We will overview the history of Hungarian vegetarianism according to the historical order and connected to the significant personalities and events.
History of Hungarian vegetarianism is divided into three main parts. The first trimester is that approximately 70 years previously the socialist time that was evaluated by big activity and enthusiasm of the beginnings. The second period came after more than three decades of constraint break in the years of late and “mild” socialism. This time created the new base of a new era on the foundation of a heavily collected materials from the previous period. The third stage is in the period of political and economical changes of the Eastern European countries. Though this stage cannot be divided sharply from the movements started in the socialist era but it worth to make a difference since the “esoteric boom” of the 1990s brought the necessities of the law regulation. The naturopathy, vegetarianism, health conscious lifestyle, and esoteric that were abided till that time grew into good business and economic power in the 90s (Mangels etal 2003).
Before the first period we have to mention the book of István Mátyus (1989): Method of keeping good health. Though it was published with a new title in 1989 by the Magvető Company, the book written at the end of the XVIII. century can be a guide for today men for health conscious nutrition and behaviour. This book is not exactly about vegetarianism but it is important as a reform-guide for nourishment.
THE FIRST PERIOD (1883-1951)
The official story started in 1883 when the Hungarian Vegetarian Association (later Hungarian Vegetarian Society, HVS) was established. The aim of the HVS was to sustain and increase the health of the population with the means of nourishment and lifestyle, and to run the “Reform” vegetarian restaurant that started in 1911 in Budapest. HVS continually delegated people to international vegetarian conferences organized by International Vegetarian Union. The Ministry of Internal Affairs dismissed the Society in 1951 after permanently crippling since the political change in 1948 (History of the Hungarian… 2001, Oláh etal 1985).
The “Reform” restaurant mentioned previously was at 17 Vámház Boulevard in Budapest. Vegetarian menu was offered at 35-37 Király Street in the “Thalysia” restaurant. The Joseph Archduke Hotel (2 Baross Square) even gave discount price for the members of HVS, but naturally the menu here was not completely vegetarian. In the kitchen of relict Janka Schulz (17 Sultan Mehmed Boulevard) there was available proper meals for vegans as well (N. Kósa 2004).
The “Natural Lifestyle” was published by the HVS edited by Tibor Bicsérdy who was the younger brother of the famous “Bicsérdist” Béla Bicsérdy. This magazine was published between 1912-1926. The paper called “Mazdaznan” (Master thought) existed from 1912 as well with the subtitle Art of Life. Editor and publisher was Vilmos Warschatka in Timisoara, Transylvania. The magazine “Lifereform” was published in Szentendre, Hungary between 1932-1938. The main editor was Dr. Arnold Antolik and tha magazine gave a good view on the material collected in the theme of vegetarianism. At the end the World War but even more the socialist ethic sent six feet under the papers of vegetarianism and many more (Oláh és mtsai 1985, Kemény 1942).
Though Hungary already existed on a smaller territory between the two world wars, there were Hungarian vegetarian magazines beyond the borders. Naturally these facts are discussed here because of the close relationship to the topic not because of provoking historical hysterias. The vegetarian paper “New Life” existed in county Cluj in Romania edited by Béla László between 1929-1930.
Béla Bicsérdy (1872-1951?) was well known about preaching the health sustaining effects of raw food in the first half of the XX. century. Even today that style of meal of raw vegetables and fruits are attracting for many people. That time Bicsérdy had many confrontations with representatives of official medicine while lecturing publicly, giving advices for lifestyle and nourishment and publishing books on the base of great amount of information and his own experiences. Though Bicsérdy’s activity was extreme at some points he was well known even beyond the borders and had many followers (Kun 2000, Oláh 2002). He published many books from what we enumerate some (www.mokka.hu):
- The books of life I-II
- The book of art of Life and macrobiotics
- Conquer of death
- Prospects of new style of life
Dr. Géza Szikszay who translated some books to Hungarian from the 1920s was the supporter and preacher of Mazdaznan nourishment. It was also enriching the literature of Mazdaznan by Károly Madary: Mazdaznan nourishment and cooking (1926).
