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:, 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.


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.


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

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 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.


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.



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.



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.


Education > Tin Foil Hats: Exposing Meat and Dairy Lies

By Natalie Blanton

So much of what we know about our food, diets, and health has been drastically informed and shaped by self-interested governmental institutions. Now, don’t start forming your tinfoil hats just yet. urlBut do start educating and informing yourself — from sources other than those crafting our realities, particularly around animal welfare in our food system and [hopefully not] on our plates.

Last Tuesday (weekly blog day for SM), we heard from Erin regarding governmental intervention/interruption in the natural world. It is disturbing and upsetting, to say the least. But, this information is vital and we must continue interrogating, questioning, and overturning that norm of viewing/treating animals as nuisances, vermin, commodities, or impracticalities.

Recently, a friend dropped this knowledge bomb on me: the US Department of Agriculture is scrambling to bail out dairy and egg producers. Purchasing no less than $20 million of these products to prop up these producers “who are struggling with low milk prices and a sluggish export market, both of which have chipped away at their earnings. Over the last two years, dairy farmers have seen revenue drop by 35%, according to the USDA,” according to Quartz, see similar articles from Forbes and the Smithsonian Magazine.111213_cow_2d00_blue_2d00_sky

In this season of life (election year), it is unfortunately, and increasingly, common to feel lied to by bureaucratic institutions. More specifically, having been veg-inclined and vehemently against industrial animal agriculture for over a decade, the USDA making terrible ethical and/or economic decisions does not come as a surprise or shock to me. But, buying cheese outright, with our tax money, to protect the meat and dairy industry, over consumers — is not okay. Whether we are doing our best to vote with our dollars and actively avoid supporting these industries or not, our money is still being funneled into keeping these archaic and exploitive (of human, animal, and planet) practices in place.

So often we demonize Wall Street, Walmart, Unilever, and other big corporations — but “Big Ag” or industrial animal agriculture operations continue to fly under the radar — even when they should be at the forefront of allegations of injustice. See some of the recent human/animal rights violations that made the news: Tyson Chicken or Seafood Production Slaves. But, instead of being bogged down, I urge you to stay awake and aware of these issues, get loud, be a voice for the voiceless, and recognize that when the public pressure and spotlight is shone on these issues, producers start to back-peddle on traditional industry standards, reaching new welfare standards and precedents for both laborers and animals, such as recent efforts to end chick culling.

While checking out at the grocery store, the cashier held my asparagus bundle in her hand, and looked up to me with incredulous eyes, “Why does healthy food have to be so expensive?” I nodded and frowned knowingly, as this very issue of healthy food accessibility, and justice, is very much a passion of mine. I oftentimes throw out the question of “Why is an apple more expensive than a Snickers bar?Government subsidies. The US government is married to the meat and dairy industries. Those sectors are continually celebrated and bolstered by government bailouts and protective programs, as previously mentioned. Everything we are taught about eating healthy is informed by these bedfellows, just look at the old food pyramid, that has since been drastically revoked and changed to reflect more of a plant-based whole-foods diet.



This is a wake up call. If the government wanted to be transparent, and keep posturing these agriculture sectors in positive light, perhaps they would rethink Ag-Gag laws. As for me? I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Thus, here are some helpful links that will further wedge your divide with the governmental darlings that are the meat and dairy industries:


  • You’ve probably heard the Sage Mountain team raving about Cowspiracy, because that film and movement is so well-researched, and VITAL for the public to consume, and further, digest, and act. If you haven’t yet seen the film, we encourage you to watch it. Here are some facts from their research that are astounding, based on these government food programs:
    • We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion people.
    • Worldwide, at least 50% of grain is fed to livestock.
  • Read MEATHOOKED: The History and Science of Our 2.5-Million-Years Obsession With Meat
    • An investigation set to answer a question that has stayed unanswered far too long, while we kept arguing health and ethical aspects of meat consumption: Why do we eat meat at all? What’s so special about meat that it keeps us hooked? From the perspective of evolution, culture, taste, marketing, biochemistry and anthropology, Marta Zaraska sets out to identify all the hooks that make meat a food that humans don’t want to easily give up.
  • What’s the cost of a Big Mac at McDonald’s these days? About $3.50? Not a bad deal (especially when you add on that value meal). But Raj Patel’s The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy delves into a number of costs we haven’t considered:

– The production of Big Macs in the U.S. every year results in a greenhouse gas footprint of 2.66 billion pounds of CO2 ($297 million)

– Costs of corn feed subsidies, courtesy of the common taxpayer ($4.6 billion)

– Costs from “social subsidy” in the form of welfare offered to minimum wage fast-food workers ($273 million)

– Public health costs due to diet-related diseases from excessive meat consumption ($30-60 billion)

– When all is said and done, the cost of a Big Mac should really be around $200 (at least).
Source: Why a Big Mac should cost $200 

And, my personal favorite:

Maybe tinfoil hats are your thing… but, I would argue that by educating yourself, your families, and your communities about the inextricable connections between animal-saturated diets, environmental degradation and climate change, and the growing health concerns associated, will go much further in efforts of sustainability and a hope for a better tomorrow.

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.