Maintaining a svelte figure is one of the most challenging parts of being a beauty queen, and many aspirants turn to vegetarianism in their quest to achieve a pageant ready body.
But for reigning Miss World Manushi Chhillar of India, the decision to go on a plant-based diet came way before she even put on her high heels. In fact, it was made for her by her mother.
“I am a vegetarian since birth, so I’ve never tasted meat,” Chhillar told Filipino scribes when she came to the Philippines earlier this month.
“My mother is a vegetarian,” she explained.
Chhillar joins the ranks of other beauty titleholders who adhere to a plant-based diet, which include 2009 Miss Earth-Air Sandra Seifert of the Philippines, and 1995 Miss USA Shanna Moakler.
The Indian beauty came to the Philippines with her compatriot, reigning Mister World Rojit Khandelwal, to witness the announcement of the Philippines as the male global tilt’s host for its 2018 edition in January 2019.
Chhillar’s shared reign with Kahndelwal for the two global titles under the Miss World Organization (MWO) is unprecedented, as no other country has simultaneously held both crowns.
Another monumental feat she has made for India was taking her country to the top of the Miss World leaderboard, by being the sixth Indian woman to ascend to the throne.
Chhillar, a part-time model and medical student from the state of Haryana, bested 107 other aspirants in ceremonies staged in China in November last year.
Her victory came 17 years after Priyanka Chopra snagged India’s fifth Miss World crown.
Chopra is now a popular Hollywood actress, headlining her own hit television series, “Quantico.”
But Chhillar said she would hope to take a path different from the ones made by her predecessors, which include global celebrity Aishwarya Rai and other Bollywood denizens.
After taking a break from medical school to focus on her reign and spearhead charity projects in different parts of the globe, the 21-year-old beauty said she would finish her studies and earn her physician’s license, which she plans to use to continue helping those who are in need.
Her “Beauty With A Purpose” project for the global tilt focused on “menstrual hygiene,” which saw her treating around 5,000 women in 20 Indian villages.
Chhillar’s advocacy campaign topped the global tilt’s “Beauty With A Purpose” race.
With her charity work and other advocacy projects, the 21-year-old medical student hopes people would not label her as just a vegetarian beauty queen, but rather, a beauty queen who happens to be vegetarian.
“Your food is your choice. It actually doesn’t define you as a person,” she said at the sidelines of the press conference held at the Marriott Grand Ballroom in Pasay City earlier this month.
She also quelled apprehensions about shifting to vegetarianism, as far as nutrition is concerned.
“Whatever it is you eat, what is important is you are getting the right nutrients, you’re taking the ample amount of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, fats and proteins,” Chhillar explained.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s coming from animals or from plants, it’s a personal choice, like I said,” she added.
And although she is not aware if she had directly inspired other beauty queens to go the vegetarian route, Chhillar said “it would be nice if people take that as an inspiration.”
And how inspiring her impressive pageant portfolio is, winning both the Femina Miss Haryana and Femina Miss India pageants on her first attempt.
The Indian beauty said it is not that difficult adhering to, and sustaining, a vegetarian diet in this day and age.
“Everywhere you go nowadays, there are so many different choices of food,” Chhillar explained.
“When I went to China, I always made it a point to always carry my food with me. But I never faced a challenge when it comes to food,” she added.
She said it’s only challenging being vegetarian “only when you travel to the Philippines!”
And return to the Philippines, she will.
After relinquishing her crown in China later this year, Chhillar vowed to meet her Filipino fans once again for the Mister World contest here.
Until then, she would have to wait for another serving of her favorite Filipino vegetarian dish, which is “pancit.”