Meet the intrepid vegan family who are on a mission to conquer Africa’s highest mountain…
“Since I was 10 years old, I dreamed of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro,” says Sharon Warner.
But school, marriage, motherhood, and a career promoting women’s health intervened.
Planning to finally pursue her goal at age 50, Warner came across the Vegan Kilimanjaro Plant‑Based Nutrition Challenge! at www.facebook.com/vegankili, which read in part:
“On March 1, 2018, a daring group of dedicated vegans plans to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro on the first all-vegan expedition to Africa’s highest peak! The capstone of the trek will be the unfurling of a banner at the foot of the famous Uhuru Peak summit sign promoting the life-saving mission of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM) Barnard Medical Center.”
“As a passionate vegan and PCRM supporter, I knew this was the trip for me,” said Warner. “And I immediately enticed my two athletic daughters to join me.”
Alexandra, 20, currently enrolled in celebrity-chef Matthew Kenney’s online PlantLab Culinary school, was the first in the family to become a full-fledged vegan about 6 years ago.
Her younger sister, Madison, now 18, became vegan a week later. It was an easy decision for someone who had the foresight and will to stop eating meat at the tender age of 4, because it was “cruel to the animals.”
Both girls are high school honor graduates with plans to attend college in New York after gaining real-world experience during their gap years.
Inspired by the sisters’ example, the entire Warner family eventually became vegan.
“My daughters are the reason I am a vegan today. Their passion coupled with scientific research they had found made it a no brainer for me,” says proud mom Sharon. “The vegan way of life has made many of my relationships with friends and family stronger and raised our awareness level collectively.”
Once mom and daughters were on board for Kilimanjaro, dad and son were eager to make it a family adventure.
For spouse Christopher, 50, a PCRM-affiliated obstetrician and gynecologist passionate about physical exercise, it was a natural fit: “This plant-based diet and lifestyle really changed me and my perceptions about not only my professional field but life as a whole. I know I am a better partner, father, and physician because of it,” he said.
Son Jordan, 24, who attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. and recently launched a skateboard design company in San Francisco, became vegan due to “encouragement from my mom and sisters, and I’ve never felt better.”
Not to be outdone by their younger family members, Sharon’s vegan mother and stepdad, Deborah and Charles Jefferson, decided to join the team.
Deborah, 69, a retired senior executive with the U.S. Department of Commerce, loves to travel and says that veganism has “made me more well-rounded and culturally aware.”
Charles, 70, a retired federal government program manager who still does contract work, has a keen interest in different cultures. “Talking with others about food and awareness of the benefits of a vegan diet has become a passion,” he said.
Vegan Kilimanjaro originated with San Diegan Mike Weinberg who was seeking a challenge for his 65th year, 21 as a vegan. Concerned with cross-contamination and uncomfortable dining around others eating animal products, he arranged with a reputable company, Ultimate Kilimanjaro, to guide the first 100% vegan team up Africa’s highest mountain.
“Initially, I was seeking 6-12 very fit vegans to join me on this quest,” said Weinberg. “But we’re already up to 16 climbers, and Ultimate Kilimanjaro has hosted charity climbs for 30, so I’m being optimistic and shooting for that.
“Our international team now includes participants from Canada, Norway, South Africa, Belarus, France, and Switzerland. To prove the heights of achievement possible on a plant-based diet, we’re all eager to reach the peak of Kilimanjaro, which at 19,341 feet is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. Our trek begins on February 25 and 5 days later, March 1, we summit under a nearly full moon.
“I’m thrilled that the Warner/Jefferson family will be with us!”
To inquire about joining the climb team, or to follow their progress, visit www.facebook.com/vegankili.