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Utah Farms Exposure Tour

Lauren Lockey

Amy Meyer of Utah Animal Rights Coalition and I recently teamed up for a “Farm Exposure Tour.” On this tour, which took place over four days, we armed ourselves with cameras and drove by more than 100 farms, including the major industrial factory farms throughout Utah. What we saw shocked us: dumpsters full of dead turkeys, thousands of small hutches with confined calves, animals living in their own waste, liquid manure waste lagoons, manure piles that were stories high, and feed/hay storage for miles. These farms are obscured from the public behind vast private property lots and warning signs, but even from public roads we were able to witness just how awful and unsustainable these operations are, and WHY they are hidden from the public. Consumers have the right to know that these practices are going on right here in our backyard in Utah. We took more than 400 photographs, including dairy calves left for dead at a few Utah dairy farms. These photos are also used on an interactive map we created that plots exactly where Utah’s factory farms and smaller farms are located. This is quite a lengthy write up and I don’t even touch on everything, so make sure to follow Utah Animal Rights and Sage Mountain Utah on Instagram and Facebook for more pictures, videos and details of the tour.

 

Turkeys

There are 47 turkey farms in Sanpete County, and it ranks number 3 in terms of turkey inventory. In 2012, nearly 4.5 million turkeys were killed in Utah. That number is difficult to comprehend, but when you see the massive sheds it starts to make sense. The one we were able to get closest to was in Freedom, Utah. When we stepped out of the car near just one of these sheds, we could hear the hundreds of turkeys crammed together inside. There were no windows and I imagined what it must be like. To see hundreds of these sheds from a distance is one thing but to stand near one is another: nowhere to escape, you can’t sleep because of noise or feeling threatened by others around you, you are bred and fed to grow very big very fast but are just a baby and still developing so often collapse under your own weight or get trampled, get sick and risk dying. Standing there I felt sad, helpless and completely overwhelmed by the amount of turkeys there. These sheds are so mechanized that the only daily task for the farm owner is to come through to clear out the dead individuals. Amy and I found where those bodies are thrown: into dumpsters located on surrounding roads.

Lives hidden, unseen and discarded. The only time they breath fresh air is when they are transported on trucks to their death. Part of me felt the individuals in the dumpsters were lucky because they didn’t have to suffer any longer or have their life end in fear while being shackled with their throat slit. These massive farms supply Norbest Turkey, whose slogan is “raised in the pristine high mountains and valleys.”

We want to believe that farms are keeping up with proper care of these animals, but the reality is quite different. Investigations held by Direct Action Everywhere continue to shed light on the truth inside these facilities. Fox 13 News covered the story a few months ago here.

 

Eggs

Massive egg farms are in Tooele, Utah County, Millard and Cache County. At the time of the most recent USDA census, there were just under 4 million laying hens in Utah. There are more than 100,000 hens in the buildings at time of USDA census. Delta Egg farm and Oakdell were the two we were able to get closest to, which was not very close. These massive farms were heavily guarded with security and no trespassing signs.

We were even approached by one security guard asking why we were there. I have never seen so much security surrounding food! Would there be the same security for say a bean or vegetable packaging plant? Not sure but I am certain that we were not welcome here. These industries do not want the public to see inside these places and here’s why: hens are crammed together in groups of 5-10 in tiny metal cages piled on top of each other so you can imagine the amount of waste these birds live in. They cannot spread their wings, the tips of their beaks are burned off so they won’t peck each other to death out of frustration of living in such close quarters. Male chicks are immediately thrown into a grinder or gassed because they are of no use to the industry. Through genetic manipulation, hens are forced to lay 250-300 eggs a year. In nature, hens lay only 10-15 a year so when their bodies are forced to endure the labor intensive process of 250-300, their bodies become afflicted with debilitating osteoporosis and bone fractures that are extremely painful. They are only 18 months when they reach the slaughterhouse. Backyard and small farms aren’t necessarily better for animals because they are still being exploited for something we do not need. Eggs are not good for us to be ingesting because they are the highest cholesterol dense food.

