The PETA Interviews, Part 3

Today is the final segment in this three-part interview with Ashley Gonzalez of PETA.

In case you missed Part 1 or Part 2, here’s the links:
The PETA Interviews, Part 1
The PETA Interviews, Part 2

In this interview we talk about talks about PETA”s mission; animal cruelty in slaughterhouses and on farms; the prevalence of E. coli and salmonella in animals and why this occurs; the detrimental effects of eating dairy foods; and PETA’s sexiest vegetarian over 50 contest.

PETA likes to use shock and controversy, mixed with irreverence, to get their message across

PETA likes to use shock and controversy, mixed with irreverence, to get their message across

After you watch this video, I’m sure you’ll agree with me that it is a very enlightening discussion.

To learn more about PETA, go to peta.org, and to learn about the sexiest vegetarian over 50 contest, go to PETAprime.org.

The PETA Interviews, Part 2

Today I give you the second part of a three-part interview with Ashley Gonzalez of PETA.

The other day was part 1 of this interview, and in this interview we carry on from there.

PETA does know how to get outrageous

PETA does know how to get outrageous

In this interview we talk about PETA’s outrageous billboard they put up in downtown Glasgow, Scotland; the health benefits of not eating meat; the relationship between eating meat and climate change – meat production is the number one cause of climate change; animal cruelty and the meat industry; how far removed we are from the source of our food; PETA’s educational outreach programs in schools; the origins of the swine flu; and much, more more.

I’m sure when you watch the above video you’ll agree with me that the discussion is an enlightening one.

To learn more about PETA, go to peta.org

This interview will be continued next time…

The PETA Interviews, Part 1

Last week I mentioned that PETA had announced their 2010 sexiest vegetarian male and female over 50 contest, and today I follow that up with the above video, which is the first part of a three-part interview with Ashley Gonzalez of PETA.

I’ve written about PETA in the past – I wrote articles about Mimi Kirk and Julian Winter, the winners of PETA’s 2009 sexiest vegetarian female and male, and I also did a three-part interview with Mimi.

I’ve also written about some of the outrageous things PETA has done with the article The PETA Hijinks. The article covered such things as their banned Super Bowl ad “Veggie Love,” their attempt to pay the city of Topeka, Kansas $6,000 to fill potholes in their streets and mark the repairs with messages condemning Kentucky Fried Chicken, and the billboard they put up in Glasgow, Scotland linking meat eating to man-boobs.

peta_pig_art_400_20080827190235

A PETA-sponsored demonstration

Today’s interview discusses PETA’s mission, their origins, their work in animal rights, their sexiest vegetarian over 50 contest (and their sexiest vegetarian next door contest), the benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet, and their famous “Veggie Love” ad.

To learn more about PETA, you can go to PETA.org. And to enter into the 2010 sexiest vegetarian over 50 contest, go to PETAprime.org.

To be continued next time…

Meat – As You’ve Never Seen It Before

October 9, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, Meat

jimmy_dean_3_6001For this last article on this weeks-long series on Meat, I’m going to take you on a tour the likes of which you’ve never seen before.

You may never look at a piece of meat the same way ever, ever again.

These are macrophotographs of various popular meat products. These photographs come courtesy of photographer Mike Adams, who used a Canon Digital Rebel XT camera with a high-end macrophotography lens and an expensive flash unit to capture the intricate detail shown in the photos.

Adams went to a big box store and bought some packages of popular processed meat products, and then started clicking away.

Below are his photos. Keep in mind that none of these photos are photoshopped.

I. Salami

1) Here’s a salami at regular size. It’s made with ground-up cow hearts.

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2) Here’s a 1x magnification shot of a stack of salami slices.cotto_salami_1_6003) This is a 2x magnification shot of this meat.

cotto_salami_2_600

4) This is a 3x magnification shot of the same slices of salami.

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5) And this is a 4x magnification shot.

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II. Sausage

1) Here’s a popular brand of sausage.

jimmy_dean_0_600

2) Here’s a 1x magnification of a cross-section of the sausage.

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3) Here’s a 2x magnification of the very same sausage.

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4) Here’s a 3x magnification

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5) And here’s a 4x magnification.

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III. Weiners

1) Is this your favorite brand?

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2) A 1x magnification of the inside of a weiner.

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2) Here’s a 2x magnification.