Dr. Gyula Bucsányi physician and in present-days meaning naturopathist left huge literature behind him. His work was rich not only in publications but in lectures therapies as well. Dr. Bucsányi was significant therapist using natural ways of curing that time. Connected to nourishment and diet he touched a lot of illnesses like arteriosclerosis, diabetes, and neurotic problems. His name is connected to the Hungarian introduction of heliotherapy. All of his works cannot be cited here but some of them that are connected to nourishment are mentioned below.
The HVS published books with the themes of healthcare and nourishment from 1920-1947 in the series Library of Natural Life. There are some books from this time without completeness (www.mokka.hu, Oláh etal 1985):
- Gyula Röck: The natural therapy of diabetes
- Henrik Halász: Forces and agents of nature serving health and recovery
- Gyula Bucsányi: Natural therapy of neurotic problems
The Novák Publishing Agency (Rudolf Novák and Partner Scientific Publishing House and Dealer) had great publishing activity in healthcare from 1920. Their activity ceased at the end of II. World War with the remark that they had a short recovery at the beginning of the 1990s. Among their publications we can find mainly scientific medical or connected themes (vitamins, extraction of a tooth, internal medicine, radiology, psychology, hypnosis etc) but there are books about believe and learning languages. As a unique we can mention one of their books Émile Coué: Health and self-discipline, remembering the well known author in the West.
Dr. Gyula Bucsányi mentioned above published his books connected to vegetarianism at the Novák Publishing Agency (www.mokka.hu):
- Healthy raw food and raw diet as natural curing agency
- Natural lifestyle and nourishment
- Fasting course and fasting partly
- Raw diet as a natural curing agency
Dr. István Rusznyák junior had a “meatless dietetic holiday inn” in Balatonföldvár at the beginning era. They used a lot of curing method parallel to the basic meatless diet. These therapies were naturally supervised by a physician (Oláh és mtsai 1985).
Art settlement in Gödöllő was established in 1901 cultivating not only secessionist values but the members were devoted to healthy way of living and eating. The main characters and establishers of the colony working till 1920 were: Sándor Nagy, his wife: Laura Kriesch, Aladár Körösfői-Kriesch (www.godollo.hu). The members of the colony regularly met twice a week but they had more common activities like sports and hiking. Their natural way of clothing was strange and unique that time when the fashion for women were gloves and corset. Their nourishment was what we call ovo-lacto vegetarian today. Every meal was enriched with fruits. The juice of fruits was available for children as well that was due to that days medicine early and false (Nagy 2005, Oláh etal 1985).
It worth to mention the “great venture” of the era that wished to establish such community living together that based on the ideology of vegetarianism and healthy way of living. The great initiation was realized in Szentendre (more properly in Izbég). The superannuated major of Szentendre, Dr. Arnold Antolik made a detailed plan, and the “vegetar community” was established in 1930 with his leadership. The 24 families of the community had 90 members in 1935. Tolstoy was their ideological mate and role model. Looking back to their activity was sporty and natural (Oláh etal 1985, Fischer 2002).
THE END OF THE FIRST PERIOD
There is an end for many things so this period ended as well. And like many things this period ended because of the war and politics. After the changing of the interest of the world Hungary got into the socialist side after the II. World War. The political leaders were more and more strictly controlling everything after the year of change (1948) and as a result all the esoteric ant naturopathist books were eradicated. The socialist ethic could not tolerate the civil societies and so the “deviating” vegetarianism and its society (HVS) got onto the blacklist and were closed by the order of Minister of Internal Affaires (Oláh és mtsai 1985).
