Welcome Bradley to Sage Mountain!

By: Bradley

For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Bradley. I’m a two year old steer now residing at Sage Mountain. I sometimes go by Mr. Bradley or “B”Rad, but mostly Bradley. The truth is, I think I should be called Sir Bradley as I am the new sire, king, alpha, head honcho, maybe some would say “bully” of Sage Mountain. That’s right. I took me a little time to figure out this place, but once I did, watch out. Sorry Wilma Jean. There’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Sheriff Bradley??

My story begins in a similar fashion to my new sheep friends here at Sage. Just like Jesse, Martin, and Sammie, when I was born my mom wasn’t able to take care of me. Being so young and not having a mother was very scary and at the time I didn’t know if I was going to make it. Luckily for me, help came along the way in the form of the great kids at Discovery Ranch in Northern Utah. They fed me, gave me shelter, and cared for me while I got back to health and started growing into a young steer. I was so grateful for all the great people at Discovery Ranch but knew my time there was coming to an end. As some of you may know, in most situations steers like me are taken to the auction and sold off to other ranches or feed lots. After a few months to a year, we are then shipped off to slaughter and become a steak or hamburger. For some reason or another, the kids at the ranch became attached to me and wanted a different fate. I first heard rumors around the ranch that there were plans for me to head to Texas but those plans were scuttled when a horrible hurricane hit and the ranch that I was going to go to was severely damaged and could no longer take me in. Winter was setting in and time was running out because the ranch was making plans for a new group of calves to come in and didn’t have room for me. However, before I knew it, the crew from Sage Mountain in Park City came to rescue me and take me to my forever home in January of 2018.

It’s been almost a month being at Sage Mountain and I’ve had some time to reflect on my prior life. I wish I could have told those great kids that I was no different from the other steers and that we didn’t have to be sold off at auction, that we are all individuals and have emotions such as fear and happiness just like they do, that humans don’t have to eat us and live longer, healthier lives if they didn’t eat animals like us. I wish I could have told them that they can stop this cycle and change this world making it better for humans, the planet and of course the animals. Since I can’t go back to the ranch and tell them directly, I ask you to please spread the word. Please tell those kids, in fact, tell all kids, adults, and anyone that will listen that this idea of humans eating animals like me has to stop. I promise this will be the most powerful message for the future of our planet and our society.

As for me, I will spend my days at Sage Mountain exploring, playing, eating and bossing Wilma and Pony around. Most of all I get to be a steer just like I was meant to do.

Welcome Home, Sammie and Martin

Sammie’s story begins in the mountains of Northern Utah near Victory Ranch. Sammie was separated from the herd at a very young age and was left to fend for herself throughout the long snowy winter of 2017. One of the local residents named Peggy Grubbs discovered Sammie one day near a snowshoe trail and quickly bonded with her. Over the course of the winter Peggy snowshoed 6 miles every day, many times in knee deep snow, to bring Sammie food so she could make it through winter. When a break in the weather finally arrived in mid February and with help from the local community, Sammie was finally rescued from high mountains and taken to a foster home nearby. For more details on Sammie’s amazing story please click here.

Today Sammie is adjusting to life at Sage Mountain. Her days are filled with grazing and playing with her friends Jesse, Ponyboy, and Wilma Jean.  Sometimes Sammie would rather hang out with the pigs in their shelter instead of her own during the heat of the day and couldn’t be happier. Sammie now gets to spend the rest of her life with all the other residents of Sage Mountain where she won’t be alone or ever worry about her next meal.

Sammie has become a wonderful mother figure for Jesse and our other newest arrival, baby Martin. Martin is a young male lamb that has a similar story to Jesse. Martin was born in the spring of 2017 and was part of a grazing herd on the west side of Utah Lake in Utah County. For some reason or another Martin’s mother rejected him and he was left alone on the range without the nourishment he needed to grow into an adult sheep. The same foster family that took in Sammie reached out to the sheep herder and asked if he would be willing to let them adopt Martin. Since Martin was what the industry calls a “bummer” lamb and is of “no use” and has little to no value the sheep herder agreed to the adoption. It is so unfortunate that so many animals are considered worthy only if they can be used by humans in some way for profit. If not, they are often discarded, neglected, or killed.

