An Oceanside woman was named People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals' "Sexiest Vegan Over 50" October 5, 2017.
Erin Riley-Carrasco, 52, earned the title for sexiest female. A New York elementary school teacher was named sexiest male.
She's been an active member of PETA since she was 19 years old. Since then, Riley-Carrasco has protested at SeaWorld, racetracks, circuses, universities that experiment on animals, stores that sell fur and more.
Riley-Carrasco made the vegetarian-to-vegan switch when she was diagnosed with adrenal cancer.
When she successfully beat the cancer, she partly thanked veganism for it.
As for her path to becoming the “Sexiest Vegan Over 50,” Riley-Carrasco said “It’s kind of a funny story.”
She was at an animal rights fundraiser when she ran into a previous “Sexiest Vegan Over 50” winner.
Riley-Carrasco’s husband, hearing about the contest for the first time, then secretly entered his wife.
When Riley-Carrasco received a phone call saying she was a finalist, she thought they had the wrong person. “I was really shocked,” Riley-Carrasco said.
A short while later, PETA emailed her, confirming her win. “It was absolutely incredible,” said Riley-Carrasco.
Though, the 2017 winner initially had mixed feelings.
“‘Sexy’ was a bit embarrassing for me,” Riley-Carrasco admitted. But she soon embraced it, saying her beauty, inside and out, was all thanks to her vegan lifestyle. “‘Sexy’ isn’t just on the outside.”
With her title, Riley-Carrasco hoped to spread her message of veganism, “[It’s] best for your health, the animals, and the planet.”
Her prize was a 10-day Caribbean cruise, filled with lectures on animal rights, nutrition, and yoga.
“[I] met so many of my real life heroes,” Riley-Carrasco said about her time aboard the Holistic Holiday at Sea cruise.
Riley-Carrasco owned and managed a dance studio for nearly three decades. Now, thanks, in part, to her win, she hosts a weekly cooking show called “Saturday Snackdown.”
She was also able to interview the founder of PETA, Ingrid Newkirk, as the organization’s “Sexiest Vegan Over 50”.
“I was so honored to have that title for the year,” Riley-Carrasco said.
One year later, another San Diego woman became a finalist for PETA’s annual contest.