Profile: Kent Maurer feels world peace starts at the dinner table
Park City local follows a plant-only diet
Kent Maurer used to be a meat and potatoes kind of guy.
“I grew up having my bacon and eggs for breakfast,” he said. “I’d have my burger and fries for lunch, my steak for dinner and my ice cream for dessert.”
The 61-year-old now adheres to a different diet. Rather than grilling chicken or making pot roast, Maurer often prepares a hearty salad and baked potato for dinner. He said his decision to stick to a plant-only diet changed his health — and his life.
The Park City resident feels everyone can benefit from the choice to abstain from meat, dairy and other animal products. Not only does being vegan help protect people from heart disease, he said, it also benefits the environment by cutting down on resources used to feed and transport livestock.
“If you look around, all the biggest, fastest and strongest animals on the planet — including the animals we’re eating — are plant-eaters,” he said.
Maurer was a little apprehensive about the diet when he was introduced to it, which is something that isn’t uncommon, he stressed.
When the Colorado native lived in California in the ’80s, he found regular work as a stunt man for the action-adventure show “A-Team” and befriended one of the program’s stars, Dirk Benedict.
Between faking death during staged explosions and rappelling down buildings, Maurer would chat with Benedict, especially during lunch breaks.
“I always noticed his plate of food,” Maurer said. “His plate of food was brown rice and steamed vegetables. Mine was a burger and fries.”
Curiosity got the best of Maurer, and he asked the actor why he ate the same meal every day. Limiting his consumption of meat, Benedict was on a macrobiotic diet and mostly munched on grains and vegetables.
The actor explained to Maurer his reasoning for following a mostly vegetarian diet, telling the stunt man the diet helped him heal from prostate cancer.
“He goes, ‘I grew up in a cattle ranch in Montana. And at 29 years old, I got prostate cancer,’” Maurer said, adding that Benedict seemed to correlate his cancer with eating meat.
“That was the last I thought about it after that,” Maurer said.
The stunt man grew homesick when he was in California and decided to return to his roots to work in Aspen, Colorado. There, he became a personal trainer and focused on staying fit, which is something that has always been important to him.
“When I was a kid, I wasn’t the fastest or the biggest or the strongest,” Maurer said. “I started exercising and tried to get better. It paid off.”
He stayed in Aspen for a while. But after he married wife Laura in 1987, the couple decided the Aspen lifestyle was too expensive.
“We wanted to have a family,” Maurer said.
They moved to Tucson, Arizona, and Maurer took a job as spa director at Canyon Ranch, a ritzy health resort.
Once again, the vegan lifestyle seemed to knock at Maurer’s door. He noticed meals prepared at the spa closely mirrored Benedict’s macrobiotic diet. He said he made a correlation between eating veggie-heavy meals and staying healthy, but he remained committed to eating the starches and proteins he grew up enjoying.
Making a lifestyle change
After a move back to the Golden State, Maurer jumped on the plant-only bandwagon when he once again became a personal fitness instructor, which had its challenges, he said.
The trainer was able to help clients build muscle and lose weight, but he wanted to do more.
“I got people stronger and fitter,” he said. “I also had people who were getting heart disease and cancer. I even had clients that would die because of these diseases.
“I felt like I wasn’t doing any good for these people who I’ve gotten so close to, so I started looking outside the box I was comfortable with.”
Maurer was in his 40s when he decided to try a diet that had followed him, almost like a shadow, during his adult life. He started traveling from his residence in San Diego to Los Angeles to attend conferences on veganism. After Maurer discovered he had high cholesterol, he decided to challenge himself.
“I said, ‘OK, I’m going to try this for a month,” Maurer said. “I can always go back to my old way of eating if I get weak or if I can’t handle it.”
He stuck to a diet of oatmeal in the morning, burritos in the afternoon and salads in the evening. In between meals, he snacked on fruits and nuts. He said the results from eating veggies, grains, fruits and nuts shocked him.
“My cholesterol was almost 300, because even though I looked good, my internal organs were starting to pile up with all that saturated fat and cholesterol I’d been eating my whole life,” Maurer said. “So after one month, I went back to the doctor and my cholesterol went from 298 down to 160.”
Maurer cut meat out of his life 21 years ago. His wife and two kids also jumped on board. Now, his mission is to encourage Parkites to adopt a vegan lifestyle.
Since moving to Park City in 2007, Maurer — still a personal trainer — has challenged locals to follow a plant-only diet.
“I ask them to stop eating animals for 10 days and see what happens,” he said. “I take them to a grocery store and show them how to read labels and what foods to eat. I also take them on hikes, so they can talk to me and ask some questions.”
The Parkite — who, in addition to spreading his vegan motto, loves to hike and enjoys watching documentaries — wants people to know he feels eating a plant-only diet has more pros than cons.
Yes, a stand against the mistreatment of cows and chickens is a reason to refrain from eating meat and animal byproducts, he said, but his main drive is his belief that the livestock industry could one day lead to a global crisis, which is something he feels can be avoided.
Maurer said the water it takes to nourish plants fed to animals should instead be used for plants grown for human consumption.
“There is only 1 percent of water that we can drink that’s not salt water or not frozen, and the whole planet has to share it,” Maurer said, adding he thinks the next big war will be over available water.
Installing solar panels or investing in other renewable sources takes money, Maurer said, but people can conserve a valuable resource by changing their diets.
“I think it all starts with what we’re eating,” he said. “Peace starts at our dinner table.”
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