Since arriving to his permanent home at Sage Mountain, Martin has been learning the ropes and getting along great with all the other animals including Maggie, our German Shepard. It seems as though Maggie understands her job is to protect Martin and she takes great pride in her new role. Martin, just like the rest of the animals at Sage Mountain, will live out the rest of his life and will always be cherished as someone and not something.

Feature Profile: Interview With Salt Lake Local About 10 Day Plant Powered Challenge

It has been about 1 month since 10 people finished the 10 day Plant Powered Challenge. Inspiration came from a film Sage Mountain, the Park City film series, and Vegfund hosted called “What The Health”. If you haven’t seen the film it can now be viewed on Netflix. The challenge, led by Kent Maurer, entailed consuming a whole food plant based diet for 10 days. All animal products such as meat, dairy, eggs, and fish were removed from their daily food choices. Everyone learned how and what to buy at the grocery store, how to order vegan meals at restaurants, watched educational films, attended a community potluck and met the animal ambassadors at Sage Mountain’s animal sanctuary, experienced a loving kindness meditation, went on a few hikes in Park City, received new recipes and daily emails from Kent about the momentum of this movement along with answers to any questions.

Lauren Lockey recently had the opportunity to interview one of the participants, Michelle Sharer. Michelle is 26 years old and  grew up just outside of Boston. She moved to Salt Lake to be near the mountains, worked as a web developer for 3 years, and now is a yoga instructor.

LL: What sparked your interest and commitment to do 10 day challenge? 

MS: I follow a lot of food blogs and Instagram accounts, and those had been inspiring me for a while to try this way of eating. I loved the idea of eating whole plants because even before I knew about the challenge I was already excited about avoiding processed foods. I also watched the Forks Over Knives documentary on Netflix. I knew the challenge would be a good way for me to be able to ask all of the questions I had about going plant based.

LL: What foods were you consuming before the challenge?

MS: Mostly everything. Lots of eggs. Dairy and meat too. I avoided processed foods and I was already a little bit     crazy about reading ingredients on food labels.

LL: Did you notice any immediate changes within the first few days? negative or positive

MS: The very first thing I noticed was that coffee with almond milk tastes better than coffee with cows milk! Within the first few days of the challenge, I felt different, a little tired, because I was still learning what to replace the animal foods I’d been eating with, so I ended up consuming less overall. Now I eat more snacks and add more toppings and that helped a ton.

LL: Give a few examples of some new foods/meals you discovered during the challenge

MS: Banana ice cream completely blew my mind (one ingredient – frozen bananas). I still eat it every day and every time I want to cry tears of gratitude to nature and the existence of bananas. And there are so many choices for add-ins too! Dates, peanut butter, chocolate chips, vanilla extract, mango. My favorite breakfast is oatmeal. I literally go to bed every night excited for my peanut butter oatmeal in the morning. Another current obsession is toast – my two favorites are toast with hummus and raisins, and toast with avocado and salsa. 

LL: Did you ever find yourself unsatisfied during the challenge?

MS: Actually, what’s cool is I eat my favorite foods every day now. Before, I felt like I had to limit myself on things like pizza, ice cream, etc. Now I feel like I’m indulging in every meal. I stuff my face with banana ice cream every day and it feels great.

LL: what activities do you enjoy? Did you find you had more or less energy during the challenge?

MS: I love rock climbing, yoga, and mountain biking. At the beginning of the challenge I think I had less energy, but I still attribute that to not eating enough calories, but now that I know how to manage that better I feel great in terms of energy level!

LL: Are you presently plant powered?

MS: Yes I am!

LL: What was the highlight during the 10 days?

MS: The pot-luck! It was really inspiring to see and taste all of the delicious home-cooked plant-based food, AND be surrounded by amazing, like-minded individuals!

LL: Do you plan to stay plant powered?

MS: Absolutely. I wish I had started sooner

LL: What would you say to those considering this lifestyle?

MS: It might feel hard or extreme, and there’s kind of a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it, it comes as naturally as ever. You’ll discover new and exciting things to try! Honestly, I enjoy eating more now than I did before. If someone is hesitant I would encourage them to start out by just changing one thing. Switching to almond milk or soy milk for example. Or try cooking one plant-based meal a week. Or jump in on Meatless Mondays. There are so many recipes and ideas out there and so many people who want to help you. The community embracing this way of eating is amazing right now.


