At 16 years old, Nik Kitchel very well could be the “Cutest Vegetarian Alive.” At least, that’s what PETA thinks. The voting is up to the rest of us. The sophomore at Red Bluff High School has been a vegetarian for six years and a vegan for one, and when he saw an ad for PETA’s contest, he decided to apply. Nik’s a good student and staff member at his school newspaper. He enjoys playing bass guitar in his new band, runs cross-country and snowboards. The health-conscious teenager recently beat out 1,700 other hopeful animal lovers and is now competing with 15 other male contestants for the big title. The winner will be announced April 23. So, go online and vote for the local vegan at peta2.com.
How did you decide to go vegetarian?
At my elementary school we were having lunch and they were serving hot dogs as the meal of the day. I took a bite out of my hotdog and my friend was like, “Dude, do you know what’s in that?” Thinking about how it was scrap meat and the leftovers, I thought “I’ve had enough.” I didn’t want to eat flesh anymore. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about the animals. Now that I’m informed about animal cruelty I’m glad I’m vegan.
How did you hear about this contest and what made you enter?
I’m on PETA’s e-mail list and I got one about the contest. I sent in three pictures and filled out a form on why you became a vegetarian and such. At first I thought, “why would I want to enter a beauty contest?” But then I thought it would be really cool to be representative of something that I really believe in.
Were you surprised when you found out you were a finalist?
They called me and told me that I was a finalist and I couldn’t believe it. I don’t look in the mirror and think “I’m cute.” But I do think vegetarians are cute in general. All the cholesterol and fat in meat can make you fat and slow you down. A healthier diet can help anyone’s looks.
What makes you the cutest vegetarian?
I don’t know. I know it’s judging people on looks, but the way I look at it is deep down it’s about how you feel about being a vegetarian and how much you care about animals and that’s what makes you cuter.
How have the girls at school reacted?
At first a lot of my friends didn’t think it was a big deal. But a bunch of the girls I know said they went on the Web site and voted for me. Some of the girls said, “you’re going to win because you’re the cutest of the finalists.” I don’t know what that’s about, but it’s cool to hear.
How would winning this contest change your life?
I think it’s cool to win something like that and to represent a lifestyle, but if I win I could never see myself going into modeling or something like that. I know I’ll always care about animals and people and anticruelty against everyone.