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History of Vegetarian Societies in Asia-Pacific

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The obvious irony in considering the history of organised vegetarianism in this region is that there have always been millions of Buddhists practising varying degrees and types of fleshless diet. But, inevitably, the vegetarian societies began in Australia and New Zealand, where the vegetarians were a tiny minority, copying the European model. The idea of secular organisations is relatively recent in East and SE Asia.

1882 - The earliest record we have is from the Dietetic Reformer and Vegetarian Messenger (Manchester, England), August 1882, p181:
CHRISTCHURCH, N.Z. - Before leaving Christchurch I had the satisfaction of founding in that colony an association entitled the Canterbury Dietetic Reform Association, established 16th January, 1882, and of which my son is secretary. The number of members is small as yet; but this young offshoot may, I hope, become the stalwart oak, and so rescue multitudes from an untimely grave, for there is much sickness. I think I am within the mark when I say that more than two-thirds of the people are suffering in some degree from ill-health, while the rate of mortality among the children is very heavy. - H.S. [Dietetic Reform was an alternative name for a vegetarian society and was common in England at that time, this one in NZ does not appear to have lasted long as there were no further reports from it].

1886 - Australian Vegetarian Society(article by Edgar Crook with links to more articles)- this one lasted until about 1900 with some local groups in various parts of Australia at the same time.

1889 - China & Vegetarianism - a history by Ting Jen, Indonesia; and 'China and the Mongols' - from the The Vegetarian (London), November 9, 1889


? The Burma Humanitarian League was in existence before WWII, precise dates not known.

1943 - New Zealand Vegetarian Society founded

1947 - Humaneness, an assurance of health & happiness - Geoffrey Hodson, President New Zealand Vegetarian Society
- News from the Burma Humanitarian League and the New Zealand Vegetarian Society
(both above from the Vegetarian World Forum, Winter 1947)

1948 - Australian Vegetarian Society re-founded "It appears to have stemmed from a lecture given in Sydney in April 1948 under the title of 'The Humane Aspect of Vegetarianism', under the auspices of the local branch of the World League for the Protection of Animals. The speaker at that meeting was a bishop of the Liberal Catholic Church, Sten van Krusenstierna. Sten was the former Vice-President of the Malayan Vegetarian Society in Singapore."
- from The Australian Vegetarian Experience by Robert Fraser
- New Zealand Society expanded nationally (scroll down)
- The Slaughter House - Sandra Chase, Vice-President, New Zealand Vegetarian Society, Auckland Branch
- Animal Protection in the East - Rie von Krusenstierna, Hon. Sec. Malayan Vegetarian Society (all above from the Vegetarian World Forum, Spring 1948)
- Letter about the founding of the Australian Society - by Sten van Krusenstierna
- A Vegetarian Housewife in Singapore - by the wife of the above letter writer (both above from the Vegetarian World Forum, Summer 1948)

1953 - Geoffrey Hodson, New Zealand, elected as an Honorary Vice-President of IVU. This was a non-executive advisory role, representing his country. He remained in the role in his death in the early 1980s.

1957 - the first IVU Congress to be held outside of Europe was in several cities of India, leading to the appointment of Jayantilal N. Mankar (India) as IVU Regional Secretary for 'India and the East'. That same year saw the electtion of two further Honorary Vice-Presidents of IVU:
- U San Hla from Burma, General Secretary of the Burma Humanitarian League who contributed an article on Did Lord Buddha Countenance Meat-Eating? which appeared in the Souvenir Book of the 1957 Congress.
cambodia- and the Venerable Dr. Mazakazu Vira Dharmawara Buddhist advisor to the King of Cambodia. He is on the left in the photo, at the 1957 Congress, with Rukmini Devi Arundale from India.
We know nothing more of these two except that they remained in those positions until the mid-1960s.
Further items from the Souvenir Book of the 1957 Congress:
Vegetarians in Japan - an article by a visitor from Austria, with a reference to 'Masakazu Tada is the founder and leader of a small vegetarian school of life'.
hodsonGreetings from New Zealand (scroll down) - by Geoffrey Hodson (rght), President of the New Zealand Vegetarian Society and of the Council of Combined Animal Welfare Organizations of New Zealand; Theosophical Lecturer and writer
Greetings from the Hon'ble U Nu - Prime Minister of Burma

1958
- The Vegetarian World Forum, July 1958, carried a complete list of IVU " Affiliated Societies - and others in association with the I.V.U." These included:
- Australian V.S., Mr. W. H. Reynolds, Box 821 G, G.P.O., Adelaide, South Australia.
- Australian V.S. (Sydney), Mrs. K. Morrison, Suite 21, Paling's Buildings, 2 Ash St., 2nd Floor, Sydney, N.S.W. Branches at - Adelaide: 16, Pirie St. Brisbane: 364, Queen St. Melbourne: c/o, Caris Club, 343 Little Collins St. Perth: Overseas Club, Orient Buildings, William St.
- Australian V.S., Mrs. Shirley Chatfield, 75 Arabella St., Longueville, N.S.W., Australia
- International Buddhist Mission, U Po Ka, Suvana House, Thaton, Burma
- Mandalay V.S., Mr. Kyaw-Hla, Civil Lines, Mandalay, Burma
- Malayan V.S., Mr. Charles Lee, P.O. Box 454, Auckland, C1, N.Z.

