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Interviews with Vegetarian/Vegan Activists
October 2007

Interview on the IVU Centenary

Below is an interview with John Davis, IVU Manager and Historian, in which John provides a glimpse into IVU’s past (see the IVU’s website for much more history) and future.

1. The 2008 IVU World Vegetarian Congress will be the 100th anniversary of the founding IVU Congress. Tell us a bit, please, about the 1908 Congress.

That's a long story - see my article on 'Why Dresden' at - that has a link to more articles from the Congress itself.

- or better still come to the Congress in Dresden next year where I'll be giving some talks about all this! See

2. What do you think would surprise the 1908 delegates one hundred years on about developments in vegetarianism generally and in IVU?

The biggest surprise would undoubtedly be the way we're using the Internet; even the 1994 delegates would be completely astonished by that. But the delegates from 100 years ago would be surprised to find that vegetarianism is much more generally accepted as 'normal' than it was in their day.

3. Other than the initial 1908 IVU World Vegetarian Congress, what are some other IVU Congresses that stand out?

The 1957 Congress in India was the first to be held outside of Europe, and transformed IVU into a genuinely global organisation. See my article on 'The Fabulous Fifteenth' at for more about how that happened.

1975 saw the first Congress in North America, described by historians as "Arguably ... the most important gathering of vegetarians in the United States in the twentieth century." This one had a huge attendance, about 1500 people were there, and it kick-started most of the organised vegetarianism we have in North America today. For lots more, see:

More recently the 2004 Congress in Florianopolis, Brazil, shows signs of having the same impact in that half of the Americas. See:

4. What do you expect to be a couple highlights of the 2008 Congress?

Basically, the opportunity to meet with an amazing variety of people from all around the world. We never know what will come out of these Congresses, and everyone has different memories of the things most important for them personally. It can be a significant experience for individuals as well as for the global movement.

5. How do you see IVU's next 100 years compared to our first 100?

The priority has to be putting more emphasis into the developing world. The majority of IVU's activities in the 20th century were in Europe and North America, now it's time for the richer countries to do more help those with fewer resources of their own.

We're making a great start on this with the first ever Veg Congress in Africa, which will be in Nigeria, December 8-10 2007. For the latest

- and thank you to all the readers of IVU Online News who responded so generously to our appeal. We look forward to doing a lot more like this in IVU's 2nd century.