The Future Is Vegan: Raising Compassion, Interview #2 with Karen Riley

For the second of six interviews on vegan parenting, Lauren Lockey interviewed Karen Riley, another local to Park City, and her baby boy Jack. See the interview below:

LL: What inspired you to become vegan and what is the biggest change you noticed in yourself?
KR: The health benefits!! The physician I work with is plant based. I attended one of his presentations when I first started working with him and have never looked back! The biggest change that I have noticed in myself is that I don’t get ‘hangry’ anymore right before meal times. I also can eat as many fruits and veggies as I want!

LL: Did you have cravings during your pregnancy and what were your amazing vegan alternatives?
KR: I didn’t have any animal product cravings! Though I did eat my fair share of pineapples! Also, I couldn’t/can’t live without ice cream – Ben and Jerry’s non-dairy!!

LL: Did you find it difficult to find vegan prenatals?
KR: I did find it difficult to find vegan prenatal. Many of the prenatals are not vegan. I ended up just taking folic acid (along with my normal B12 and vitamin D) as I was eating a very balanced plant based diet that contained everything I needed!

LL: What has been/what will be your biggest obstacle in raising a vegan baby?
KR: My little guy is just 5 months old right now. He is exclusively breastfed. We will be introducing foods soon, so stay tuned!

LL: What foods do you feed Jack to make sure there is adequate nutrition? What about milk/formula alternatives?
KR: Right now, we are just doing breast milk. He is right on track for growth with mom’s vegan milk!

LL: How will you handle the social pressures your child receives about eating meat and dairy?
KR: I find this to be such an interesting topic! Why do kids have to eat chicken nuggets and mac and cheese!? What about the need for social pressure I make sure the child is getting adequate servings of fruits and vegetables and real food! 😊

LL: What will you say when Jack makes the connection that meat, dairy, eggs and fish comes from animals?
KR: 😬 coming from the health perspective, I haven’t formulated an approach to this yet!

LL: How do you respond to people/doctors that say “you are hurting your baby”?
KR: It’s unfortunate that individuals and providers feel that way. It is also a bummer that health care providers get such limited nutrition education in their schooling and therefore are not completely educated on the topic.

LL: What resources/blog/websites/books helped you the most?
KR:, I also enjoyed reading Skinny Bitch bun in the oven as well as Vegan Pregnancy survival guide.


Please join in the conversation by leaving a comment or question below.


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.

The Future Is Vegan: Raising Compassion, Interview #1; mother to one, Jennifer Kilcomons

Despite contrary beliefs, a whole food plant only vegan lifestyle is absolutely healthy for you and your baby. Lauren Lockey sat down with 6 local mothers and mothers to be who follow a vegan lifestyle to discuss their experiences in pregnancy and raising their children vegan. These interviews will be shared one by one throughout the next few months.  This was in collaboration with Raise Vegan. See the first interview with Meatless in the Mountains Jennifer Kilcomons, mother to one, below:

LL: What inspired you to become vegan and what is the biggest change you noticed in yourself?
JK: When my family got a dog for the first time, spending time with that little puppy inspired me to become vegan. The biggest change was a feeling of ‘peace’ and that I had figured out one of the meanings of life!

LL: Did you have cravings during your pregnancy and what were your amazing vegan alternatives?
JK: I had cravings for sweets, and my go-to was Whole Foods vegan chocolate chip cookies, they are amazing!

LL: Did you find it difficult to find vegan prenatals?
JK: Not at all – I just did some researching online and could find what I needed either online or at Whole Foods.

LL: What has been/what will be your biggest obstacle in raising a vegan baby?
JK: I truly believe there are no obstacles! It’s very easy!

LL: What foods do you feed Sierra to make sure there is adequate nutrition? What about milk/formula alternatives?
JK: She drinks soy milk and almond milk, and eats fruits, veggies, whole grains, lentils, beans, sweet potatoes, almond butter, peanut butter and avocados. We also give her a multi vitamin and probiotic mixed in her soy milk every morning.

LL: How will you handle the social pressures Sierra receives about eating meat and dairy?
JK: So far it has been easy, she is so young so she is always with me and I bring her food everywhere. It will be challenging when she goes to school and goes to friend’s houses, but as long as we surround ourselves with kind, understanding friends and family we should not have any problems.

LL: What will you say when Sierra makes the connection that meat, dairy, eggs and fish comes from animals?
JK: Right now we’re just teaching her to love animals, when she makes the connection we will explain that she does not have to eat these foods and hopefully she’ll understand because she loves animals, and she’s not used to that food anyways.

LL: How do you respond to people/doctors that say “you are hurting your baby”?
JK: I try to keep it short and just let them know she gets plenty of protein and vitamins from her food, drinks and vitamins. She is happy, healthy, chubby cheeks and smiles, so seeing her speaks for itself.

LL: What resources/blog/websites/books helped you the most?
JK: I enjoyed reading “The Kind Mama” by Alicia Silverstone.

Please join in the conversation by leaving a comment or question below.


Support your community. Buy Local?

By: Dave Swartz

Let me start by saying that I’m a small business owner and that we should do everything we can to buy and shop locally. Doing so does help stimulate the local economy with jobs and money that is kept and spent in the local community. This is true with most industries, however, there are some industries where the negative effects of buying local far outweigh the positive ones. One industry in particular is the food industry.

So what’s my beef with buying local food? My beef with buying local food is just that, beef. Animal based food products including beef are so harmful to our local environment and the health of the people in our community that buying these products from local producers or national producers should not even be part of the conversation.

According to the UN, World Watch Institute, and numerous other organizations, animal agriculture is responsible for a significant amount of negative environmental impacts. These include waste runoff that pollutes lakes and rivers, ocean dead zones due to excessive amounts of nitrous oxide, wildlife habitat loss due to competition with farmed animals, and a huge portion of greenhouse gas emissions. Why would one want to buy locally produced animal products if the local environment is going to be polluted by those same products?

An article from the Carnegie Mellon Institute that studied that impact of greenhouse gas emissions found that an omnivore buying local food could only achieve a 5 to 6% reduction in emissions compared to an omnivore buying food from non local sources. This reduction would be the same if that same omnivore ate a plant based diet for one day a week. In other words, someone that switches to a plant based diet will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 7 times that amount if he/she ate that way 7 days a week, and that’s from non-local sources. Even more reductions in emissions could be achieved by buying plant based foods from local sources.

Study after study has concluded that eating animal products is a sure way to increase your chances of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and numerous other common diseases. Not only will our local environment be compromised, but our community would will still be contracting the same diseases from locally produced animal products rather than animal based foods shipped from around the country or world. I’m not sure which is better, but I’m guessing if you asked a person with heart disease and type 2 diabetes, you may get some strange looks.

So, next time you think about buying local animal based foods, think twice about your local environment being polluted and your local hospital treating the local community that contracted diseases caused by eating locally produced animal products.

Choose plant based foods. Plant based foods shipped from anywhere on this planet or perhaps from the moon for that matter, are a much better choice than locally produced and processed animal products.

Once the decision has been made to eat plant only items, then yes, buy from your local farmers market or local produce from your local grocer, or perhaps just head down to your basement and grab some food being grown indoors, year round, without pesticides, and with a fraction of the water used in conventional methods in your home. Doesn’t get more local than that.

Co-Founder Lauren Lockey Interviews With KPCW

Co-founder Lauren Lockey interviews with KPCW on behalf Sage Mountain’s “compassionate traditions” campaign. Click the link below to listen:

(Lauren’s interview starts at 34:28)

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!