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3) And here’s a 3x magnification of the weiner.oscar_mayer_2_6001

4) And last but not least, a 4x magnification.

oscar_mayer_4_600

So, I hope you enjoyed this series on meat, and it gives you food for thought (no pun intended).

See you next time.

Where’s the Protein? Where’s the Beef?: Part 2

October 8, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, Meat

vegetarian-dietI will now continue from yesterday’s article, which was Part 1 of this two-part series. In that article I discussed what are our protein needs on a daily basis, and that we can meet all our needs with a diet of no or less meat.

I left off talking about foods from the vegetable world that are good sources of protein. Interestingly, I said that 100 calories of spinach contains more protein than 100 calories of steak.

Another powerhouse protein food is the grain quinoa. Quinoa is not only high in protein, but it is also a complete protein, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids. Vegans and vegetarians concerned with protein intake should incorporate this healthy grain into their meals.

A quinoa dish

A quinoa dish

Quinoa is also a good source of magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorous and is well-endowed with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair.

Cooked soybeans are another good food, and they rank 10th on the World’s Healthiest Foods Containing Protein List beating out eggs, all dairy and most meats. In the nutritional community, soybeans are regarded as equal in protein quality to animal foods. One cup of soybean provides approximately 57.2% of the daily value for protein for less than 300 calories and with only 2.2 grams of saturated fats.

Studies have also shown that soy helps reduce cholesterol levels while consumption of animal proteins makes cholesterol levels rise. Soy is also rich in iron, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids.

Tempeh - a soy product

Tempeh - a soy product

Soy can also be found in a variety of forms such as soy milk, soy yogurt, soy cheese, soy ice cream, tempeh, meat substitutes, miso, soy protein powder and tofu.

Other foods that are excellent sources of dietary protein include mustard greens, artichokes, corn, lentils, nuts, seeds, hot cereals and other beans.

Now, let me switch gears a little and go back to a theme that I touched on two days ago with my article about the vegan bodybuilder Kenneth Williams. As I said in that article, a common misperception is that to be an athlete you have to eat a meat-based diet and that there’s no way you can be vegan/vegetarian.

This is the misperception about vegans

This is the misperception about vegans

Well, consider the following list of current vegan and vegetarian athletes: Prince Fielder (MLB), Tony Gonzalez (NFL), Mac Danzig (Martial Arts), Pat Neshek (MLB), Scott Jurek (Ultra marathoner), Brendan Brazier (Iron man), Kenneth Williams (Body Builder), Christine Vardaros (Cyclist). Other vegan and vegetarian athletes include: Peter Brock, Carl Lewis, Salim Stoudamire, Ricky Williams, Ed Templeton, Bill Pearl (former Mr. Universe), and many other Olympians, world record holders and top athletes.

Most athletes take protein powders, and vegan and vegetarian athletes can also supplement with soy, brown rice and hemp protein powders.

Finally, I want to say a word about protein consumption in general. As I mentioned in yesterday’s Part 1, Americans eat way too much protein.

According to U.S. RDA calculations, the average person in America consumes 100 to 120 grams of protein per day, with the majority of it coming from animal sources. As I reported in yesterday’s article, the U.S. RDA states that an individual on a 2,000 calorie diet only needs 75 grams of protein – that means that the average American is consuming an excess of 25 to 45 grams of protein per day.

An excess of protein, particularly animal protein, is exceptionally harmful to the body. This was the findings of The China Study, and I talked about the findings of this landmark study in an earlier article.

I’ll sum it up again: The China Study examined the relationship between the consumption of animal products and diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, autoimmune diseases, obesity and other degenerative diseases.

thechinastudyThe authors of the study concluded that based on long-term scientific studies, diets high in animal proteins from both meat and dairy are strongly linked to heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes. The authors recommended a whole food, vegan diet as a means to minimize and/or reverse the development of chronic diseases.

Excess protein, especially coupled with America’s sedentary lifestyle, can also be taxing on the kidneys. Animal proteins are inherently stressful on the kidneys, but overages will cause the kidneys to underperfom. When the kidneys are not operating optimally, the risk for premature aging or developing kidney stones sharply increases.

Bone health is also effected by excessive protein consumption. Excess protein consumption causes calcium to be leeched from the bones, which may then cause osteoporosis, acid reflux, obesity, plaque build-up in the arteries, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and arthritis.

