International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo 35th World Vegetarian Congress
'Food for all our futures'

Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland
July 8-14, 2002
Hosted by

The Vegetarian Society
of the United Kingdom

Christopher (right) with fellow Brazilian, Marly Winkler - IVU Co-ordinator for Latin America. (photo John Davis)

Photos below from TAPS - Temas Atuais na Promoção da Saúde - an IVU Member Society in Brazil:

by Jane Bowler, from The Vegetarian, Autumn 2002:

The Vegan Biker
... a man with a mission

Meet Christopher Silva, a Brazilian visitor to he International Vegetarian Congress. Christopher's arrival set the grapevine buzzing with tales of his stunning tattoos, and his unorthodox travel arrangements!

I managed to buttonhole Christopher during the Congress, and although his English is very limited, he obligingly showed off his tattoos! He has the words 'Animal Rights' and 'Liberation' printed in enormous black letters all the way up his arms and legs, and the word 'Vegan' printed right across his stomach! I asked him why his tattoos were in English - he replied: 'Not many people in the world speak Portuguese!' Obvious, really.

Fortunately, Christopher had found himself an interpreter, and we managed an interview of sorts! He explained that he is active in an organisation called Straight Edge, which originated in America and is now quite influential in Latin America. The organisation uses the latest music to reach young people and try to educate them against using drugs or becoming involved in street gangs. Increasingly, they are also encouraging young people to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Christopher told me that he was 'a body with a message' and that he was well known in Brazil, where they call him 'The Vegan Biker'. This was his first trip with his bicycle outside Brazil, and it had already proved eventful. After arriving at Luton airport, apparently Christopher found his way to a motorway and started pedalling.... he was in Yorkshire before the police caught up with him! He kindly emailed me some photographs. As you can see, he found a convenient and rather homely bus shelter where he spent a night. He was woken early the next morning by a passer-by, who asked him if he was all right and offered him some money! Christopher was very surprised by this friendly attitude!

It seems that the police were also quite approachable - they were happy to take some photos of Christopher and his bike in the police van! They offered to take him to a less busy road, but advised him that it might take him 15 days to reach Edinburgh - by which time the Congress would be over. In the end, they took him right back to Luton, where he caught another flight to Edinburgh.

I asked him if he hadn't been scared when he was cycling on the motorway. His reply: 'I was petrified!' He had plans to cycle around Europe after the Congress... I hope he has a safe trip!