The entries are in – now it’s time to vote to help PETA choose who it should name as the winners. Our smouldering-hot vegan finalists are living proof that compassion really is sexy, but who deserves to walk away with this year’s title? Public voting to help PETA decide whom it will choose as the winners will end on 28 July 2017, so check out the finalists and vote now.
Each winner will receive a voucher for an eight-course vegan taster menu for two at top London restaurant Gauthier Soho. See our full contest rules.
Junior journalist Frankie describes herself as a 6-foot-tall, Brixton-based, Bristol-born vegan. She became vegetarian at 18 after developing an interest in animal welfare. “I also became acutely aware of the damage the meat and dairy industry was doing to the environment,” she says. And she’s since gone vegan!
Birmingham-based Jim calls himself a “health freak”. The office worker says, “My journey into veganism has allowed me to be a better version of myself – mind, body, and soul.” He lost 6 stone by following a plant-based diet and choosing a healthy lifestyle! “There is nothing negative about veganism … it was an absolute no-brainer,” he adds.
Reading-based HR coordinator Georgia says she “initially went vegan in November 2013 for one month, [as] I had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. … And I never turned back.” Since then, she has learnt about the ethical and environmental benefits of a vegan diet.
Joshua is a law student from London. He went vegan after witnessing dog slaughter in China. “I finally had made the connection between animals we call pets and animals that are served as food,” he says of his experience. He uses Instagram to show that vegans can be fit and strong, and he offers advice and tasty recipes to those who want them.
Trainee retail manager Kate from Spalding says that she “had been vegetarian from a young age. Around a year ago, I discovered [the documentary] Forks Over Knives and I was stunned. I had never considered that I could be doing more to prevent animal harm, and with that, I became vegan and have felt incredible both inside and out ever since!”
Community support developer Lawrence from York describes himself as a nature-loving big kid. He says that “on a daily basis, I ensure I show kindness and compassion to all living beings. I like to think of myself as a whistle-blower for animals and am always prepared to speak up for their justice and rights, whether it’s on the street or behind the computer. If we can’t be kind to animals, how will we ever be kind to each other?”
Minehead-based Misti is the daughter of a Masai warrior. She was inspired to go vegan after taking a job as a health-food sales assistant and learning about how healthy vegan eating can be. “I encourage everyone to try a vegetarian or vegan diet wherever I go,” she says.
Eastbourne-based Mark is a fitness instructor. “I went vegan 100 per cent for the animals – overnight!” he says. “I try to use my influence as a fitness coach to inform people that veganism is strong, healthy, and ethical.”
London-based Scottish model Simone is a vegan pizza addict. She says that “[a]fter seeing a video from inside a chicken hatchery on social media, I became slightly obsessed with researching the meat industry. I was horrified by the way that innocent animals were treated and the way the employees were completely desensitised to the cruelty, and I wanted to know what I could do to make a difference.”
Neil is an HGV driver and a passionate Save Movement activist. “After talking to a friend and watching the documentary Earthlings, I was awakened to the harm and injustice of the meat industry,” he says. “I made a decision overnight that I wanted no part in it. … Six months on, I’m absolutely loving life! I’ve been travelling, meeting loads of cool people, and constantly talking about veganism.”
Casey is a non-profit worker from Bexhill-on-Sea with a penchant for vegan doughnuts and CrossFit. “Veganism to me means compassion – compassion for everyone, whether they have feet, scales, or feathers,” she says. “Once I discovered veganism, I made a promise to myself that I would not stop sharing and educating people about veganism until every animal is free.”
Irish bartender Colm lives in Spain. He went vegan after becoming aware of the cruelty of the dairy industry. “I talk to everyone and encourage them to research [going vegan] for themselves,” he says. “I researched the dairy industry and found it totally unacceptable what happens to the animals. I couldn’t stand by it.”
Narberth resident Chloe owns a vegan chocolate company (delicious!). And the entrepreneur encourages friends and family to try a plant-based diet. “[W]hen I was recipe testing for my chocolate and brownie business, no one knew everything they were taste-testing was vegan and everyone loved it,” she writes.
Dinarte is a secondary-school teacher in Edinburgh. He went vegan after watching documentaries and researching the way in which meat and dairy foods are produced, and he says that he couldn’t bear the thought that his actions would not only directly impact the lives of defenceless animals but also have a profoundly negative impact on the environment. “The health benefits [of eating vegan] are also outstanding, and in the short time I’ve been vegan, I have noticed a huge benefit to my health and well-being,” he says.