1960 - Dr. Masakazu Tada, from Japan was elected an Honorary Vice-President of IVU and remained in that role for at least 25 years, until the mid-1980s.
[from minutes of the IVU General Meeting in Germany] representatives from Australia,. . . Japan, . . .
[from the General Secretary's report] The following societies and organisations are now affiliated to The I.V.U.:
Australian Vegetarian Society
Malayan Vegetarian Society
Mandalay Vegetarian Society
New Zealand Vegetarian Society

1963 - [from minutes of the IVU Business Meeting in Spain] representative . . . Malaya, . . . Greetings were announced from Societies in . . . .Australia . . .
Mr C.D.Harding; Australia, elected as an IVU Honorary Vice President

1965 [from the minutes of the General Meeting of the IVU Congress in England] The Congress greatly appreciated the interesting reports of activities in various Member countries. From: . . .Mr Roger Boswarva (Australia), . . .

1973 - [from reports of the IVU Congress in Sweden] Dr. Masakazu Tada, heading the Japanese delegation, said that Japan was vegetarian for a 1,000 years, but westernisation and industrialisation over the last 50 years has meant a 28 per cent increase in meat-eating, but there was tadaevidence now of a reversion to their former way of life. At a display of national dance and set-dancing, Mrs. Sachiko Tada, wearing the traditional obi sash, performed the delicate ritualistic Cherry blossom dance. The photo right is Dr. Tada at the Congress, using headphones for the translations.
The list of participants at the Congress shows:
Mrs Nadine Mellen as the sole Australian; and a group of 20 from Japan.

1975 - Bruce W. Standish (Melbourne, Australia) appointed as IVU Regional Secretary for Australasia, becoming the first person East of India to join the IVU Council. He was a former Editor (1970-72) of Health and Vision. "This long running journal (1948-72) concentrated on promoting vegetarianism, animal rights, religion, psychology and health (especially alternative therapies)." - Edgar Crook.

1977 [from the General Sectretary's Report] The venue for the 25th World Vegetarian Congress in 1979 has been put forward as . . . Japan by Dr. Tada . . .
Following the death of Jay Mankar just before the Congress he had organised in India, Surendra Mehta and Dr. M. M. Bhamgara (both from India) were appointed as joint Regional Secretaries for India and the East.
IVU Membership records for 1975-77 show subscriptions from::
- Japanese Vegetarian Union
- Vegetarian Society of Australia
- Vegetarian Society of South Australia
- New Zealand Vegetarian Society
- and Mr.G.Karolyi and Dr. Tada made a personal donations.

japanese1979 - [from the IVU Congress in England] Dr.M.Tada (President of the Japanese Vegetarian Union) gave a talk.
Massage demonstration by Dr. H. Ohnishi (photo right), Tatsua Tada, R. Lizuka Society reports were read out at two following sessions of the Congress:
- Japanese Vegetarian Union - Mr. M. Tada
- Australasia & S.Australia Veg.Soc, by Mr Fred Whittle
George Karolyi (South Australia) appointed IVU Regional Secretary for Australasia. He was recorded as being a Professional Engineer.
Fred Whittle (Australia) was elected as an Honorary Vice President

1981 - [from minutes of the International Council] Australasia: Mr Karolyi has issued a newsletter to societies in his region and hopes to hold regional meeting before the 1982 World Congress

1982 - [from the minutes of the General Meeting] Australasia: Mr.George Karolyi reported growing interest in vegetarianism and increasing co-operation with experienced welfare groups. He pointed out the problems experienced due to the large distances between population centres in Australia.
Asia: The main centres of activity are. . . . Japan and Singapore.
m i a khalikMr M. I. Abdul Khalik, from Singapore was elected to the IVU Council as an Executive Vice President. He remained on the Council until 1993 and was elected a Fellow of IVU in 2000. Photo right from the 1996 IVU Congress in the USA:
Reports were presented from the following societies:-
- Vegetarian Society of South Australia - Mrs E.M.Fearnside
- Vegan Society, Australia - Mr Fred Whittle
- Japanese Soto Institute & You-I Club International - read
- New Zealand Vegetarian Society - read

1984 - [from Minutes of the International Council] - Present: . . . Mr. Tada (observer).
The meeting noted with deep regret the passing of . . . Mr Geoffrey Hodson founder of the New Zealand Vegetarian Society. Hon.Fellow of I.V.U.
[from the minutes of the General Meeting] Australasia: The Hon.General Secretary read the report for Mr Karolyi in his absence. He reported that there are now five active vegetarian and vegan societies in Australasia. The growth of the animal rights movement was leading to co-operation between the societies and the animal rights movement. An Australian Vegetarian Congress is planned for 1985.
Asia: In Indonesia a vegetarian society was being developed. Interest in Singapore was very encouraging. The Japanese Society continued to flourish.
Reports were presented from the following societies:-
- South Australia Vegetarian Society - Mrs E.M.Fearnside
- Australian Vegetarian Society - Mr K.Salat
- Vegan Society of New South Wales - Mr.K.Salat
- Vegan Society of Victoria - Mr F.Whittle
- Japan: You I Club International - read
- New Zealand Vegetarian Society - read

