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.


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.


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)

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

Raising Compassion

By: Mandy Parry


              Last year my 7 year old son came home from school looking dejected. He pulled out a worksheet he was given for homework. The instructions were to draw a line from the farm animal to the thing it “gives”. This week his 1st grade class was learning about farm animals. The curriculum didn’t bother to mention how the animals look, sound, think or live outside of exploitation. Instead it only focused on how a cow “gives” milk, a hen “gives” eggs and a pig “gives” pork. Give is a funny word to use because it’s as if the animal was asked and had first right of refusal or they have a choice in the matter. The reality is that they have no choice. These things are not only taken, the sentient beings they are taken from, endure a life of suffering..

            I expected to run into a time when my son and I would have deep conversations about veganism but not in 1st grade. To my surprise he already understood what was wrong with these teachings. He’s been to farm sanctuaries and has a better understanding than I assumed he did. What a relief. He continued to bring home worksheets along the same lines. I was upset that this type of thinking was being ingrained into young minds. I went to the school and talked to his teacher but she didn’t see my concern. She went on to say this was standard curriculum from the district and she couldn’t change it if she wanted to. As disappointed as I was to hear that, I’m grateful this gave my son and I a chance to discuss farm life in greater detail.


              My family and I became vegan a little over 2 years ago. My husband and I decided we didn’t want to contribute to violence against animals and we studied some amazing health benefits from plant-based diets. The switch was easy, but we worried how the kids would adjust. What I didn’t consider is how compassion in children is so innate. They get it better than most adults and before we knew it we had re-placed calf growth fluid (milk) with almond milk, cheese by delicious Follow Your Heart, and beans or lentils in place of meat. Contrary to some beliefs, we didn’t starve and in fact our pallets developed a new appreciation for foods we used to eat sparingly. Not only do we find ourselves getting sick less often, but our recovery time is quicker. Our kids come in contact with kids with viruses at school often and rarely do they contract the illness. Their immune systems kick ass! Same goes for working out and being athletic. My recovery time reduced though I’m getting older.



               In my experience the most powerful tool to raising compassionate children is to lead by example. They watch as I volunteer at animal sanctuaries and rescues. They come with me when I go to protests. They see my passion and love for all beings. Even though we haven’t always been vegan we never supported animals used for entertainment. My husband and I never felt right going to circuses, zoos or aquariums so that wasn’t a shock for them. Now I watch as my children explain to others why we don’t support the animal entertainment industry. My daughter has a Dr. Suess book where a cartoon girl is riding a rhino. Each time we read it she says “Momma, it’s so sad that she’s riding that rhino. Animals don’t like to be treated like that”. My son comes home upset because kids were stepping on bugs at school and he couldn’t get them to stop. What so many adults are unable to see, children just know. I hope they never lose that. I want them to question everything and refrain from following the status quo.


I know there may come a time when they decide to step away from veganism. To say this possibility doesn’t terrify me would be a lie but I want them to find their own voice and passion for veganism. What I can do is be the example and hope what they have learned is what they already know in their hearts – compassion.


               Another great tool for raising vegan kids is finding community. It can be lonely without it. I was amazed at the amount of support I found online and in my hometown. Our first discovery was Esther the Wonder Pig and Ziggy the Traveling Piggy. I was able to show my kids videos of beautiful animals living free from harm. We love watching the videos on The Dodo and Peta Kids has some great information too. We were able to find a community of local vegans that put on holiday parties, potlucks and meet-ups. Being around like-minded people with children that have answers to your questions and an understanding for the hardships you face is incredible. It’s one thing to go vegan yourself, but when it comes to raising vegan kids everyone has an opinion. I personally have extended family that thinks we’re “too extreme” because we don’t share their views on animal exploitation. It’s not always easy, but it is definitely worth it. It’s not even as close to difficult when you consider the challenges the animals face being raised for food.

For Christmas this year I have my eye on a few new books that teach about compassion. One of them is “V is for Vegan,” which goes through the alphabet giving the why’s and how’s of veganism. The other, “Santa’s First Vegan Christmas,” is a story about a fun-loving reindeer who meets Santa and shows him how we can all be kinder to animals. Kindness is a gift we can never give or get enough of.