You can follow Michelle on her plant powered adventures on instagram and facebook . Thank you Michelle for making such a positive impact on your health, the planet, and the lives of farmed animals and  please continue to share your experience with everyone around you!!
Stay tuned for another challenge this fall. Also mark your calendars for Plant Based Utah’s first annual Nutrition symposium this October featuring Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Ann Esselstyn, and producer of “Cowspiracy” and “What The Health”, Keegan Kuhn!!

The Reluctant Vegan

By: Alisha Niswander 

I grew up on a farm. I was surrounded by animals. Animal products had a place at the table nearly every time we sat down to eat. This was Ohio. My family had animals. I remember watching my grandpa butcher chickens and seeing them flying around headless. I also remember feeding baby cows out of a huge baby bottle. Looking back I was probably feeding them hormones so they could grow big, quickly and be sent to slaughter.

In fourth grade, I joined 4H. I was in both Girls 4H, where I took a nutrition and cooking class, and Boys 4H where I had pigs and rabbits that eventually I took to the county fair. I loved my pigs and rabbits. They were pets. I taught my pig to walk around our property, guided by the gentle tap of a cane on her jowls. Her name was Elvira. I learned how to care for her, by feeding her, washing her and cleaning her pen. One time she and some others escaped the pen and went haywire in my Grandpa’s apple orchard, eating all the fallen apples that had fermented. They got quite tipsy! The fair came. I showed Elvira, with pride. I walked her around the arena and was awarded 4th place. I showed my bunnies too. I remember what I was wearing. I was wearing bright blue pants and a white shirt with ruffles and a silky ribbon. The bunny kept trying to eat the ribbon and I thought that was so cute. I wasn’t concerned what the judge thought. This was my pet and she was being funny.

Toward the end of the week it was time to sell Elvira. I remember standing in the middle of this huge arena, by myself, and the auctioneer giving the specs on Elvira and then the bidding began. The bidding was a price/pound. I think she went for about $250.00 which at the time was a lot of money! After I paid my parents back for her food, I had a decent amount of money I could put in the bank for college. This was really exciting. However, I didn’t have Elvira. I never saw her again. I was sad but I had to get over it. This was what we did in the country. One thing you learn in the country is where you food comes from. You realize quickly that chicken or hamburger doesn’t just show up on a piece of styrofoam wrapped in plastic in the grocery store. This peculiar package in the deli section was an animal.

In high school I worked at a chicken farm. I don’t know how many thousands of chickens were in the barns. I literally could not go in there. The dust, ammonia smell, feces and noise was overwhelming and would send me into an allergic reaction. I worked out front packaging the eggs. This was my first (and luckily only) experience working at a factory farm.

I experimented with vegetarianism in high school, mainly for shock value. I quickly traded in the pot roast for romaine lettuce with fat free ranch dressing. I had no idea how to be a healthy vegetarian, but it felt liberating to say “I’m a vegetarian.” In college I started eating meat again, because it was easy and I didn’t really know how to do anything else. Years later, I only ate fish. Then, I only ate meat where I knew the source. A while ago, I gave it up all together. The last meat I was eating was the free range chicken that my parents raise. I would say I was probably about 90% vegan for quite a while. About a year ago, I gave up all animal products. It is not hard. I feed my body with plants, fruits and legumes. “WHERE do you get your protein?” Once in awhile when I do track what I’m eating on average I’m getting about 80-100g of protein per day.

Why am I a reluctant vegan? I hate labels. I don’t like to put myself in a corner where I’m being watched. I remember someone saying “You’re vegan right?” my response was “Uh… I don’t eat animal product.” He said, “Come on! We need you!” I realized then, that my food choices make others take note. I should seize this opportunity to be a good example and to inspire others to make different food choices. My hope is that people will realize vegan food is amazingly good! I am constantly complimented on my cooking so that’s a start! Vegan food is the best choice for our planet and for our health. Plant based diets are quickly gaining speed and I can’t think of any other way I want to fuel my body.

Alisha Niswander is an endurance athlete and the owner of Mountain Vista Touring. She guides clients through different mountain activities fueling them with her plant based protein bars and energy bites.

