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.
By: Dave Swartz
Let me start by saying that I’m a small business owner and that we should do everything we can to buy and shop locally. Doing so does help stimulate the local economy with jobs and money that is kept and spent in the local community. This is true with most industries, however, there are some industries where the negative effects of buying local far outweigh the positive ones. One industry in particular is the food industry.
So what’s my beef with buying local food? My beef with buying local food is just that, beef. Animal based food products including beef are so harmful to our local environment and the health of the people in our community that buying these products from local producers or national producers should not even be part of the conversation.
According to the UN, World Watch Institute, and numerous other organizations, animal agriculture is responsible for a significant amount of negative environmental impacts. These include waste runoff that pollutes lakes and rivers, ocean dead zones due to excessive amounts of nitrous oxide, wildlife habitat loss due to competition with farmed animals, and a huge portion of greenhouse gas emissions. Why would one want to buy locally produced animal products if the local environment is going to be polluted by those same products?
An article from the Carnegie Mellon Institute that studied that impact of greenhouse gas emissions found that an omnivore buying local food could only achieve a 5 to 6% reduction in emissions compared to an omnivore buying food from non local sources. This reduction would be the same if that same omnivore ate a plant based diet for one day a week. In other words, someone that switches to a plant based diet will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 7 times that amount if he/she ate that way 7 days a week, and that’s from non-local sources. Even more reductions in emissions could be achieved by buying plant based foods from local sources.
Study after study has concluded that eating animal products is a sure way to increase your chances of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and numerous other common diseases. Not only will our local environment be compromised, but our community would will still be contracting the same diseases from locally produced animal products rather than animal based foods shipped from around the country or world. I’m not sure which is better, but I’m guessing if you asked a person with heart disease and type 2 diabetes, you may get some strange looks.
So, next time you think about buying local animal based foods, think twice about your local environment being polluted and your local hospital treating the local community that contracted diseases caused by eating locally produced animal products.
Choose plant based foods. Plant based foods shipped from anywhere on this planet or perhaps from the moon for that matter, are a much better choice than locally produced and processed animal products.
Once the decision has been made to eat plant only items, then yes, buy from your local farmers market or local produce from your local grocer, or perhaps just head down to your basement and grab some food being grown indoors, year round, without pesticides, and with a fraction of the water used in conventional methods in your home. Doesn’t get more local than that.
Planet Earth, just like us, is a living breathing organism and just like humans when it gets sick, it heats up to kill the virus (disease). Well, right now our planet is sick, very sick and it’s heating up big time to kill the disease and that disease is us, humans!
The instances of larger hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, airborne diseases, dirty/lack of water and rampant violence are a direct result of the human species taking more than we are giving back. When I was born in the 1950’s there were two billion people on this planet, today there are 7.4 billion, projected to hit 12 billion by 2100. Along with that human growth has come with it an industrial revolution in the form of energy development, transportation and agriculture that this planet has never seen before. The excess heat being produced by 7.4 humans is being trapped in our atmosphere and absorbed by our oceans. Hurricanes feed off those warm waters; wildfires feed off the dry land conditions. Even if you are not convinced that humans are contributing to these problems, shouldn’t we ALL be on the same page to better our planet and all it’s occupants?
The most efficient way to deal with a disease is to get to the root of the problem, not just ignore it, take a pill or apply a band-aid but stop the problem at its root cause. When it comes to human health, the root of most health problems is what we eat three times a day as well as other abuses we do to our bodies. With education and support, humans can improve their diet, incorporate regular exercise into their lives and stop bad habits like smoking, alcohol and drug abuse. When it comes to planetary health the root of the problem is us, so what can we do about it?
I, like everyone else, want to come home to a warm home every day, I want to drive my car anywhere I want, go on periodic trips around the world by plane. The energy and transportation industry is very important to the human lifestyle, but thanks to the many visionaries our species has produced, we are now seeing the beginning of an energy and transportation industry based on renewable energy in the form of the sun and the wind and that’s awesome. A number of individuals are switching to solar energy for their homes and electric cars, but not all of us are financially able to do so as of yet. The time frame to switch to 100% renewable is going to be long and expensive and will be fought the whole way, by industries profiting on the present system.
