Click below to read this guest editorial written by founders Lauren Lockey and Dave Swartz for the Park Record.
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
By Natalie Blanton
I am all for reinventing oneself, I fully believe in self-care and homework of the soul and goals. If we do not continually strive to do better for ourselves, in tandem, with progressing our communities, environments, and our planet — what are we doing with this one life?
As we say farewell to the brutally tough year that 2016 has been — I know many of us are mentally preparing for a New Year/New You. New Year’s Resolutions are brilliant, sure, but why not re-commit to serving yourself, and the world around you, every single day? Volunteering, donating, showing up are all amazing gestures — but I want to remind you that the single greatest act you can do, everyday, with the most immense impact — is to reduce, if not eliminate, your consumption of meat, dairy, eggs, and fish, for the health, well-being and longevity of yourself, the animals, and this remarkable planet. I deem 2017 the year of the vegan — a year of compassion, a counter-action to all of the hate, fear, and pain that occurred in 2016. I am hopeful that we will continue to see and feel more momentum in the plant-based and animal rights movements.
Whether you are environmentally aware/concerned/anxious [as we should all be], you think pigs are too cute to eat [which they are], you know meat is horrible for your health, or the idea of eating dead animals has just never been appetizing — whatever the reason may be for you making this paradigm shift — you are welcome here. And that is the beauty of this individual activism, and voting/raising your voice at every meal, and with every decision made revolving around consumption. I urge you to craft your own vegan identity. Which can shift and change as you grow more in this vein of compassionate living. The process and snowball-effect that takes place when you simply think-through your consumption habits is incredible. A basic shift toward a veggie burger rather than cow flesh, will quickly make you more aware how these simple choices of meals, or not-tested-on-animals/cruelty-free household products and cosmetics, or cutting out the more hidden animal by-products, such as honey or gelatin, have huge, lasting, and undeniable impacts.
Be one less person harming animals and this planet.
Commit to eating your ethics — for yourself, the animals, and the planet this year.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you along your herbivorous resolution/journey:
- Further educate yourself. Watch the films (Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, Earthlings, etc.), utilize Vegan Apps or YouTube Channels for many different perspectives on Veganism, and the issues that have awoken so many of us.
- Make a plan. Everyone is different! Some individuals go vegan overnight — cold tofurkey if you will. Some of us, like myself, took the gradual route and utilized the “crowd out, not cut out” mentality. Start somewhere: Meatless Monday’s or choose 2 days a week you eat all plant-based. As you introduce more delicious plant-based foods, animal products will disappear off of your plate and you will begin to feel cleaner and better! Transitions are always rough on our bodies — so give yourself time, do your best, be gentle with your body, if you are active — eat more calories, and drink lots of water, always!
- Seek out and join community vegan social media groups, and through those, look for vegan meet ups in your area — like-minded individuals can be so helpful in this individual quest. Here is the local SLC Vegan Facebook group!
- Seek out a Vegan mentor — through community boards on Facebook (as aforementioned) or through any of us at Sage Mountain!
- Go to or organize plant-powered potlucks, or cook for your omnivorous friends!
- Write letters to your local leadership — urging them to end speciesism and let animals be — in all of their different, natural ways, or organize/attend a protest!
- Be an example for others around you! Stay present with your friends and family who may be skeptical of your shift of diet/ethics. If you stay kind and simply encourage others to eat less animals and more plants — my, what marvelous things can happen! Offer to cook with your community to show that vegan food does taste amazing.
Do YOUR best. Because:
Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life.
We are here for just a spec of time. Leave your own legacy of compassion for others. Simply, start with today.
Together, let’s make 2017 the year of altruism and compassion.
Author note: many of these tips were included in Sage Mountain co-founder, Lauren Lockey and the author, Natalie Blanton’s SLC Veg Fest 2016 talk “Veganism 101” — view their presentation here.