CLOSE CONTEST: Stanthorpe bloke Levi Burton was a finalist in Australia's Hottest Vegan 2018 contest.
CLOSE CONTEST: Stanthorpe bloke Levi Burton was a finalist in Australia's Hottest Vegan 2018 contest. Jordan Philp

Burton a PETA 'hot vegan' finalist

IT WASN'T just Levi Burton's looks and charm that secured him a finalist spot in the nation-wide search for Australia's Hottest Vegan, it was also his work in animal activism.

The 27-year-old Stanthorpe man was one of four male finalists shortlisted in the PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) competition. He was pipped at the finishing line by Newcastle-based semi-professional rugby player Kelly Benson, but Levi said it was a fun experience nonetheless.

Aside from living on a plant-based diet without consuming meat, dairy or other animal products, Levi proved to PETA his dedication to animal activism when he organised viewing of an animal-rights documentary and his work at his all-vegan coffee van.

"The documentary is all Australian footage showing the current legalities in slaughterhouses, and the RSPCA approved practices, and everything that goes on that we can't really get footage of otherwise," he said.

"I showed the documentary in (Stanthorpe) to raise money for a local farm animal sanctuary who take on animals that get too big for petting zoos, or if farmers can't afford to feed their cows due to the drought."

A vegan of three years, Levi, who recently moved to Hervey Bay, admitted it was a stark contrast to his old diet when he ate up to a kilo of meat and consumed more than a litre of dairy a day.

"I just had an epiphany three years ago. I realised I was contributing to financing the biggest harm and abuse of animals on the planet. When I first became vegan I copped it. Because it does have that stigma around it."

The self-described coffee connoisseur said he found it hypocritical to say he loved animals when he was eating them.

"It was a bit of hypocrisy in my own head. "When I started looking at it through the animals' eyes, the victims' eyes, the decision was really easy."

He said veganism was catching on, especially in smaller rural communities.

"In smaller towns you don't really notice the vegan movement. But it's there."

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