Follow Alisha on instagram @mountainvistatouring to see her latest adventures

Mindful May Middle School Madness

By: Chris Shapard and Craig Gordon:

The students at Treasure Mountain Junior High learn about the power of plant-based nutrition

“How many of you think about where your food comes from?” A few students hesitantly raise their hands, most keep them down.

When most of us sit down to eat, about to sink our teeth into a burger, we see a burger, not a dead cow. Behind that seemingly innocent paper-wrapped circular mass of bread, vegetables and condiments, there is a sinister story that everyone who eats food needs to know.

Commuting around the Salt Lake Valley, our plant-based tribe is increasingly aware of an endless parade of livestock trucks, hauling animals to slaughterhouses. My stomach turns and I get nauseous at the sight of these trucks. I want to look away and ignore the problem, but my heart and my eyes look to connect with just one of the souls on board to say “I am sorry.”

Over the course of two days, Sage Mountain’s Lauren Lockey teamed up with local plant-based athlete Craig Gordon and Chris Shapard of the non-profit Factory Farming Awareness Coalition (FFAC) to educate hundreds of students on the benefits of a plant-based diet, and to raise awareness of the consequences and power of their everyday food choices.

The animal products people buy in restaurants and grocery stores have been so transformed that the animals who suffered and died for chicken wings, a hot dog, or slice of cheese, have been completely hidden behind a deceivingly benign image of a picturesque little farm on the package. Happy cows, smiling pigs, fish frolicking in the ocean… brilliant disconnected marketing ploys. What’s not included on those packages is the fact that 99% of animals today are raised on giant factory farms, and that billions of chickens spend their entire lives crammed into a cage with each having less space on average than a standard sheet of paper.

Students gasped when they learned that hundreds of millions of male chicks in the egg industry are ground up alive simply because they don’t produce any eggs and therefore they are of “no use” to the industry. Like most of us, the students didn’t think about the baby cows who are taken away from their mothers so that the baby’s milk can be sold for human consumption, and the billions of animals whose lives were cut drastically short because we have unconsciously prioritized our taste buds over their right to live. This is the story for those raised on small farms, factory farms, humane, cage free, organic, or grass fed.

The presentation also disclosed the immense environmental toll of animal agriculture. To produce a single beef patty, it takes upwards of 660 gallons of water. Animal agriculture is also a leading cause of deforestation, water pollution, and produces more greenhouse gasses than the entire transportation sector – a fact that resonates with all of us here in Utah whose winter wonderland is becoming increasingly threatened by rising temperatures.

The animal products that take such an immense toll on animals and our environment are killing us as well. Animal products cause heart disease, diabetes, and cancer and the students learned that the choices they make now determine their health in the future.

The students learned about about Pony Boy and Wilma Jean (or PB & J), who get to live out their lives in peace at the beautiful Sage Mountain sanctuary.

The good news is that the power is in our hands to fix these problems with the food choices we make everyday – and these students are the ones who will be leading the way. It is our responsibility to educate them and embrace their innate compassion. Even though we covered environment, health, and ethics equally, students were most impacted by the suffering animals endure. They realized they don’t want to be a part of it. We can choose compassion over convenience, health over habit, and sustainability over appetite. When we make the simple choice to eat plant-based foods instead of animal based foods, we are taking a stand for animals, people and our planet. We may not be able to see it, but when we choose plant-based foods, we can unlock the cage for countless other animals just like PB&J.

Please continue to follow Sage Mountain via Instagram and Facebook for individual interviews of students from Treasure Mountain!

Imagine this planet Earth

By: Lauren Lockey

This is a vision I wrote in September of 2014 when Sage Mountain was just getting started. I recently found it and thought it was relevant with April being Earth month. I hope you enjoy. I close with a song by one of my favorite artists that will surely motivate!

Imagine this planet Earth because we only have one

where ALL beings have a life of dignity

rivers flow clean and full

water scarcity is a glimpse of the past

our oceans support all biodiversity with no shortage of food for sea life or land animals who live off it

wild horses are wild again and aren’t auctioned off because they simply can not compete with ranchers using their home for grazing cattle

a sustainable food industry that does not require enormous subsidies to exist

trees and grasses are abundant 

land can return to supporting all species 

suffering is drastically reduced because animals are no longer on our plates

beings are no longer judged based on race, gender, wealth, religion, or species

we are all earthlings 

a huge reduction in cardiovascular and cancer related diseases in humans that could alleviate the financial stress on our health care system

wildlife could live and hunt freely and therefore bring greater balance into our ecosystem

a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions that would be more than the equivalent of taking every car, truck, plane, and boat off our roads, out of our skies and water ways

we have the power to create this each and every day

a more compassionate, sustainable, and empowered world

this planet Earth

because we only have one.

