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Roseville vegan vying to be PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian

Says going meat-free has made her a kinder human being
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Stephanie George-Mello's biggest turn-on: a man that treats animals well, whether that's a guy who loves walking his dog or a fellow who'll cook up a vegan dinner.

Her biggest turn-off: That'd be hunting.

The 31-year-old Roseville resident - who's currently single - has been a vegetarian for more than eight years and a vegan for two years. She doesn't wear fur, or other products that require the death of an animal. This U.S. Navy veteran's love of all living creatures has made her a top-10 finalist in PETA's Sexiest Vegetarian Next Door contest.

She beat out hundreds of entrants to advance to the finals, and one female and male winner will each receive a trip to Hawaii. Winners will be announced May 21.

"On average, vegetarians are slimmer and healthier than meat-eaters are, and they save more than 100 animals a year from the violence of factory farms, slaughterhouses and fishing nets ... there's nothing sexier than kindness," said PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman, in a press release.

Besides looking good on the outside, George-Mello says not eating animal products has made her a better person on the inside. She now embraces all animals as living beings worthy of respect, not as meals.

"It's so spectacular how your mind can be altered once you realize that you can help to make a difference, whether that is with your own pets or on a much greater scale (to) help save animals all around the world," she said.

Since going vegetarian, she says she's become a kinder person - to animals, nature and other people, too.

George-Mello's journey to vegetarianism began when doctors diagnosed her with acute pancreatitis, which turned into chronic pancreatitis. She learned that meat could trigger attacks, so she eliminated this food from her diet and hasn't suffered any symptoms since.

Soon, she learned how to be a healthy vegetarian, eating such dishes as faux-chicken pot pie, and grew inspired to talk to others about going cruelty free.

"There is no reason why an animal should be treated poorly, let alone slaughtered for human consumption," she wrote in her application for the PETA contest.

Her activism encouraged her niece and her niece's boyfriend to go meat-free. To coincide with her healthy lifestyle, she has recently taken up yoga. She also spends time with her dogs, volunteering at animal shelters and rock climbing.

Trained as an emergency medical technician in the Navy, George-Mello is now studying to become a physician assistant.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.

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Cast your vote for the PETA Sexiest Vegetarian Next Door by Monday, May 14, at www.peta.org. To vote for Roseville's Stephanie George-Mello, text STEPHANIE to 99099.