So there you have it. If you are eating vegan or vegetarian, or you are eating not much animal-based foods, the next time someone asks you how can you be getting enough protein, you’ll have plenty of ammunition to counter back.

Where’s the Protein? Where’s the Beef?: Part 1

October 7, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, Meat

proteinYesterday’s article was about vegan bodybuilder Kenneth Williams, and his busting of the myth that in order to build muscle and be an athlete you need to eat animal protein.

I wrote this article not necessarily to encourage you to become vegetarian or vegan as much as to show you that eating animal foods is not the key to feeling strong and vital, and that you can do the same (actually better) with a diet of less or no animal foods, because there are health issues inherent with a diet that stresses animal foods.

As I pointed out in the China Study article, a diet high in animal foods is detrimental to the health.

Also, a diet high in animal foods is not conducive to living a
Low Density Lifestyle.

luiz-freitas-bodybuilder-vegetarianProtein is synonymous with strength, and so it is assumed that in order to build strength and be an athlete, you need to eat protein, and since it is assumed that meat is the best source of protein, the thinking is that you need to eat meat to achieve your goals.

It is also thought that if you don’t eat meat, or don’t eat enough meat, whether you are an athlete or not, you will not get enough protein and therefore become protein deficient.

One of the most common questions anybody who doesn’t eat animal foods gets is “where do you get your protein?”

Like carbohydrates and fats, protein is one of the essential building blocks of the body. It is an essential nutrient needed by the body in order to function properly. Protein’s primary function is to build and repair muscles but it also keeps the immune system functioning properly and is involved with the synthesis of hormones and enzymes.

Protein may also be used as an energy source when there has been insufficient carbohydrate consumption.

The molecular structure of protein

The molecular structure of protein

Protein is made up of 20 building blocks, known as amino acids. Amino acids are classified as essential and non-essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are not created in the body and therefore must be consumed through dietary protein.

How much protein do we need? There are two ways to calculate total protein needs. The U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.4g of protein for every pound of healthy weight (or approximately 0.8g per every kilogram of weight). For example, a man who weighs 150 pounds needs approximately 60g of protein per day (150 x. 0.4 = 60).

Alternatively, protein can be calculated based on total caloric intake. Generally, 15 percent of total caloric consumption must come from protein. For example, on a 2,000 calorie diet, 300 calories must come from protein. To determine the number of grams needed, divide the resulting number of calories by 4. Thus, on a 2,000 calorie diet, 75 grams of protein must be consumed.

Since one ounce equals about 28 grams, the body actually needs very little protein to function properly – we need less than three ounces a day of protein.

vegetarian-proteinAs I said above, protein is commonly associated with animal foods – meat, eggs and dairy products – but these foods are not the only sources of protein nor are they necessarily the best sources for protein. Protein is found in every food. Fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes all contain protein.

It is impossible to become protein deficient eating a well-balanced vegan diet, largely due to the fact the body needs very little protein to perform. For example, one cup of black beans contains 15.2 grams of protein (roughly 30.5% of the daily value for protein), plus approximately 74.8% of the daily value for fiber. The total calories for a cup of black beans is only 227 calories and there is virtually no fat. Similarly, 100 calories of spinach contains more protein than 100 calories of steak.

Spinach also delivers a boost of fiber, anti-cancerous properties and iron for only a small amount of calories and no fat. Steak on the other hand, which not only provides less protein and no fiber, also contains saturated fat and harmful cholesterol.

I will be back with tomorrow with part 2 of this article. So tune in tomorrow…

Can You Build Muscle Without Meat?

October 6, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, Meat

Dexter "The Blade" Jackson - Mr. Olympia

Dexter "The Blade" Jackson - Mr. Olympia

There’s this belief that to build muscle you have to eat meat, and to build lots of muscle, you have to eat lots of meat.

“There’s no way you can be a pro bodybuilder without meat. I’ve never heard of anyone who doesn’t eat protein,” says Dexter “The Blade” Jackson, who last year won the premier international bodybuilding championship, Mr. Olympia.

Jackson routinely bookends a day of steak and chicken eating with 10 egg whites. (”My metabolism is very special,” he notes.) Meat is such an obvious delivery device for protein that bodybuilders often use the two words interchangeably.

