According to PETA, nothing's sexier than saving animals. And given that veganism tends to lead to weight loss, better skin, more energy, and (so they say) more sexual stamina, they might have a point.
The animal advocacy org takes its duties as sexy-vegan steward very seriously. One honor it doles out annually is its Sexiest Vegan Over 50 Award, and this year, Florida's Ellen Jaffe Jones took home top honors.
Holmes Beach's Jaffe Jones is a cookbook author (Paleo Vegan and Eat Vegan on $4 a Day, Emmy-winning news anchor, former investigative reporter, certified personal trainer, and medal-winning runner. Basically, she's a dynamo, and she credits eating vegan for much of her youthful energy.
"As a woman known for breaking glass ceilings in my previous professions [television and financial services] and working hard in college to bring women's self-help centers to campus, being a part of a contest using sex seemed against my nature at first," Jaffe Jones says of PETA's contest. "But I also recognize that organizations like PETA don't have anywhere near the financial resources of the meat and diary industries. Sex sells and always will.
"Working in newsrooms in Miami and St. Louis, the only time I saw that PETA ever got coverage was when they showed up at a fur store without much coverage. Nothing like women in skimpy bikinis in subzero January temperatures to get media attention," she adds.
"The main reason I entered the contest was because I, like the other participants, wanted to dispel the popular myth that vegans are somehow lacking in strength, muscle, and optimal nutrition," she explains.
"To the contrary, plants enhance performance and speed recovery, as evidenced by my placing in my 76th 5K or longer race this weekend and currently being seventh in the U.S. in the W60-64 1500 meters, tenth in the 400 meters. Many other vegan athletes report similar performance results. Being vegan often keeps women and men looking far younger than their years. Combine it with aerobic exercise and it is magical! People often guess my age ten to 20 years younger than I am."
Jaffe Jones' husband, former Channel 10 investigative reporter Clarence Jones, recently had a heart attack followed immediately by emergency bypass surgery.
"He was not vegan, despite my best efforts, but woke up from surgery and asked if he could be, saying, 'I don't want to go through that kind of pain again,'" Jones recounts.
"Amazingly, some of his friends and one of the medical directors of the cardiac rehab hospital where I've been staying told us, 'You need to read your wife's books and eat the way she does.'"
The hospital food was God-awful, she adds.
Jones will be appearing in South Florida this week at the Miami Book Fair International.
"I'm looking forward to doing my paleo vegan talk and cooking demonstration at the Miami Book Fair," she says. "We have so much to change to get hospitals, institutions, and Americans in general to understand that health is intricately connected with food. My parents were so sick and diseased by the time I had children, they couldn't lift my children, let alone babysit. Entire generations are losing each other and don't even know it.
"There's no finer paycheck than helping people improve their health. I see it repeatedly in the cooking classes I teach using a balanced vegan diet. Yes, results are typical."
Follow Hannah on Twitter @hannahgetshappy.