But there is an industry which most people aren’t aware of that is the biggest contributor (51%) to the warming and polluting of our planet more than energy and all the transportation in this world combined and that’s animal agriculture. Because of our demand for animal protein an industry has been born in less than 100 years that is the leading cause of:
- Deforestation–we need more trees, not less, to absorb more carbon dioxide and breathe out clean oxygen we all need to survive).
- Water Shortage—there is only 1% of fresh water available to all life on this planet and animal agriculture takes close to 50% of that fresh water. The rest of our planets water is salt (97%) and ice (2%).
- Food Shortage—the reason animal agriculture needs so much water is to grow grain, corn, soy, alfalfa, and hay to raise the 70 billion land animals being raised for food annually.
- Ocean Dead Zones—because those 70 billion animals create over 100 times more waste (feces) than humans with no sanitation system. That animal waste ends up in our streams, rivers and oceans killing all life it comes in contact with.
- Airborne Diseases—to keep those billions of animals from dying of disease during their short life before they are sent to slaughter, they are giving 80% of all antibiotics available in this world, creating antibiotic resistant airborne diseases that spread quickly across our sick planet.
- Human Sickness—the science is overwhelming today showing that an animal based diet is the leading cause of virtually every disease humans are experiencing.
- Human Violence—violence creates more violence and there is not a more violent industry that the raising of billions of animals for food…food that is eventually killing us from those animals grave and that grave is the human body!
Fortunately, there is “one single act” that all humans on earth can participate in and can do so at their very next meal and every meal after that, which will force an end factory animal farming and begin the healing of our planet (and us) immediately. That “one single act” is to stop eating, wearing and using animals for ANY resource, it is not necessary in the modern world we live in now! Everything on this earth revolves around money and demand determines where that money goes, we as a human species need to demand:
- Plant Based Foods—grown directly for human consumption and not filtered through an animal first.
- Solar Power—the sun is the center of all life on this planet and is given to us freely.
- Compassion—to treat every animal on this earth (humans and non humans) with respect, compassion and love.
One Single Act that EVERY ONE of us can do RIGHT NOW and FOREVER, to better ALL life on planet earth, as well as planet earth itself!
Kent Maurer—citizen of planet earth
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.
By: Kent Maurer
This is a justification for eating meat that I’ve heard many times; “God says it Ok to eat animals” or “God put animals on this earth for us to eat”. Since the subject of plant only nutrition is not controversial enough, in this blog I thought I’d throw in religion just to spice things up.
Just a precursor, I wasn’t raised religious or am I affiliated to any religions; as a matter of fact I never really paid attention to religion until I was first confronted with this justification about 15 years or so ago. So like I do with every question I get about a plant only diet and lifestyle, I researched it, and here’s what I’ve learned.
Since I’m in Utah, I’ll start with the Mormons.
Are you Mormon? If so why do you eat meat? In the Doctrine and Covenants 49 reading verses 18 and 19, your faith specifically says not to east meat unless in times of famine. There is no famine, Costco, Wal-Mart, Target all have an abundance of inexpensive beans, grains and potatoes to base all your meals around. The only places on earth where there is a food shortage is in impoverished countries where food is literally taken out of starving peoples mouths to feed to the animal agriculture industry, so the “privileged” human can have their steak.
Are you a Christian? If so why do you still eat meat when in Genesis 1:29 God tells Christians exactly what to eat right after He created man; “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.” After God flooded the planet and there were no plants to eat, he gave permission for some meat to be eaten (a time of famine) in Genesis 9:3. He didn’t change our anatomy from His original plant based design to that of a meat eater. I also found that the early editions of the Bible stated when Jesus fed the 5000 on the hillside fish and bread; it was actually written that it was ‘fish weed’ or ‘fishmeal’ (dried seaweed) instead of fish. Makes more sense seeing how there was no refrigeration and the fish would have rotted before they could eat them.