But can someone become a bodybuilder without going this route? Is it a myth that if you don’t eat meat that it’s impossible to build muscle?

“I can’t think of any reason why muscle can’t be built on a vegan diet,” says nutrition professor Marion Nestle, the author of What to Eat. Going vegan, she explains, should have no effect on the performance of normal athletes, provided they eat a balanced diet.

Kenneth Williams

Kenneth Williams

Kenneth Williams is a prime example of the fact that not eating meat and building muscle are not mutually exclusive. He’s a professional body builder who five years ago made the switch from a full-blown meat eater to a vegan.

Now 41 years old, he’s currently 6 feet and 190 pounds. He took the last four years off from body building, but is now back in full training mode and hopes to gain another 25 pounds. And he’s doing it all on a diet of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, and lots of soy protein.

In 2004, before he went on his hiatus from body building, Williams did the same thing most every other body builder did: eat lots of meat-based protein. But then one night in 2004, Williams had what he called “the awakening.” He was fixing a meal of two pieces of fried chicken, rice, and salad, but for some reason, he couldn’t stop glaring at the chicken.

“I was thinking about all the killing and the destruction going on in the world. And I looked down at that chicken and said, ‘I’m eating death, and I don’t even know why.’” He scraped the meat off his plate and went back to sleep a changed man.

Isn't this guy's name Wimpy, even though he eats a lot of hamburgers?

Isn't this guy's name Wimpy, even though he eats a lot of hamburgers?

He had never heard the word “vegan” before. All he knew was, “The spirit told me, ‘Nothing from an animal. You don’t eat nothing from an animal until you find out what’s going on.’” He entered the 2004 Natural Olympia, which is the one of the pharmaceutical-free-bodybuilding circuit’s premier contests, to prove a point to his meat-loving gym buddies.

In a feat that he claims “shocked the world,” Williams placed third in the novice division of the Natural Olympia in 2004, becoming a major figure in the exceedingly minor subculture of vegan bodybuilding.

So far, just a few vegans have infiltrated the elite levels of professional sports, such as Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez, the former Atlanta Hawks guard Salim Stoudamire, and Ultimate Fighting Championship bruiser Mac Danzig.

Williams is on a mission to inflate his body into a bulging rejoinder to the myth that you can’t build muscle on a plant-based diet.

“If you think of a vegan,” he says, “you think of someone who is skinny and frail, who has issues. A tree hugger. Smells funny. I’m putting the breath of life back into people. I’m out to save lives.”

Williams generally eats between 210 and 250 grams of protein a day—what you’d find in about 2.5 pounds of lean top sirloin. He eats six or seven meals daily, and a few mornings before the most recent Natural Olympia, he prepared his second breakfast: a shake of water, 50 grams of soy protein, and three supplement powders made by HealthForce Nutritionals, his sponsor.

He has three of these a day, supplementing a diet of tofu, red and black beans, nuts, lentils, and leafy greens like kale.

The point of this article is that even if you have no intention to become a professional body builder and enter the Natural Olympia, there are many ways to build muscle, and it’s a myth that eating lots of meat is the only way.

As Williams shows, there are great sources of protein from vegetable sources, so there’s no way you can become protein deficient if you eat no meat or less meat.

The reality is that most people, particularly Americans, eat far too much protein.

If you recall, that’s the point I made when I wrote the article about the China Study and what their findings were. They precisely said that a diet high in animal protein is very detrimental to the health.

The PETA Hijinks

October 2, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, Meat

Over the last 2 days I told you about the organization PETAPeople for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – and their awards for the sexiest vegetarian female and male over 50.

Even American Idol's Simon Cowell supports PETA

Even American Idol's Simon Cowell supports PETA

These two awards were pretty tame and sedate events by PETA standards. Most of the time they tend to be much more provocative – they have a way of getting the organization’s name in the news in ways that are edgy and aimed at pushing the envelope to the utmost.

Their agenda is simple: stop the brutal treatment of animals, and eat a meat-free diet, or a less-meat diet.

This latter part of their agenda is something I’ve been stressing in this series on meat, as I’ve pointed out that a diet that is heavy on meat is detrimental to health and well-being, and is not conducive towards living a Low Density Lifestyle.

For the fun of it, I want to tell you about three of PETA’s more provocative ways of getting their point across. Call it The PETA Hijinks.

