The Nanci Alexander Activist Award is presented annually to a compassionate individual whose commitment to animal rights is helping to change the world and move PETA’s vital work for animals forward.

The award’s namesake, Nanci Alexander, has been a leader in the animal rights world for decades and has been with PETA since the very beginning. Unwavering in her commitment to end suffering, she’s a beloved honorary director who continues to inspire us all.

She founded the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida in 1989—when animal rights was still a new idea to many—and she opened the country’s very first gourmet vegan restaurant in Florida in 2003. PETA President Ingrid Newkirk even named our Washington, D.C., office after her. She’s also honored at our headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, the Sam Simon Center, by our Campaigns Department, which operates out of the Nanci Alexander Room.

Every year, the Nanci Alexander Activist Award honors those whose work for animals is visible, vital, and impactful—which makes this year’s winner, Stewart Mitchell (aka “Vigilante Vegan”), the perfect recipient.

People who work closely with Stewart have described him as “uniquely upbeat” and “the most reliable activist in NYC.” You’ll find him offering eloquent, moving testimony in support of bans on fur and foie gras at New York City Council meetings, hauling posters to rallies, tabling at Black VegFest, or calmly distributing leaflets to hostile crowds at rodeo protests outside Madison Square Garden.

In addition to participating in more traditional forms of activism—like attending demonstrations and lobbying city council—Stewart finds other unique ways to speak up for animals. Using his experience as a father of two, he wrote two children’s books about animal rights: Kayla the Vegan and Liberation Summer. He uses his Instagram account, Vigilante_Vegan, as a platform to deliver educational wake-up calls about animal rights, speciesism, vegan living, and social justice intersectionality—with a mix of boldness and humor that has amassed an audience of over 25,000 followers!

As if that weren’t enough, he uses poetry as yet another form of activism, performing through his group V.O.I.C.E.4Change and at national animal rights gatherings.

Thank you for inspiring the next generation of animal activists and for taking every possible opportunity to speak up for animals, Stewart. Congratulations on earning the Nanci Alexander Activist Award.

Watch the video below for a special message from Stewart himself!