THE SECOND PERIOD (1980-1990)
The blacklisted vegetarianism started to reanimate from its suspended animation at the end of the socialism that was hardly tolerating diversity. In the 1980s the special healthy food soya of those days could be reached. The trend dealing with reform food and natural style of life started to blossom in these years with the high quality publication with many reprints from Dr. Andor Oláh and coauthors the “Reformkitchen” (1985). The Oláh couple (Andor Oláh (1923-1994) and Klára Kállai (1923-1995)) lived an educated, sensitive and active life. They dedicated their life for living, researching and propagating natural way of living. Andor Oláh as a physician used and suggested many naturopathic methods to his patients. Klára Kállai dealt with herbs and collecting folklore and ethnological data together with his husband. They lived in Békéscsaba, Doboz and Szentendre. From these regions of the country they left a numerous data of collected materials for the next generations. Their main topics were: folk customs, including folk medicine, psychosomatics, and natural farming (Oláh 1983, Oláh 1986, In Memoriam… 1995).
Because of the quantity of publications of Andor Oláh we give here some examples only beyond the books mentioned above:
- Curing water
- pharmacy of the nature
- Herbs as biomedicaments
- Overcoming our inferiority complex
- Message of India. Mahatma Gandhi”s naturopathic advices
- Reform-lifestyle and nourishment. The naturopathy
Valuable publication of the era is the previously mentioned Yoga-kitchen (1985) edited by Andor Oláh. The book deals with a special topic: it dips from the Indian culture to the vegetarian nourishment. It gives not only recipes but methods of cooking, hygiene, and lifestyle for the reader.
Andor Oláh together with József Tamasi established and coordinated the Scientific Society of Hungarian Naturopathists and Life reformers (Koltay 1997).
The other significant person since 1980s parallel to Andor Oláh was György Schirilla (1939-1999). He also was born with a congenital illness that became normal life while becoming vegetarian in his teens and training as a sportsman. He was often visible in the media famous of his winter swimming across the Danube and the Tisza. He ran from Budapest to Moscow and supported a lot the implement and spreading of Hungarian triathlon. Schirilla lived a vegan way of life so he did not consumed any kind of animal product (ifj. Schirilla 1999). He published a few books that were based on his own vegetarianism and its experinces:
- The school-book of life
- The pharmacy of the soul
The book Joys of vegetarian cooking by Péter Egyedi was born in this era (1982). This recipe book is based on Indian Vaisnava customs.
These years appeared Mum Etka whose name were not only bounded to vegetarianism but more spreading popular yoga in Hungary. The health centric stream marked by her name contains body and breathing exercises and favoring vegetarian nourishment if we want to live healthy and happy. Etka Kátyikné Benke and her sister Mária Császárné Benke had not so intensive activity in publication like in the media but we have to mention their book. This book written with a lot of common sense and practical knowledge that time (1989) was a valuable and unique literature.
- Mária Császárné Benke: Our life and food
Popularity of Mum Etka is permanent till nowadays and with her freshness and skill to ready to perform she remained Mum Etka of everyone.
The Christian fitotherapist Katalin Bokor is a “transit” representative of the second and third stage. She wrote her book “Your food should be your remedy!” (1989) published many times motivated by her recovery after spending some times in a Brazilian hospital. She has more other books that we also present here without completeness:
- Incurable? – the illnesses of the movements.
- Your food should be your remedy!
- Pregnancy and birth with the eyes of the alternative therapist
In the years of 1980s it was typical the “slackening” of the socialist ethic. These days could be organized special actions like extra work, running pubs, working abroad motivated by low Hungarian salaries etc. Underground but abided movements appeared in politics and samizdats were printed though printer houses were controlled.
Andor Oláh and József Tamasi founded the Scientific Society of Hungarian Alternative Therapists and Life Reformers in Kecskemét in 1987/88 (application / working permit). This society operates till nowadays, publishing the magazine “Life Vitality” since 1993. Their activity is well demonstrated by their name. So the society dealt with vegetarianism as well and they published articles and lectured on the topic.
There is a continuity in this period in operation of the already existing societies and certain books are published furthermore. On the other hand there are new processes and new societies appeared and new publications were born.
Considering this paper the main separation turned up between complementer and alternative medicine (CAM) and alternative nutrition. Representatives of CAM founded more societies and even they started a political party (!) and their activity conflicted to the interests of the western medicine. The supporters of vegetarianism knitted to separated societies and published books in this topic. We cannot divide the two directions sharply but the redundancy of the information it worth to reduce the facts in this paper.
ORGANIZATIONS OF CAM
The organizations of CAM are the next in Hungary after the changing of political system without too much detailing. (The first one already existed before the change as we see it above.)
- Scientific Society of Hungarian Alternative Therapists and Life Reformers
- Society of Hungarian Alternative Therapy
- Union of Hungarian Alternative Therapy
- Society of Teachers of Alternative Therapy
- Foundation of Documentary Center of Alternative Therapy
There are many therapy centers and esoteric groups that will not be detailed here though they are attached to this topic. There was a petition connected to the vegetarianism, protection of life and environment wildly supported by many societies in 1996. There was organized the first Hungarian vegetarian demonstration on the Day of Protection of Environment, on the 6. June (Vass 1996).
As a political party we should mention the Party of Hungarian Alternative Therapists and Life Reformers founded in 1994. This Party that was founded in October 1993 in Debrecen supported the publicity of alternative therapies and wanted to realize these aims in healthcare.
The Ahimsa Hungarian Vegetarian Society of Veszprém had two aims: protection of animals and vegetarianism. The Society was founded in 199?-200?. They published the magazine called The Vegetarian.
The Health-Castle Foundation (started in 1992) did not exclusively deals with vegetarianism but plant based nutrition has a weight in their activity. They published the Vegetarian Newsletter from October 1995 till 2000 than the Vegetarian Paradise that lasted for two issues in 2000. Till 2005 they organized 9 nationwide vegetarian gatherings. One of their main personalities in the vegetarianism were these years the already passed György Boldizsár Vass (http://egeszsegvar.uw.hu).
The Raw Food Circle of Friends (since 2003) exists within the Telehouse Foundation of Kismaros (since 1998). As their name suggests they propagate and teach the raw, organically grown plant based diet practically for people of interest.
We could row up many more societies sympathetic to vegetarianism but their approach is either marginal connection or evident connection like in the case of ethical approach. So we do not detail here spiritual and religious movements like Rosecross or Hare-Krishna or societies connected to vegetarianism through protection of environment and animals.
VEGETARIANISM IN EDUCATION
Health-Island Foundation represents itself in a few segment of market of alternative lifestyle. Angel-garden reform-kindergardens in Budapest, Győr and Szigethalom approaches the education with a new idea that can be called holistic and modern. Among these alternative methods there is the ovo-lacto vegetarian nutrition (www.egeszsegvar.hu). These days there are possibilities within the Sodex-ho to ask for ovo-lacto vegetarian food pleading on health or reason of conscience. It seems to be a big step in the approach of the Sodex-ho the new nutrition policy in the schools of the XI. district of Budapest while neglecting the red meat and animal fat from the food. Naturally it is far from plant based nutrition but leans towards the health consciousness (www.sodexho.hu).
Above there are some books dealing specially with vegetarianism but not particularly specialized on recipes:
- Edmond Bordeaux Székely: Scientific vegetarian directives for organic and ecological nutrition
- Zsuzsa Nagy: The original nourishment of humanity should be thy food
- Austin-Trash-Trash: Reason, therapy and prevention of exhaustion and tiredness – whole vegetarian recipes
- What is problem with eating meat?
- Orsolya Reisinger: Vegetarianism on the scale
- Kupfer-Koberwitz Edgar: Our siblings the animals
Naturally many even more a lot of literature were published about vegetarian kitchen, recipies, and gastronomical knacks. These literature cannot be listed here specially because of their numerousness. We neither list here the freshly edited but previously born books.