1) is an ad that PETA proposed to have shown on TV during a recent Super Bowl. The people behind the Super Bowl said no way, Jose – they weren’t ready for an ad that proclaimed that vegetarians have better sex. You can see the video at the top of the page.

PETA's proposed ad on Topeka's recycling trucks

PETA's proposed ad on Topeka's recycling trucks

2) PETA recently offered the city of Topeka, Kansas $6,000 to fill
potholes in city streets and mark the repairs with messages condemning Kentucky Fried Chicken. PETA claims the restaurant chain treats its chickens inhumanely. The $6,000 was double what KFC offered to pay to fill the potholes in the city’s streets.

Topeka’s Mayor, Bill Bunten, refused PETA’s offer, so PETA made a counteroffer: The new offer would pay Topeka $6,000 to place an ad featuring a woman in a lettuce-leaf bikini with the tagline “Vegetarians Do It to Save the Planet. Meat Trashes the Planet. Be Green-Go Veg.” on city recycling trucks.

“If we can’t educate people about KFC’s cruelty to chickens, we’d be happy to let them know how their food choices can save the planet,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “The mayor may be afraid of ruffling KFC’s feathers, but where’s the harm in encouraging Topeka residents to adopt a healthy, humane, and Earth-friendly vegetarian diet?”

The mayor has yet to decide whether to accept the offer.

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PETA's billboard in Glasgow, Scotland

3) Scotland has the second highest obesity rate in the world (the U.S. has the dubious distinction of being number one). In the city of Glasgow, Scotland, PETA has started a new, and outrageous, advertising campaign.

“Lose the breasts. Go vegetarian” is PETA’s message, and it is a campaign aimed at men, with a giant billboard linking meat-eating with man boobs.

Posted outside a hospital in Glasgow, it shows a protuberant, hairy chest accompanied by the caption: “Dude Looks like a Lady? Lose the breasts. Go vegetarian.”

The campaign claims “meat-eating is forcing many men to get in touch with their feminine side” and bases the claim on a statement attributed to a Scottish surgeon that obesity problems are fueling the demand for breast-reduction surgery in men.

Glasgow was chosen, PETA maintains, “Because since 2007 Scotland has seen an astounding 80% rise in the number of surgeries performed to address gynecomastia – excessive breast development in men.”

The campaign group added: “The advertisement was designed to warn meat-eaters that obesity – which can be caused by a steady diet of animal-derived foods – is linked to the increase in gynecomastia.”

Meat-eaters, PETA contends, are nine times as likely to be obese as vegans. “According to Ken Stewart, a surgeon at Spire Murrayfield hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland’s obesity problem is fueling the demand for breast-reduction surgery in men,” said the group.

“Unwanted breast development in men illustrates that there’s nothing manly about meat and milk,” says PETA’s director of special projects, Poorva Joshipura. “Cruelty to animals, environmental degradation and a host of meat and dairy-related diseases are reasons enough to go vegetarian, but male breast growth is a good reason too.”

The picture, not digitally enhanced, is of a real man’s chest.

All I can say is: Wow!

The Sexiest Vegetarian Man Over 50

October 1, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, Meat

peoplefortheethicaltreatmentofanimalsYesterday I told you about the organization PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – and the fact that they are known to do various publicity stunts to get their point across.

Actually, in yesterday’s article, I told you about PETA’s contest to name the sexiest woman over 50. That really wasn’t a publicity stunt at all as the winner, 70 year-old Mimi Clark, truly was the picture of health and an example of the virtues of good, healthy living.

And so today, in the name of gender equality, let’s hear about the man who was named as the sexiest vegetarian man over 50.

sexiest-vegetarian

Julian Winter

He’s Julian Winter, a 51-year-old Framingham, MA financial advisor.

Winter beat out hundreds of other entrants to be named the male winner this past August. He will be featured on PETA’s new baby boomer focused Web site, PETAPrime.org.

Winter’s journey toward becoming a vegetarian started when he was young. His father was an avid hunter, and during a family hunting trip Winter found himself traumatized after shooting a deer.

“The deer didn’t die immediately, and I watched it die. To this day, the memory disturbs me,” Winter said.

On a later hunting trip, Winter was accidentally shot by a fellow hunter. He said that was the breaking point where he decided he no longer wanted to eat meat. He told his father after he had recovered that he was done hunting.

