Every year, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) hosts an interesting contest to name the sexiest vegan and vegetarian celebs of the year. About 50 women and 50 men are nominated, and based on about 100,000 ballots—mainly those who are PETA supporters—the winners are picked. These are celebs who’ve championed a meat-free lifestyle, and as a result, have glowing skin and just look healthy all over.
The contest started in 2001 with just a female vegetarian picked, but in 2002, PETA added a male recipient. Throughout the years, a mixture of actors and musicians have picked up the award but in 2003, George W. Bush’s niece, Lauren Bush, was one of the first non-celebs to win. The reasons why these celebrities gave up meat varies. Some of them watched an eye-opening documentary and then changed their mind, others realized a healthier lifestyle made their skin look better, and a couple of them decided from a young age it was the moral path to take. Vegetarianism sometimes seems like a trend, but for these celebs, the competition gives them a platform to tout their healthy lifestyles and to demonstrate the importance of pro-environment issues.
10. Shania Twain
The country singer won the first-ever PETA sexiest celebrity title, in 2001. She’s a carb-free vegetarian who eats cheese but not eggs. At 49 years old, many people describe her as being “ageless,” and one factor is because of her healthy lifestyle. “It’s such a personal choice,” she’s said about her choice to be a vegetarian. “It’s got to suit you and be right for you emotionally, spiritually and physically. If it’s working for you, that’s really great,” she said. Knowing how difficult cooking vegetarian meals can be, Twain’s considered writing a cookbook to help people live a more vegetarian lifestyle.
9. Natalie Portman
One of the most famous non-meat eating celebs, Natalie Portman became a vegetarian at the young age of eight, but became a vegan in 2009 when she read Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, Eating Animals. “Perhaps others disagree with me that animals have personalities,” she said, “but the highly documented torture of animals is unacceptable, and the human cost Foer describes in his book, of which I was previously unaware, is universally compelling.”At her wedding, they served only vegan foods. In 2002, she won the second year of PETA’s contest. It also was the first year PETA introduced a male celebrity category, which was awarded to Tobey Maguire.
8. Alicia Silverstone
Alicia Silverstone, who’s a deep lover of animals (she started a pet sanctuary), became a vegan in 1998 after she watched a disturbing documentary on animal slaughter (not sexy). As a child, she struggled on and off with being a vegetarian. “When I was 8 years old, my brother was making the noises of the animals I was eating, so I decided to go vegetarian,” she told Oprah. “Then I would give up because I was 8.” She was named PETA’s Sexiest Vegetarian of 2004, and in 2007, she took off her clothes for a PETA print advertisement. A few years ago, Silverstone wrote a book called The Kind Diet, which is a helpful guide to veganism.
7. Carrie Underwood
The singer has the unusual title of winning Sexiest Vegetarian twice: once in 2005 and again in 2007. She must really be sexy! In 2005, she shared the title with male winner Chris Martin, who’s since gone back to eating meat. In 2007, Kevin Eubanks won Sexiest Male Vegetarian. Carrie Underwood once was quoted as saying, “I quit eating beef when I was about 13. I do it because I really love animals and it just makes me sad.” Underwood’s currently pregnant and has had to change her diet slightly, but she’s still a vegetarian.
6. Anthony Kiedis
Yet another ageless celebrity, the 50-something Anthony Kiedis proclaimed to Maxim “I’m not a true vegan. I dabble in sustainable fish and dawdle in the consumption of eggs. Steak doesn’t speak to me, and tempeh is so-so. I’ll savor a solitary apricot that’s been kissed by my baby.” The pescetarian won the sexy title in 2008, beating out other celebs Alec Baldwin, Bob Barker and Steve Jobs for the title. He said after he decided to become a vegan, he knew he’d made the right choice when he saw a disturbing doc on factory farming.
5. Olivia Wilde
In 2010, PETA anointed Olivia Wilde with the sexy title and said by being vegan, she’s “saved the lives of about 100 animals a year.” A couple of years after the award, though, Wilde reintroduced fish into her diet and is now a pescetarian. She told Allure in 2013 that people should be able to eat what they want. “Fear of carbs, of gluten, of everything—we’ve distanced ourselves from the beauty of food, the art of it. It makes me sad when people say, ‘Oh, I don’t eat gluten. I don’t eat cheese. I don’t eat this. So I eat cardboard.'”
4. Woody Harrelson
At the age of 24, Woody Harrelson realized he was lactose intolerant, so he became a raw vegan. “So I started thinking to myself, Jeez, I’ve always been told nothing but ‘Milk does a body good.’ So from there it was like, What else are they lying about? I just started realizing: There are all these things we’re brought up to believe that are just a total hoax, just bullshit advertising, you know?” Since then, he’s been a staunch and politically-minded vegetarian, and shies away from sugar and flour products, also. “I’ve always been relatively healthy,” he told the The Telegraph, “except for my vices,” which includes vegan pot brownies made with hemp oil and Haymitch’s Herb.
3. Jessica Chastain
The Oscar-nominated actress’ mom is a vegan chef, so it made sense for Jessica Chastain to be a vegan, too. As a teenager, she converted to a vegetarian lifestyle and a few years ago, transitioned into becoming a full vegan. “I don’t want to torture anything. It’s about trying to live a life where I’m not contributing to the cruelty in the world. While I am on this planet, I want everyone I meet to know that I am grateful they are here.” In the movie The Help, her character had to eat fried chicken, but it actually was vegan chicken. Recently, she bought her mom food truck that serves vegan meals.
2. Kristen Bell
The mother of two won Sexiest Vegetarian in 2013, and triumphed over former winners Carrie Underwood, Alicia Silverstone and other nominees like Pamela Anderson. “I had a hard time disassociating the animals I cuddled with—dogs and cats, for example—from the animals on my plate, and I never really cared for the taste of meat,” she said. As a teen, she was a vegetarian and then became a vegan in 2012. Her husband Dax Shepard, was originally named PETA’s Sexiest Male 2013 (beating out Bill Clinton and Prince), but when he admitted he ate chicken, he lost the title.
1. Jared Leto
One compliment last year’s Oscar winner continually receives is that he looks ten years younger than he is, which could very easily be attributed to his 20 years of vegetarianism. He started out as a vegetarian but then upgraded to veganism a few years later, after hearing about pus in dairy products. He won the sexiest title last year, along with Ellen Page, who won the female title. Leto beat out Ricky Martin and Morrissey, and Page won over Ariana Grande and many others. Jared Leto is currently trying to gain weight to play the Joker in Suicide Squad, but for someone who subsists on vegan tacos, it could take a while to pack on those pounds.
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