Michael Baysmore of the Coppin State Police Department is back in the news for another good, but very different reason.
Late last summer, Baysmore penned a thoughtful letter for BuzzFeed about the inner struggle he faces while serving as a black police officer during a time of heightened tension between black Americans and police. A detail that very understandably didn’t make it into the op-ed he wrote was that he also doesn’t eat animals or animal byproducts.
The international animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is close to honoring him for that lifestyle choice. The group shared today that Baysmore is a finalist in its “Sexiest Vegan Next Door” contest, in which web users vote from a pool of candidates for the honor. That pool has now slimmed down to 10 male and 10 female finalists, and Baysmore has made the cut. The two winners get bragging rights and a trip to Maui.
Baysmore, who in his 2016 essay expressed sympathy for black Americans staring down discrimination at the hands of police officers, offered this statement about his eating choices: “If I can make a difference in one person’s life or save even one animal from suffering and death, then I’ve helped make the planet a better place to be.”
If you have questions at first glance about the title and criteria for PETA’s award, you’re not alone. The group said in a release that it’s picking the two winners “based on several factors, including vote count.” Those other factors, enumerated online, include the contestant’s professed enthusiasm for getting more votes on social media and their personal excitement about being a vegan.
The group’s executive vice president Tracy Reiman said of the contestants, “each one of the finalists in PETA’s contest is a testament to how sexy vegans are—inside and out.”
If you’d like to help Baysmore get to Maui, you can vote for him here. The contest ends at noon on June 21, with winners announced one week later.