How about Judaism? Are you one of the chosen ones? Genesis 1:29 and the Old Testament is what you should follow as well when it comes to your food choices. Squeezing the blood out of a piece of meat to make it Kosher, does not make it healthier or justify eating an animal.
Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism all practice a life of not harming other beings. The word they use is, “Ahimsa”, a term meaning ‘not to injure’. This great word encourages followers to aspire to cause no injury, or do no harm to you, the planet or ANY living creature.
The Seventh Day Adventists here in the United States follow the Bible to the letter (Genesis 1:29) and consequently live an average of ten years longer then the most Americans and are now considered the longest living humans on planet earth; doing so in smog infested Loma Linda California just east of L.A. The book ‘The Blue Zones’ is an excellent read on the secrets to longevity.
When it comes to eating animals most people throw all religious beliefs out the window, and eat animals of all types three times a day.
I live with the belief that we are ALL creatures of God and that God resides in each one of us. So killing animals, just like killing a human, or destroying the planet He created, is really killing one of Gods creations or a piece of God Himself.
‘Dominion’ Humans were given “dominion” over this earth and all the creatures that reside in it.
Meaning: we are supposed to be the protectors, the overseers…not the eaters and destroyers!
Why is it so hard to give up eating animals when every act of eating an animal is death and destruction; death to the animal, destruction of the planet, and the slowest form of voluntary suicide through the act of eating animals (heart disease, cancer, diabetes)?
Why does all logic, health concerns, environmental concerns, as well as compassion, get discarded when it comes to eating animals?
It’s time every religious person as well as every non religious person walks the walk, and not just talks the talk. Be kind; treat others like you’d like to be treated, which include ALL creatures!
By the way my religion, “My Religion is Kindness!”
By: David Swartz
Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide
What is more shocking is that this percentage is more than all transportation sectors combined. That means animal agriculture contributes more to human caused global warming than every car, truck, train, plane and ship on this planet. Why as a society are we more focused on reducing climate change through innovation in transportation and energy sectors than we are on changing our diet? This is one of those “Freakonomic” moments that is still hard to wrap my head around. As much as I fully agree with the conversion of our energy and transportation industries to renewable clean energy, an equal amount or more resources should be allocated to the conversion of our diets from a western diet to a plant based diet if we really want to tackle the problem of human caused climate change.
More water in Utah is used to grow one crop than is used for every city, town, commercial and agriculture business in the state and it’s a crop we don’t even eat.
The alfalfa being grown here is fed to animals for human consumption. My local city government has created programs to reduce water consumption such as reductions of lawn watering, encouragement of taking shorter showers, making sure water pipes are not leaking, etc. These are all nice programs however, residential water usage accounts for just 5% of all water usage in the state. If everyone in the state stopped taking showers, watering lawns, flushing toilets, and for that matter stopped drinking water, we would still only have a 5% reduction of total freshwater usage. This is another “Freakonomic” moment that boggles my mind. If our city really wants to decrease water usage it would highly encourage a change in diet as opposed to a change in shower time.
Animal agriculture is responsible for up to 91% of Amazon destruction
Another fact that is hard to fathom is that by many estimates it takes roughly 15 to 20 times the amount of land to feed a human on an animal based diet as opposed to a plant based diet. For a cow to gain a pound of meat he has to consume many more pounds of grass, alfalfa, and grain just to gain that pound. Similar to humans and all other animals for that matter, we burn calories just by existing and thank goodness we do that because if we did gain a pound of flesh for every pound of food we ate, we would be in big trouble! So what is the leading cause of deforestation on this planet? We would think that logging for homes and buildings would be the leading cause, however it turns out animal agriculture is far more responsible for deforestation than industries such as logging.
As I travel through rural Utah I can only imagine what our world would look like without animal agriculture. By letting the land revert back to the time before raising animals for human consumption, we could have more wilderness, more wildlife, more free flowing rivers, less global warming, and a planet that is truly sustainable. If we as a society really want to have a thriving planet for future generations, there is a something we can all do that doesn’t cost any more money than what we are already spending and that is to switch our diets from animal based to plant based.
