Saturday, May 4, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Rachelle Ryerson made the switch to a vegan lifestyle two years ago. She donated her BeBe fur and leather jackets, gave up eggs and cheese, and dove into veganism for her health and the animals.
Now Ryerson, a Las Vegas model, says she’s in the best shape of her life, and the public seems to have noticed. After submitting an entry in the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Sexiest Vegan Next Door Contest, Ryerson was voted as one of 10 female finalists. If she wins, she’ll be on her way to a free vacation in Maui.
Ryerson is excited for the recognition, but what keeps her motivated to remain on the rigid vegan diet is the animals. She maintains a vegan page on Facebook, posting news from PETA and information about the inhumane treatment of animals.
It’s enough to make sure she never goes back to eating meat again.
The Sun caught up with Ryerson and asked her about her decision to be vegan and about the Sexiest Vegan competition. Voting ended this week, and Ryerson will learn May 9 if she’s the winner.
What’s it mean to you to be vegan?
At first it was just to stay in shape, but then I did my research and got into studying what goes on with the animals and the cruelty. I learned that vegetarians saved up to 100 animals a year and vegans have a lower rate of cancer, diabetes and heart disease. So that’s why (I’m vegan) — for my health, the environment and the animals.
Do you still have cravings for food you can’t eat anymore?
Not really because I do a lot of studying about how the animals are treated. They’re just fed unnaturally, and they’re in such high demand. Yeah, it was difficult (to go vegan), but I look at the pictures and videos on PETA.org, so it makes it easier. I’m not just doing it for my diet; I’m standing for something.
Is it tough to be vegan in Las Vegas?
I usually eat at home. There are some vegan restaurants that I’ve read about, but I haven’t been to many of them. I mostly cook at home or we go to buffets. I like stir-fries and vegetable soup. At the Orleans, they make (a great stir-fry) at their buffet. At home, I like pasta salads a lot, vegetable soups and spaghetti.
What are people’s reactions when you tell them you’re vegan?
They think that I don’t eat, or I get a lot of jokes about hunting. … I once posted a picture of a bunny at Easter, and someone joked about it being “bunny stew.” I haven’t got anything nasty, just making fun a little bit.
What health benefits have you felt since becoming vegan?
I’ve felt a lot healthier than I did while eating meat. My hair is growing longer, my nails look good and I have more energy. I have more wit. It works for me. I don’t know if it will work for everyone, but it works for me, so I’m going to stick to it.
How do you feel about your chance to win the competition?
I think my chances are good. I have my family helping me and posting all around for votes. My mom’s really into it. She’s posting everywhere, and she’s got a lot of Facebook friends.