Cows on McPolin Farm are damaging to Park City’s green efforts

Click below to read this guest editorial written by founders Lauren Lockey and Dave Swartz for the Park Record.

Utah Farms Exposure Tour

Lauren Lockey

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



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

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

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



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

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



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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

dead dairy cow

dead dairy calf

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

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

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

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

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

Founders Lauren Lockey and Dave Swartz interview on This Green Earth

Sage Mountain founders Lauren Lockey and Dave Swartz join KPCW’s This Green Earth to discuss the many environmental impacts of eating meat and dairy – and the equally many benefits of employing a more plant based diet.

Click here to listen.

Park City Takes The Vegan Challenge

Park City Takes The Vegan Challenge

Park City locals Kent Maurer and Lauren Lockey speak on PCTV about the upcoming 7-day challenge. Mayor Andy Beerman will be joining – anyone and everyone is welcome to join this opportunity to not only open your eyes to more abundance of colorful foods, but also learn about the issues going on today, and the impact our diet has on them.

Join PC Mayor for 10 Day Vegan Challenge

Join Park City Mayor Andy Beerman for a 10-day vegan diet starting Monday. The Mayor agreed to try a 10-day plant based vegan diet and he’s encouraging others to join him. Shortly after the election, local vegan advocate Kent Mauer asked the new mayor if he’d bill willing to set an example. Beerman says now is the time.

Read the full article here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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