Two New Yorkers Are Finalists in PETA’s Sexiest Vegan Next Door Contest

Washington Heights Is Home to Two of the Country’s Hottest Herbivores

For Immediate Release:
April 18, 2013

David Perle 202-483-7382

New York –– PETA’s Sexiest Vegan Next Door 2013 contest is down to the wire, and Noel Polanco or Jessie Lopez-Garay—two fitness enthusiasts who hail from Washington Heights—could take home the grand prize. That’s because Polanco and Lopez-Garay have beaten out more than 100 other entrants from across the U.S. to become two of 10 male contestants to advance to the final round. Two lucky winners (one male and one female) will each receive a free vacation for two to Maui, Hawaii, courtesy of Although the annual contest dates back to 2004, this is the first year that participants must be vegan.

“Going vegan can help make you feel better on the inside, look better on the outside, and save more than 100 animals a year from the violence of factory farms, slaughterhouses, and fishing nets,” says PETA Associate Director of Campaigns Lindsay Rajt. “On average, vegans are fitter and trimmer than meat-eaters are, and that makes them sexier, too.”

Noel Polanco, a lifelong New Yorker whose family is from the Dominican Republic, was inspired to go vegan after he saw video footage of animals suffering on factory farms—and his health has been thriving ever since. Now, Polanco is a model and personal trainer who works through social media—including Facebook and YouTube—to show how, as he says, “You can … build muscles on a vegan diet. You can … stay strong, and you can become healthier.”

Jessie Lopez-Garay, who was born in Colombia and grew up in Washington Heights, works as the personal assistant for cruelty-free handbag designer—and PETA spokesperson—Cornelia Guest. He is also a fitness enthusiast and competitive runner in training for this year’s New York Marathon. He and his boyfriend both decided to go vegetarian after watching the documentary Earthlings—”Before the end credits rolled, I had made up my mind,” he says—and soon after, vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier’s book Thrive convinced him to go vegan.

Voting for the finalists to help PETA determine the winners ends at 12 noon EDT on May 3. PETA will select winners based on several factors, including vote count. See full contest details here. Winners will be notified and announced by May 9.

For more information and to cast your vote, please click here.

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