The Health-Castle Foundation published first vegetarian paper. Though it was not officially detected but it do not lessen the value of this literature published between 1995-2000. The Vegetarian newsletter was published by the edition of György Boldizsár Vass. This paper showed a lot of overlapping to the esotery and CAM but the essence was given by plant based nutrition.
Vegetarian Paradise was published by Health-Castle Foundation, too. This paper was more colourful than the previous and had two issues in 2000. The main editor was the same György Boldizsár Vass.
The paper called Vegetarian existed between 1996-1997 by Ahimsa Hungarian Vegetarian Society. This paper expressed the vegetarian approach of the Society based on their protecting of animals and life.
The other paper called Vegetarian was published by the Pison Co. between 1999-2005. The clear graphic and style of this paper expressed the amount of data and experiences collected during the time. The main editor Zsolt Czibere regretted that the paper could not live longer since the lack of interest. The Hungarian society is featured a type of opposition to the vegetarianism that is quite inexplicable from the side of healthcare expertise and shows uninformedness in this topic.
We will not deal here with the CAD and esoteric papers or the wellness and fitness magazines. Though they can touch the topic of vegetarianism but these information would be redundant in this article.
There are some Hungarian vegetarian articles listed below written with scientific need. The later the paper was born the more skepticism is included and the risk factors are stressed and analyzed. It was clear furthermore that vegetarianism is not a faddy or a suicidive way of nourishment but acceptable by all healthcare expertise after published in 1994 the Methodological Newsletter of Professional College of Public Healthcare and Epidemic. Even though there is article from physician suggesting prejudice and uninformedness in the years of 2000 published in a paper with scientific needs (Duncan és Bergman 1999). On the other hand we can meet article connected to the ethical religious path of vegetarianism. Among all the topic vegetarianism at children is the mostly interested in.
- Jolán Kubányi: Risks of vegetarian nourishment at infancy and childhood
- László Légrádi: Vegetarianism in the Bible: the vegetarian eats from believe
- Methodological Newsletter of Professional College of Public Healthcare and Epidemic about possible usage of vegetarian and other similar nourishment in nurseries and institute of educations
- Éva Mramurácz: Healthy nourishment in nursery: experiences about a semi-vegetarian model-experiment
- Károly Schultz: Vegetarian nourishment in baby- and childhood
- Health advices on Phone
- Tamás Decsi: Nutritional consequences of vegetarian nourishment
- Orsolya Reisinger: Evaluation of the vegetarian nourishment as an alternative for pregnant and lactating women and their children: part 1., 2.
The National Vegetarian Meeting (later Festival) is annually organized occasion since 1997 in Budapest. The basic idea origins from György Boldizsár Vass as the leader of Vegetarian Circle of Friends. The weekend festival attracted 10.000 people that is a weighty number considering even the whole population of the country (http://vegetarianus.tar.hu/).
Within the Health-Castle Foundation we should mention György Boldizsár Vass (president) and Orsolya Jakus secretary (at the present: president) on occasion of their great activity and renownedness. They do not only edited different periodicals but National Vegetarian Meeting mentioned above was and is organized by them.
István Ferencsik was held as a severe nutritional professional. His nutritional advices are radical nut well aimed and effective. His books and lectures makes us associate on Béla Bicsérdy who became well known not only in nutritional circles by his charisma. Books of Ferencsik dealing with vegetarianism and nutrition:
- Nurturing our children
- Life without illness and pain. Healthy nourishment
- Foods of natural way of living: dietary according to seasons
- What to eat to be healthy?