Take a look around at the beauty which inspires us and the support this planet gives us. When we cultivate those attributes within ourselves and towards each other, we can make the world a better place. Life is short and now that I am getting older I am realizing my mortality. I would much rather feel love and compassion in my heart. Not hate or apathy. So choose something, your way of spreading more kindness, making a change, leaving the world better for the next generations. So they too can be in awe of the beauty, breathe freely, and cherish all creatures fully. Let  Michael Franti(click his name)help! Turn it up loud and look up!


Ponyboy, My Story

By: Ponyboy

I will have to say that it’s been a whirlwind since Johnny and I broke free from our captors in Riverside County, California. See, what many of you don’t know is that this was a planned getaway from the beginning and not some spontaneous guy’s night out romp.

Let me help paint the picture with some of the few details that I remember from that evening. You will have to cut me some slack as I was only 3 months old at the time and my memories are vague. I’m sure many of you would also have a hard time remembering what you were doing at that age. I can assure you that planning a daring escape was not in the cards. In fact, our lives were meant to be doomed from the beginning.

Johnny and I were being raised in what humans would call a backyard butcher situation. What that basically means is that we lived in cramped quarters where our humans would raise and grossly over feed us until we were ready to be turned into lamb chops and bacon. Now, let me stop there for a minute as I have an issue with this. At what point do I become bacon? When your species dies you don’t transform into another thing or food item. Apparently Johnny and I transform into something completely different. I’m not bacon. I’m a pig and a damned smart one at that. When it’s time for me to go I will become a deceased pig and not this “bacon” thing.

Many humans know for some reason or another that we pigs are intelligent creatures. This is not by chance but by hard work and numerous sleepless nights studying. In my studies as a young piglet I noticed that when humans would consume my deceased fellow friends, or “bacon”, that those humans would then become sick with chronic disease such as heart disease. So let me get this straight, humans kill pigs like me and then we turn around and kill them with the number one killer of all humans, heart disease.

As Johnny and I laid there realizing how counterproductive this all was, or as Johnny would say “batshit crazy” (Johnny had a way with words), we realized we wanted to do something about it before it was too late. So for a few weeks we  contrived a plan to break out of our tiny quarters and make our move. The daughter of our captor would not be the best at locking our gate after coming into feed us in the evenings. After a few times of seeing this we knew that we had to make our move and make our move we did. It was a breezy September evening and Johnny and I bolted. We ran and ran until we couldn’t run anymore. Then we ran some more. Then we walked. We walked miles and miles through farmland and neighborhoods until we were just couldn’t go anymore. Sometime around midday the next day some strangers stopped us and coaxed us into a truck. We realized this was animal control and figured that it was better than where we were before so we decided to get off our feet for a while. After a few days at the animal control facility, the workers there didn’t have the necessary means to hold us much longer and placed a call to Farm Sanctuary in Acton, CA to ask if they would take Johnny and I. This is where things made a huge turn for us. Farm Sanctuary is the largest farm animal welfare group in the country and through a miracle picked us to come to their home. Johnny and I knew that from here on out were not going to become bacon and lamb chops or contribute to the number one killer of humans.

this is Johnny and I at Farm Sanctuary

As we grew up at Farm Sanctuary I realized I was becoming a lot bigger than Johnny and needed some more space. It was at this time two people from Utah (wherever that is) representing Sage Mountain came to visit me. They said they had tons of space and would love for me to come and live there. After a few months, vet visits, and a short stay in Northern California, I was ready to take a road trip with my new girlfriend Wilma Jean to Utah. I won’t say much about Wilma Jean here as apparently she had a blog written about her a little bit ago. I’m still trying to wrap my big ears around this as I met the Sage Mountain team first and should have been the first blog. I will let it slide as to not hurt Wilma Jean’s feelings and not to mention I don’t want to upset her. She outweighs me by 100 lbs and can give me the business at anytime she so desires.