 

Pigs

In 2012, roughly 2.5 million pigs from Utah’s farms were slaughtered. Smithfield/Circle 4 Farms located in Beaver County Utah raises 1.2 million pigs per year. 600,000 pigs are packed into long warehouse sheds at any given time. These sheds go on as far as the eye can see, but you would never know that thousands of pigs are inside each one of them.

We drove the road that follows many of the sheds, but could only see the chutes and fans at the end of each shed and the liquid manure pools in between. Waste pits like these eventually end up in the oceans causing “dead zones” where ocean life cannot survive. No one was around and when we got out of the car, we understood why. The smell of manure was so bad that it burned our eyes and soaked into our clothes. I immediately thought of Ponyboy and Wilma Jean and my eyes filled with tears. How lucky I am to get to know them and take care of them . To realize we were standing outside sheds where a sow will spend her short life confined to a gestation crate where she can only lie down or stand up on concrete flooring was heartbreaking especially now that I know how pigs enjoy digging and rooting around in dirt and laying in the sun for hours. Ponyboy and Wilma Jean are best friends and they are free to choose how they spend their day. They can communicate in ways that continue to amaze me. What makes the individuals inside all these sheds any different from Wilma or even my dog Maggie? A mother pig will not have enough room to turn around or care for her young. She will be impregnated year after year until her body breaks down and she is sent to slaughter. Newly born piglets undergo castration and have their tails cut off without any pain relief. They then are crammed into pens until they reach market weight, usually when they are 6 months old. At that point, they are loaded up onto trucks through the chutes and are hauled off to slaughter. They often go 12+ hours in the heat without water in the trucks and by the time they reach the slaughterhouse they are overheating and exhausted, but all that awaits them is an electric pliers stun to the head. Another DXE investigation inside Smithfield/Circle 4 here.

 

Dairy

All the farms we drove by or visited were extremely tough to see, but the dairy farms (large and small) were the most difficult for me. Most of us believe that dairy is ok. That being vegetarian is enough. I believed the same thing until I started researching the dairy industry a little more. Dairy is not only bad for human health and the environment, it is extremely cruel to all the animals involved. There are over 200 dairy farms in Utah. The largest dairy farms we saw were in Elberta and Newcastle.

Cache County had the most small dairy farms and honestly these were the ones with the worst conditions.

In order for any mammal to produce milk, she must have given birth. In the dairy industry, these cows are forcibly impregnated by a person inserting their arm far into the cow’s rectum in order to position the uterus, and then forcing an instrument into her vagina. The narrow chute in which female cows are restrained to do this is often referred to as a “rape rack”. See video demonstrating how this is done. Once the cow has carried her baby for 9 months, she is ready to give birth. Her baby is taken from her less than 48 hours after she has given birth. A bond between a mother and her newly born baby is immensely strong, so you can imagine how horrifying and sad this is for mom and baby. I have met calves newly separated from their mom, and they try to cry out but have lost their voices from crying so much for their mom. At only a few only days old, some tried to “nurse” my hand and fingers because they were so desperate for their mother’s milk.

Male calves born into the diary industry are either stuffed into crates to be slaughtered in a few months as veal or sold off as beef cattle. Female calves are chained or fenced into extremely small areas called hutches. They are denied room to play and be social with others. They will remain in these hutches for up to 4 months until they are transferred to group pens which can be extremely stressful for them.

They will never see their mom again and will repeat the same process she did.

I don’t have children but I often hear mothers talk about how much they hate pumping and how sore they get. I have spoken with mothers who would literally kill anyone who tried to hurt their baby. This is what these mothers go through day in and day out until she is forcibly impregnated again to repeat the process, produce more milk and then sent to slaughter at 4 years of age. I have to ask, put yourself in the position of these mothers. Your baby is taken from you so another species can consume the milk that was meant to grow your baby. You become so sore and often infected from being hooked up to metal machines that you can hardly walk at times. Nature is pretty amazing in that every mammal (we are not separate from this) produces just enough growth fluid for an infant to grow healthy and strong. Obviously there are individual issues that can arise but we surely don’t need to be consuming another species growth fluid as a baby and especially not into adulthood.