By: Kent Maurer
There is “one single act” that every one of us has absolute control over for the betterment of all of humanity, and that is what we choose to eat. We literally vote with our food choices at the grocery store, a restaurant, a drive through food joint, or a convenience store. Every time we make a purchase its telling industries what we want, demand and supply. When we order it, buy it or crave it, big business will continue to supply it, no matter what the health or environmental costs. Of all the food choices we are making, the choice of eating animals and animal products is, by far, making the biggest (negative) impact on our personal health and very dramatically, the health of our planet.
Let’s talk about environment first. We all live together on this planet and share its resources. Two thirds of the planet is water but only 3% of that water is fresh water and 2% of that fresh water is ice. That leaves 1% of planet earth’s water available for all to share. Of course humans think of themselves first, without water we will die. Right now there are 7 billion plus people on this planet, just 50 years ago there was just over 2 billion. By 2100 there is expected to be 12 billion people all sharing that 1% of available fresh water.
We are not alone on this planet. Other living creatures and plants need to share that 1% of available fresh water with us and this is where it gets disturbing. Because of our voting habits when it comes to food, there are presently 70 billion factory farmed animals being raised world wide to satisfy our demand for animal products. Those animals require a dramatic amount of water when it comes to growing the food they eat and the water they drink. It’s estimated by the United Nations and other water watch communities that 23% of all the fresh water in the world, 50% of all the water in the United States and 70% of all the fresh water in the western U.S. is being used to grow food used specifically to raise farmed animals. In the mean time everyone and everything else is taking the blame for our water shortage We are told to take shorter showers, let our lawns die, tell growers whose plants take more water than normal like nut trees and certain fruits, to cut back on their crops or go out of business altogether, while collectively, nothing comes close to the amount of water being used to grow animals. Of all the restrictions being put on water use, animal agriculture gets a free pass with no restrictions.
In addition to the massive amounts of water being used by factory animal farming, in the U.S. alone 80% of farmland and 70-90% of our grain crops, is dedicated solely to raising animals for food. Millions of people in the U.S. and 2 billion people world wide do not have enough food, but factory farmed animals are fed till they are as fat as they can get to warrant the most money at slaughter. Our forests are being leveled to make room for more grazing area and to grow crops to feed to animals. This is a huge problem in the Amazon in South America where an acre a minute is being leveled to support animal agriculture. The Amazon and all vegetation are the lungs of our planet; plants absorb the carbon dioxide and breathe out the precious oxygen we all need (along with that 1% of fresh water) to survive.
Then there are the airborne diseases that are escalating in this world, bird flu, avian flu, swine flu and on and on. 70% of the entire antibiotic supply made in this world goes to factory farmed animals in an effort to keep them alive in horrendous conditions until they are slaughtered. The overuse of antibiotics creates antibiotic resistant bacteria super-bugs, add that to the waste that 70 billion plus factory farmed animals are producing and a serious health problem is created. There are no sewer systems dedicated to these animals, their entire excrement ends up in our aqua fillers, rivers and oceans creating “dead zones” where nothing will grow and even more airborne diseases arise.
So why do we put up with an industry that’s estimated to contribute to 51% of all greenhouse gases produced? …Protein…
We are obsessed and convinced that without our burger, chicken sandwich, hot dog, scrambled eggs, steak and fish, that we will not survive. While quite frankly the opposite is true, the science, case studies, and facts prove otherwise. Animal protein is the problem of our ill health, not the cure. We’d be immensely better off if we stopped eating animals and got our protein from the same sources the cow, pig, chicken, elephant, gorilla, racehorse and every other animal on this plant that has an anatomy similar to ours gets their protein from, plants!
