A post over at You Just Don’t Want to got me thinking about what it's like to be a cyclist, or a vegan/vegetarian, or a cycling vegan, here in North America. More accurately I've been wondering why we choose these lifestyles.
Cycling and vegetarianism go hand-in-hand very nicely. If you’re worried about your health you might choose one or the other, or both. If you’re worried about the environment you might choose one or the other, or both.
The other reason for you to choose these lifestyles is because they’re a great way for you to fight the power – to have a little rebel yell in your life.
Everyone who is on two wheels knows that every time you buy a tank of gas, you’re putting money into the pockets of companies which have to value profits over people and the planet, otherwise they’d go out of business. I’ll resist saying that this makes them evil, but they’re pretty darn close to evil, especially when oil execs sit in backrooms with Cheney in 2001 poring over maps of Iraq saying “we want this and this and this, so get us a war started” (this happened by the way, read Linda McQuaig’s It’s the Crude, Dude).
So you travel by two wheels instead of four because you’re appalled by the fact that North American governments rolled over for Ford and Firestone back in the 1940’s – saying “yes” to a style of life which would ruin the environment, create urban sprawl, destroy farmland, and start wars that had their origins in North America’s dependence upon foreign oil.
In a very similar way, going vegetarian is great way to say “no” to big business and it's ties to governments as well. I’ve written about the origins of the modern north American diet before, both on this blog and over on my veggie blog.
Basically, North Americans are eating an incredibly unhealthy diet because it is the best way for the fast food outlets and various agricultural groups to make money. The standard diet has terrible environmental consequences, turns animals into bio-products, and isn't very healthy for us either - unfortunately it makes money for Tyson and other companies and that's why it exists as it does.
So anyway, what does it mean to be a cyclist, or a vegetarian, or both, in North America? What does it mean to do your reading, to think about what is right and wrong, to think about what your lifestyle choices mean?
Well, I don't think it means that we're all Canadian or American versions of Subcomondante Marcos, but it does mean something. At the very least, it means that you're a thinker, not a consumer.
We learned a long time ago that we should never subject ourselves to the schedules of the powerful. We had to follow our own calendar and impose it on those above.
We want a world where many worlds are possible.
The great world power has not yet found the weapon to destroy dreams.