We came across calves that looked sick and malnourished as well as a few dead calves.

dead dairy cow

dead dairy calf

Amy and I were actually able to get pretty close to a few of these dairies. The number of dairy cows at any given location was astounding when you think about the amount of resources it takes within the industry. It takes 1000 gallons of water for 1 gallon of milk. So you wonder where our water is going. Just one dairy cow consumes 100 pounds of food a day and produces 120 pounds of waste per day. The waste has to go somewhere.

The toughest part is that even though it was overwhelmingly sad to witness babies chained to hutches in the hot sun, we were able to go back to our hotel that night and eat dinner. They were all still there. Some I have visited in the last few months are all still there. Chained, confined and missing their mom.

Something I have always believed to be true is that humans are compassionate and empathetic. We want to believe we are making good choices. There is a reason a lot of these farms are hidden from public view. If they were transparent, very few would support them. I do not doubt that there are farmers that do care for their animals and most likely don’t enjoy sending the animals they have raised to slaughter. But because of our demand for this idea that we need animal protein, these animals will continue to be betrayed. No matter the farm, at the end of the day, animals will be needlessly slaughtered. ALL the nutrients we need comes from plants. Why are we filtering it through an innocent animal? Amy and I did this tour to see for ourselves just how hidden and unapproachable some of these farms are, to share our experience with you, to create a map so the public can see where these farms are located, and to inspire you to not only choose a vegan lifestyle but to stand up to these unjust practices that are 100% unnecessary. When you see animals being confined or transported, take a picture, write about it, talk about it, share it! Get involved with animal rights groups, outreach groups, volunteer at animal sanctuaries or start your own, leaflet, write letters, start petitions, protest, reach out to environmental groups and share with them that the number 1 contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, water use, land use, deforestation, ocean dead zones and species loss is animal agriculture. Reach out to health organizations, doctors and dietitians and ask why they aren’t addressing the number one cause of heart disease, cancer and diabetes and prescribing a plant based diet. These issues must be talked about, action must be taken and the time is NOW.

Park City’s major convinced of benefits of plant-based diet

Park City Mayor Andy Beerman did a 10 day vegan challenge but it didn’t stop there. He and his wife, Thea are enjoying the healthy changes they have made and the positive impact it’s having on the planet. We look forward to working together on what is next for Park City and beyond. Read more of what Andy had to say here.

The Future Is Vegan: Raising Compassion, Interview #5 with Hattie Cole

For the fifth of six interviews on vegan parenting, Lauren Lockey interviewed Hattie Cole, and her baby boy Elliott. See the interview below:

LL: What inspired you to become vegan and what is the biggest change you noticed in yourself?
HC: I became vegan about 6 years ago but had been vegetarian since I was 8 years old. My inspiration has always been the animals! I had an experience at about 6 years old when I went on a field trip to a farm and made the connection of pig = bacon and from that moment on I told my mom I would never eat a pig again. I think children have a very innate understanding of right and wrong and eating animals is wrong. Once I became more educated on the truth of dairy I immediately gave that up.

LL: Do you have cravings during your pregnancy and what are your amazing vegan alternatives?
HC: From time to time I certainly have wanted cheese, particularly on pizza! But Myokos vegan mozz is such an amazing product I don’t even miss real mozzarella anymore!

LL: Did you find it difficult to find vegan prenatals?
HC: I didn’t, Vita Cost actually has lots of vegan options for most supplements.

LL: What has been your biggest obstacle in raising a vegan baby?
HC: I think people hear you’re vegan and assume your child is going to have his growth stunted or be lacking in protein- my favorite! I think people just have a long standing misconception that being vegan means you’re not getting enough nutrients which with just a little research can be disproven.

LL: What foods do/will you feed Elliott to make sure there is adequate nutrition? What about milk/formula alternatives?
HC: I’m so lucky that so far I have been able to exclusively breastfeed my baby! Once he starts eating solid foods I’m looking forward to making him foods I love like sweet potato, avocado, tofu, quinoa etc. I plan on making most if not all of his baby food and I really am excited about that process!

LL: How will you handle the social pressures your child receives about eating meat and dairy?
HC: I truly hope my son grows up as passionate as his mom is about animal rights and is able to answer questions from nay sayers himself! I think because he will grow up knowing cows, chickens, pigs, horses and other animals he will have a very different connection to them than most children.

