Michael Gottlieb had no idea that when he went Vegan 10 years ago, the move might one day bring him the title of “Sexiest Vegan Over 50.” But the 58-year-old Venice resident is one of three finalists in the male category.
Gottlieb, who stays fit, eats healthy, and loves animals, would be proud to bring home the title. Should he win the coveted award, it won’t have a life-changing impact on him, he admits.
“I am already so entrenched in the animal activism world,” he told the BP News. “[But] it would hopefully provide me opportunities to speak in front of people who are considering veganism. I am vegan mostly for ethical reasons.”
Gottlieb is testament to how males can be vegan and still have a muscular physique.
“Many people, especially men, are afraid that they will not be able to get enough nourishment and protein to maintain an athletic build,” he said. “I feel that I am a good representative of what a vegan man who is almost 60 years old could look like in terms of being fit and continue playing active sports.”
As the ‘Sexiest Vegan’ finals are being decided by public votes, Gottlieb suffered a personal blow last week when his beloved pet Lucy died.
“I got her when she was eleven weeks old,” he said. “Lucy was my first dog I have had as an adult. She was 15 years and 3 months when she passed away yesterday. She was the love of my life. Unconditional love. Nothing better.”
He says that Lucy taught him a lot about life, especially tolerance and patience.
“She taught me what it is like to put someone ahead of your own personal well-being and doing it without a second thought, regret or thought of calling it a sacrifice,” Gottlieb said. “It is anything but a sacrifice. It is something you want to do.”
A PETA official said Gottlieb sets a high bar for all contenders.
“He’s hosted many fundraisers for animal-rescue groups in his home and lives with many rescued dogs,” the PETA rep said. “To date, he’s been a foster parent to 40 canines. Michael’s compassion for animals certainly has us swooning!”
Judy Lee wrote on the PETA website: “I found a little scared, snapping dog. Michael dropped everything to drive over an hour and a half, in rush hour traffic to save the dog.”
Days after the accompanying photo was taken, Lucy was laid to rest. In recent months she had been in declining health.
“[Lucy taught me] patience to be able to be a caregiver for someone that needed 24 hours care,” Gottlieb said. “There is nothing I would change about my time with her. I only wish she could live forever. Luckily she will, in mind, spirit and energy.
Voting for the “Sexiest Vegans Over 50” closed on Oct. 16, and the winners will be announced on Monday, Oct. 22, in the PETA Prime E-News.