We’re the ‘venerable vegans’! A musician, a fashion designer and a karate champion are on the shortlist to be crowned the UK and Ireland’s Hottest Vegan Over 50

  • PETA has announced finalists of UK and Ireland’s Hottest Vegan Over 50 contest 
  • Finalists include fashion designer Brian Sullivan and photographer Jon Shepherd
  • Winner will walk away with a one-night stay in an all-vegan hotel suite in London

Animal rights charity PETA has announced the finalists of its inaugural UK and Ireland’s Hottest Vegan Over 50 competition.

The beauty contest, which is a twist on the popular Hottest Vegan competition, celebrates the ‘venerable vegans’ who are setting an example ‘of compassion’ for a younger generation.

One winner will be selected from the twelve finalists on August 12, and among their numbers is a fashion designer who doubles as a vegan health coach, a GKR karate champion and a graphic designer who claims his driving force in life is compassion. 

PETA Director Elisa Allen said: ‘This competition celebrates the venerable vegans who are setting an example of compassion for younger generations to follow.

‘All of the finalists of PETA’s Hottest Vegan Over 50 contest are living, breathing testaments to the vitality and joy that comes from vegan eating.’

The winner of a stay in an all-vegan hotel suite at the Hilton London Bankside Hotel will be chosen based on several factors, including a vote – so which contestant is your favourite? 

Joanne Buckingham, 50, has been studying nutrition since the 1990s and has been vegan for the last 23 years

Joanne Buckingham

Joanne, 50, from Brighton, has been studying nutrition since the 1990s and has been vegan for the last 23 years. 

She raised all three of her children vegan from birth and credits vegan eating with giving her high energy levels and overall good health. 

She’s a firm believer that life begins at 50 – and she makes the most of it. She loves dancing, travelling, cycling, taking part in animal rights demonstrations, and helping those around her go vegan.

Joanne raised all three of her children vegan from birth and credits vegan eating with giving her high energy levels and overall good health

Martin Bowes

After being vegetarian for 18 years, Martin, 60, was treated to a life-changing vegan banquet in San Francisco in 1989 while on tour with his band. 

He made the switch to vegan living right there and then and hasn’t looked back. 

In addition to having conversations with friends and family about cruelty to animals, the Coventry musician spreads the animal rights message through music – his band’s 1987 song ‘Monkey in the Bin’ was even featured on PETA US’ Animal Liberation album!

After being vegetarian for 18 years, Martin Bowes, 60, was treated to a life-changing vegan banquet in San Francisco in 1989 while on tour with his band

Kinder Sandhu

Kinder, from Coventry, loves dancing and meeting with friends for chats and coffee. 

She has been vegan for 14 months and seizes every opportunity to talk to people about the positive effects of vegan living. 

When she visits Goa, the compassionate psychotherapist can be found helping out at animal shelters.

Kinder Sandhu has been vegan for 14 months and seizes every opportunity to talk to people about the positive effects of vegan living

When Kinder visits Goa, the compassionate psychotherapist can be found helping out at animal shelters

Brian Sullivan

Brian, 54, was vegetarian for 23 years before he decided to go vegan two and a half years ago.

The fashion designer, from Cork in Ireland, said he realised it was the only way he could truly show mercy, love, and compassion for all sentient beings. 

He’s also a certified vegan health coach, and he’s currently studying to become a master herbalist. 

Brian Sullivan, 54, was vegetarian for 23 years before he decided to go vegan two and a half years ago

The fashion designer, from Cork in Ireland, said he realised it was the only way he could truly show mercy, love, and compassion for all sentient beings

John Machin

John, 63, from Cheshire, is one of the UK’s leading calisthenics exponents and has been a Veganuary sports ambassador for two years in a row. 

When he’s not developing ‘super-calisthenics’ – a new form of bodyweight training – you’ll find him waiting hand and foot on his five companion cats and one feral cat.