Maggie and I nose to nose

Exploring with Wilma Jean at Sage Mountain(I have definitely filled out some)

Since being here I have made new friends especially with Maggie the German Shepherd. She follows me around all day and won’t leave me alone. I have told her numerous times that I have a girlfriend but it doesn’t seem to stop her. I look forward to more animal friends arriving at Sage Mountain during the spring and summer months.

I get to wake up to amazing sunrises, lots of space, sometimes snow cover (still getting used to that), and usually Wilma Jean snuggled next to me. Here I explore, dig, chew, bathe, get muddy, get muddy some more, eat, sleep, receive belly rubs and treats, and am adored by my humans.  I get to be a pig here and that’s all I ever wanted. I will continue to be a voice for all my animal friends out there and  be the change I seek in this world.

one of my favorite times of the day

Oink Oink


Did God say it’s OK to eat animals?

By: Kent Maurer

This is a justification for eating meat that I’ve heard many times; “God says it Ok to eat animals” or  “God put animals on this earth for us to eat”. Since the subject of plant only nutrition is not controversial enough, in this blog I thought I’d throw in religion just to spice things up.

Just a precursor, I wasn’t raised religious or am I affiliated to any religions; as a matter of fact I never really paid attention to religion until I was first confronted with this justification about 15 years or so ago. So like I do with every question I get about a plant only diet and lifestyle, I researched it, and here’s what I’ve learned.

Since I’m in Utah, I’ll start with the Mormons.

Are you Mormon? If so why do you eat meat? In the Doctrine and Covenants 49 reading verses 18 and 19, your faith specifically says not to east meat unless in times of famine. There is no famine, Costco, Wal-Mart, Target all have an abundance of inexpensive beans, grains and potatoes to base all your meals around. The only places on earth where there is a food shortage is in impoverished countries where food is literally taken out of starving peoples mouths to feed to the animal agriculture industry, so the “privileged” human can have their steak.

Are you a Christian? If so why do you still eat meat when in Genesis 1:29 God tells Christians exactly what to eat right after He created man; “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.” After God flooded the planet and there were no plants to eat, he gave permission for some meat to be eaten (a time of famine) in Genesis 9:3. He didn’t change our anatomy from His original plant based design to that of a meat eater. I also found that the early editions of the Bible stated when Jesus fed the 5000 on the hillside fish and bread; it was actually written that it was ‘fish weed’ or ‘fishmeal’ (dried seaweed) instead of fish. Makes more sense seeing how there was no refrigeration and the fish would have rotted before they could eat them.


How about Judaism? Are you one of the chosen ones? Genesis 1:29 and the Old Testament is what you should follow as well when it comes to your food choices. Squeezing the blood out of a piece of meat to make it Kosher, does not make it healthier or justify eating an animal.

Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism all practice a life of not harming other beings. The word they use is, “Ahimsa”, a term meaning ‘not to injure’. This great word encourages followers to aspire to cause no injury, or do no harm to you, the planet or ANY living creature.

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The Seventh Day Adventists here in the United States follow the Bible to the letter (Genesis 1:29) and consequently live an average of ten years longer then the most Americans and are now considered the longest living humans on planet earth; doing so in smog infested Loma Linda California just east of L.A. The book ‘The Blue Zones’ is an excellent read on the secrets to longevity.

When it comes to eating animals most people throw all religious beliefs out the window, and eat animals of all types three times a day.

I live with the belief that we are ALL creatures of God and that God resides in each one of us. So killing animals, just like killing a human, or destroying the planet He created, is really killing one of Gods creations or a piece of God Himself.

Dominion’ Humans were given “dominion” over this earth and all the creatures that reside in it.

Meaning: we are supposed to be the protectors, the overseers…not the eaters and destroyers!

Why is it so hard to give up eating animals when every act of eating an animal is death and destruction; death to the animal, destruction of the planet, and the slowest form of voluntary suicide through the act of eating animals (heart disease, cancer, diabetes)?

Why does all logic, health concerns, environmental concerns, as well as compassion, get discarded when it comes to eating animals?

It’s time every religious person as well as every non religious person walks the walk, and not just talks the talk. Be kind; treat others like you’d like to be treated, which include ALL creatures!