1985 - 1st Australasian Regional Congress, Sydney, Australia

1986 - 2nd Australasian Regional Congress, Adelaide, Australia [from the General Meeting minutes] Australasia: Mr Fred Whittle gave a report in the absence of Mr George Karolyi. He reported on the growth in activity and the holding of a regional congress and brought greetings from his region.
Fred Whittle (Australia) was appointed as Regional Secretary for Australasia
Jashu Shah (India) was appointed as Region Secretary for India and the East.

1987 - a 3rd Australasian Regional Congress was planned for Melbourne, but it is not known whether it took place.

1988 - photo below from Robert Fraser of the Vegetarian Society of Western Australia: "Gina and I pretending to work on our magazine 'Western Vegetarian' in 1988. Photo taken by/for local community newspaper. Taken in pre-computer days, showing our latest proud possession, a second-hand IBM electric typewriter (real cutting-edge technology!)"
R-and-G-in-community-newspa

1990 - [from minutes of the IVU General Meeting in Israel] Reports were presented by or on behalf of the regional secretaries of . . . Australia, . . . Reports of Member Societies were received from . . . .Australia,

VUA-in-Adelaide-16-July-1991993 - Mark Berriman appointed Regional Secretary for Australasia
Japan Vegetarian Society founded
- right: a meeting of Vegetarian Union of Australasia in a restaurant, Adelaide, South Australia - 6 July 1993. Mark Berriman is standing at back right, Robert and Gina Fraser are front left and Mrs Emma (Mick) Fearnside is front centre.

1994 - [from the General Meeting minutes] Australasia - Mr Mark Berriman reported a very active year with increasing co-operation between societies. The magazine "New Vegetarian" was enjoying success and was supported by most of the Australian vegetarian societies. The sales were increasing and 5,500 were currently being sold. They were producing a number of leaflets and promoting the use of the VSUK sprouting seed emblem on products marketed in Australia. They had held a national meeting of vegetarian society representatives and there had been keenness to work together and looked forward to a successful congress.
Subscriptions paid to IVU between 1991-94 from:
- Australian Vegetarian Society
- Earthcare Hong Kong
- Japanese Vegetarian Society
- New Zealand Veg.Soc.
- Office of the World Peace Envoy Thailand (Assoc)
- Veg Bangkok
- Vegan Soc.New South Wales
- Veg.Soc.South Australia
- Veg.Soc.Western Australia
below: Maxwell Lee, on the left, and Robert Fraser, centre, and others at a Vegetarian Society of Western Australia seminar in 1994.
VSWA-Seminar-1994

1995 - Vegetarian Centre of Thailand Founded

1996 - the 32nd IVU World Vegetarian Congress was planned for Sydney, Australia, but was cancelled in 1995 and moved to the USA.
- Comparing Nutrition and Health of Japanese High School Students: SDA Vegetarians and Non-vegetarians - by Mitsuru Kakimoto, Japan, at the Congress in the USA
mitsuruMitsuru Kakimoto, Japan, elected to the IVU Council photo right
Pornthep Srinarula
, Thailand, elected to the IVU Council
[from the IVU Newsletter]
Fred Whittle - We regret to announce the death of Fred Whittle, founder of the Vegan Society of Australia and former Hon. Secretary of the Australian Vegetarian Society, at the age of 93 years on 20th September, 1995 in Melbourne, Australia. A long standing supporter of IVU, he was for some time an Hon.Vice President of IVU.
A Thai Welcome - A report on the 1999 World Vegetarian Congress venue, IVU News

1997 - Subscriptions paid to IVU:
Vegetarian Society of West Australia
The Vegetarian Society of South Australia
New Zealand Vegetarian Society
Japanese Vegetarian Society
Malaysian Vegetarian Society
Alive (Japan)

1998
Indonesia Vegetarian Society founded
Silver Dove Network, Chiang Mai, Thailand founded
Vegetarianism and Vegetarians in Japan - by Mitsuru Kakimoto, Japan, IVU News
Impressions from the Land of the Rising Sun
- Francisco Martin, Spain, IVU News
Thailand Revisited - Another Amazing Experience - Francsco Martin, Spain, IVU News
Elephants - do they have a chance to survive?
- Katharina Bless, Thailand, EVU News
Reports from Malaysia and Japan - IVU News

1999
- 9th International Vegan Festival, Victoria, Australia
- 33rd IVU World Vegetarian Congress, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Asian Vegetarian Union founded
Vegetarian Society (Singapore)
founded

Asia-Pacific in the 21st Century