75% of all animals on this planet, including humans, have an anatomy perfectly designed to take in soft easy to acquire plant food. We are the total opposite design of a carnivore like a lion or an omnivore like a bear. Humans have slow foot speed, small mouths and short dull teeth that could never bite through the skin of another animal and if we could we absolutely wouldn’t like the taste of blood. When fiber-less animal flesh enters our bodies our low acidic stomach acid and long windy intestines are not designed to absorb and eliminate that flesh. As the meat sits in our 11 times the length of our torso intestines, our 98.6 degree internal body is the perfect environment to produce the same type of bacteria that breaks down a dead animal on the side of the road. This is a disease producing acidic environment. Whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds are the perfect foods for the human design and can be made into an unlimited variety of tasty, filling meals and produce the alkaline blood we are designed to thrive on.
We cannot continue to justify the amount of water, food and land needed, as well as the diseases produced in our quest for animal protein. Not to mention the immense amount of pain and suffering 70 billion plus land animals and 100 billion sea creatures go through, unnecessarily, each year. As much as we don’t want to admit it, humans are not that important to this planet. We may have gotten the bigger brain and the ability to reason, but what have we brought to the table for the betterment of planet earth, I-phones, bombs, pollution? If bees or ants were to vanish from this planet the earth might not be able to survive, but if humans were gone, this planet would thrive.
We were put on this earth to oversee and protect it and all its inhabitants; unfortunately,we are not doing a very good job. But I do have confidence in my fellow human species, if we are given the correct information and then minimize, or better yet, eliminated our unnatural appetite for eating animals, we could save this planet and our health.
Stop believing the marketing hype, we don’t need animals for protein, calcium, iron, omega 3’s or any other nutrient, plants have it all. After absorbing this information and researching it yourself, don’t think you can call yourself an environmentalist or a humanitarian if you still choose to eat meat. I believe our future population will look back on this period of our planet in sadness, but also with pride. Pride that we took action and realized the problem and then corrected it. Just like any other disease, we have to get to the root of the problem instead of using band-aids in trying to correct the problem. THE single biggest problem, is raising and eating animals for food!
With one single act, the whole planet will benefit; animals need to be taken off the breakfast, lunch and dinner table, NOW.
By: Dave Swartz
A few weeks ago I had the chance to visit the San Juan Islands of Washington State. These islands are known for their natural beauty, blue ocean waters, rolling country hills, and of course the local Orca whale population. On a visit to Lime Kiln Point Whale Watch Park, the only land based whale watching park in the country, I had a chance and to stop and hear one of the marine biologists speak about the current state of the local Orca population. I learned quite a few interesting facts such as the matriarch of the Puget Sound J pod being an estimated 105 years old.
I also learned about the resident pods and the transient pods and how each pod had their own unique culture. For instance, the transient pods that venture through the area from time to time not only feed on salmon but also other marine life such as seals. However, the resident pods feed exclusively on Chinook salmon. Unfortunately, the numbers of Orcas in the Puget Sound are declining and scientists say the number one reason for this is due to the lack of availability of salmon.
My next question to the marine biologist was “What is causing the decline in salmon?” It turns out that the number one reason for the decline in salmon is competition with commercial fishing.
In the years since I gave up eating animals I’m not sure if I gave it much thought that I was taking food from someone that actually needs it, I always thought of the animal that was being directly consumed by humans. With beef cattle or farm pigs, I have never had the thought of “If I eat this animal, will its natural predators have nothing to eat?” I believe this is because our “natural environment” has been manipulated to a point that there are no wild species whose main food sources are farmed land animals meant for human consumption. Needless to say that is not the case with fish. This particular pod of Orcas depend on salmon for survival as it is the only food source they eat. If they don’t have enough salmon they will die. Humans in this country and many other countries have the option to go to a grocery store and choose a healthy alternative to fish. Orcas do not have that luxury. If you needed another reason to give up eating fish besides the fact that fish are extremely high in cholesterol and loaded with toxic chemicals such as mercury and over 80% of the world’s fish stocks are considered fully exploited or depleted, you now have it.
By: Lauren Lockey
Every so often we are honored to highlight people within the Utah community who have made changes in their lifestyle, see the benefits, and seek to share it with others.
A few weeks ago I had the great opportunity to interview Andy Krumel who not only lost 15 pounds from reducing his consumption of animal products, but also feels happier and has more energy! Read below to find out more!
