Introducing the Sexiest Vegans Over 50

Selecting two winners from PETA Prime’s Sexiest Vegan Over 50 finalists was not an easy task—all the contestants exuded inner and outer beauty, and their stories left us truly inspired. However, two very special vegans stole voters’ hearts with their vivacity and dedication to animal rights. PETA Prime is excited to announce 2017’s Sexiest Vegans Over 50, Doug Schmidt and Erin Riley-Carrasco!

As a teacher and the health and wellness coordinator in his upstate New York school district, 58-year-old Doug informs students and staff about the health benefits of eating vegan food, a lesson he learned and applied to his life nearly 10 years ago after suffering a heart attack. Today, he’s off all heart medication, 60 pounds lighter, and ready to share his passion for vegan food with others. He strives to clarify any misconceptions about vegans and to further the education system’s and society’s understanding of the ways in which vegan food is good for animals, human health, and the environment.

“When I retire from teaching, I hope to be able to work in the health and wellness field and educate larger numbers of people on how to save their health by eating a healthy vegan diet.”

PETA Prime asked Doug what being a “sexy vegan” means to him, and his answer melted our hearts yet again:

“Sexy is about being real and sincere and showing that you care. Not just to those closest to you, but to those whom you come across in your travels, from the checkout person at the grocery store to the person for whom you hold open a door. A simple smile, a common courtesy can be powerful to that person who is having a [bad] day. We don’t know the daily struggles of others. We need to show compassion and sincere love for all species, human or animal.”

“Vegans are amongst the most compassionate individuals I know, and their strength of character and empathy towards animals is undeniably attractive.”

Erin, a 53-year-old dance studio owner and mother, has been an advocate for animal rights and a PETA member since she was just 19 years old. Her compassion for animals has led her to organize letter-writing campaigns, speak at city council meetings, and protest at universities experimenting on animals, circuses, pet shops, SeaWorld, stores selling fur, and racetracks. She aims to dispel myths that vegans are weak and works hard to raise awareness of the ethical, as well as health, reasons to stop eating animal flesh and dairy “products.”

PETA Prime asked Erin what she’s looking forward to most in the year to come as one of the contest winners, and her response illustrates why we crowned her the winner:

[W]inning a 10-day cruise is nice, but I am definitely most excited about this wonderful opportunity I have been given to be a voice for animals and to share my passion about leading a healthy vegan lifestyle. One of my biggest heroes in the vegan community is James Aspey. Like me, he is a cancer survivor and a passionate vegan. He travels the world educating people about veganism and the life-changing effects it has on one’s heath and our planet and how billions of animals are suffering and dying needlessly for human consumption every year. He educates people on how they can make a huge difference by going vegan. I want to bring awareness about this truth, and hopefully, this “title” will give me a platform to do so! Bottom line—animals don’t have a voice, so I want to be their voice! If that means winning “the sexiest vegan over 50” contest, I’m all in!

Congratulations, Doug and Erin!