It has all kicked off on Facebook. parkrun have announced their new sponsor is a mass producer of eggs (I will not give them the publicity by linking them) who, like all mass producers of eggs, are well known for doing horrendous things to chickens (warning – link contains descriptions of animal cruelty – no pictures). A lot of vegans are not happy, and it turns out that a LOT of vegans are parkrunners. In fact, Vegan Runners are the fourth biggest running club in the parkrun world, and of course there are plenty of vegan runners who aren’t Vegan Runners. Many people are talking about boycotting parkrun or refusing to have their barcodes scanned while the association persists. Of course, it’s also brought all the nasty vegan bashers out of the wardrobe, with their nasty and nonsensical comments (one man took it upon himself to decide that as I was vegan, I must be in the habit of posting graphic meat photos and calling meat eaters bad names – and how as I wouldn’t stop that he would be eating meat just to spite me. As you know, I have done neither of these things, but he thought he knew all about me.)
Personally, I’m extremely disappointed that parkrun have chosen to associate themselves with this company. As a vegan, I feel it is my job to educate people about the egg industry and gently encourage them to make other choices, whilst acknowledging that it’s not always as simple as “just stop eating eggs”. There seems to be a belief that vegans are doing something wrong by trying to persuade others to go vegan. But why wouldn’t we? It’s not just about whether we eat eggs – the egg industry is cruel, and we want it to stop. By promoting this egg company – with an advert that portrays eggs as healthy and natural – parkrun are undoing our work. An association with a brand loved by so many is bound to increase egg sales. The only good that I can see that has (unintentionally) come of this is that a lot of people will have read those comments, including animal lovers who are genuinely unaware of the cruelty, and they will go away and do their own research and maybe we’ll have a few more vegan runners this time next week.
I kind of hope that there is a drop in numbers this week which shows parkrun what a bad move they’ve made, but I also think that a long term boycott (or barcode strike) would harm the individual events and their core teams (who are absolutely nothing to do with this) and ourselves more than it would hurt the egg company or parkrun. Instead, I have decided that while they keep the association I will not be buying any of the parkrun branded products (wristbands or t-shirts) and I will be keeping an eye on any protests from vegan groups. Someone posted about making a protest anti-egg vegan running vest, and I think a lot of runners showing up to parkrun with these, especially events with a photographer, would be a strong way of getting the point across.