“It is vital that when educating our children’s brains that we do not neglect to educate their hearts.”

Dalai Lama

From Activism Blooms Friendship

By: Sahna Foley

One Single Act-“For the Betterment of Humanity”

By: Kent Maurer


There is “one single act” that every one of us has absolute control over for the betterment of all of humanity, and that is what we choose to eat. We literally vote with our food choices at the grocery store, a restaurant, a drive through food joint, or a convenience store. Every time we make a purchase its telling industries what we want, demand and supply. When we order it, buy it or crave it, big business will continue to supply it, no matter what the health or environmental costs. Of all the food choices we are making, the choice of eating animals and animal products is, by far, making the biggest (negative) impact on our personal health and very dramatically, the health of our planet.


Let’s talk about environment first. We all live together on this planet and share its resources. Two thirds of the planet is water but only 3% of that water is fresh water and 2% of that fresh water is ice. That leaves 1% of planet earth’s water available for all to share. Of course humans think of themselves first, without water we will die. Right now there are 7 billion plus people on this planet, just 50 years ago there was just over 2 billion. By 2100 there is expected to be 12 billion people all sharing that 1% of available fresh water.

We are not alone on this planet. Other living creatures and plants need to share that 1% of available fresh water with us and this is where it gets disturbing. Because of our voting habits when it comes to food, there are presently 70 billion factory farmed animals being raised world wide to satisfy our demand for animal products. Those animals require a dramatic amount of water when it comes to growing the food they eat and the water they drink. It’s estimated by the United Nations and other water watch communities that 23% of all the fresh water in the world, 50% of all the water in the United States and 70% of all the fresh water in the western U.S. is being used to grow food used specifically to raise farmed animals. In the mean time everyone and everything else is taking the blame for our water shortage We are told to take shorter showers, let our lawns die, tell growers whose plants take more water than normal like nut trees and certain fruits, to cut back on their crops or go out of business altogether, while collectively, nothing comes close to the amount of water being used to grow animals. Of all the restrictions being put on water use, animal agriculture gets a free pass with no restrictions.

In addition to the massive amounts of water being used by factory animal farming, in the U.S. alone 80% of farmland and 70-90% of our grain crops, is dedicated solely to raising animals for food. Millions of people in the U.S. and 2 billion people world wide do not have enough food, but factory farmed animals are fed till they are as fat as they can get to warrant the most money at slaughter. Our forests are being leveled to make room for more grazing area and to grow crops to feed to animals. This is a huge problem in the Amazon in South America where an acre a minute is being leveled to support animal agriculture. The Amazon and all vegetation are the lungs of our planet; plants absorb the carbon dioxide and breathe out the precious oxygen we all need (along with that 1% of fresh water) to survive.


Then there are the airborne diseases that are escalating in this world, bird flu, avian flu, swine flu and on and on. 70% of the entire antibiotic supply made in this world goes to factory farmed animals in an effort to keep them alive in horrendous conditions until they are slaughtered. The overuse of antibiotics creates antibiotic resistant bacteria super-bugs, add that to the waste that 70 billion plus factory farmed animals are producing and a serious health problem is created. There are no sewer systems dedicated to these animals, their entire excrement ends up in our aqua fillers, rivers and oceans creating “dead zones” where nothing will grow and even more airborne diseases arise.

So why do we put up with an industry that’s estimated to contribute to 51% of all greenhouse gases produced? …Protein…


We are obsessed and convinced that without our burger, chicken sandwich, hot dog, scrambled eggs, steak and fish, that we will not survive. While quite frankly the opposite is true, the science, case studies, and facts prove otherwise. Animal protein is the problem of our ill health, not the cure. We’d be immensely better off if we stopped eating animals and got our protein from the same sources the cow, pig, chicken, elephant, gorilla, racehorse and every other animal on this plant that has an anatomy similar to ours gets their protein from, plants!