LL: What will you say when Elliott makes the connection that meat, dairy, eggs and fish comes from animals?
HC: I plan on him knowing this from the very beginning! I will be very honest with him where food comes from.

LL: How do you respond to people/doctors that say “you are hurting your baby”?
HC: I’ve been very lucky that my and my sons doctors are very supportive of my diet! My OB was so impressed with my bloodwork during my pregnancy that she actually was very on board.

LL: What resources/blog/websites/books help you the most?
HC: I’m a huge fan or Erin Ireland, she has a one year old she is raising vegan and she’s totally an inspiration to me! She shares amazing recipes and hard facts about nutrition and raising a healthy, happy vegan baby! I also love Oh She Glows, One Part Plant (Jessica Murnane), and Jenn, mountain mama.

LL: Anything else you would like to add?
HC: If I hadn’t been vegan before becoming a mother I would have after. I have never felt so much sympathy for another being. If someone tried to take away my baby at hours old I would fight them and that is the reality for dairy cows. They are mothers! Being a new mom has given me even more compassion for these ladies. I cannot imagine a more horrible existence, not only are their brand new babies stolen away but then they are hooked up to a pump which I can attest is a miserable experience. I don’t know how mothers can continue the use of dairy! I think people unfortunately would rather ignore or try to forget rather than make a change in their diet unfortunately!

The Future Is Vegan: Raising Compassion, Interview #4 with Jessica Rasekhi

For the fourth of six interviews with local mothers and mothers to be who follow a vegan lifestyle, Lauren Lockey interviewed Jessica Rasekhi, and her baby boy Kasper. See the interview below:

LL: What inspired you to become vegan and what is the biggest change you noticed in yourself?
JR: My husband actually inspired me to become vegan 2 months after our son Kasper was born. He had done a lot of reading and research on the subject, and had experienced many health benefits himself from transitioning to a vegan diet. He suggested that I watch the 2011 documentary Forks Over Knives. I also read The China Study. Though I was reluctant, after learning more about the benefits of eating a plant based diet, it became the obvious choice for me to make for myself and my newborn baby boy. The first thing I noticed when I changed my diet was when I lost 10 lbs after only 3 weeks. I have never gained that weight back!

LL: Did you have cravings during your pregnancy and what were your amazing vegan alternatives?
JR: I wasn’t vegan during pregnancy. I was mostly vegetarian. I became completely plant based about 2 months after my son was born.

LL: Did you find it difficult to find vegan prenatals?
JR: I am not completely sure if the prenatal vitamins that I took were vegan. Again, I hadn’t made that change yet, and I was just looking for organic ingredients at the time.

LL: What has been your biggest obstacle in raising a vegan baby?
JR: It was difficult when close friends and family first questioned our decision to feed Kasper a vegan diet. Some considered it to be somewhat irresponsible and an unhealthy way to raise a growing child. I felt like I was always having to defend our decision to skeptical loved ones.

It has turned out that raising a vegan child has been a lot easier than I had anticipated. I found that early on I, myself, was one of my own biggest obstacles. I would worry needlessly about things in the distant future that would never come to fruition. Things like, “How hard it will be for Kasper to be the only vegan among his class mates.” Or, “How hard it will be to be a vegan kid during Halloween or other candy and treat centered holidays.” Or “We will always be telling him ‘No’ and ‘You can’t have that.'” And “What if he resents being different than everyone else.” But so far, none of these worries have ever been legitimate concerns. Kasper is confident, comfortable, and happy being raised on a plant based diet. Teachers at school have always been respectful and accommodating. Holidays have been wonderful and filled with plenty of vegan treats. Most friends and family have accepted our diet/lifestyle and respect our decision, especially now that they see how well Kasper has thrived being raised as a vegan kid for almost 6 years. 🙂

 

