PETA’s ‘sexiest vegan’ lives in Weston

WESTON — PETA Prime has named Laurel Lea one of its two Sexiest Vegans Over 50.

Lea, a 58-year-old Weston resident, was announced as the winner alongside Tim Medearis of Vancouver, Wash., on Monday. Lea and Medearis beat out dozens of entrants from across the country to win a three-night stay at Balance for Life Florida and an all-inclusive wellness retreat at an oceanfront resort.

The winners were awarded based on several factors, including attractiveness, enthusiasm in promoting a vegan lifestyle, animal advocacy efforts and a vote count.

At age 15, Lea decided to go vegetarian and stayed that way until a little over a year ago, when she transitioned to an vegan lifestyle.

“I realized I was old enough to not be told what to eat anymore,” she said. “I’ve now raised two children as vegetarians.”

Lea said she has always been an animal lover, and upon learning the cruelty associated with dairy products she committed to completely changing her diet.

“About a year-and-a-half ago I thought I was hypocritical by continuing to consume dairy products,” she said of her decision to go vegan.

The decision would be life-changing, and she soon soon enlisted a trainer to help her stay fit.

“I was immediately taken off nearly $400 of medication,” she said, adding her cholestorol and blood pressure greatly improved.

Not only were there positive results on the inside, Lea said the results of the healthier lifestyle could be seen outwardly.

“My skin looks like a 30-year-old’s,” she said, adding she’s never felt more amazing. “You think you feel good, but you have to re-think what health feels like.”

Lea said joining the competition, which spanned from July to September, presented an opportunity to show the positive effects of a vegan lifestyle. Though hesitant to enter, the support of family and friends gave her the confidence to join the competition.

“It was so cool,” Lea said of hearing the news she won. “Six months after becoming vegan, I had started working out with a personal trainer, and she respected my plant-based choices.”

She advised those interested in the vegan lifestyle should view documentaries such as “The Game Changers” and “What the Health.”

“They’re filled with the most fascinating information about health, wellness and more,” she said. “People need to know what’s going on.”

Lea’s love for animals also extends to the environment — she’s been part of a 12-uear effort to save the 383-acre Leon Levy Preserve in Lewisboro, N.Y. The preserve is now a safe haven in perpetuity for black bears, coyotes, bobcats, and a variety of other wildlife and endangered plants.

“Everything is connected,” she said of her love for the environment. “It all affects the animals.”

With all the positive results she’s experienced, Lea said if she could do it all over again, she would’ve chose to go vegan from the beginning.

“I do believe its a lifestyle that everybody should embrace,” Lea said.