- CHIANG MAI, Thailand (AP) - Vegetarians from around the worldpledged Sunday
to convert millions of meat-eaters by the end of thecentury and launched
an Asian Vegetarian Union.
- The Bangkok-based Asian group seeks to
foster thestill-fledgling vegetarian movements in many Asian countries
andcounter a trend among the continent's youth to ape Westerncarnivorous
- More than 400 participants from 30 countries
at the 33rd WorldVegetarian Congress concluding Sunday called on vegetarian
groupsall over the world to invite people to give up meat for the newmillennium.
- A mass pledge-taking ceremony is planned
at midnight, Dec. 31.
- The congress set a goal of converting
at least 5 percent of thepopulation in areas where vegetarian societies
- "Apart from being a matter of compassion,
it is in humankind'sinterest to adopt a vegetarian diet if we are to avoid
starvation,disease, pollution and ecological damage on a vast scale,''
saidone congress official, Nitin Mehta.
- Delegates to the meeting of the 110-year-old
InternationalVegetarian Union included doctors, nutrition experts, Indianreligious
gurus, Western stock brokers and animal-rights activists.
- Discussions ranged from the latest studies
on ways to treat AIDSwith herbs and a plant-based diet to how the meat
industrycontinues to deplete water supplies and convert forest areas intograzing
- "We still live in a non-vegetarian
world. In a way, vegetariansare aliens, like Martians,'' said Maxwell G.
Lee, the union'sdeputy president, a vegetarian since the age of 12.
- Lee and others agreed that vegetarianism
has grown rapidly inNorth America and Europe, with most converts giving
up meat forhealth rather than ethical or environmental reasons.
- But affluence and the copying of mainstream
Western ways haveincreased meat consumption in Asia, especially among the
young.Delegates from China, India and Japan, where a long tradition ofvegetarianism
exists, said ways have to be found to counter thetrend.
- The Asian Vegetarian Union selected an
ad hoc committee to drawup a constitution and organize the first congress
in two years'time. The next congress of the International Vegetarian Union
isscheduled for 2000 in Toronto, Canada.