LL: What foods do you feed Kasper to make sure there is adequate nutrition? What about milk/formula alternatives?
JR: We have never questioned whether or not Kasper was getting adequate nutrition from eating a plant based diet. He was always a very healthy (and very chunky!) baby, toddler, and is currently a thriving little boy. He was breastfed past the age of 2, and he never needed any type of formula or milk supplement. He has never been underweight and he hasn’t ever had any nutrient deficiencies. We introduced him to a diverse selection of fruits and vegetables when he started eating solid foods at 6 months old. Now, at age 5, I’ve noticed that he is far less picky, and he eats a larger variety foods than many of his non-vegan peers. I always have parents commenting and saying things to me like, “How do you get him to eat like that?” “Wow! I can’t believe that he will eat raw kale.” “Does he really like sauerkraut and seaweed?” “My kids are such picky eaters and will only eat 3 kinds of foods, none of them being vegetables.” “That is so funny that Kasper actually knows the difference between different kinds of potatoes.” The key for us has been eating a variety foods from a young age.

LL: How do you handle the social pressures your child receives about eating meat and dairy?
JR: Since Kasper was raised from birth on a vegan diet, that is all that he knows. He has no desire to eat meat, or dairy products and they do not appeal to him in any way, whatsoever. Whenever meat is cooking somewhere, or even if we walk by the cheese section in the grocery store, he is so sensitive to the smell and he always mentions to me how “yucky” it smells to him. It is very interesting to observe this reaction in a child who has never had meat or dairy in his diet. He is naturally, almost intuitively and instinctively deterred from eating it. He won’t even touch vegan cheese.

LL: What did you say when Kasper makes the connection that meat, dairy, eggs and fish comes from animals?
JR: We talk very openly to Kasper about the food choices we make and why. We started talking to him about food and where it comes from as soon as he started to eat solid foods. We have found some great reading materials by the vegan children’s book author, Ruby Roth that are age appropriate. We don’t overwhelm him with graphic pictures or videos, but we are very upfront and honest with him about where meat and dairy products come from and why our family has chosen not to consume them.

LL: How do you respond to people/doctors that say “you are hurting your baby”?
JR: I have never had anyone respond to me in that way, luckily! It has been more subtle responses like, “But won’t he need more fat in his diet as a growing baby?” People also express the same concerns about lack of protein, B12, DHA, and calcium. Again, Kasper has never had any protein, B12 or calcium deficiencies. From my experience, people don’t really have a hard time with Kasper not eating meat…but it is much more difficult for them to understand not giving a baby/child any dairy products. Having a diet without cow’s milk, yogurt or cheese in it, regardless of whether you are breastfeeding or not, is a really hard concept for some people to wrap their minds around for some reason.

LL: What resources/blog/websites/books helped you the most?

LL: Anything else you would like to add?
JR: I mentioned before that it hasn’t been hard for Kasper to resist the social pressures of eating meat or dairy products, because he simply has no desire to eat those things. But, what has been the most difficult for him is resisting non-vegan products like baked goods, candy, or dishes where things like milk, butter and eggs are easily masked. A lot of baked goods and treats look similar (vegan or not), and sometimes Kasper wants something at a family gathering, event ,or party that he knows he has had before and enjoyed in vegan forms. Things like cakes, cookies, donuts, candy, chocolate, and popcorn. I have to explain to him, “That isn’t vegan chocolate, it is milk chocolate.” Or, “Even though it is hard to tell, that popcorn actually has butter melted on it.” Or “That cookie is baked with eggs.” And the most recent one, “Those fries are fried in animal fat.” Even breads and rice can have dairy hiding in them. Once I explain the ingredients to him, he understands and it is no longer an issue. He has learned that he has to ask questions to find out if something is vegan or not. And if he is unsure, it is best just to say, “no, thank you.” We have been teaching him to look for and recognize certain symbols on packages and ingredient lists, so that he can feel empowered to start identifying the contents of items that aren’t obviously vegan to the naked eye.

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

The Future Is Vegan: Raising Compassion, Interview #3 with Lexi Purrington

For the third of six interviews with local mothers and mothers to be who follow a vegan lifestyle, Lauren Lockey interviewed Lexi Purrington, and her baby boy Sawyer. See the interview below:

LL: What inspired you to become vegan and what is the biggest change you noticed in yourself?
LP: Animals and health were my two main reasons to go vegan. The more I learned the more I realized I couldn’t live with myself supporting such a horrible, sad industry, let alone putting something like that in my body. I noticed almost immediately a change in my energy levels and mood.

