A History of Vegetarianism in Latin America

The earliest records found so far date from 1891 when there appears to have been a Vegetarian Society in Valparaiso, Chile. By 1921 there was a Brazilian Vegetarian Society.

We currently have nothing else until 1958 when Dastur F. Bode was appointed as 'Regional Secretary for The Americas'. In 1960 he was succeeded by Dr Jesse Mercer Gehman – though in reality they seem to have dealt with just North America. This arrangement continued until 1975.

In 1971 Lic. German Alberti Vasquez attended the IVU World Vegetarian Congress in the Netherlands, and decided to organise a Regional Congress in his home country of Venezuela.

German AlbertiFirst Vegetarian Congress in Latin America – Caracas, Venezuela, December 1972. The links are to photocopies of articles from 'Ahimsa' the journal of the American Vegan Society, as reported by their President H. Jay Dinshah:

 

The picture, from page 4, is the only known photo of German (pronounced 'Herman') – the organiser of the Congress and later IVU Regional Secretary for Latin America.

Those reports indicate plans for a 2nd Congress in Colombia in 1974. We have no information about that at present, though it does appear to have taken place.

It seems to have taken until 1975 for IVU to catch up with what was happening in the Americas. That year saw the first ever World Vegetarian Congress in the region, held in Maine, USA. The records show that the intention was to re-appoint Dr. Jesse Mercer Gehman as Secretary for the Americas, but this was changed to separate Regional Secretaries for North and Latin America. 'Lic G. Alberti V. (Venezuela)' was proposed for the Latin American post, but it was decided to appoint Dr. Becerra Limas from Mexico.

He was re-appointed at the next Congress in 1977, and his report from there stated: "In the Latin American Region the 3rd Congress was held at Santiago, Chile from 5th-11th April 1976 with countries represented officially and unofficially. The 4th Congress is being hosted by Mexico from 24th Sept. – 1st October 1978." Again we have no details of these events.

The agenda for the 1979 Congress shows the position of Regional Secretary for Latin America as 'vacant'. During the General Meeting 'Mr German A.Vasquez' was appointed. It was noted that the Regional Secretaries were now responsible for collecting annual subscriptions from IVU members in their regions.

1982 – "Latin America – Dr German Alberti informed participants that interest in vegetarianism was growing in Latin America. A successful Congress was held in Brasilia in 1980. (minutes of the 1982 IVU General Meeting, in 'Regional Secretaries Reports' – we currently have no further details of that Congress)

1988 – an IVU World Vegetarian Congress was planned for Guadalahara, Mexico, but was eventually cancelled for 'adminstrative reasons'. Dr German Alberti appears to have stepped down as Regional Secretary around this time and was not replaced for the next nine years.

1997 – Luis Escala, from Ecuador, was appointed as Regional Secretary for Latin America. He was very active in his own society in Ecuador but was unable to make much progress across the region. Luis died Marly Wincklersuddenly and tragically at the age of 38 in 2000 and the IVU Council appointed Marly Winckler, from Brazil, as his successor.

By this time Marly had created the email discussion list 'veg-latina' which was proving to be a focal point for vegetarians in the region, as well as another discussion group, and a website, for Brazil.

2003 saw the foundation of the Sociedade Vegetariana Brasileira – Brazil's first national Vegetarian Society with Marly as President.

Marly's efforts eventually culmintated in the enormously successful 36th IVU World Vegetarian Congress, held in Florianopolis,. Brazil, in November 2004. The photo right is Marly at the Congress, in a Kimono presented to her by a Japanese delegate.

At this Congress it was agreed to create a regional vegetarian organisation for Latin America, and further regional events are now being planned.

There is also a list of Latin American Societies which have been members of IVU at various times since 1975. Some of these have been short lived and little is currently known about them.

If you have any more information about anything on this page please contact John Davis – webmaster@ivu.org

 

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