Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya—The first day of a one-of-a-kind ecotourism project has just wrapped up. Despite a few minor hiccups in scheduling and route coordination, the group of cyclists and support crew comprising the first “Project V360: The Bicycle and Vegan Food Trip” arrived in this first-class municipality happy, and hungry for more 100% plant-based food after hurdling the challenges of Day 1.
Day 1 done, four more days to go.
The “Project V360: The Bicycle and Vegan Food Trip” is a five-day, 500-km cycling ecotour (not a race) that will take participants through the most daunting, historical, yet picturesque mountain passes in central and northern Luzon: Dalton Pass, Bessang Pass, and Tirad Pass.
The first day of the tour, a scorching Monday, March 11, saw the 27 participants start from the heritage site San Nicolas De Tolentino Church in Carranglan, Nueva Ecija, climb up Dalton Pass that borders the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya, and negotiate the tricky twists and turns of the national highway leading to Bayombong.
The rest of the week promises even more difficult routes (and literally breathtaking vistas) as the group heads out to Ifugao and Mountain Province, where mountains peaking 7,000 feet and more await.
Cycling the routes for five days straight, in and of itself, would not be for the faint of heart, but then also going vegan during that day? Quoting Ramoncito “Monchy” Garcia, president of the Cycling Advocates and Adventures (Cycad) who chose the cyclists for the event: “They said we were crazy for cycling this long and hard and not eating any meat, they said this couldn’t be done. But here we are now. After the first day, our bodies are ready for more.”
Garcia added that when the last route on Friday is conquered, the “Project V360” would have been the first in the country to have executed such a concept.
Pedal power would be supplied by the cyclists, no doubt. But sustenance would be in the capable hands, pans, and woks of Greenery Kitchen, led by Edilberto Villamor, who has been tasked to feed the 27 for the duration of the event. The Greenery Kitchen is a cafe based in Makati City and run entirely by vegans. It was recently named the 50th best vegan-friendly restaurant in the world by international group Big Seven Travel, citing the “rustic cafe in Manila” as the “go-to for healthy vegan and organic food in the Philippines, (where) colourful plates piled high with salads and meat-free versions of the country’s tastiest recipes (are found).”
All 27 participants agreed with GK’s international billing as soon as they tasted their first vegan breakfast, lunch and dinner. Garcia stressed, “These vegan dishes really taste as good as their meat-based counterparts. Who needs to crave for meat, even if we’re pushing our bodies to the limit?”
Aside from using locally sourced vegetables and other produce to create its dishes, GK also made use of the vegan food products supplied by UK-based Quorn. Thus, the day’s fare included veganized versions of such familiar favorites as lomi, menudo, sisig, pakbet and barbecue, complemented with rice, Quorn vegan fishless fingers and spicy vegan burgers. The entire team put up with the scorching heat of the sun and one of the most challenging cycling routes in the country.
The first day of the tour highlighted not just the cycling. In Carranglan, where the group had their late-morning breakfast at the brick stone-facade church that was built in 1701, a group of students on their field trip were handed out reading materials and comics supplied by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
There were also stops in Dupax Del Sur to visit a heritage bridge and the 18th century Baroque architecture Saint Vincent Ferrer Church in Dupax del Sur, a national cultural treasure as declared by the National Museum of the Philippines.
The “Project V360: Bicycle and Vegan Food Tour” is the brainchild of TessDrive.com and Cycad. This tour seeks to attain the following objectives: 1) Promote a healthy, active vegan lifestyle; 2) Dispel the myth that plant-based foods do not produce sufficient energy for athletic activities; 3) Prove that vegan foods can be as delicious, if not more delectable, as their meat-based counterparts; 4) Dispel the myth that plant-based foods are limited to salads and side dishes; 5) Promote the consumption of vegetables, fruits, and nuts in the Philippines, a country rich in soil nutrients conducive for abundant plant growth, yet its citizens consume the least amount among Asian countries; 6) Promote cycling as a fun, safe, cost-efficient and healthy means to tour the country and its many destinations, and also promote cycling as among the most environmentally sound ways to practice eco-tourism, and; 7) Accommodate vegan-curious tourists who would be adventurous enough to want to try a different cycling tour of the country.
The Project is also made possible with the support of Isuzu Philippines Corp, and Honda Cars Philippines.
Visit us again tomorrow for more Day 2 updates and pictures!