PETA, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals nonprofit organization, is hoping to identify the country’s sexiest vegan, and one Parkville resident is in the running.
Michael Baysmore, a Baltimore native and member of the Coppin State University Police Department, entered the “Sexiest Vegan Next Door” contest last month in hopes of winning the grand prize — a trip to Maui, H.I. — and beat out hundreds of other entrants from across the nation for a spot in the top 20, according to a recent press release.
“Michael strives to have a positive impact both in his approach to vegan eating and in his role as a police officer, and he succeeds mightily,” said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in a statement.
Baysmore, who applied and was interviewed by PETA employees for the contest about a month ago, said he’s surprised he made it this far.
“I was relatively apprehensive at first. I’m not necessarily the most confident guy when it comes to my looks … but I thought I’d give it a try,” he said, adding that he first learned about the contest after looking at PETA’s Instagram page.
The 31-year-old, known for his Buzzfeed article about his experience being an African-American police officer in Baltimore, said he became vegan “cold turkey” nearly six years ago for health reasons. He said while driving home, he encountered a bump and felt his stomach jiggle.
“I never wanted to be someone who was out of shape,” Baysmore said.
A combination of that moment, his history of feeling tired and lethargic after he ate, seeing his immediate family suffering from diet-related illnesses, like diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, and not knowing his own medical history (Baysmore is adopted) motivated him to make a change, he said. He became vegan.
Only later in his journey did he begin to do research on the treatment of animals. He watched documentaries like “Forks Over Knives” and YouTube videos about slaughterhouses, which solidified his decision to be vegan.
“Those images just burned a hole right into my brain. I almost can’t get those visions out of my brain,” he said. “Once I looked at the animal aspect and the horrors of the animal industry, there’s absolutely no way I would go back to eating meat at all. Just the thought of it freaks me out.”
PETA will select two winners — one man and one woman — and is depending on the public to cast their votes. Voting is open until noon on June 21. Winners will be announced on June 28. For more details, visit the PETA website.
And if Baysmore wins, Baltimore can lay claim to at least two PETA titles.
In May, PETA named Oriole Park at Camden Yards the 8th most vegan-friendly ballpark for boasting veggie dogs, veggie burgers, and vegetable wraps at food stands around the park.
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