Anthony Welsh from Newcastle is one of the finalists for the Hottest Vegan of the Year with PETA. We caught up with him to ask him how he keeps himself in such great shape and how he encourages others to leave animals off their plates.
You went vegan five years ago after doing some research online, so can you tell us a bit more about this?
When I decided to go vegetarian, I had a keen interest into looking how animals were mistreated and abused. I came across an absolutely horrific video about dairy farming. I was not able to watch the whole video and immediately made a firm decision to go vegan - I couldn't continue paying these people to do this. Obviously- I wasn't as clued up about veganism as I should have been, so I did some research and found out the massive benefits it has on health, fitness and well-being.
Please tell us about your awakening after this discovery.
Well, I did have a sudden awakening. It was as if it just hit me and my whole vision and outlook on life changed almost within an instant! I knew this was the path I must follow as it is bigger than people think, there is a war on animals, who are our distant brothers and sisters! And we need to shut this industry down.
Why do you think people have this disconnection between having some animals as pets and eating others?
I feel as though from being young, like myself, you are brought up in a meat-eating world and taught that milk, cheese and dairy are needed for calcium and bone growth and meat is healthy and absolutely fine. For example, fast food outlets absolutely sugar coat the meat and dairy industry - they show you pictures of happy cows when in fact they are massive contributors to this horrific industry. They kill billions of animals a year, which smashes the figures of our world's population! When people take the blinders off and see and discover what happens, then they can make the connection, and organisations like PETA are doing an awesome job with this.
You run a vegan Instagram account, so can you tell us a little bit more about this?
I've ran this account for about a year now and only started using it daily for the past three months. My main aim is to get the vegan message out, show how good and healthy vegan food is and absolutely smash the myth that says we need meat to build muscle!
What sort of things do you eat to fuel yourself for your job as a firefighter?
Carbs, I eat a tonne of carbs and protein, every day! Bananas are my go-to energy food, but mainly I eat fruits, pasta, potatoes and nuts. These foods give you the ability to feel fresh and energetic all day. You don't get spikes of energy, I've realised that it stays constant!
You love to travel, so how have you found eating as a vegan abroad and where is your favourite place to be?
I was originally born in Germany, so Germany is definitely my go-to place for weekend breaks. Berlin is an amazing city with a lot of vegan options and the thing is, the vegan revolution is ever-expanding, new cafes and restaurants are always in the making. It is definitely getting easier to eat vegan abroad. Even if it wasn't, there are always fruits, vegetables and nuts on hand!
Why is it so important to you to wear things with a vegan message on to the gym?
From what I've heard, people think vegan athletes are weak, especially male gym users! So I like to show I'm vegan and that we can be strong and stay in good shape! It also helps to get a positive message out and could convince some gym users who were maybe thinking about going vegan, to actually go vegan.