Meet the ‘Sexy Six’: Our ‘Sexiest Vegan Over 50’ 2019 Finalists!
Introducing the “Sexy Six” finalists in this year’s Sexiest Vegan Over 50 Contest!
After receiving many wonderful entries, we’ve narrowed down the contestants to half a dozen compassionate, confident, inspirational vegan men and women who will vie for the grand prize of a three-night stay at Balance for Life Florida, an all-inclusive wellness retreat located at a beautiful oceanfront resort in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
Now we need your help!
Read our finalists’ profiles, and then vote for your picks before Friday, September 27, at 5 p.m. ET.Vote Now!
Beryl Bender Birch, 76, Great Barrington, Massachusetts
In 1971, while studying meditation with a Jain monk, Beryl had the revelation that she no longer wanted to eat animals, who feel fear and pain just as we do. As a yoga teacher at her school, The Hard & The Soft Yoga Institute, she has been training yoga teachers and promoting animal rights issues since 1980. After watching What the Health, one of her students went home and showed it to her husband, who became vegan overnight—and the two of them are still vegan to this day! After going vegan, Beryl experienced an immediate shift in her health. She had contracted an autoimmune disorder and been prescribed a number of medications, which she was able to stop taking after going vegan—and her autoimmune disorder went into full remission. Beryl is a ray of vegan light, and her compassion and enthusiasm inspire others to leave animals off their plates.
Thomas Jackson, 51, Greensboro, Florida
As a single parent, one of Thomas’ proudest moments was when his daughter, Melody, first protested the circus not long after she could walk. The sign she held was as big as she was—and less than two years later, the circus went out of business. Moments like these inspire him to encourage us all to try to change the world. Today, you’ll find him traveling and screening his new documentary, A Prayer for Compassion, which aims to encourage those already on a religious or spiritual path to extend their compassion to include all sentient beings.
Among many advocacy projects, he’s currently working to create a video and petition to offer one healthy vegan option at every meal in every public school. He believes that “compassion is not only great for your spirit, health, and the environment, it’s also sexy.”
Laurel Lea, 58, Weston, Connecticut
Laurel Lea is enthusiastically and unapologetically committed to sharing the benefits of a cruelty-free lifestyle, and her creative activism has been influential. She once attended a cosmetics company focus group armed with PETA literature to show the horrors of animal testing and said that “while they’d never lose a customer for NOT testing on animals, they’d lost this one BY testing on animals!” A vegetarian since the 1970s, Laurel learned several years ago about the cruelty involved in the egg and dairy industries and went vegan on the spot. Within weeks, she was able to stop taking blood pressure medication, her arthritis pain disappeared, and she felt good enough to start exercising for the first time in years. “People keep telling me I’m radiant, and I say it’s the plants,” she says. “But it’s more—it’s the sheer joy of living a cruelty-free life.”
Tim Medearis, 54, Vancouver, Washington
Tim lives and breathes animal rights activism. He’s a co-coordinator for the Vancouver Anonymous for the Voiceless chapter’s Cube of Truth demonstrations. He’s seen firsthand the impact that these demonstrations can have on people’s lives, and many walk away seriously considering following a vegan lifestyle after having talked with him. As a special education teacher, he shares his cruelty-free lifestyle with coworkers and members of the school’s administration. He had been vegetarian for 18 years, but he became a vegan activist after his wife showed him the film Cowspiracy. From tabling for PETA to volunteering at VegFest and making weekly visits to the local animal shelter, Tim is always ready to speak in behalf of animals.
Karen Asp, 50, Fort Wayne, Indiana
While hiking in Austria in 2003, Karen made a pact with a cow she met along the way, promising never to eat him or any animals like him ever again—and she removed all other animal-derived products from her life soon after. As the author of several books and a writer for many popular publications, she makes a point of weaving vegan messaging into her writing whenever she can. She loves to offer guidance on following a cruelty-free lifestyle. She’s one of PETA’s Vegan Mentors and is always available to help new vegans learn the ropes. With two world records in Nordic walking under her belt, she’s also a shining example of plant-powered athleticism. Karen is an energetic and compelling voice for animals, and her compassion is helping make the Earth a better place for all who inhabit it.
Omar Ordonez, 50, Gresham, Oregon
While riding his motorcycle to the tip of South America, Omar found a homeless dog, and they bonded instantly. “She adopted me,” he says, and they traveled together the rest of the way from Ecuador to Argentina. He rescued three other dogs on the way, who all now enjoy comfortable, happy lives in Oregon. In 2009, Omar and his family decided to go vegetarian after his daughter suggested that they do so. As he began to research the egg and dairy industries, he became horrified by what he learned. His family agreed—and they all went vegan together. Now, Omar aims to inspire the people around him to do likewise. He loves to talk with people in his community about the way his life has changed for the better since he went vegan, and he’s helped several friends and colleagues make the transition to a vegan lifestyle.
You’ve met them all! Now, cast your vote for your favorite finalists. Voting will close on Friday, September 27, at 5 p.m. ET, and the winners will be announced on Monday, September 30.Vote Now!