The number of people adopting a vegetarian life style is increasing at great speed. The reasons for this development are manifold but are not unexpected in the light of food scandals, dangerous animal diseases and an impressive number of recent scientific publications confirming the benefits of a vegetarian diet.
So the times are truly changing.
Vegetarian organizations everywhere accept this challenge by building stronger communication and information networks and by developing new educational schemes.
In order to support these promising initiatives and to facilitate coordination also at a European level, the European Vegetarian Union organized EVU Talks in Germany from 28 April to 1 May 2006.
EVU members, representatives of animal rights organisations and scientists had accepted the invitation and had traveled to lovely Weidenthal, situated in a charming forest region near Mannheim, where the debate took place under the motto "EVU - The Way Forward".
Some of the EVU's most important priorities are to facilitate cooperation between member organizations and to develop a solid communication net with the media, the scientific and political environment. EVU's Honorary Board Member Professor Marcel Hebbelinck showed feasible ways for success in these endeavors and underlined the importance of further strengthening contacts with the press and officials of the European Union.
For an umbrella organization like EVU, the protection of European consumers also plays an extremely important role. The successful V-label does just that: it helps to quickly and safely pick vegetarian food items from bulging food shelves. EVU President Renato Pichler spoke about the latest V-label developments and explained ongoing campaigns and initiatives. He then asked representatives of member organizations to present their experiences in popularizing the V-label in their countries.
Whilst it is true that vegetarian and animal rights organizations share the same destination, they rarely march together. The present level of cooperation between these distinctive groups offers plenty of room for improvement. Dr. Pedro de la Fuente, Vice President of People for Animal Rights Germany, showed common interests, pointed out some of the obstacles in the way of closer ties and opened the floor for discussions of how to successfully remove them.
EVU Treasurer Hildegund Scholvien gave an overview of the preparations of the International Vegetarian Union Centenary Congress in Dresden in 2008 which promises to be a magnificent event in a sumptuous setting.
After a closing brainstorming session, EVU"s contribution to the EU forum discussion regarding the White Paper on a European Communication Policy was passed. The document was submitted to the European Commission on 2 May 2006.
This very first EVU Talks gathering was a success and clearly demonstrates the usefulness of regular working meetings as an important tool for furthering our objectives.
That's why we'll meet again: Rendezvous in beautiful Vienna in 2007.