75% of all animals on this planet, including humans, have an anatomy perfectly designed to take in soft easy to acquire plant food. We are the total opposite design of a carnivore like a lion or an omnivore like a bear. Humans have slow foot speed, small mouths and short dull teeth that could never bite through the skin of another animal and if we could we absolutely wouldn’t like the taste of blood. When fiber-less animal flesh enters our bodies our low acidic stomach acid and long windy intestines are not designed to absorb and eliminate that flesh. As the meat sits in our 11 times the length of our torso intestines, our 98.6 degree internal body is the perfect environment to produce the same type of bacteria that breaks down a dead animal on the side of the road. This is a disease producing acidic environment. Whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds are the perfect foods for the human design and can be made into an unlimited variety of tasty, filling meals and produce the alkaline blood we are designed to thrive on.


We cannot continue to justify the amount of water, food and land needed, as well as the diseases produced in our quest for animal protein. Not to mention the immense amount of pain and suffering 70 billion plus land animals and 100 billion sea creatures go through, unnecessarily, each year. As much as we don’t want to admit it, humans are not that important to this planet. We may have gotten the bigger brain and the ability to reason, but what have we brought to the table for the betterment of planet earth, I-phones, bombs, pollution? If bees or ants were to vanish from this planet the earth might not be able to survive, but if humans were gone, this planet would thrive.

We were put on this earth to oversee and protect it and all its inhabitants; unfortunately,we are not doing a very good job. But I do have confidence in my fellow human species, if we are given the correct information and then minimize, or better yet, eliminated our unnatural appetite for eating animals, we could save this planet and our health.

Stop believing the marketing hype, we don’t need animals for protein, calcium, iron, omega 3’s or any other nutrient, plants have it all. After absorbing this information and researching it yourself, don’t think you can call yourself an environmentalist or a humanitarian if you still choose to eat meat. I believe our future population will look back on this period of our planet in sadness, but also with pride. Pride that we took action and realized the problem and then corrected it. Just like any other disease, we have to get to the root of the problem instead of using band-aids in trying to correct the problem. THE single biggest problem, is raising and eating animals for food!

With one single act, the whole planet will benefit; animals need to be taken off the breakfast, lunch and dinner table, NOW.


Be gentle to yourself, animals, and others.

By Natalie Blanton


What has always remained so confusing, frustrating, and surprising to me is the bad taste in the mouth of our collective society when words such as “vegan” or “animal rights” are brought up.

I will most likely field some criticism for this — but I need to say something about living compassionately:

Yes, we live in a society that is built upon the backs of the most marginalized. Including animals.

Living compassionately should include the active elimination of harm, violence, and suffering inflicted upon all other humans, animals, and this planet, Earth.

Driscoll’s Workers Call for Global Boycott over Alleged Abuses at World’s Biggest Berry Distributor -- Read the Democracy Now story here.

Driscoll’s Workers Call for Global Boycott over Alleged Abuses at World’s Biggest Berry Distributor — Read the Democracy Now story here.

Granted, and unfortunately, you will never be 100% “cruelty-free” because animal products are in everything. And I mean everything. Beyond food, household cleaning products, medicine, and makeup, are all brutally, and unnecessarily, tested on animals. And those organic non-GMO veggies? They were most likely picked by migrant or undocumented farm workers, living under a cruel system/regime of oppression, non-livable wage, and silencing lack of representation. I would not qualify these fruits, vegetables, and products of industrial agriculture as “cruelty-free,” even if these processes do not involve harming animals directly.  

In light of all this doom and gloom? Aysha Akhtar, M.D., M.P.H. Neurologist, public health specialist, and author, gave me a great piece of advice: “Just do your best!” In continually seeking, creating and living a life free of violence and cruelty, there will always be that one obscure ingredient that, once you’ve researched the origins, you will be forever perplexed and saddened by our society. For now? Watch Dr. Akhtar’s TED talk here, regarding all of the reasons to keep fighting this good fight and pursuing this idea of “cruelty-free” no matter how difficult. In essence? Shop locally and ethically, never be silent about oppression, and keep educating yourself and your community.

Once you are veg, keep doing your best to stay veg.

