Sexy vegetarians baring skin for animal rights
By Katelyn Gendron
Reminder Assistant Editor
WESTFIELD -- Last year, dozens of celebrities boisterously declared they'd rather be nude than wear animal fur during bare skin photo shoots for the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' (PETA) "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" campaign.
The risque campaign has spun off into PETA's latest contest to crown the Sexiest Vegetarian Boy and Girl Next Door. Chrissy Costigan, 28, of Westfield, has beat out hundreds of applicants nationwide to earn a spot in final rounds.
During an interview with Reminder Publications, Costigan explained that she is far from a blonde flibbertigibbet who only wants to be recognized for her looks -- she is an educated woman totally dedicated to a cruelty-free lifestyle.
"PETA has been such a huge part of my life since I was 12," she explained. "Being recognized by them is something I am proud of. They have been a huge information resource and support system to me. Winning this contest and being titled PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian Next Door 2009 would be an honor."
Jenny Lou Browning, spokesperson for PETA, said Costigan advanced through the preliminary rounds because of her immense compassion for animals, her dedication to the cause and her ability to take the lifestyle beyond food by creating her own eco-friendly, cruelty-free clothing line.
Costigan explained that her new line, Strange Season -- launching on March 28 at the Spring Fling 3 Fashion Show in Providence, R.I. -- is made from recycled or vintage materials.
"Animal cruelty is something I don't tolerate or promote so of course my clothing line does not consist of wool, fur or leather," she said. "I am a believer that animals are the only ones meant to wear their skins."
When asked why people should vote for her, Costigan replied, "Because I have made it a personal responsibility to make people aware of animal cruelty and the meat industry. I will continue to do that [long after the contest]."
She said she chose to enter the contest "as a fun way to promote a healthy vegetarian lifestyle."
"Being vegetarian/vegan is easier than people think," Costigan explained. "I still eat cereal, I just use Silk Soy Milk; I eat burgers, just Boca Burgers. Really there is a more cruelty-free, healthier alternative to any meat product. I think people just need to be more aware. This contest is a great way to promote that!"
PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman agreed.
"On average, vegetarians are slimmer and healthier than meat-eaters -- and that makes them sexier too," Reiman said. "One look at our radiant lineup of sexy vegetarian finalists and it's clear that they're all winners."
Costigan has advanced to the third of four head-to-head rounds to determine the winner. The winner will receive a trip for two, including round trip airfare and hotel accommodations to Maui.
Costigan said if she wins, she plans to take her fiance to a restful vacation away from her two children. She added that the trip would mark her first plane ride.
Those wishing to learn more about PETA or to vote for Costigan can visit the contest Web site at www.peta.org/content/standalone/sexiestvegetariannextdoor2009/Default.aspx.
Voting will conclude on March 24 and winners will be announced on April 2.