Thursday, May 22, 2008

Special Report: VegNews in NYC (Day 4)


Who: VN Publisher Joseph Connelly + VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland
What: Day four of a five-day business trip
Where: New York City
When: May 17, 2008
Why: Farm Sanctuary Gala + Veggie Pride Parade + meetings galore with colleagues, friends, and magazine partners

The Scoop: The sun was shining, and we were back in business. Today, Manhattanites were out in full-force, including 8,000 of them running a 10k race in Central Park. Our very own Joseph Connelly and Lantern Books’ Martin Rowe were also running today’s race and both performed exceptionally well (despite the humidity, according to California-based Joseph, and hilly terrain, said East Coaster Martin). To celebrate their achievement, we headed over to Whole Foods Columbus Circle for coffee and vegan scones (loved the oatmeal-cranberry) and spent the next several hours catching up. Martin, a very proper Englishman-turned-New Yorker, not only runs Lantern Books but also writes, edits, and works with wife Mia at her non-profit, Brighter Green. We decided to burn-off breakfast by meandering through the streets of NY back to our hotel. Before we knew it, it was time to primp and prep for the night’s big event: the annual Farm Sanctuary Gala.

If you have a chance to attend one of these glitzy fundraiser galas, do it. Not only does the money go to great organizations, you’re guaranteed a divine multi-course meal, celebrity sightings, engaging conversation with tablemates, and a fabulous goodie bag. In fact, we will state for the record that Farm Sanctuary galas have the best goodie bags of any event. But we digress …

Held at the unbelievably gorgeous Cipriani Wall Street (a former bank-turned-event-venue), we hit the cocktail reception at 5pm. Held on the mezzanine overlooking the grand ballroom, we sipped bellinis and nibbled on heirloom cherry tomatoes filled with pesto, faux chicken with spicy mango chutney, and sautéed mushrooms in crispy phyllo baskets. We had the opportunity to chat with David Life and Sharon Gannon of Jivamukti Yoga School, Russell Simmons, Dennis Kucinich, Shawn Colvin, Persia White, and many other wonderful individuals who are truly making a difference. We bumped into soy-candle entrepreneur Ari Solomon and green goddess Chloé Jo Berman—check out our sizzling July+August 2008 summer edition for features on both.

We sauntered down to the main dining room where 600 guests were being seated for dinner. Host Heather Mills (the former Mrs. Paul McCartney) had been working with the Cipriani culinary team to create an incredible three-course meal for the evening (rumor has it that she’s launching a line of vegan food products and has a cooking show in the works). We normally wouldn’t dwell on a dinner roll, but this was the best vegan dinner roll ever. It was warm, flaky, and buttery—we must learn how they did it. We begin with a “chicken”-minestrone soup, which was flavorful and delicious. We move on to a large arugula salad tossed in a light vinaigrette. For the entrée, Heather created a lasagna with béchamel sauce and tomato ragu—a unique take on the traditional Italian dish. Finally, slices of chocolate torte are served with fancy trays of hazelnut clusters and chocolate-dipped strawberries, and the evening’s festivities begin.

Television personality Melissa Rivers was the emcee of the night, and presenters included VN’s Rory Freedman, Emily Deschanel, Loretta Swit, and Persia White. A wonderful and moving speech by Farm Sanctuary’s Executive Director Jeff Lydon brought the crowd to its feet. We learned about this year’s victories, challenges, and, in two poignant videos produced by Joshua Katcher, met many of the animals rescued by the organization. The evening was truly inspiring.

Then, Susie Essman (funniest comedian ever) of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” hosted a live auction, where a Peter Max painting went for $15,000 and lunch in Los Angeles with Rory Freedman sold for $3,000 (see photo below with VN Publisher Joseph Connelly flanked by VN columnists, Rory and Dan Piraro). A special performance by Grammy Award-winning artist Shawn Colvin got people moving, and a mega-dessert buffet hosted by the famous VeganTreats carried us into the late night. On our way out, we picked up our goodie bags, bid farewell, and ended another perfect NY day.

Press Pass Giveaway! As we mentioned, the Farm Sanctuary galas have, hands-down, the best goodie bags of any event we attend. Swag includes cookies, soy candles, a cookbook, body wash, dog food, body crème, tea, chocolate, energy bars, and more, all packed into a Matt & Nat metallic tote bag. So just for you, we’re giving away one to a very special Press Pass reader. Just tell us why you deserve this bag by June 15 at noon, and we’ll choose one response. Good luck!