LL: Did you have cravings during your pregnancy and what were your amazing vegan alternatives?
LP: I craved a lot of protein! I absolutely love Beyond Meat products but especially craved their burger. I also ate a lot of tempeh BLT’s and tofu scramble.

LL: Did you find it difficult to find vegan prenatals?
LP: Not at all! I was able to buy them through Amazon and Sprouts.

LL: What has been your biggest obstacle in raising a vegan baby?
LP: Unnecessary comments from others. I wish that people weren’t so afraid of the word ‘vegan’ and could grasp the concept that every nutrient found in animal products is originally found in plants and is so much less harmful to get straight from the source.

LL: What foods do you feed Sawyer to make sure there is adequate nutrition? What about milk/formula alternatives?
LP: Sawyer is still breastfeeding but eats everything we eat which consists mainly of fresh fruits and veggies, coconut milk yogurt, tofu, whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa, lentils, beans, and nut butters. We sprinkle nutritional yeast, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds on his meals as well.

LL: How will you handle the social pressures your child receives about eating meat and dairy?
LP: I think we’ll just try to lead by example. If he’s thriving people won’t have many bad things to say but I will raise him educated so he can stand up for his beliefs confidently as well.

LL: What will you say when your child makes the connection that meat, dairy, eggs and fish comes from animals?
LP: We have six rescue animals that my son absolutely loves so I think I’ll try to compare farm animals to our animals at home in order for him to see the connection from a personal point of view. I’ll show him all of the amazing meat/dairy alternatives there are so he doesn’t feel left out.

LL: How do you respond to people/doctors that say “you are hurting your baby”?
LP: So far I haven’t received much negativity but I plan to educate others as politely as possible in hopes of proving that veganism is the best start we can give our kids.

LL: What resources/blog/websites/books help/ed you the most?
LP: I loved the book “The Face on Your Plate” by Jeffrey Mousaieff Masson. Netflix also always has interesting new documentaries that I love to watch and Isa Does It is my go-to for recipes.

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

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: minimalistbaker.com, nutritionfacts.org. 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.

 

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!!

From One Mother to Another

Guest blog by Lexi Purrington

When I first found out I was pregnant I went through a lot of emotions. Fear, excitement, disbelief, and amazement to name a few. I began getting morning sickness in the next few weeks to come, craved things I’d never liked before, tossed and turned after getting back to sleep the 4th time after using the bathroom, and became a cranky, sleepy, needy mess. The first trimester was extremely trying for me, and I couldn’t quite understand how so many people did this, so very often. The second trimester was a breeze, morning sickness was alleviated, I didn’t have to take two hour naps everyday, and I had energy again.

The third trimester came and it hit me. I was going to be a mother. I was going to be somebody’s caretaker, provider, and most of all, protector. For life. I was devoted to somebody I had never met but knew so well. I was going to do the best job I possibly could. Because it’s my instinct, because he’s helpless, because he’s my child, and because I already love him more than I could ever explain. I chose to bring him into this world, and I am beyond lucky to live in a place where I can do that safely. I get to bring him home, feed him from my body, cuddle him, soothe him, bathe him, and watch him grow. I would do anything for him as his mother. Just as any animal would.

And yet, people continue eating and drinking dairy products every single day, thinking it is a harmless by-product. When in fact, once educated on the matter, it becomes quite clear that: dairy is a gruesome, horrific, and unnecessary commodification of motherhood.

Cows have been subjected to a cruelty we as humans could never understand. They live a constant nightmare on dairy farms.

tumblr_o74vy51t5j1qzg669o1_1280Most people don’t realize that in order to get milk you must first impregnate a cow. They are then pregnant for 9 months. Cows bond with their sons/daughters while inside the womb and (without our intervention) maintain a lifelong relationship of social contact and companionship. All exactly like us.

