Taking it Off for PETA

Kristoff St. John, portrayer of THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS’ straight-laced Neil Winters, stripped down to his boxers for PETA’s (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) “Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur” campaign — and that’s just part of the story.

A vegetarian as a child, St. John was only avoiding red meat and pork this past spring when got a wakeup call from the DVD “Meet your Meat.” “It’s a 10-minute action video distributed by PETA denouncing the way animals are farmed in the United States,” he explains. “It shows in graphic detail the atrocities of the slaughter houses. For health reasons, as well, I decided to change over my diet completely and eliminate fish, chicken, turkey, dairy, eggs and go primarily vegan. I immediately contacted PETA and asked them what I could do for them.”

After a meeting with the animal rights organization, St. John agreed to put his celebrity behind two campaigns. First, he shot an anti-circus public service announcement to air this summer. “The commercial denounces the circus for its mistreatment of animals,” St. John previews, noting there were too many examples to fill the 30-second spot. “It’s graphic in detail about how the elephants are shackled from birth.”

Second, was the “Rather Go Naked than Wear Fur” campaign, which is set for release this fall. On June 6, St. John was the first male in a line of notables like Kim Basinger and Pamela Anderson to strip down to his own skin for PETA’s anti-fur ad campaign. “It’s a nice campaign to be a part of, as I am now a vegetarian standing up for a cause I do believe in,” says St. John.

While those two campaigns haven’t hit the masses yet, St. John recently took a public stand with PETA in his own backyard. “We just had a spot air on CELEBRITY JUSTICE (on June 7) about the mismanagement and mistreatment of the wildlife in Canoga Lakes, a complex where I own a condo and my mom lives,” he explains.

But if you run into this vegan, don’t expect a lecture on healthy eating. “I don’t go around preaching about it,” St. John explains. “I’m not actively seeking out people, cornering them and telling them, ‘Salvation is yours only if you stop eating hamburgers and Chicken McNuggets.’ Actions speak louder than words. I hope people see through my example that you can still maintain your health and a decent body by working out and having a meat-free diet.”

Can’t imagine a life without meat, circuses and fur? St. John isn’t done yet. He’s also trying to wean himself off of leather products, replacing them with rubber and canvas products “though I still have leather belts that I wear and I have a number of pairs of leather shoes I’m not ready to throw in the trash,” he admits. “Will I purchase another pair of Kenneth Coles? I doubt it, but I take that one step at a time.”

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