International Vegetarian Union (IVU)
IVU logo

Report on bicycle tour in Sweden
July 15th to August 2nd

by Arne Wingqvist

from EVU News, Issue 3 /1997 - Français

From Kiruna in the North, way above the Artic Circle, to Stockholm, Capital of Sweden: 1411 kilometers or 877 miles.


photo: the start
The start in Kiruna.
  • Sigrid De Leo, Honorary Secretary of European Vegetarian Union, (EVU), Widnau, Switzerland
  • Ronald Persson, Stockholm
  • Arne Wingqvist, Cagnes sur Mer. France
  • Ylva Oehrn, Stockholm, joined us from Härnösand to Stockholm, nine days.
  • Two young girls. J, Mariefred, and Katarina Lindberg, Umea, joined us from Kiruna to Umea, eight days.
The participants are 18, 20, 27, 53 (two) and 78 years old.

Karin Wingqvist was at the wheel of the accompanying car. Being a physiotherapist by profession, she could have taken care of us in case something happened.

How it all started.

Having been a vegetarian since early childhood, and going from there to a vegan and frutarian life-style many years ago, I wanted to prove that a frutarian diet, of fruits, berries, nuts, seeds and fresh raw vegetables, would be enough, not only for everday activities, but also for quite serious exertion over a longer period. My choice fell on a bicycle trip, which I had been thinking of for many years, from Kiruna to Stockholm. It is a big distance, through some of the nicest parts Sweden can offer, good roads, climbing up and down the mountains, some of them pretty steep. We had of course also long stretches of flat ground, the road winding along the shores of lakes and of the Baltic Sea, running along mighty rivers as well as small creeks, giving us many opportunities to take a swim, and cool off. Our diet consisted of fresh fruit, berries, nuts and seeds for breakfast and lunch, everybody buying his/her own in stores and markets along the way. For evening meals we had a salad with fresh, raw vegetables, especially green leafy ones, carrots etc. We used only fresh water for drinking.

Information on the tour was published in many vegetarian, vegan and fruitarian papers and news-letters all over the world. Many societies had also published the information on their homepages on Internet. About 150 people, many from overseas countries asked for further details about the trip.

Small group

The apes, whose dentition is almost equal to that of man, live principally on (raw!! SDL) fruit, seeds, nuts and other similar kinds of savoury textures of nutritious value which are elaborated by the vegetable kingdom. The profound similarity between the dentition of apes and that of humans demonstrates that man was from his origins adapted to eat the fruit from the trees in paradise.’ - Richard Owen (1804-1892) English naturalist
There were several reasons for the low number of participants. Many could not spare about 4 weeks for the tour, many could not afford the cost of travel and ovenight stays, many thought the distance was too long, and finally many told me they wanted to eat cooked food as well, like potatoes, pasta, rice, soup, bread, cereals etc. They doubted that fresh fruit and fresh vegetables would give them enough nourishment for such a strenuous tour. They referred to doctors and dieticians who had discouraged them, saying they must have more than fresh fruits etc. to get enough strength for the tour.

I am sure these people had never tried to live on only fresh foods for an extended period. We all know that Marathon runners, before the race, load up with lots of spaghetti, maccaroni, and other foods, rich in carbo-hydrates, to be strong enough to make it to the finish. The start of the tour was set for Tuesday July 15th 1997 and the day before we all met in Kiruna. staying overnight in the Youth Hostel. and the next morning at 08.00 a.m. we started out on our long bicycle trip.

We carried all our gear in bags mounted on both sides of the front and rear wheels. We each had about 12 to 20 kilos of luggage. I had made reservations in Youth Hostels or camping huts all along the route and we kept to our time table and arrived at our overnight places as scheduled.

Our longest day’s tour was 129 kms, and our shortest, the last day into Stockholm City, was 27 kms. We cycled a total of 1411 kms, averaging about 70-80 kms a day. The lowest average speed per day was about 14 km/hour the highest 20 km/hour. We enjoyed the countryside with forests, fields, mountains, lakes and the Baltic Sea. We had time to do a little sight-seeing in especially interesting villages and towns.

No problems

Arne Winqquist on Tour
Everything went very well. No accidents, no blow outs, not a single screw on any of the bikes got loose. We were very fortunate with the weather. During our 19 days, we had one day with a little rain, three days with very heavy rain, and 13 days with bright sunshine, and two days with partly clouded skies. We never stopped to seek shelter on the rainy days, we just went on getting soaking wet. It was indeed a strenuous trip, but everyone of us felt better at the end than when we started out. We slept well and long. Even if we were tired at the end of the day, we had strength enough to enjoy a concert or a movie at night. After a good night’s sleep we woke up feeling strong and fit for the next day’s trip. We were all very satisfied with the trip. We had very good media coverage all over Sweden. Press and radio interviews, and the local paper where I live had a full page write up with photos. Arriving in the center of Stockholm, Saturday August 2nd at 11.45, as planned, we were met by family members, friends, the presidents of The Vegan Society of Sweden, Ulla Troëng, and of The Swedish Vegetarian Society, Monica Engstroem, and the press. The event finished with a lunch at the famous „Oertagaarden“ vegetarian restaurant in the centre of Stockholm City. We all had fine fresh vegetables and fruit, and we enjoyed our last meal as much as our first one 19 days earlier, and all our meals in between.


What did we learn from this trip?

As I said at the beginning, we wanted to prove that a frutarian diet of fruit, berries, nuts, seeds and fresh raw vegetables, would be enough, not only for everday activities, but also for quite serious exertions over a longer period. Our little group of all together six people has prooved that this is possible. Of course, there is many a sportsman, around the world, who has been living on a vegetarian diet, and has become world champion. We wanted to show the value of fresh, raw vegan food, consisting of about 70-80% (50-50% SDL) of fresh fruit, nuts and seeds, the rest being fresh uncooked vegetables. This is contrary to the average vegtetarian or vegan menues, which have a lot of cooked food at most every meal. Judging by from our increased well-being during the trip, we most definitely succeeded.

This was a private, non-profit, enterprise, initiated by me, without the assistance of any sponsors or donations of any kind. The participants paid for food and lodging themselves, as well as the journey to Kiruna and from Stockholm.

My wish is for a test like this to be carried out on a larger scale, organized by one or more vegetarian or vegan societies, with more participants, a longer distance and with steeper hills. This test should of course be combined with a thourough medical examination from start to finish, especially showing the participants’ condition of health and strengh from start to finish.

Arne Wingqvist, Stockholm, August 18 1997.

Arne Wingqvist. Centralvägen 8, SE-186 31 Vallentuna, Sweden
Tel. 08 51 17 31 00 / 08 51 17 32 00, fax 08 51 17 18 00

photo: interview Ylva, Katarina and J are giving an interview in Stockholm.
For dinner a great variety of salads and vegetables photo: dinner
photo: group After the arrival in Stockholm: Ronald Persson, J, Katarina Lindberg, Ylva Öhrn, Sigrid De Leo, Arne Wingquist.