Q&A: Meat-free Beefcake
Meet David Anthony, one of PETA’s sexiest vegans — also a (Las) Vegan
Every year, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals puts up a short list of the country’s sexiest vegans for a public vote. This May, the organization announced that one of its two winners was a Las Vegan, police officer David Anthony. We sat down with Anthony and his wife, Claudia Ivonne, both committed vegans, gardeners, and body builders. Turns out, vegans can get pretty ripped, too.
David, how did you get chosen as PETA’s sexiest vegan?
David: A guy who I work with recommend that I enter. Last year, a police officer was a finalist for PETA’s sexiest vegan next door and he was like, you know what, you should give it a shot. And I was like, You know what, let’s see what happens.
When people think of police officers, the image is maybe one of a macho dude, grillin’ the burgers on the Fourth of July. Do you ever have to fight that image at work? How have your co-workers reacted?
David: Well, we joke with each other about it, but at the end of the day, they’ve told me that they respect my choices. I don’t have to prove (anything) to them, which is great, because they know my work ethic.
What about those barbecues — do you bring vegan burgers?
David: I do, and I make them try it.
Have you gotten anyone else to become vegan?
David: Actually, I have! There’s one other police officer in my department that I know who’s vegan who said I motivated them to do it. And, of course, the guys on my squad, they’re open to trying vegan restaurants and vegan food, desserts.
When did you decide to go vegan?
David: In October 2016, I blew out my knee. I had surgery that month, so I did a lot of research on how to heal faster. And veganism kept coming up.
Claudia: And didn’t your doctor tell you to avoid meat until you’d recovered?
David: Yeah, my doctor did tell me, avoid the greasy foods, avoid the red meats, that’ll help me recover faster. So I was like, Let’s give it a shot and see what happens. And sure enough, within four months, my cholesterol dropped from 222 to 145. I healed within a year, when I was projected to heal within two, two-and-a-half years.
What about planning for your son? Do you have to think about what’s a balanced vegan meal for raising a little one?
Claudia: I’m very open to having him make his own choices, you know, because people rebel when you restrict them. I do teach him, and he knows to ask if we’re out and about, if something has cow’s milk. The good thing is that he likes a lot of fresh veggies from the garden.
David: He is vegan. If they have a party (at school), we’ll go to a grocery store and buy vegan cupcakes, or we’ll make it ourselves so he’s not watching the other kids eating and just sitting there like, “Where’s mine?”
What does a vegan lifestyle mean, beyond cutting out animal products?
David: It’s a healing lifestyle, so it’s not just for ourselves, it’s for the animals, too. You’re not killing animals, you’re not eating ... meat that’s been butchered, just killed inhumanely.
Claudia: I’m more of an environmentalist. That’s why I garden, why I don’t throw away anything. I don’t do plastic, I bring my own fabric bags to the store, I recycle everything, I compost everything.
David: She got me more into that, too.
Claudia: I’d rather inspire people by the way I live than tell people what to do.
David: It’s better to lend a helping hand than a middle finger — that’s something I say a lot. There’s a small group of vegans that tends to hate on others who aren’t like them. But just because I went vegan, I can’t expect the entire world to go vegan. You have to give people a chance to realize and become accepting of the lifestyle.
Claudia: I think sometimes as a society we ... a lot of people crave that negativity, as opposed to finding a positive perspective. Mother Teresa said, I’ll never walk against war but … (tears up)
David: (brushing a tear off Claudia’s cheek) She’ll walk for peace.
Claudia: She’ll walk for peace! But she won’t walk against war! I’d rather inspire than show all this horrific stuff because it doesn’t motivate anybody.
How does this award change the image of who a vegan is?
David: People seeing somebody like me — a police officer, works out all the time, full of tattoos — I feel like I’m changing the world by doing that. And people are like, wow, this guy can be vegan, I can be vegan. I know 300-pound vegans. I know powerlifters who are vegan. Rappers who are vegan. The fact that the stereotype is slowly diminishing is beautiful.