Gilbert Girl Crowned PETA’s 2017 ‘Cutest Vegan Kid’

8-Year-Old Is on a Mission to Save Dolphins, Dogs, Deer, and More

For Immediate Release:
March 23, 2017

Sophia Charchuk 202-483-7382

Gilbert, Ariz. – Eight-year-old Gilbert resident Rhyan Antonowicz never hesitates to speak up for animals’ rights—a commitment that has led her to participate in more than 30 demonstrations against puppy mills, circuses that use and abuse animals, hunting, aquariums, and more. Now, she’s been chosen the female winner of PETA Kids’ 2017 Cutest Vegan Kids contest, beating out contestants from across the country for the honors, which come with a trophy, an animal-friendly prize pack, and a year’s worth of bragging rights.

“PETA Kids was blown away by Rhyan’s commitment to defending animals every chance that she gets,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Outreach and Campaigns Marta Holmberg. “Whether she’s urging her city council to ban circuses that use wild animals or raising funds for an animal sanctuary, she sets an example of kindness for people of all ages to follow.”

Rhyan went vegan over a year ago, after learning that pork comes from lovable, intelligent pigs—and since then, she’s persuaded her mom, dad, and grandmother to go vegan as well. “I think animals should deserve a life—because they’re living beings, just like us, and they have families, just like us,” she says. “I feel like they shouldn’t be killed just for our food.” For her birthday last year, she asked for charitable donations in lieu of presents and was able to raise $570 for a farmed animal sanctuary. And when her family lived in North Carolina, she wrote and presented a speech asking her city council to ban circuses that use wild animals.

PETA Kids—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat”—selected the winners based on several factors, including vote count. For more information, please visit

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind