By Victoria Moran
Submitting my entry to be considered for PETA Prime’s Sexiest Vegan Over 50 (SVO50) contest took a lot of thought. I was good with “attractive” and “healthy”—gifts from being vegan for more than 30 years—but “sexy,” not to mention “sexiest,” was a leap. As I read and reread PETA’s definition, however, it was clear that the standard was vitality and, most of all, a long, strong, and sincere commitment to animal rights. That convinced me.
The contest process was stressful, since I’m seldom involved in competition and every single woman in the running was gorgeous, committed to this cause, and fully capable of carrying the SVO50 banner. The stress lifted, however, as I read the comments from people who’d voted for me. I knew some of them through the vegan/animal rights movement. Others had read Main Street Vegan or one of my other books, and a few even wrote that a book or magazine article of mine from sometime over the past three decades had inspired them to go vegan. Win or lose, knowing that my work in this world had affected others in powerful ways was extremely gratifying.
After my victory was announced, the male winner, Dr. Joel Kahn, and I flew to Los Angeles for a photo shoot at PETA’s office, and journalist Jane Velez-Mitchell documented the event on Jane UnChained. Back at home, the work continued and still does. For me, that means speaking to vegan and nonvegan groups and hosting the weekly Main Street Vegan podcast, a showcase for every strata of thought in the animal rights, vegan, and plant-based worlds. It means running Main Street Vegan Academy (MSVA), a magical, six-day, in-person program in New York City that trains and certifies committed vegans as vegan lifestyle coaches and educators. And it means writing—The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook, co-authored by MSVA graduate and fellow PETA Business Friend JL Fields, will come out in December.
It’s interesting to me that our work for animal rights is like the Zen story in which the student asks, “What does one do before enlightenment?” and the teacher answers, “Chop wood, carry water.” The student asks, “What does one do after enlightenment?” The teacher responds, “Chop wood, carry water.”
For each of us—as I see it, anyway—there is a call to do what we can to save animals, to inspire new vegans and support existing ones, and to change the longstanding paradigm that sets our species above all others. It’s a tall order, and it’s going to take all of us and our energy and perseverance—and probably our sexiness, too.
Victoria Moran is a vegan author, speaker, educator, and host of the Main Street Vegan podcast. Her next book, The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook, is available now for preorder. She’s also the producer of The Compassion Project, a documentary debuting next spring to introduce vegan eating to people of faith.