A vegan lifestyle often goes beyond abstaining from certain foods. For many, like the four individuals below, it becomes a chance to spread awareness about animal, social, and environmental issues through the use of their talent and individuality.
Veganism is essentially defined as a person who does not consume any meat, dairy, eggs, cheese, or any other food that is animal derived. They also eschew animal-derived textiles in clothing, shoes, and accessories, and avoid products tested on animals such as personal care products and makeup. Usually, along with a lifestyle that specific come misconceptions, stereotypes, and other judgments. And while a vegan lifestyle isn’t for everyone, the folks you’re about to meet prove that one can not only survive, but thrive.
1. Leilani Munter
Although Leilani has been named “one of the top ten female race car drivers in the world” by Sports Illustrated, there’s even more to this caring and compassionate woman than just her accomplished career. In addition to her competitive side, she’s also been described as “the face of activism” by Vegan Lifestyle Magazine. Munter has not only adopted a plant based diet, but she’s also made many strides and sent numerous messages using her publicized profession as the vehicle – literally and figuratively – for spreading awareness.
Originally a biology major, Munter has a long list of achievements, including placing “green” and eco-friendly advertisements on her race car, being the first race car driver to travel 2600 miles, to her match oil free in her Tesla Model S, and becoming the first team in history to run their pit box on 100 percent solar power. In addition to this, she has delivered more than 80 keynote speeches, sits on two environmental advisory boards, and is said to be launching a vegan clothing line this year.
2. Jehina Malik
This incredible athlete is the first ever International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness Pro card holder to compete as a lifelong vegan! Malik has certainly broken boundaries and stereotypes, especially when it comes to naysayers believing that people who live a vegan lifestyle can’t and won’t get enough nutrition and protein in their diets. The lean muscle on her well-honed physique says otherwise!
Competing since the age of 19 and a vegan since birth, this formerly self-proclaimed “skinny” girl wasn’t always praised for her musculature. Being thin and teased is actually what prompted her to begin weight training. Dedicated and disciplined, Malik works out 12 to 14 hours per week, takes several vegan vitamins and supplements, sticks to very clean eating during season, and says her favorite food in her prep diet is the cashew.
3. Dexter Thomas
According to LGBTQ Nation, “Transgender rights activist Dexter Thomas is the first out trans man to compete for the title of PETA’s Sexiest Vegan Next Door.” Hailing from from Salt Lake City, Utah, Thomas adopted a vegan lifestyle at the age of 17 and “championed changes” at his high school by including vegan lunch options before dropping out due to difficulties transitioning from his junior to senior year as a transgender teen. Fast forward 17 years, and this 34-year-old summa cum laude graduate and Ph.D. student of social psychology is a transgender activist, advocate for animals, advocate for homeless sexual-minority youth, has protested rodeos, and is continuing to be helpful, hands-on, and impactful in his daily life.
Thomas shared this sentiment with PETA on part of what drove him to go vegan at such a young age: “I learned first-hand that people are capable of immense cruelty toward others who they perceive to be inferior to them. When I started to realize that this attitude drives transphobia, homophobia, sexism, and so on, I also realized it fuels outdated attitudes toward other animals.” As a deeply compassionate and caring human being, in addition to his charming good looks, it’s no wonder Thomas went on to win PETA’s male title of Sexiest Vegan Next Door 2016.
4. Amy Guidry
After adopting a vegan lifestyle for more than a decade, it only made sense that animals would one day become this artist’s inspiration. An interview with Vegans Are Cool revealed that Guidry first became a vegetarian while doing research for a college ethics class, but realized that dairy and eggs still contributed to the slaughtering of animals, thereby influencing her decision to go vegan. And although she didn’t transition until later in life, her passion for art began at an early age.
Truly brilliant, this surrealist artist has honed her craft over the years into beautifully depicted and detailed paintings. Her most recent series titled In Our Veins focuses on various animals which are widely anthropomorphized in one way or another. According to Guidry, this series “explores the connection between all life forms and life cycles.” She goes on to say that this study includes the “interdependence of the human race to each other and to the rest of the animal kingdom, as well as the planet itself. One cannot exist without the other, therefore it is of the utmost importance that we care for each and every living thing.”
Whether you’re a vegan or not, we hope you’ve found inspiration from these four alternative leaders, and take away with you the notion that being who you are is the best choice you can make, even when facing adversity or combating your fears. Share your thoughts with us on the EcoSalon Facebook page!
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