It’s dinnertime at the Veltkamp house. Kate, 24, prepares roasted portobello mushrooms with stuffing, kale and mashed potatoes with cashew cream. Meanwhile, Scott, 28, looks after their daughter, Emery, 18 months.
In 2009, after seeing a news story about three Georgia men who were arrested for allegedly killing and eating a dog, Kate decided to embrace a vegetarian lifestyle.
“It really shocked me,” she said. “It was really horrifying.”
A year later, she went vegan and her husband became a vegetarian. Emery, they said, has never been exposed to meat. They work to maintain a natural lifestyle, avoiding animal products in their food and clothing.
She is stricter than he is.
“Once in a while, when we go out, I might eat some cheese,” he said, “but not usually.”
The couple are finalists in the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Sexiest Vegetarians Next Door contest. Here, they talk about discovering new food, feeling good and why vegans do, in fact, make better lovers.
Q: On the news story that inspired her life change ...
• Kate: Why [was] I so horrified at this, and why are these men going to jail when billions of animals die every year and no one does anything about it? There are a certain few animals that people are supposed to eat and it’s OK to kill them. It didn’t really make sense to me. So I thought if I’m unhappy with eating a dog, I might as well not eat any animals.
Q: Why he gave up meat ...
• Scott: I always felt weird (buying meat at the grocery store). I was unsure where it came from or what was in it. Who knows what an animal was eating or how it was kept. It just really bothered me that I had no idea where anything came from; it just kind of showed up in the supermarket and that was it. Just the idea of getting more basic foods rather than processed foods is something I wanted to try.
Q: What’s sexy about vegetarianism?
• Kate: For me, it’s compassion. I would never date a meateater ever again. Not that I would ever get divorced, but I would never be with someone like that. Since the main reason I am vegan is for moral reasons, compassion is just so sexy to me, because it shows that someone is thinking about other creatures, about other beings besides themselves.
• Scott: Most vegetarians I know look and feel healthier. You feel better on the inside and you look better on the outside. You’re more in shape or fit if you’re vegetarian.
Q: So do vegans make better lovers?
• Kate: Yes, definitely. Definitely, definitely, definitely.
• Scott: I agree, too. It’s definitely something we share together, so it brings us closer.
Q: Exploring the world in the kitchen ...
• Scott: We really got into Indian food for a while. I really like spicy food, so we were on an Indian kick for a long time. That’s very vegetarian friendly.
• Kate: Mexican is great for vegetarians, also Thai food, Japanese, sushi — we’ve learned to make our own sushi now. It’s just a whole lot of fun. Before I would make fish or meat with a couple of vegetable sides, but now it’s more about creating an entire meal that suits all your nutritional needs and is amazing, taste-wise, as well.
Q: On feelin’ good ...
• Scott: I lost 40 pounds. I’ve always worked out, and I maybe stepped that up a little bit, but it’s mostly due to diet. I feel more energetic. I remember feeling sluggish after eating a steak, but I don’t feel that anymore.
• Kate: I feel energetic now. And we never get sick. Maybe once a year, we get a cold. When I was pregnant, that was right around the time I dropped all meat and the whole time ... I just felt amazing. Afterward I was able to recover from my C-section so fast, because I wasn’t weighing my body down with processed food and meat. I felt like a different person.
On May 31, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced that Kate Veltkamp has been named "Sexiest (female) Vegetarian Next Door."
Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...