Raleigh Army National Guard police officer Darren Canfield Courtesy of Darren Canfield

National Guardsman finalist in PETA’s sexiest vegan contest

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Raleigh Army National Guard police officer Darren Canfield is a finalist in PETA’s “sexiest vegan” contest.

PETA is preparing to crown this year’s “Sexiest Vegan Next Door” and Canfield beat out hundreds of other entrants from across the country to advance to the final round of 10 men and 10 women contestants.

People can vote for the winners at PETA.org. Two winners – one man and one woman – will be selected and will each get a free vacation for two to Maui, Hawaii

Canfield, 30, said he’s been in the national guard for 7 years, and commutes to an armory in Rocky Mount to work as an Army National Guard police officer.

The force trains like law enforcement and can be dispatched to domestic disasters, he said. Recently the force has been sent out after the Charlotte riots and to eastern North Carolina after Hurricane Matthew.

He said he’s not the kind of guy who would put himself out there for a sexiest vegan contest, but was coaxed into it by a friend.

“I’m pretty humble, so it’s not something I would have done off the bat,” he said.

He said he first got interested in becoming vegetarian after watching some videos on the internet, and decided to try it out for health reasons.

“My family has a lot of cancer in it, and I’m trying super hard to prevent it.”

When he went vegetarian, he looked to social media groups to find others in the military that went vegetarian or vegan. He said he’s not met any in person, but knows of quite a few online.

Being vegan in the military has proved to be hard, he said, because some of his fellow soldiers think not eating meat is less masculine and will sap athletic performance. However, he said he’s still a top performer in athletic competitions and is very open to teaching others who are interested in his lifestyle.

“I enjoy educating other people that are super interested,” he said.

“Darren proves that nourishing plant-based meals are all the fuel that our strong service members need to be in peak condition, and he uses his fit physique and creative cooking skills to inspire others to go cruelty-free,” said PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman.

“Each one of the finalists in PETA’s contest is a testament to how sexy vegans are—inside and out.”

Living in Raleigh has been a great place to be a vegetarian, Canfield said, because there are several restaurants and grocery stores that cater to vegetarian and vegan diets.

Getting the nod from PETA is an honor because he’s been mostly adhering to the diet on his own, and he said it was a big boost of support for him.

“It’s awesome to be a finalist because I’ve been doing my own thing,” he said. “To be nominated by someone like PETA, this is a pretty big deal.”

Voting for the finalists to help PETA determine who it should select as the winners ends at noon on June 21. Winners will be notified and announced on June 28.

For more information or to cast your votes, go to www.peta.org/features/sexiest-vegan-next-door-contest-2017/vote.