John Machin, 63, is one of the UK’s leading calisthenics exponents and has been a Veganuary sports ambassador for two years in a row

When he’s not developing ‘super-calisthenics’ – a new form of bodyweight training – you’ll find John waiting hand and foot on his five companion cats and one feral cat

Louise Hird

Louise, 52, from Selby, has been vegan for five years and speaks up for animals at every opportunity. 

She raised all three of her daughters vegetarian from birth, and her eldest is now vegan, too. 

Alongside caring for her daughter who has epilepsy, she runs food blog In the Kitchen With Em & Lou and has written competition-winning short stories.

Louise Hird, 52, from Selby, has been vegan for five years and speaks up for animals at every opportunity

She raised all three of her daughters vegetarian from birth, and her eldest is now vegan, too

Jane Feagan 

Jane, 52, from Wimbledon, can often be found rushing to the air of an injured bird or volunteering at her local wildlife shelter.

She went vegan 12 years ago after 40 years as a vegetarian, and said she has never been more fit, healthy or happy.

Jane also enjoys dining out, rocking out at a fancy dress party or spending time with her 90-year-old mum, who’s also vegan.  


Jane Feagan, 52, from Wimbledon, can often be found rushing to the air of an injured bird or volunteering at her local wildlife shelter

Jon Shepherd

Jon, 64, from Sheffield, went vegan two years ago, having been vegetarian since he was 14. 

A friend informed him about the suffering of cows and their calves in the dairy industry, and he said he couldn’t ignore this cruelty. 

The graphic designer and photographer says his driving force in life is compassion. 

Along with his passion for animal rights, Jon also loves music – he plays the cittern, a 10-stringed instrument, in folk-music sessions and dance bands.

Jon Shepherd, 64, from Sheffield, went vegan two years ago, having been vegetarian since he was 14

Julie Turner

When she was 14, Julie, 58, was humiliated by her teacher and kicked out of class for refusing to dissect a frog. 

Today, she’s a proud vegan, the guardian of a rescued dog from Romania, and a poet. 

Julie, from Essex, shares the vegan message at every chance she gets, whether that’s in the form of an animal-friendly Christmas gift or a vegan home makeover.

When she was 14, Julie Turner, 58, was humiliated by her teacher and kicked out of class for refusing to dissect a frog

Mark Fairhead

Mark, a furniture designer, used to be an extremely fussy eater, hating vegetables and frustrating his mother no end. 

Now, she’d surely be proud of him: he’s been vegan for seven years and enjoys an enormous variety of vegetables. 

Mark, 55, from Wymondham, decided to go vegan after learning more about the meat, fishing, and dairy industries.

He said: ‘When you hear a living animal being referred to as the “product”, you know that they are not going to be cared for.’

Mark Fairhead, 55, from Wymondham, decided to go vegan after learning more about the meat, fishing, and dairy industries

Megan Rix

From becoming a veteran female GKR Karate champion and learning sign language to writing children’s books and cooking up vegan feasts with her husband, Megan, 57, does it all fuelled by vegan power. 

Her 10 years of vegan living inspired her recent book The Paw House, which centres on an animal sanctuary where all members of staff and volunteers adhere to a vegan lifestyle.

Megan Rix, 57, from Bedford, said her 10 years of vegan living inspired her recent book

Mike Olive

Seventy-five years ago, watching the films Dumbo and Bambi had such a strong impact on Mike, who was then aged 7, that he went vegetarian. 

Four years ago, Mike, 82, decided it was time to ditch dairy and eggs and go vegan. 

He strongly believes that eating vegan is the healthiest choice and that humans need to nurture more respect for all animals. 

And his commitment doesn’t stop at animal rights: he’s been married to his wife, Pat, for nearly 62 years, and they have 36 great-grandchildren.

Seventy-five years ago, watching the films Dumbo and Bambi had such a strong impact on Mike Olive, who was then aged 7, that he went vegetarian

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