If you are new to the plant-based life — first off, welcome. Second off, fun fact: Cheese has the same addictive properties as hard drugs. Because of this terrifying scientific fact, cravings are real. I get it. Even after many years of a vegan lifestyle — those can randomly rear their ugly heads. If there is something specific? Reach out to one of our Sage Mountain resources to ask, “Why do I miss fish so much?” or “I just can’t give up cheese,” etc. These are real questions with real answers and we live in a day and age when it is easier than ever to be vegan — with the right information, awareness, and understanding. So jump on it — reach out to any of us here at SM or local, incredibly knowledgable plant-based fitness and nutrition coaches: Lexi P., of element xii, Courtney Pool, etc.

Remind yourself why you went veg in the first place and surround yourself with support and community.

Realities of the dairy industry.

Realities of the dairy industry.

I would argue that people give veganism or plant-based living a bad wrap because of these fabled “vegans” themselves. But, you have to wonder why we are such a minority and why it is so wild for an individual to step back, say no, and abstain from consuming death and suffering at every meal/in their daily routine. I will never understand that by making the choice to go veg we become such a nuisance to society. Yes, vegans are outraged, and angry. But for good reason. We are not here to shame and blame you. We must understand that there are larger actors and systems at play here. And we are more angry at the society that continues to profit off of animal lives. The moment you open yourself up to the awareness and consciousness that is plant-based living, it is hard not to react with an incredulous, “How did I never know that milk is only produced by grieving mother dairy cows, after their baby was taken from them?” and other such sentiments.


It is hard enough having every meal, social gathering, restaurant visit, and drive down the interstate be a reminder and space of violence towards animals. You can not fight the good fight, sustainably and progressively, if you are weak, sick, or too depressed to go on. Compassion fatigue is real — and we must be wary of it as humans with our busy routines, plus this added layer of complexities and advocacy. Self Care is a must. Meeting other like-minded individuals helps in feeling less alone or weird in this social movement.


I encourage you to reach out to us, or other veg-inclined folk. These conversations are so rejuvenating, I promise. Come to our monthly vegan potlucks, #ThirstyFirstThursday events [there is one coming up this week at Este PC], SLC’s very own VegFest taking place on Sept. 10, or the SLC Vegan Facebook page’s meet-ups are amazing!

selfcaresundayBe gentle to yourself, animals, and others. There is an unhealthy amount of infighting in the plant-based, vegan, and animal rights movements. And these schisms between this community of like-minded, progressive individuals will only do more harm than good in pushing the momentum. If a veg individual decides to, for whatever reason, re-integrate animal products back into their lives — then that is on them. It is okay to feel angry and disappointed with that person, but do not shame and blame and kick and scream and yell, or call them a “sell-out”. This will only further wedge the divide between the individual and the veg-lifestyle/community. This is where that bad taste in the mouth comes from, and subsequently, the distaste for “vegans” in general. It is wasted energy and resources spent shaming, guilting, or pressuring people back into being fully veg. And it is not sustainable. People should make the transition to plant-based living for themselves, or whatever reasons feel right for them — that way, they are more likely to stay veg, and, as so many of us have realized, thrive. Take your vegan rage and channel it into new avenues — write your political representatives about the dismal state of animal agriculture, host a fundraiser for your favorite animal rights organization, or, meet up with youth in your community and have an honest conversation about all of the wonderful reasons to adopt a vegan lifestyle.

Art by Sue Coe.

Art by Sue Coe.

I understand it is easy to be frustrated with friends and family who remain [or return to being] stubborn omnivores. Most of my immediate environment of kin is not veg whatsoever. And that is okay. Remember, this world, unfortunately, revolves around the use and abuse of animals, and it is not “normal” to be vegan, yet. But the tide is shifting. And it is getting easier, more accessible, and celebrated by governments, health organizations, celebrities, and individuals alike. Do not lose your temper with people who have not yet had their eyes opened to the truth, or the windows opened into slaughterhouses. Or those who believe the self-congratulatory lies that the dairy and egg industries are profiting off of daily [see resources regarding these “happy farm animals” such as the Humane Myth, “Cage Free,” or Free Range Fraud].


You do you. And do your best. Keep fighting. For yourself, for the animals, and for this planet. Continue fostering these honest and vital conversations of awareness and advocacy. Because it matters. And this is a brave, valiant and hard fight.
We are all here for you. And we must do this together.