14 comments:

Erin said...

I'll be first - I'd be thrilled to receive your swag. I'm a vegan living in central Florida, working an awfully paid awful job because I was laid off in January. I'm hoping and planning to move to the Bay Area in a few months, to be closer to and more involved with vegan culture and causes and I could use the pick me up to help me pass the time! I'm not embarrassed, it's a pity plea :)

Vegan_Noodle said...

The reason I deserve to win this press pass giveaway is because I plan on giving it to a very special person that really deserves it, the founder of our local vegan society (Society of PEACE) who dedicates her time, money, and enthusiasm to spreading veganism in Houston, TX and is doing a dang good job at it.

prinsing@yahoo.com said...

I would love to have the oodles of goodies because I am about to turn 50 (gulp!) btw, am I your oldest blog reader? and it would be a fabulous and fun fiesta for this old lady. As Bill Murray stated in one of my favorite movies, "what About Bob"...give me give me give me I need I need...............

FunkyFrum said...

i would love to win this gorgeous bag filled with goodies in order to send it away to my husband who is working in madagascar on water filtration and is having a hard time finding anything vegan. i think he would trill in he got it in the mail.

LNastasi519 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
LNastasi519 said...

I think I deserve your bag because I have the hardest time finding vegan goodies near me! We moved more north from our hometown 2 years ago and I am in NEED of a health food store! Whole foods is 20 min away!! And I have Crohn's disease and becoming vegan has pretty much cured me and now I can't even have any treats! I have to stock up when I visit my parents and it totally stinks! Also, I watch 2 kids who live on a SAD, (Kids Cusines are there favorite meal!).. They recently went to the doctor and she told them they need to eat healthier and add more fruits and veggies to there diet. I would share the treats with them to show them that healthy food doesn't have to taste bad! I plan on taking them to farmers markets this summer to encourage them to eat better and show them how much work goes into cultivating delicious produce and how gross the boxed food they are eating is. I am sure the treats in your bag would help me seal the deal! :)

Sarah said...

Well I dont think I have any reason better than anybody that already posted. I became vegan a month or so ago, from being lacto-ovo for 8 years. So I still am learning about all the delicious foods that I can try. I've bought all the cookbooks my broke student pocket can buy, and am now a blog-a-holic constantly looking for new recipes or advice from other more seasoned vegans. So the goodies and cookbook would do me well. Plus, who doesn't love matt & nat...well the price sure is a bit of a um inconvenience? But it would allow me to get rid of purse (leather :( ) that I am still holding onto due to lack of funds.

Looks by the picture it was a swanky gala.

Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

I'd like to win the goodie bag, so I can donate the items to Californians for Humane Farms for their upcoming fundraiser & silent auction.

vijita said...

This may sound week but you gotta understand....

I just told best mutt friend vegan dog food was coming her way and she gave me the look of dependence, worship, excitement and stubbornness. I could also use some vegan goodies....Good vegan eats translate to lots of love projected to worthy causes. Fo' realz.

radioactivegan said...

I have to admit that I'm touched by the generosity of everyone else who's commented. I don't know that I deserve to win this, but I definitely would love to! I have been vegan for almost 18 months, and I have been able to get my mom to incorporate some vegan meals into her routine, too, by seeing how fantastic my food is and how much energy I have (dropping a few pounds didn't hurt either!). If I win this fantastic stuff, I would share it with my mom to show her even more how fantastic it is to be vegan.

stephthevegan said...

I would absolutely love to win this prize! Take pity on a girl who's surrounded by meat-eaters and tries to sneak them vegan food at every opportunity. "Have a brownie..." I say. "THIS is what hummus is" and "Have another Luna Melt, dahling, it's good for you!"

Rachel said...

Heh...my justification (i.e. "veg-swag would make me happy!") pales in comparison to the above comments.

That said: Congratulations to the winner! I'm jealous!

VeganLisa said...

I would love to have the opportunity to share more of the amazing vegan swag with my friends and family members so that they can understand how easy it is to live a more compassionate lifestyle within the crazy culture that exists today. In the last year I have used this type of positive reinforcement to share the joy of living vegan with the important people in my life. My mom and brother are now vegan and five people at my office have bought vegan cookbooks in the last two months.

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