38th IVU World Vegetarian Congress - Welcome-Speech At The Opening Ceremony

Published: 17.08.2008
Updated: 17.08.2008

38th IVU World Vegetarian Congress - 100 Years of Food Revolution

A joint event of the International Vegetarian Union (IVU), and the Vegetarier-Bund Deutschlands e.V. (VEBU)

Welcome-Speech  At The Opening Ceremony


It is an honour for me to welcome all of you to the World Vegetarian Congress and to thank you for coming.

The fact that so many of you are here in Dresden shows how important meetings for vegetarians are because they offer rare and much needed opportunities to talk, to exchange ideas, to work together and to make plans for the future.

Not even 200 years ago the word ‘vegetarian’ was unknown. And only one hundred years ago the first World Vegetarian Congress was organised, also here in Dresden.

Since then vegetarians have come a long way!

It has become common knowledge that for culinary enjoyment the killing of animals is not justified.

Also all other misgivings against vegetarianism have imploded during the past years.

Today hardly anyone will uphold the allegation that people fall ill without regular meat consumption. After all, even the world-wide largest association of nutrition experts, the American Dietetic Association, writes in a 2003 position paper about the many health advantages the vegetarian diet brings.

Also the allegations that vegetarians are pale weaklings has been disqualified since the German vegan medical doctor Alexander Dargatz won a body-building world champion title in 2005.

Not only did old reservations against the vegetarian lifestyle prove untenable, also new and very worrying facts about the consequences of meat production emerged which even the political world and the food industry cannot ignore any longer.

In 2006 the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) published a study which identified animal husbandry as one of the main culprits of climate change, creating even more environmental havoc than the entire world-wide traffic put together.

In light of these and many other dramatic consequences of meat production it is not surprising that more and more people are apologizing for their meat consumption.

I have been leading the Swiss Union for Vegetarianism for almost 15 years, which allowed me to witness a really remarkable shift in perception: In the beginning people smiled about us when they saw us in our stalls on public places. Today the situation has changed radically! The typical reaction of the passers-by is the excuse: "I eat only very little meat". Hard core meat eaters are even relieved when we do not address them.

The public attitude to our way of life is much more positive today but how do vegetarians see themselves? Do they demonstrate all the self confidence they are entitled to? Or are they still relieved when they succeed in remaining undercover-vegetarians who can hide the fact that they do not eat animals?

Unfortunately this timid behaviour of many vegetarians can still be found today. They are afraid to rock the boat and just want to be left in peace.

Considering the far-reaching and extremely dangerous consequences of meat consumption, this defensive attitude should now become a thing of the past! The international vegetarian community must not hide any longer!

The time has come to take a strong and visible public stand and to promote our way of life as best we can. Who else but us vegetarians are able to carry the beneficial vegetarian philosophy into a world threatened by ecological disaster, public health challenges and confronted by the increasing brutality of industrial animal farming? 

I am convinced that this congress will motivate us all and strengthen our resolve to spread our extremely important message, which has been formulated by Albert Einstein like this: «Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.»

I wish you all an interesting, motivating and uplifting week.

Thank you.

International Vegetarian Union
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  1. Albert Einstein
  2. Einstein
  3. IVU
  4. International Vegetarian Union
  5. Vegan
  6. Vegetarianism
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