PETA"s sexiest vegetarian woman - Mimi Clark - and sexiest vegetarian man - Julian Winter

PETA"s sexiest vegetarian woman - Mimi Clark - and sexiest vegetarian man - Julian Winter

PETA spokespeople cite Winter as an ideal example of why a vegetarian lifestyle is better for a person’s health and overall lifestyle.

“Julian is living proof that going vegan is a great way to protect your health, boost your energy and ramp up your sex appeal at any age,” said Tracy Reiman, PETA executive vice president.

Winter said he has convinced his daughters and his mother to go vegetarian as well. Not having meat in his diet has not slowed him down at all, he said. He is an avid snowboarder and swims several miles a week.

For winning the competition, Winter received an organic gift basket filled with gourmet vegan treats. Some of the items included lime dark chocolate, vanilla bean biscotti and sparkling apple cider.

The Sexiest Vegetarian Woman Over 50

September 30, 2009 by Michael Wayne  
Filed under Diet And Nutrition, Meat

petaPETA - People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – has a knack for keeping their name in the news.

Sometimes controversial, sometimes provocative, sometimes whimsical, and sometimes very serious, they continue to hammer home their message: cruelty to animals in all its forms is inhumane.

Now as I pointed out in the first article of this series, The Meat of the Issue, I am not a vegetarian. I don’t eat red meat, I do eat poultry and fish. Not a lot, sometimes once or twice a week, sometimes I don’t eat it for weeks, but I can’t say I eat vegetarian.

I do believe, as I’ve pointed out in this entire series, that a diet of too much meat is not healthy. And I’ve backed it up with with various studies to make my point, including the landmark China Study.

I like PETA’S message, and I like that they’re ready to occasionally rumble and take off the kid gloves in getting the point across.

And so, over the next three days, I’ll highlight some PETA hijinks.

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Mimi Kirk

Today, let me tell you about the woman they recently voted the sexiest vegetarian woman over 50.

And this woman, Mimi Kirk of the San Diego area, isn’t just 50 years old, she’s 20 years past the half century mark – she’s 70!

Mimi Kirk has been a vegetarian for 40 years and won the title after a nationwide vote conducted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Kirk was the oldest of the 10 female finalists — “most could be my daughters” she said — and is thrilled.

“I’m very happy,” Kirk said in August when she found out. “I’m trying to balance this crown on my head.”

Actually, the only prize associated with the win is an organic gift basket filled with chocolate, cider, nuts and coffee. The title is what it’s all about.

Kirk entered the contest a couple of months ago on a whim after seeing an ad on Facebook. She had to fill out a questionnaire and send in lots of photographs. A while back, Kirk was notified that she was a finalist.

Mimi Kirk

Mimi Kirk

Since then, she’s made hundreds of new Facebook friends with whom she’s sharing her secret of sexiness.

“I quit eating meat because I didn’t want to kill animals,” Kirk said. Her food choices, she believes, have helped her stay young-looking.

“I think I dress on the younger side,” she said. “I shop at places like American Eagle, and my boyfriend, who is 19 years younger than me, is always telling me those are clothes for 15-year-olds.”

Kirk said she feels young and dresses accordingly. “I don’t try to dress young, but I do try to dress current.”

After PETA chose the finalists, nearly 5,000 people cast votes on PETA’s Web site, with Kirk winning by a narrow margin in the female over-50 category, said Lindsay Rajt, PETA spokeswoman.

One of PETA's provocative ads

One of PETA's provocative ads

Rajt said PETA held the contest to show that “vegetarianism is a recipe for healthy living.”

Kirk said she’s always been active. She has four children whom she raised alone after being widowed at age 29.

Past jobs have included working as a stand-in for Mary Tyler Moore and designing clothes for Valerie Harper on the TV show “Rhoda.”

Just last year, Kirk sold a business she began a decade ago.

“I invented a board game for women called Cowgirls Ride the Trail of Truth, kind of a gal’s-night-out game. Margaritas with the gals and talking about your life and answering questions about everything personal.”

She said her grandkids are having a great time with all the sexy vegetarian stuff.

“They posted on their Facebook messages about their hot grandma,” Kirk said. “Now their Facebook friends are asking me to be friends.”

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