- Book of courses
- Advices for preserving health based on the scientific methods of alternative nourishment and lifestyle
The publishing company called Two thousand one Publishing was established already in this decade hallmarked by Judit Benda. The publishing company deals with such topics on the field of nourishment and lifestyle that is fitting to the qualifications of Judit Benda who is pharmacist and health-adviser. Her popular lectures contains many topics started from sclerosis multiplex through baby nourishment till even the practical side of baking bread. Some books published by the Two thousand one Publishing company:
- Grimm, H.: The soup lies – nice new world of foods
- Dufty, W.: Sugar blues
- Bircher, R.: Top secret
Zsolt Czibere is a prominent personality of vegetarian movement in Hungary. He is the establishing editor of paper called Vegetarian (1999-2005). Many lectures and interviews are connected to his name and he is active organizer of the National Vegetarian Festival.
We will mention here some homesites that are connected strongly to vegetarianism. Their topic contains not only vegetarianism but the protection of life and environment.
We can find many shops throughout the country where goods fitting to vegetarian needs are available. Vegetarian needs are served in bio- and health-shops and on the constantly grooving shelves of these products of the multinational hypermarkets. There are not so many restaurants exist all around the country. Consumers wishing vegetarian menu can find 8-10 restaurants in Budapest or rather can be found on the menu of non vegetarian restaurants the typical breaded mushrooms or cheese and furthermore the pizza for satisfying the wishes of plant based nutrition, too. Life of vegetarian restaurants shows the hardship of existence even in Budapest (Kökény 2005).
Both in Budapest and in countryside there are more and more bio market that are visited not only by vegetarians but health conscious people.
SUMMARY OF THE THIRD PERIOD
The third period was not existing under heavy prohibitations like in the socialism and was not featured by originality like in the first period before the II. World War. Here we can see realizing the diversity and furthermore the vegetarianism appears connected to business and market.
FUTURE OF VEGETARIANISM
In the Western societies vegetarianism appears as an alternative. It can be defined for the first sight as a protecting and supporting factor of health. But the topic, because of its complexity connected to the ecology, philosophy,sociology, protection of environment etc. in many different levels.
Todays globalized ecology and politics is a strict „organism” throughout the whole globe. It seems that the basic rules of functioning of this supraindividual organization is similar to the functioning of the individual level. The levels of nourishment detailed by Forgács (1991) introduce the possibilities considered to the individual:
- Eating and cognitive functions. (Here we can think about the thirst of knowledge and the digestion of information and effects from outer world.)
- Food and ownership as the expression of dominance. (This can be seen specially clearly in deprivation and in endangered situations.)
- Nourishment as an act expressing aggressive or defensive social attitude. (Incorporating and devouring something cannot exclusively be the food.)
- Love and eroticism. („I like you as people like the salt.”)
- Connection to the life and fertility. (We can start even from biological level and reach till the problems of nourishment like anorexia where the denying of life and nourishment closely connected to the blocked generativity.)
All these levels can be understood easily at a person but the same processes were hypothesized as well on global level by some thinkers (Lorenz 1988). Possibilities of development of the cognitive and behavioural functions based mainly on nourishment. IQ results were improved by the means of certain nourishment (Robbins 2001).
The pollution of environment and the problem of global warming, furthermore the overconsumption of the, mainly the Western societies’ population threatens with incorporation of our Globe. Alternative of vegetarian nourishment or more health and environment conscious nourishment offers a more effective usage of natural resources (Oláh és mtsai 1985, Sabaté 2001).
If we want to approach the problem on a more sophisticated sociological-philosophical level than the processes showed by Forgács like aggression, incorporation, defensivity, are justified by the newest researches on abusement (Kuritárné 2005, Herman 2003). From this point of view the second generation of feminism looked for and found connections between terror in society, politics, and in family abuse and the nourishment (Adams 1999).
Reasons and impressions of each other of parallels detailed above we can demonstrate with a complex model that seams to show the direction towards the urgent development of the human consciousness. By all means the cornerstone of the strategies of practical solutions can be the nourishment within this the vegetarianism as a basic activity of our life.
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