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Pig farmer's son from Wymondham, 55, on track to become UK's hottest vegan

PUBLISHED: 14:54 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:59 31 July 2019

Mark Fairhead, from Wymondham, is in the final for PETA's UK's Hottest Vegan contest. Photo: Mark Fairhead

Mark Fairhead, from Wymondham, is in the final for PETA's UK's Hottest Vegan contest. Photo: Mark Fairhead

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He comes from a family of pig farmers, but since swapping meat for a plant-based lifestyle, this 55-year-old is on track to become the UK's hottest vegan.

Mark Fairhead before losing 10 stone in 2006. Photo: SubmittedMark Fairhead before losing 10 stone in 2006. Photo: Submitted

Mark Fairhead, who lives on Tuttles Lane in Wymondham, has made it to the final in a competition to find the hottest vegan over 50, run by animal welfare group PETA.

The 55-year-old said he spotted the contest on the group's website and although not confident he would succeed, decided to enter.

He said: "I figured I'm 55 and quite good looking so might as well have a go. I'm incredibly shocked to be selected and my wife, Katie, is too - she thinks I'm mad."

Mr Fairhead became a vegan seven years ago, but said the conversion from eating meat was not a natural one.

Katie and Mark Fairhead were crowned Mr and Mrs Slimming World 2009.   Photo: Darren StarlingKatie and Mark Fairhead were crowned Mr and Mrs Slimming World 2009. Photo: Darren Starling

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His grandfather was a pig farmer and the Norfolk native grew up surrounded by meat eaters.

The decision to switch to a plant based diet did not come until he began volunteering as a dog walker at PACT animal sanctuary, where he started questioning the ethics of treating animals as products.

He said: "My childhood memories of farming are different to the way it is done now and cattle are treated as products, not animals. I'm not an activist and I don't force my opinion on people but I think it's important to inform peoples' choices with information about where their food comes from."

Mr Fairhead said the biggest debate about veganism often centred on health, but that he was in the best shape of his life since giving up animal products.

In 2006 Mr Fairhead weighed just under 24 stone, but since taking up cycling and changing his diet, has lost 10 stone and drastically improved his fitness.

He said: "I'm not a great one for talking out but I do like to use my weight loss journey to motivate and inspire people. You can be healthier on a vegan diet and there's plenty of protein to be found in beans and pulses."

The winner will be in part decided by public vote, which closes Sunday August 7, and announced on August 12.

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