CTC vegan cycling evangelists

Vegan food Last Sunday in the Campaigning & Public Policy section of the CTC forums someone started a thread titled: "It turns me off." The thread starter (OP) was referring to a Cyclenation Conference he'd been to in Nottingham, where one of the organisers, a Local Authority cycle trainer who'd laid on a vegan lunch, gave a short sermon in which he announced from the pulpit: "Reduce your carbon footprint; stop eating meat and dairy products." The CTC, by the way, is the British Cycle Touring Club who, I think, were partly responsible for the event (admission fee £20), and a vegan is someone who adopts a diet and lifestyle that excludes the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose. In his post the OP wrote: "It's about time people realised that the best way to grow cycling is to sell it for what it is."

Which sparked off a debate that is still running three days later, the majority of whose cycling participants heartily agree with the OP, objecting to cycling being hi-jacked by a bunch of Green evangelists. "Tosh!" they proclaim. "I cycle cos I love it!" But then they go on to discuss how to change people's mindsets and better ways to promote cycling: the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle, the health benefits, how it saves money, reduces congestion, and so on... and yes, cycling and lentil soup might also help Save the Planet (if only to the tiniest degree).

Evangelism is probably too strong a word for "promotion" but it's clear that many cyclists believe cycling is a pursuit that should be promoted. This is something I never practice myself – promotion, I mean – even though I would like to see more people on bicycles and less cars on the roads. People who have an outlook with something imprinted on their brain and have an uncontrollable desire to impose it on everyone they meet are best avoided, whether they're politicians, religious believers, 'Greens', or those who argue we should all be riding a bike.

I doubt if I've ever persuaded a single person to take something up purely because I approve of it (not that I've tried very hard), nor have I ever started doing something because someone persuaded me to. To me, it's about 'removing barriers' (hate that phrase) and making cycling more accessible. The man who was so offended by the vegan evangelist did exactly the right thing when he formed a cycling group which now has 250 members in his small town, more and more of whom cycle not only for health and enjoyment, but also for utility trips, day to day transport and commuting. They took it up because it was there.

6 comments on “CTC vegan cycling evangelists”

  1. Garry wrote:

    I agree. I've nothing against evangelists but their whole philosophy is so badly thought out. e.g I read some time ago that Richard Branson, who regularly flies his whole family out to some fancy island somewhere far away, is very proud of the fact that they only heat enough water for what they need (e.g. one cup of tea) in the kettle. That's like worrying about a burp when there's a force ten hurricane outside.

  2. Jay Westbury wrote:

    There's more to being a vegan than eating "lentil soup"... you may as well have gone the whole "hog" and stated that all vegans are bearded, sandal wearing lentil soup eating soap dodgers (and that's just the women)... Vegans are not some oddball species. And what Richard Branson has got to do with it I don't know, he is not a vegan... "I'm an old-fashioned meat-eater." – Richard Branson. I think you need to be more open-minded. The biggest thing anyone can do to be more "green" is to go vegan. Then maybe the beauty of the countyside will be saved for future generations to enjoy cycling through, and not just yours. :mrgreen:

  3. Patrick wrote:

    Jay Westbury wrote: There's more to being a vegan than eating "lentil soup"…

    That's why I wrote that "a vegan is someone who adopts a diet and lifestyle that excludes the use of animals for food, clothing, or any other purpose." The subject of the article though, is not vegans but any people who try to impose their beliefs on others.

  4. Jay Westbury wrote:

    "veganism" is not a religion, it's not some kind of belief in sky pixies, it's based on knowledge and facts. sometimes the truth hurts.

  5. Patrick wrote:

    I accept there's a moral, health, and environmental case for veganism, although I don't agree with all of it. As it happens I became a vegetarian this year but I don't go around trying to persuade other people that my beliefs are right for them. The important thing (I'll say it again) is to remove barriers so that everyone is free to make their own choices.

  6. David Dickinson wrote:

    Richard Branson's legacy is that he knows that his wealth at the end of the day means FA. Compared to real victims of the poverty trap RB and the rest of us are the same. I did one of the CTC organized trips in 2008 and thought I'd try the Himalayas.. highest road in the world...18k Kurdong La pass etc. There we were bombing round the hairpins reminding each other from time to time of the 10k drops as the coach goes ahead with all the gear and sets up camp and cooking when I noticed the locals wallas crouched by the side of the road.. breaking stones with a little hammer to keep the roads repaired which apart from anything else enabled westerners like me to take fotos of themselves and their bikes to show friends back home. All you can do is acknowledge the irony and make a gesture like fellow billionaire RB aka... "two slightly distorted guitars".

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