Never one to worry about bucking a system or two, Clay Rogers, a former cowboy living in Butte, Montana, has taken to his new plant-based diet like a horse to oats, literally - he eats the steel-cut variety every morning for breakfast.
“Been a real treat,” said Clay, who claims to very much enjoy the vegan way of life, its challenges notwithstanding. "Just another mountain to climb," he said with an easy shrug. "Yeah, the path can get a little windy and lonesome at times, but there ain't no beatin' that view - or them tasty vegan vittles."
Clay explained that it was his concern about resource contamination and the severe water shortage in Montana that prompted him to step away from his former profession in animal agriculture.
“They tell you to always drink upstream from the herd," he said. "But these days, with billions of them critters being raised and rendered every year, we’re all essentially living downstream from the herd.”
He shook his head. “Pardon my cussing, but enough of the bullshit. Only way to clean things up is lettin' go a’ them herds.”
Coinciding with his shift to veganism, said Clay, is an exploration of the Buddhist teachings. He particularly enjoys meditation, which he's found helps calm his hair-trigger temper and his previously persistent anxiety.
“I did my share of sittin' on the back of a horse, so ain't no thang to set myself down on the dirt and watch them thoughts spinnin' ‘round that big ol’ head o’ mine, ‘specially when I get to worryin' like a rockin’ horse.”
And while adapting to plant-based eating in meat-heavy Montana has been an adjustment, Clay feels confident in his ability to sustain the lifestyle change.
“Naw, I ain’t worried ‘bout biting off more'n I can chew,” he said with a wide grin. "As you can see, my mouth’s real big. I think I'll be all right.”