Sage Mountain: First, tell us a little about yourself.. Your name, age, where you are from, what you do, why you reside in Park City.
Andy Krumel: My name is Andy Krumel and I am 53 years old. I have lived in Park City for three years. Before that I lived in the San Francisco bay area where I worked in the software industry. We now live full time in Park City for the great life is provides: clean air, great outdoor activities, and a vibrant community.
SM: When and why did you decide to reduce your consumption of animal products?
AK: 5/1/2016 – That is the date I heard Dr. Joel Fuhrman speak at the Park City library. He made a compelling case for changing my diet in so many ways that seemed easy and made scientific sense. One of his main points was to reduce animal product consumption to no more than 10% of ones diet to greatly reduce the risk of cancer.
SM: Wow that statement is quite compelling so what was the process like? Was it difficult for you to make these changes?
AK: My wife and I went to the grocery store that night, we needed to make a trip anyway, and loaded up on beans, walnuts, and vegetables. Meat and cheese were central to my eating habits before changing my diet. Now, I go many days in a row without eating any meat without conscious effort.
SM: How did your family/friends respond to you making these changes?
AK: No real reaction. This is not surprising given how many dietary restrictions people have these days.
SM: That’s true. What changes have you noticed mentally and physically since reducing your animal product consumption?
AK: Changing to Dr. Fuhrman’s diet resulted in increased energy and I have lost 15 pounds. The decreased weight is strictly the result of the diet, for if anything I have increased the amount I eat and have not altered my exercise regimen. Oh, and my sense of smell seems to have improved which is nice since it has never been very good – really makes life more enjoyable.
SM: 15 pounds without altering your exercise?! I guess the statement is true that it’s 80% nutrition and 20% exercise huh? What do you eat on a typical day then?
AK: Breakfast: fruit smoothie (reduced amount due to diet), paleo granola, fruit, and nuts. Occasionally have an egg or cheese.
Lunch and dinner: some combination of vegetable soup, beans, and salads. Might have some meat when we go out to eat which is not very often. Surprisingly, we have found meal prep times are greatly reduced on the new diet. We make sure to include chia and flax seeds, raw onions, and cooked mushrooms daily.
SM: Do you exercise? Is it more often than before since you have more energy?
AK: For exercise I lift weights and run three miles 3x per week. During the summer I will go on several mountain bike rides in the mountains several times a week. During the winter we vigorously walk to the Park City Mountain resort on powder days!
SM: Have you visited a doctor since you have made these dietary changes? What are their thoughts?
AK: No doctor visits.
SM: How long did it take you to really “settle in” to this way of eating? Do you ever think about going back to how you ate before?
AK: Settled in from day one. Crazy considering how different the Fuhrman diet is from my previous eating habits. In my version, so as not to speak for what Dr. Fuhrman intended, I do not count calories or engage in any portion control. If I am hungry then I eat.
SM: Love that! It makes sense to eat when you are actually hungry! Do you plan to stick with it now that you have witnessed the benefits?
AK: Of course. There is no going back.
SM: What is your advice to those seeking to make changes in their diet?
AK: Go hear Dr. Fuhrman speak or read one of his books. He has a long history of working with patients with severe heart disease and has worked with premier medical research institutions to perform scientific studies concerning the effects of diet on heart disease and cancer rates. The results are simply stunning and eye opening.
SM: I agree! I was able to hear him speak last winter and he is super knowledgeable! Is there anything else you would like to add before we close?
AK: I have always been one of those people that could not fathom making dietary changes if I looked and felt healthy. Well, we should never stop striving for improvement and why shouldn’t diet be in that mix? The change was easy, I feel better, love the taste of our food, and I have increased confidence our lives will be active for longer.
SM: Thanks so much for your time Andy! Have fun mountain biking this summer!
Inspiring stories like Andy’s are happening around us all the time. Do you have a story? We enjoy sharing and spreading the love whether it be for your health, the environment, or the animals. We would love to hear from you! Never hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns in transitioning to a plant based lifestyle. We are here and excited to help in any way possible!