Male calves born in the dairy industry are considered useless. The day they are born they are immediately taken away from their mothers and sent off to veal farms. Kept in a dark, cramped, crate no more than 30 inches wide and 72 inches long. The crates are designed to be extremely small to ensure the “meat” is tender by prohibiting normal muscle growth. They are kept alive for 12-23 weeks until being transported and sent to slaughter. Female calves are either killed on the spot or kept at the dairy farm (separated from their mothers) and used as milk machines for the rest of their lives until their bodies wear out.

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Veal operation here in the U.S.

A lot of people picture dairy farms as just that, a farm. When in fact, it’s more like a factory. The industry views these animals as numbers, objects, and profit — and they are treated as such. But, these sentient beings are not machines. They are living, breathing, peaceful animals who crave the same things we do: love, happiness, and most of all, freedom.

tumblr_o9o0a8edn91v56l2uo1_500I’m now eight months pregnant and feel for these mothers now more than ever. Not only are we taking such a natural, beautiful thing away from these innocent beings, once you look at the big picture it begins to get even stranger: humans are the only species who drinks milk beyond infancy. The dairy industry has done such a great job convincing us that we need milk in order to have strong bones and good teeth that we’ve forgotten we don’t actually have any use for it at all. Having studied nutrition for years now, I have come to realize how many other alternatives and sources of these nutrients there are. 5-best-milk-alternativesFortified almond, soy, cashew, rice, hemp, and coconut milks contain the equivalent of calcium found in cows milk. And funny enough, the only reason dairy products contain calcium at all is because the cows are fed plant sources containing it. We are so fortunate to have so many powerful choices, options, and so much room to grow and evolve as a species. I think we can all agree it’s time to retire dairy. For our health, for the earth, and most importantly for the forgotten mothers and babies of this hidden horror.

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Lexi Purrington is a personal trainer, nutrition coach, and a mom-to-be.
She can be contacted via email, here: lexipurrington@hotmail.com

Is Heart Disease a Choice?

By: David Swartz

I just had the opportunity to hear a talk from the world renowned Dr. Michael Greger. For those of you that may not know, Dr Gerger is a physician, author, and the founder of http://nutritionfacts.org/ a nonprofit science based website that provides articles and videos on the latest in nutrition research.

However, Dr. Greger is probably most well known for his New York Times bestselling book “How Not to Die”. During his talk he discussed in detail the main topic of his new book which in basic terms is how to prevent if not cure the main causes of death in our country. Out of the top 15 causes of mortality, it turns out that 14 out of the 15 causes we have quite a bit control over. I would like to stop for a second and mention that I’m not the one to just hear someone with social authority spew out some information and take it as fact. Dr. Greger uses science and the research to back his claims and that combination got my attention.

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Take the top reason people die in United States, coronary heart disease killing an estimated 375,000 people per year. Numerous studies all point to poor diet being responsible for coronary heart disease. The only diet scientifically proven to successfully combat heart disease is a whole food plant based diet. His talk went on and discussed the next 14 causes of mortality and in every cause (except accidents) diet plays a crucial role. From cancer, kidney disease, all the way down to number 15, Parkinson’s disease, a plant based diet can prevent, stop, and many times even reverse these diseases. So, in effect most of the diseases that plague our society are in a many ways a choice not a happenstance.

After hearing his talk there was one question that came to mind, if this diet is so effective at decreasing the top 14 out of 15 reasons for mortality, why are we not hearing from all doctors to adopt this diet? Dr. Greger answered this by taking a trip back 60 years ago when smoking cigarettes was much more prevalent in our society. The vast majority of doctors at the time were not telling their patients that they should quit smoking because the vast majority of doctors were smoking themselves. In fact, there were doctors featured in ads for the tobacco companies.

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Finally after more than 7000 studies, the top doctor in the country, the surgeon general, mandated that health warnings be put on cigarette packages. I ask you and your loved ones not to wait for 7000 studies to be conducted on diet and the effects is has on disease.

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The science is there, the studies have been done, animal protein and animal products will promote disease and will shorten your life. Don’t you think the millions of Americans that died from diseases due to smoking wished they hadn’t waited for their doctor to tell them to quit? We have the opportunity to take our health into our own hands. I encourage you to act now and not wait until your doctor with no nutritional education tells you to change your diet. If you have the chance please read “How Not To Die” your life will most likely depend on it.

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