College student named finalist in Cutest Vegan Alive contest

By Nikki Henderson |

Published 06/11 2014 03:09PM

Updated 06/11 2014 03:12PM

A Benton woman could soon be in the national spotlight.

EmilyJo Manchester, 20,  has beaten out dozens of entrants from across the country to be named one of 10 female finalists vying for the title of 2014 Cutest Vegan Alive in the ninth annual contest sponsored by peta2-PETA's youth division.

The final pool consists of 20 finalists-the 10 finalists, five female and five male who received the highest number of votes, plus 10 finalists, five female and five male who were selected by peta2.

The two winners one female and one male will win a professional photo shoot and a chance to star in their own peta2 ad.

Director of peta2 Marta Holmberg said, "EmilyJo is determined to make the world a kinder place. Young people who go vegan show respect for animals, the planet, and their own bodies, and that makes all of them cute in our book."

Manchester said she went vegan because she believes it's the best way that people can express their compassion for others.

A vegetarian since middle school, she later started using soy milk instead of cow's milk and skipping the cheese on her veggie burgers. Thanks to the on-campus vegan station at St. Bonaventure University, it's easy for her to stick to her humane and healthy diet at school.

Her friends and siblings weren't very supportive at first, but after she fixed them her famous vegan mac and cheese, they changed their tune. Her dream is to move to Costa Rica and open a vegan restaurant, and she loves that the country is phasing out zoos.

"I'm one of those cliché 20-somethings bent on changing the world," she says, "but I'm going to do it!" Manchester's favorite foods include faux-chicken pot pie, lasagne, yams, and So Delicious dairy-free chocolate ice cream.

The two winners will be selected by peta2 based on several factors, including vote count.  See the full contest details here To view photos of and read more about the finalists, please click here   For more information, please visit

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