The San Francisco Vegetarian Society (SFVS) is a non-profit organization that has been working in the Bay Area for 50 years promoting vegetarian and vegan diets as a healthful and humane way of life.

A BRIEF HISTORY

The San Francisco Veg Society (SFVS) is a non-profit, volunteer-run organization founded in 1968. We have been promoting the adoption of a plant-based diet and lifestyle for healthy, ethical and sustainable living. SFVS celebrates 50 years this year. This year we reflect on all of our many accomplishments over the years that have spanned over 3 generations. Our major triumph, of course, is our annual World Vegetarian Day Celebration that was started on October 1st, 2000. We also sponsor major lectures, including food demos, and dining out events throughout the year. Our other outreach activities include educational information at community events such as health fairs/expos, Earth Day, Cesar Chavez and SF Pride.   In addition to our community outreach and educational efforts, we provide social activities where vegetarians, vegans and raw foodists meet and socialize with other like-minded individuals and where non-vegetarians are welcomed.

For 50 years SFVS has offered a community for people to meet, learn, exchange ideas and information, and interact with others interested in plant-based living for a better world. Together, we support each other, our movement and changing hearts and minds as we encourage a lifestyle that is better for health, the well-being of animals, the environment and better for humanity.

It all began in 1968 when staunch vegetarian advocate Frederick Baldus placed an ad in the SF chronicle titled “Vegetarians Unite”. Approximately 30 people responded and thus the first SFVS meeting was held in the Baldus home.

Baldus appeared on radio shows, and wrote editorials to the media, congress and heads of state including Prince Charles advocating for plant based diets. Purpose to promote the vegetarian diet as a healthful and humane way of life and to disseminate information on the economic, ecological, philosophical, ethical, religious, and spiritual validity of vegetarian ideals.

On Oct 5-6th 2012 the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) and SFVS organized the first IVU World Congress/Vegfest. Since 1908 the International Vegetarian Union (IVU) has been promoting a World Vegetarian Congress every two or three years.   According to John Davis (former IVU manager and historian), “This visit by IVU to California was a turning point – the transition from old-style Congress to the new-style Vegfest”. Since World Veg Fest in SF that year, the IVU now combines their international World Veg Fest with local festivals yearly throughout the world.   In addition to the usual 4,000 to 5,000 people attending WVF, SF hosted the international community representing 120 organizations from every continent.

The words vegetarian and vegan are now known popularly, and many ‘mixed’ restaurants are familiar with the terms. Professionals from many fields promote the benefits of a vegetarian diet, versus the old warnings of dire consequences. We have much to celebrate, yet much more to do. Join us!

SFVS OFFICERS & BOARD MEMBERS:

President: Greg Rohrbach
Treasurer: Patly Rohrbach
Secretary: Janet Tom

BOARD MEMBERS:

Dan Brook
George Gibbs
Melinda Hamm
Shery Lifton
Annie Maley
Patly Rohrbach
Joyce Thornton
Janet Tom

SFVS ADVISORY BOARD:

Neal Barnard, M.D.
Gerald S. Cohen, D.C.
Ronald Cridland, M.D.
Alan Goldhammer, D.C.
John McDougall, M.D.
John Westerdahl, R.D.

SFVS is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization funded by members and donors, including Craigslist Charitable Funds.

50 YEAR TIMELINE

50 Years of the San Francisco Vegetarian Society

1968

SFVS is Born

1968

Frederick Baldus places add “Vegetarians Unite” in SF Chronicle. Mr. Baldus and his wife hosts 34 people in his home in which would eventually be known as the first unofficial meeting of the San Francisco Vegetarian Society (SFVS).

1969

First President Elected

1969

SFVS Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws created.
Frederick Baldus elected as president (68’-74’)

1970

Newsletter Created

1970

Dixie Mahy proposed creating a newsletter to promote the Society and its goals: primarily to promote the education of a vegetarian diet, and from there the “Vegetarian Calendar” was born. This idea was adopted. Dixie was immediately voted vice president.

1974

SFVS becomes incorporated

April 9, 1974

SFVS becomes incorporated as a 501(c)3 tax exempt nonprofit in the State of California.

1975

SFVS Goes to World Vegetarian Congress

August 16—28, 1975

SFVS President Dixie Mahy joined 2000 people and spoke at the first North American-based 23rd World Vegetarian Congress of the IVU (International Vegetarian Union) held in Orono, Maine.

1975

Dixie Mahy President

1975

The SFVS president, Dixie Mahy was a speaker at the 1975 IVU Congress in Maine. Dixie would go on to lead SFVS for 40 years.

2000

First Annual World Veg Day Festival

October 1, 2000

First Annual World Veg Day Festival.

2006

World Vegetarian Day San Proclamation

October 1, 2006

Mayor Gavin Newsom declared October 1, 2006 “World Vegetarian Day” in San Francisco with a City Proclamation.

2010

Honored by the SF Board of Supervisors

February 12, 2010

Honored by the San Francisco Board Of Supervisors.

2012

International Vegetarian Union’s 40th World Veg Fest

2015

New SFVS President

January 2015

Greg Rohrbach is elected President of SFVS

2015

Updated logo, look & website

2015

With new administration, it was time to update the visual and web profile of SFVS so we developed a new logo, a new website and our newsletter went entirely email-based.

2018

50 Year Anniversary of SFVS

October 27, 2018

19th Annual Veg Festival and 50th year Anniversary


Over the years, SFVS has hosted most movers and shakers in the movement, including John Robbins, John McDougall, Dean Ornish, Howard Lyman, Ann Wigmore, Helen and Scott Nearing, Bill Shurtleff, and many others. Many speakers had their first experience in front of a vegetarian audience with SFVS.