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!!

Plant Built Team

Guest blog by Animal Care Expert for Sage Mountain and Plant Built athlete, Crystal Moulton
Plant Built is a team of vegan strength athletes that get together to compete at the Naturally Fit Expo in Austin, Texas every year. Our goal is to show the world that a vegan lifestyle is no barrier to being strong or having muscles. The team includes the sports of bodybuilding, powerlifting, olympic lifting, kettlebell, crossfit, and strongman.

Plant Built was founded in the fall of 2012 and started with a group of seasoned and novice physique competitors. It quickly spread to the other strength sports, all with the shared goal of promoting a plant based diet in these sports where eating animal products is widely accepted as the only way to achieve success, and not eating or using animals is seen as counter to these sports.
Utah represents with myself and athlete Kelly Colobella who competes in Powerlifiting and Strongman. Outside of Plant Built, Kelly is on the O-line on a professional women’s football team, the Utah Falcons. I compete in the sports of Powerlifting and Strongman as well, and also Highland Games outside of the Plant Built Team. Powerlifting is the strength sport that tests a person’s one-repetition maximums in the lifts of squat, bench, and deadlift. Each competitor is given three attempts at each lift, competitors choose their own weight but try to do the most weight possible. Lifts are strictly judged and proper form and depth is required. Strongman is a strength sport that involves lifting, carrying, or pulling odd objects and weights in a variety of fun and challenging events. The more famous Strongman events include the Atlas Stones, Yoke Walk, Farmers Carry, Axle Deadlift or Axle Pressing, and many more.

Representing Utah on the Plant Built Team: Kelly Colobella & Crystal Moulton

This team has made vegans a formidable presence at the Naturally Fit Expo. It has been a huge launching point for vegan outreach and the chance to change opinions and beliefs through engaging in these sports and fitness events.

Show your support by following us on social media or visit the website for more info.
Sage Mountain is lucky to have Crystal as part of our team! We are SO amazed by Plant Built’s efforts and drive to show that Plant-Powered People are remarkably strong and compassionate, too! Keep it up, Team Plant Built! 

Interview with Lexi Purrington: Local Cruelty-Free Health & Fitness Coach

Interview with Lexi Purrington: Local Cruelty-Free Health & Fitness Coach

By: Natalie Blanton

For this week’s blog we wanted to highlight another inspiring and local plant-based individual. We caught up with Lexi Purrington, a Salt Lake City-based nutrition coach and personal trainer, and powerful advocate for the animals.

Lexi and her beloved/rescued pitbull, Amelia. #adoptdontshop

Lexi and her beloved/rescued pitbull, Amelia. #adoptdontshop

Sage Mountain: When and why did you decide to go vegan?

Lexi Purrington: I began experimenting with veganism somewhat on accident. I remember hearing how bad dairy was for your skin and how meat attributes to weight gain. As a pre-teen that was enough to get me started. At first it was completely about the way I looked. I had gotten myself into a bad spot where that was the only thing in the world that mattered, but ironically ended up saving my life on the same type of “diet”. A few years later, I began reading about the hidden animals of the industry and what exactly went on during the process of slaughtering them. Today, I remain vegan for the animals, the environment, my health, and human rights.

SM: What has benefited you most about being vegan?

LP: Watching how my body has changed, and seeing the amount of energy I have increase year after year, has been the biggest benefit. My heart and bones have gotten stronger, my endurance is longer, and my recovery time is much shorter.

SM: What sort of training do you do and how often?

LP: I train 5-6 days per week for an hour each session. I typically pair body parts together like back and biceps, glutes and hamstrings, etc. I incorporate cardio at the beginning of most of my workouts and typically train with weights and resistance machines.

SM: What do you think is the biggest misconception about vegans especially being an athlete yourself? And how do you combat those myths?

LP: People often say that vegans are fragile or weak, or somehow get placed into a feminine category (i.e. real men eat bacon/hunt). I work hard every day to show people that we are just as strong, fast, and powerful as everybody else. It’s become somewhat inspirational to me to “beat the odds” and show just how tough we can be.

SM: Love that. What do other trainers/fitness folk think of you being vegan and what is the most common question you are asked?

LP: Where in the world I could possibly get my protein. Honestly I had never even given protein a single thought before getting into the fitness industry but it seems that everyone has this crazy obsession with it. It’s literally in almost everything and I think what a lot of people don’t realize is that it can actually be dangerous to overdo it. Most trainers I meet use that as an excuse as to why they would never go vegan but what they do not understand is that it’s just as convenient to get the right amount from plant-based sources, and much easier for your body to digest.

SM: Truth!  What are your favorite “go to” foods for protein, calcium, and iron?

LP: It definitely varies from day to day but I regularly consume a lot of nuts, nut butters, alternative milks like almond and soy, leafy green vegetables and plenty of tofu/tempeh in order to get a good mix of calcium, protein and iron.

SM: What is your advice to those looking to get stronger/gain muscle? What is your advice to those looking to lose weight?

LP: Always prepare, be patient with yourself, and don’t get too comfortable doing the same thing. For people looking to gain muscle, I recommend higher weight/lower reps and individually training muscle groups each week. For people trying to lose weight, I recommend mixing up their cardio routine and incorporating weightlifting in order to up their metabolism. All of this can not be done without fueling your body with the right foods so be sure to incorporate a diet rich in fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains.


Huge thanks to Lexi for taking the time to speak with us and share some of her incredible insight, knowledge, and health-tips!

We encourage you to reach out to Lexi for any further inquiries regarding nutrition, meal-plans, and personal-training.

Email her at: