putting all out of copyright books online started with Project Gutenberg some years back, now part of wikipedia - see - but that is done by volunteers with the results only in plain text files. Reading a book of several hundred pages in one long text file is not something most people find very easy.

Over the last couple of years Google ( and Microsoft have started throwing their considerable finances into this, as free public service, and are now scanning vast numbers of books from university and public libraries - and they are scanning them in the original book format, so you can have the actual book on screen. Using the 'two-up' page option allows for turning the pages in a traditional way that some people prefer to the plain text versions.

‘Plant Based Nutrition’ Now Available Online in Spanish and English
'Plant Based Nutrition' is a booklet by Dr Stephen Walsh of the Vegan Society. The English version is available at - and the booklet has recently been translated into Spanish, and is available at:

Stephen’s book, ‘Plant Based Nutrition and Health,’ can be ordered at

IVU Congress on TV - Now on Our Website

At the IVU Centenary Congress in Dresden, summer 2008, Supreme Master TV conducted interviews which were combined with other footage to create two programs, broadcast worldwide by satellite on November 9 and 16, 2008.

Both programs – each about 12-13 minutes - are now available from the IVU website at - see 'Congress on TV' near the top.

Welcome to New IVU Business Supporters

Vegetarian Women Online Magazine - - Independent online magazine promoting vegetarianism and sustainability.

Phoenix Philms (A Delicate Balance-The Truth) - -  A Delicate Balance documents the latest discoveries of some of the most prominent experts on nutrition in the world.

To view a listing of international upcoming events online, visit

1. MOGO (Most Good) Workshop – 7 Feb, 2009, Portland, Oregon, USA

The MOGO (Most Good, Least Harm) principle is based on a very simple
premise: when we do the most good and the least harm in our daily choices, acts of citizenship, community, work, and volunteerism, we create a life of inner peace while contributing to the building of a peaceful, sustainable world for all. Zoe Weil, president and co-founder of the Institute for Humane Education (IHE) will present this MOGO Workshop. Part retreat, part educational workshop, MOGO is recommended for anyone who wishes to learn how to make their lives a manifestation of their greatest vision for the world. Regular rate is $110 and student rate is $75; lunch is included along with a copy of Zoe's book, Most Good, Least Harm. Register early as space is limited.
When: Sat, 7 Feb, 8:30am-5pm
Where: Cascadia Commons Cohousing Community Common House, 4377 SW 94th Ave., Portland, Oregon

2. Green Lifestyle Film Festival - March 13-15, 2009, Los Angeles, California, USA - Live Organic Vegan Experiences

3. Meatout – 20 Mar, 2009

Join caring people around the world on or around March 20th to publicize the benefits of a plant-based diet. This year marks the 25th observance of Meatout, the world's largest and oldest annual grassroots diet education campaign. Activists in all 50 U.S. states and two dozen other countries will get active.

4. EVU (European Vegetarian Union) Talks - 30 Apr – 3 May, 2009 - Croatia

5. NAVS (North American Vegetarian Society) Summerfest – 8-12 Jul, 2009 - Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA

6. FARM Animal Rights Conference – 16-20 Jul, 2009 - Los Angeles

7. 12th International Vegan Festival - PUC University, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 22-25 Jul, 2009

The world longs for peace, respect and dignity. The Environment is being mercilessly destroyed and gives back its answer. Natural resources are being exhausted by the unsustainable exploitation imposed by a wasteful mode of life. We lose species diversity without even knowing it. Diseases, obesity, suffering and hunger abound.
After so many years of ideals of 'peace and love', 'gender and ethnic equality', ‘freedom of speech' and 'respect for nature' we still crawl on, delegating to others the task of bringing about lasting, real changes. By changing our life style we can play a vital role in the construction of the better world we all want, where the white dove of peace can rest her tired feet.

8. Asian Vegetarian Congress – 6-10 Nov, 2009

The 4th Asian Vegetarian Congress, organised by the Asian Vegetarian Union and the Indonesia Vegetarian Society, will be held on Batam Island, Indonesia, near Singapore from 6-10 Nov. People from everyone in the world are warmly welcome to enjoy delicious Indonesian vegetarian food.
Among those who have agreed to speak are 2007 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, R.K. Pachauri, well-known vegetarian crusader Maneka Gandhi, and IVU Regional Coordinators for India and for Asia-Pacific, Shankar Narayan and Susianto Tseng.