By the way my religion, “My Religion is Kindness!”

eckhart-tolle-guardians-of-being-60-728Kent Maurer

A Higher Intelligence

By: Lauren Lockey

A few weeks ago I had a conversation with someone about a particular experience he had while visiting a park near by his family’s home. He witnessed a person picking up a young duckling and chucking him across the park like a football. I proceeded to ask if he did anything about it or tried to help in any way. He answered that he felt bad for the animal but continued to say, “do you know how small a duck’s brain is? Not the smartest in the bunch!”                         ” So that makes it okay?” I asked. If the duck had a large brain and was “smarter” then he wouldn’t be thrown across the field?

This question comes up a lot for me.  While I am always fascinated learning about the science behind the cognitive abilities of non human animals ranging from chimpanzees to elephants to pigs to chickens,  does it matter when it comes to the most important aspect all human and non human animals share? That being the simple desire to live and be free from suffering. We all want to love and be loved. We all want to make our own choices. We want to take care of our families and friends and be social. We want to be happy and feel joyous. Are humans the only ones deserving of that and what gives us the right to take that away or do what we please with those whom we deem “less intelligent?” And if higher intelligence is what matters, are humans at the top? Because I am not sure confining, using, or slaughtering animals is intelligent when it comes to the negative impact it has on everything around us and our own health.  You can not help wonder whether our intelligence is overrated! Perhaps our non human animal friends are truly the intelligent ones as they take only what they need and live in harmony and balance with the planet. The ranges of intelligence will vary according to species. No, a chicken or rat isn’t going to drive a car, go vote, or create some app for iphones. BUT they do have jobs, tasks, and knowledge within their daily lives that works and allows for growth within their communities and families. The definition of intelligence is the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.  I would add to that, “within any given species”.

OR is it that we honestly believe that all nonhuman animals are here FOR us and not WITH us?  I think we can all agree that the young duckling was most likely minding his own business being a duck. I think we can also agree he had no interest, nor does anyone for that matter, in being thrown across the field to then be injured and scared for his life. So why then? Why do non human animals, no matter their level of intelligence, continue to be caged, abused, eaten, experimented on, used, and worn by our species? Can we shift our perception just slightly and get out of the way so others can live their lives freely? Isn’t that what we want for ourselves?

Again, I am simply asking questions with the ultimate hope that you, readers, will share your thoughts. Maybe it requires uncoiling where we came from and where we picked up our beliefs. Because perhaps a higher intelligence comes from the ability to live in harmony with the planet without intentionally harming others, to take care of ourselves and each other.

Tillikum, the Orca the documentary “Blackfish” was based on, just died after 30 years in captivity. He was ripped from the wild and his mother at just 2 years old. Why? For entertainment and profit at Seaworld.  Orcas stay with family and friends for life in their natural habitat. Tilly was kept in solitary confinement for the majority of his life except for when he was forced to do tricks and entertain the public. Very similar to those animals confined in the circus and at the Zoo.  When he passed, he had scratches all along his body and his teeth were worn down from biting the cages out of frustration.


Another Orca named Granny is also presumed dead but at 105 years old. She lived and died with freedom unlike Tilly who was never given the chance even after science continued to back up how abusive it is to keep these animals in solitary confinement.


Luckily the documentary “Blackfish” opened our eyes to profits made from captivity and abuse and  fortunately less and less people are buying tickets to Seaworld.  More people are becoming aware that non human animals are tortured, abused, used, and slaughtered more than any other being ever in the history of mankind.

All over the world animals are suffering from human hands whether it’s for flesh, product, entertainment, ivory and skins, fur, testing, feathers, religion and ceremony. These animals range in intelligence. They speak languages that we can’t even understand. However, what is most important is that they share the ability to feel pain and suffer immensely.

So let’s take a moment, step back and observe how we treat others, what we project to be intelligent and what we can learn from those around us. Listen and observe more,  uncoil belief systems, and let others live in their own right, their own intelligence, and perhaps we can learn something. A way that brings more peace, more love, and ultimately a collective higher intelligence.

Here’s to the animals and all they teach us! Patience, forgiveness, simplicity, love, joy, and intelligence. Let’s honor them more, help an individual in need, and make the world a little better for all.