John Halloran entered this photo into PETA's "Sexiest Vegan Next Door" contest.
By Kim Kalunian, WPRO Arts and Entertainment
First John Halloran’s fellow firefighters ribbed him for going vegan, and now they’re teasing the South Kingstown resident for being a finalist in PETA’s “Sexiest Vegan Next Door” contest.
“They’re finding it pretty amusing,” Halloran told WPRO in a telephone interview Tuesday.
Halloran, 41, said his foray into veganism began about four years ago when his weight and diet started having negative impacts on his health. Halloran joined the fire department in 1996, and shortly thereafter gained about 20 pounds. For him, that was a big deal.
Halloran noticed his energy levels were dropping and his cholesterol was on the rise. Eventually, his doctor recommended that he do some research and look to change his diet.
“It took me awhile,” said Halloran. “I was kind of stubborn at first…mentally I wasn’t really ready for it.”
Halloran said he made changes to his diet in “baby steps,” gradually weeding out all non-plant-based products.
“I felt progressively better,” said Halloran, who said he dropped the extra weight and felt as energetic as he did in college.
Halloran, a father of three, said his wife was the one who brought the “Sexiest Vegan” competition to his attention. When she encouraged him to submit his photo, he told her she was crazy.
“Are you absolutely out of your mind?” Halloran recalls saying. “The heat that I took for going vegan a year ago is finally starting to die down, I can’t rekindle this fire.”
But then Halloran’s wife mentioned the grand prize: a trip to Hawaii.
That’s when he submitted the photo. It’s a handsome shot of the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Halloran, dressed in a shirt and tie, giving a smoldering stare to the camera.
Halloran found out roughly a week ago that he had beat out more than 100 other entrants and earned a spot in the top ten men. There are also ten female finalists.
“I never thought I would make it this far,” said Halloran. “I’m blown away.”
Now it’s up to the public to decide who will take home the grand prize. Voters can log on to PETA.org and click the “Vote” button next to John’s picture.
In addition to his photo, Halloran had to submit a quote about himself.
“The firefighter who leads by example and informs his brother and sister firefighters that the most dangerous and inhumane building in their district is the supermarket,” the blurb reads.
“The number one cause of death among firefighters is heart attack,” explained Halloran, who said he’s not trying to downplay the dangers or other hazardous buildings in the area. “But if the number one cause of fire fighter death is heart disease, then to me, we have to look at the supermarket as part of the cause.”
Halloran, who grew up in Lincoln, said he hopes by participating in the contest, other people will hear his story and perhaps make similar lifestyle changes. The trip to Hawaii, he added, would be pretty great, too.
An award-winning journalist and theater critic - and a performer at heart. Kim's talents have taken her from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in NY, to stages in Boston and Providence's own Trinity Repertory.