The Women’s Voluntary Service is mistaken for the Women’s Vegetarian Society

October 1st was world vegetarian day and heralded the start of international vegetarian week. Most people probably see dietary requirements and other lifestyle choices when it comes to what we eat as a relatively new and modern concept. However vegetarianism has deep roots from ancient world including the Greeks to the National Vegetarian society (Britain) formed in the nineteenth century. So as you can see it is not new and this means we can share with you some fascinating insights into the thoughts of WVS members on vegetarian’s in the 1940s and 1950s.

Extracts from Spinach and Beet – the diary of a centre organiser

TUESDAY. How careful one has to be when wearing uniform: one's slightest word is taken literally. Among ourselves in the office we have dubbed as "vegetarians" the members who come to peel vegetables for Meals on Wheels. ("How many vegetarians are wanted on Thursday?" "We shall want an extra vegetarian on Tuesday when there's Lancashire hot-pot "-and so on.) Apparently similar remarks were overheard on a 'bus or somewhere equally public, as we were telephoned this morning by someone who wanted to join "The W.V.S. Yes: The Women's Vegetarian Society-such a splendid idea!" - WVS Bulletin No.118 October 1949 p.7

Friday.-Now that Mrs. Young's small boy attends kindergarten in the mornings, she is free to help us and to-day she signed an Enrolment Form. On his first day home from school he said to her excitedly:  "Oh Mummy, there are ever so many foreign children in my class: there's a French boy and a Norwegian, and a Hungarian and- and a Vegetarian. What country does a Vegetarian come from, Mummy?” - WVS Bulletin No.1 48 April 1952 p.6

Extract from Nature and other Notes reports for WVS members serving overseas

A great neurosis about our fauna seems to have swept over England, and even Tothill Street has succumbed! I must admit that the crabs are unprepossessing and the rats not house-trained, but with a little ingenuity and a tin of poison one can avoid having to hob-nob with them.



The rats are not really rats at all. They are large sand-mice called "taboa" (not "jerboa" as appeared in one paper). They are vegetarian and non-disease- carrying. They are incredibly bold, greedy and noisy, and not at all fussy about where they leave their droppings. We have waged chemical warfare against them, and at one stage felt we would have to move. - WVS Buletin No.221 May 1958 p.5


Recipes to try out

Now perhaps you are trying to think of something to eat to celebrate world vegetarian day, so why not try one of these. I am sorry about the tripe as I'm pretty sure this is not a veggie option.




Remember it is #AskAnArchivist day on 4th October Tweet @RVSarchives with your questions.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 02 October 2017.

Labels: vegetarian, WVS, World War II, Bulletin

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