After thousands of teens flocked to peta2.com to help peta2, PETA US’ youth division, choose the winners of its annual Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity contest, the animal rights group has chosen 2013’s male and female winners: The Wanted's heartthrob Jay McGuiness and Zendaya, the star of the Disney Channel’s Shake It Up.

The boy-band member triumphed over such tough competition as Fall Out Boy's Andy Hurley, Jared Leto, Russell Brand and Tony Kanal of No Doubt, while Zendaya snagged the title over the lovely Anne Hathaway, Alicia Silverstone, Daniella Monet and Rocsi Diaz, among others.

As many Shake It Up fans know, Zendaya’s character, Rocky Blue, is a vegetarian – but what they may not know is that she sticks to meat-free meals because Zendaya does. “In the meatball episode which was really gross, I put in a part where I said I was vegetarian because I really am a vegetarian in real life. That’s something I believe in very strongly”, the 16-year-old dancer and actor said. “We decided to make Rocky a vegetarian as well.”

Jay has also cared about animals from an early age. In an interview, his mother described his childhood habit of ignoring his family’s soccer matches in favour of “talking to … the ladybirds. … He loved animals”. He shares his home with his lizard, Neytiri.

In addition to helping animals, vegetarians have a smaller carbon footprint – according to a UN report, the meat industry is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global” – and they also safeguard their own health. Vegetarians are less prone to cancer, obesity and diabetes than meat-eaters are.

The winners were selected based on several factors, including vote count. Previous winners of peta2’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity contest include Renee Olstead, Davey Havok, Gabe Saporta, Christofer Drew and Olivia Wilde.

For more information about helping animals and to order your free vegetarian/ vegan starter kit, please visit PETA.org.uk.

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