Vegan hiker Josh Garrett walked 2,655 miles from Mexico to Canada in a record 59 days to raise awareness for animal cruelty and funds for the animal-rights group Mercy for Animals.
Garrett battled heat stroke, loneliness and exhaustion during his harrowing solo hike, walking an average of 45 miles a day. When he felt like giving up, Josh, 30, said his love for animals kept him going.
"What got me through those difficult times was thinking about why I was out there in the first place," he told the NY Daily News Aug. 20. "I was really surprised how mentally challenging it was."
Garrett, who has been a vegan for the past year and a half, subsisted on a diet of vegan bars, peanut butter, kale chips and corn nuts during his grueling trek across the Pacific Crest Trail from June 10 to Aug. 8.
Garrett, a track coach and exercise physiology instructor at Santa Monica College, converted to a vegan diet in 2011 after watching a video of turkeys being processed during Thanksgiving. He was astounded by the senseless cruelty he witnessed.
"Some guy at a slaughterhouse is using live turkeys, suspended upside down on a conveyor belt, as punching bags," Josh recalled. "It made me sick to my stomach. My consciousness started to change."
Garrett says the final straw came when he saw the documentary "Forks Over Knives" and heard medical experts discussing the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
While some vegans lapse because they find the diet too restrictive and difficult to follow, Garrett says the transition for him was easy, especially when buttressed by ethical and philosophical considerations.
"A vegan diet gives us everything we need," he said. "We don't need to eat animal products to be healthy and strong."