9. China Xiamen International Vegetarian Food Fair, 12-15 Nov, 2009

Where: Xiamen International Conference & Exhibition Center, China
Who: Xiamen Municipal Government, Xiamen General Chamber of Commerce, Xiamen International Chamber of Commerce, Xiamen Jinhongxin Exhibition Co., Ltd.
With: Vegetarian materials, vegetarian food, organic food, natural food, healthy food, vegetarian snacks: fruits, vegetarian books, vegetarian restaurants, and other vegetarian products - Plus: International Vegetarian Forum, a million signatures for vegetarianism, food tasting, cooking competition.

10. IVU World Vegetarian Congress – 1-7 Oct, 2010

The 39th IVU World Vegetarian Congress will be held in Indonesia in two places, Jakarta, the capital (and the economic centre of the country) and Bali, the country’s most famous tourist destination. The Congress starts in Jakarta and then moves to Bali. An outline of the programme is available.

Is Donating to Veg Organisations a Worthwhile Donation?
A leader of an IVU member society sent in this edited excerpt from a discussion among the society’s board members about fundraising. How does your organisation approach this issue?

Board Member 1: To be honest, I’ve never been very optimistic about our fund raising efforts. I’ve never been able to feel who our target donours are. Putting myself in the shoes of potential donors:

  1. If I’m concerned about the environment, I would give to Greenpeace or some other environmental organization.
  2. If I am an animal lover, I would give to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or a similar organization.
  3. If I care about world hunger, I would give to Oxfam or another development organization.
  4. If my main concern is health, I would give to a cancer society or a heart foundation.
  5. If religion is my main reason for being vegetarian, I would give to my temple, church, etc., not to a vegetarian organization.

Board Member 2: On one hand, I agree that a vegetarian organisation isn’t necessarily the best choice for someone’s donation if they have a single focus, such as the environment; however, we could argue that because veg helps in so many different ways, a donation to VSS is actually one’s best donation investment, because vegetarianism addresses the environment, protection of our fellow animals, world hunger and health.

One way to make our appeal for donations more focused is to highlight a particular project we are doing or plan to do. An example of a success focused donation appeal was conducted by IVU when it asked for funds to support a West Africa Vegetarian Congress.

Another Example of the Food or Feed Dilemma
This article from a poultry industry publication discusses how chicken flesh peddlers in Africa want to divert food from people and use it as feed for non-human animals whom the peddlers are raising for slaughter.

"Manufacturers of poultry feed have been in talks with the government to
allow import of raw materials and to release part of the strategic grain
reserve for animal feeds."

Vegan Inauguration Party
Among all the parties celebrating the inauguration of a new U.S. president was a vegan party held 20 January by Vegetarian Society of Washington, D.C.:

Here’s a brief report: wonderful people, great food, honest sharing of thoughts/observations/hopes, and an inauguration/presidential trivia game (with prizes). about 25-30 people attended, including two guests from Seattle and one from England.

Welcome to Organisations That Have Recently Registered with IVU

Pousada Jardim doi Eden -

The Castle Steps Hotel - Prague (vegan) - (also in French, German, Spanish and Italian)

Vegan Soaps, Organic Skin Care & More -


Re Rustica - proudly growing in Squaw Valley, CA - Vegetarian Scene in East Tennessee -
Veggies Become U LLC -

Other Online Sources of Veg News
There are many other places to go online for general veg-related news, rather than news mostly about one country or one organisation. Here are some.

1. Dawn Watch
2. European Vegetarian Union
3. Farmed Animal Net
4. Vegan Outreach
5. VegE-News
6. doesn't have a newsletter, but they post stories daily at

Please Write for IVU Online News 

Dear Veg Activist

Please use this newsletter as a way to share your knowledge, ideas and experiences with fellow veg activists.

Thx. -–george jacobs –

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