By: Courtney Pool (guest)
Hello Sage Mountain Friends!
My name is Courtney, I’m a vegan nutritionist and a recent Utah-returnee living in Cottonwood Heights. It’s a funny story how I got to do a guest blog here: Lauren was my yoga teacher years ago in Park City, before either of us were vegan. When I moved back here, I found vegan roommates, one of whom knew Lauren and Sage Mountain very well. Long story short, I got to see her again for the first time in 10 years and here I am on the blog. Also an FYI: I’ll be the speaker at Sage Mountain’s Thirsty First Thursday at Zest on July 7th!
I’ve been vegan for about 10 years, and working as a nutritionist specializing in vegan nutrition, juice cleansing and overcoming overeating for about 8 years now. It’s an online-based business and I do my consultations over the phone and Skype, which is wonderful because it allows me to have, in addition to local clients, global clients. And I love talking with people about veganism all around the world!
For this blog, I wanted to share some tips from the perspective of a longtime vegan that might be helpful for others. I hope you find it helpful!
1.Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet and minimal junk food.The vast majority of people who end up with nutritional deficiencies or claim they don’t feel as good on a vegan diet are often not getting enough healthy foods and are eating too much junk food. It can also be because there is not enough variety in the diet. Make sure you’re getting a wide array of veggies, fruits, beans, seaweeds, nuts, seeds, oils, etc.
2.Amass a solid list of favorite recipes/meals. Whether you consider yourself someone who likes cooking or not, you need to invest some time trying new recipes and new meals, and figuring out what you like best. When people tell me they don’t know what to eat now that they’re vegan, that tells me they haven’t gotten any vegan recipe books, haven’t googled any vegan recipes online, and haven’t played around in the kitchen. It is a process of trial and error where we need to try a bunch of things, some of which we will like and some of which we won’t, but it will give us some staples that we can return to again and again. And if you’re not big on being in the kitchen, that’s fine–there are plenty of “simple vegan recipes” and “quick vegan meal recipes” that we can google.
3.Find community with likeminded people.Look for people who are likeminded and share a similar desire for veganism. They can be found through meetup.com in your city, or they may be found in an area-specific Facebook group. It’s lovely to find a local friend that you can frequent vegan cafes with or have over to make a meal, but don’t underestimate the power of being connected to people online. Join some forums and groups, ask questions, connect with people there. Share your fears and your insecurities about veganism, ask for tips. People love to help!
4.Learn about all aspects of veganism.I’d say there are four main categories of truth about why veganism is the ethical, loving, and moral way to live: health/well-being, animals, environment, and other welfare of other humans. If you’re only familiar with the details about one or a few of these aspects but not all of them, educate yourself on all of them. The more you know the truth about all factors, the more you receive that truth into your heart, and you can get to a place whereby because you know the truth so thoroughly, you simply can’t not be vegan.
5.Work on your people-pleasing issues.One of the biggest challenges for most people in being vegan is the pressure they often feel to be “normal” and eat like other people eat. We can be susceptible to guilt-trips from others about us being difficult or high-maintenance, or we feel we don’t want to stand up for ourselves and what we need to take care of ourselves within our veganism. This is an issue that is unavoidable to work out if we’re going to stay vegan long-term. There cannot be any circumstance, any guilt-trip, any social climate that would cause us to cave and eat animal products, and the way that we’re going to create that is by working on the emotional reasons why we care what others think of us in this particular way. Don’t people-please with your eating.
6.Examine emotions that may create cravings.It doesn’t happen for everyone, but some people who have recently gone vegan will eventually face something internally that will cause them to be tempted to eat animal products. We’ve already discussed the people-pleasing related emotions that can cause this, but be aware of other ones too. They can be fears about it being unhealthy or apathy about the importance of vegan. Allow yourself to be self-reflective of feelings that may cause you to want to eat animal products.
I hope this helps! If you’re interested in chatting with me about the possibility of coaching, please visit my website -you can email me directly there! I’m also on all social media under my name.
A comprehensive article about everything on going vegan can be found here from our friends at Positive Health Wellness.