By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com April 30 2014 3:26 PM ET
Drew Khandi is one of the 20 men and women who are up for PETA's ninth annual Sexiest Vegan Next Door award. While the contest is indeed a shameless display of 20 gorgeous people, it's also PETA's way of educating others that vegans aren't all crunchy, hippie-dippie people. Khandi an aspiring singer from Queens, N.Y., is gay, and he loves animals and vegan quesadillas. He's also looking to win the vote-in contest by Friday to win a trip to Hawaii (a bioethically responsible trip, of course). Here's what he has to say about dating nonvegans and the cow that made him give up meat forever.
The Advocate: What first inspired you to go vegan?
Drew Khandi: I follow a lot of vegan nutritionalists and activists, and I remember it very vividly. On December 15, 2011, I was inspired by those activists to start watching some documentaries on veganism and animal abuse, particularly Forks Over Knives. So that night I started watching, and when I looked into the eyes of a cow that was going to be put down, I could see and feel the fear, sadness, and pain. Not to mention vegans are slimmer, have healthier hearts, lower propensities for obesity, cancer, and diabetes. Also, by switching to a vegan diet, I can save 100 animals a year from slaughter and maltreatment. From that moment on, I knew I would be vegan forever and never, ever look back.
You have a lot of competition from your fellow vegans; are you developing a strategy to beat them in any way?
Yes, my strategy is to tweet, retweet, and re-retweet. Post to everyone's page on Facebook, ask them to repost, and go from there. I do have an advantage by working at a vegan restaurant here in New York City which gets a lot of traffic, so everyone I strike up a conversation with, I tell them if they have questions about veganism or want to vote for me, they can go to PETA.org and not only vote for Drew Khandi but order a vegan starter kit or watch videos of animal treatment on farms.
What's your favorite vegan-friendly go-to dish?
Mmm ... I love, love, love these quesadillas I make that's super easy; brown rice wraps, Daiya vegan cheese, oyster mushrooms, green olives, spinach, and red onions. So flavorful.
Are nonvegan guys a deal breaker for you?
Well, for me, it's important that my partner is at least open to information. And with information like the fact that cholesterol and saturated fats of animal proteins, dairy and eggs don't just clog the arteries to your heart and your brain, but they also block the blood flow to other "organs" (wink, wink). So with irrefutable information like that, how can't you be vegan? Just ask my husband, who was an avid meat-eater from Argentina. He's now vegan and couldn't be sexier.
What is one misconception about vegans that people should drop?
That it's hard to be vegan outside of major cities. Chipotle now offers vegan options across the country, along with Taco Bell, and not to mention Johnny Rockets has vegan apple pie and burgers! Can't get any more easy all-American than that! Supermarkets everywhere offer veggie dogs, soy cheese, and almond milk, just to name a few. Not to mention, unless your dinner is just a plate of meat, you pretty much eat vegan already if you think about it. Salads, veggies, beans, nuts, fruits, and tubers are all vegan. So it's not hard at all! That's the common misconception I'd like to see people let go of.
And again, if anyone wants to vote for Drew or order a super easy vegan starter kit or watch videos of animal treatment in farms, go to PETA.org.