Plant Based Utah to Host Symposium Oct. 13
By Jack Hurty, SLCgreen intern
Welcome to SLCgreen Connections, an occasional series highlighting SLCgreen’s fantastic local partners—the people and organizations with whom we work closely to make Salt Lake City a greener, more vibrant, and sustainable city!
This week we sat down with Chandler Rosenberg, Managing Director of Plant Based Utah, to talk about meat, the environment, and their upcoming events. Plant Based Utah is a local plant-based nutrition advocacy group.
What if you could improve your health, save money, and lower your carbon footprint, all with one simple lifestyle change? It’s possible – by eating less meat and transitioning to a plant-based diet. That’s the message Plant Based Utah is working to spread.
In March 2017, Thomas Rosenberg and Patrick Olson who are surgeons in Park City, decided to create an organization dedicated to encouraging people to eat healthier.
They had been studying preventative nutrition for years and found that a plant-based diet could prevent and even reverse some of the various chronic diseases and conditions they came across every day.
However, as they both practiced medicine full-time, they needed someone to run the organization. That’s where Dr. Rosenberg’s daughter, Chandler, came in. Chandler studied policy at the University of Virginia and had been drawn to plant-based eating since her teenage years. She even briefly lived in India in a vegetarian-only province! The leadership role with Plant Based Utah was a natural fit.
Annual Plant Based Symposium
Since the group’s founding, they’ve worked hard to grow their presence, despite limited resources.
Last year they held their first annual Plant Based Nutrition Symposium at the Park City Hospital – and sold out three months before the event! This year, to accommodate the high demand, the Symposium has moved to the Salt Palace on October 13.
Thanks to a generous grant from Dry Creek Charity, they are now offering Need-Based Scholarships to cover the ENTIRE cost of the symposium to the first 10 people that email chandler[at]plantbasedutah.org with the answer to the following question:
How will you benefit from the knowledge provided at the 2nd Annual Plant Based Nutrition Symposium?
Supporting Patient Health
In addition to the Symposium, the medical professionals involved with Plant Based Utah have been able to educate populations that aren’t traditionally vegetarian.
“[The doctors in our group] that practice every day and see a lot of patients, they see a lot of those people who grow up on a farm and come from rural Utah where animal agriculture is a central part of the economy,” said Chandler. “They’re coming in for a surgery or to get treatment for arthritis or inflammation . . . and [the medical practitioners] say ‘Hey, if you eat [more plants and fewer animal products] you’ll lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure.’ Often people who do try it see positive results within weeks.”
Promoting an Environmental Ethic
The main goal of Plant Based Utah is to educate people about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, but they’re also concerned with the environmental aspects.
“Eighty-two percent of Utah’s water goes to animal agriculture,” Chandler noted. “[It’s] very inefficient, and it’s one of the biggest contributors to climate change.”
In fact, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that animal agriculture is the second largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas emissions, totaling 14.5 percent or 7.1 Gigatons annually.
“Eating fewer animal products is one of the biggest things you can do to fight climate change,” Chandler reiterated.
Eating a lot of meat is also resource-intensive from a water and land use perspective. A kilogram of beef requires as much as 40 times more water than an equivalent amount of vegetables. And one-third of Earth’s ice-free land surface goes to raising livestock, increasing deforestation and land degradation.
Reducing the amount of meat consumed will curb our need for land and water, especially in the arid West.
While Chandler advocates enthusiastically for a plant-based diet, she also recognizes that plant-based eating shouldn’t require one to immediately become a strict vegan.
“Small steps are important, whether it’s just adding more vegetables to your plate, or going one day a week or one meal a day without meat. We encourage that.”
Dig In to Plant Based Eating
Those looking to cut down on their meat consumption should “start slowly,” said Chandler: “do Meatless Mondays and try the awesome plant-based restaurants in Salt Lake, because there’s a lot of them!” She says she often brings her omnivorous friends to some of SLC’s local vegan and vegetarian restaurants and “they love it!”
Learning more about plant-based nutrition is important too. “It’s helpful to read the information and the science behind it. If you have a reason, I think it’s easier to do it.” Chandler recommends documentaries Cowspiracy and Forks over Knives.
There are also resources online, like nutritionfacts.org, that will explain much of the science behind nutrition.
The SLC Vegan Facebook group is helpful too, where people are always posting about vegan potlucks or recipes. “It’s all about finding a community,” said Chandler.
Plant Based Utah is just one of the many groups working to make Salt Lake City and the state of Utah a bit healthier and more sustainable.
The future is bright said Chandler. “It’s a good time to be vegan in Salt Lake.”
Thank you Chandler and Plant Based Utah! We can’t wait to attend the Symposium on October 13!