Monday, September 22, 2008


Who: VN Publisher/Editor in Chief Joseph Connelly, VN Associate Publisher Colleen Holland, VN Editorial Director Aurelia d'Andrea, VN Senior Editor Elizabeth Castoria, and VN West Coast Advertising Representative Lara Bradley
What: A fancy-pants gala, and the morning-after party
Where: Sunny SoCal
Why: Because we do what we must for the animals—yes, even if it means hanging out with celebs and eating great food
When: September 6–7, 2008

The Scoop: After stuffing ourselves silly at The Veggie Grill, we stuffed ourselves into our fancy duds, and headed out to Acton, Calif., to the amazing Animal Acres Gala. You could say that there are more fun ways to spend your time than hanging out with amazing activists and adorable animals while soaking in the summery Southern California sun. You could say that, but it would be a lie.

Since the gala is actually held right at the sanctuary, we got to literally rub noses with some of the cutest darned rescued animals around. Aurelia took a shine to Mr. Ed, the Brahma bull, while I got to pal around a little with Thelma and Louise, two of the most adorable kids I've ever seen. After getting our fill of snuzzling, we headed to the rotunda to check out the silent auction. Um, hello. Bidders battled over fabulously fancy footwear from Beyond Skin, oodles of cheeky candles from A Scent of Scandal, a selection of high-end artwork, and a mish-mash of other alluring prizes. After bidding and mingling with the likes of Jorja Fox, Persia White, and John Schneider to our hearts' content, we took to the rose garden, which had been set up with dinner tables and the presentation stage. Our table was chock-full of fab friends, including VN columnist Rory Freedman, VN contributor Denise Herrick Borchert and her husband Walter, the ever-radiant Ani Phyo, and Gretchen and Peter Ryan, who—as you may remember from last year's wedding feature—celebrated their wedding at Animal Acres. During the Madeleine Bistro-catered dinner, emcee Carol Leifer got to work cracking us up with her tales of searching for vegan shoes. Of the evening's many highlights, we were particularly proud to watch as Emily Deschanel presented our very own Rory Freedman with the Vegetarian Vision Award. (See the cutie-boots awardee above with the VN ladies.) It seems like there might be some sort of trend here—Joseph Connelly was last year's recipient! After dinner it was straight to the ice-cream-sundae bar, sponsored by Maggie Mudd, and then a few of us—aka Colleen, Aurelia, and Karen Dawn—enjoyed a little impromptu boogeying. It was sad to see the evening come to an end, but we were able to take heart knowing that Animal Acres raised $150,000 for their rescue fund!

The next morning, we continued the Madeleine Bistro trend with a leisurely brunch in Tarzana. Yes, "leisurely brunch" means that we sat and ate amazing food for hours on end. Really, if every meal came complete with Chef Dave Anderson's signature fluffy, sugar-coated doughnuts and beignets (see below!), we'd be a very happy bunch. Oh, and maybe it's totally the case that the tofu benedict, omelet, Bigger Maque, and tofu scramble were incredibly delicious as well. Did I mention the potatoes? Get thee the potatoes. Of course, the only thing better than enjoying exquisite food is sharing it with quality company, of which we were in no short supply. Ani and Denise graced us again, as did Sun Flour Baking Company's Rey Ortega, Jill Hahn, Billy Hulting, Michelle Sass, Stephen Beidner, Lawrence Carter-Long, and Susan Weingartner (though the last two aren't pictured—that's what you get for sleeping in!).

It would be difficult to say whether we spent more time enjoying the company and food or trying to talk Dave and Molly into opening up a San Francisco location, though either way it was time well spent. After this incredible weekend, it was with full bellies and goodie-bag laden suitcases that we returned to San Francisco. Speaking of goodie bags, it just so happens that we have one extra, which, of course, we're giving to you. That's right, it's time for our second-ever Press Pass Giveaway! To win the packed-to-the-gills goodie bag, answer this little question:

What's your favorite method of activism? Do you volunteer at an animal sanctuary or donate to a multitude of worthy non-profits? Do you serve up vegan fare at your local Food Not Bombs chapter or are you on the street with pro-veg pamphlets every weekend? Whatever your preferred method of helping animals is, tell us in the comments by this Friday, Sept. 26, and we'll pick a winner. Good luck!


Melisser; the Urban Housewife said...

Everyone looks gorgeous! It sounds like it was a fun time & I adore Madeleine Bistro!

As for activism, my favorite way is to kill 'em with cupcakes! Okay, maybe not kill, but I bake up goodies & let the treats do the talking. I've found there's no better way to start a conversation about veganism. I also donate cupcakes to animal rights events, of course.

Michele said...

For me, I love to volunteer at a local animal shelter, and donate when ever I am able to. I don't like it when people push their views on me, so I just try to live life by example, and getting my anything but veggie eating boyfriend to eat a vegan coconut custard pie a pretty good boon to veggie activism!

FunkyFrum said...

My favorite form of activism is teaching my kids how ot be compassionate human beings. There is nothing better I could do. And it also doesn't hurt that my son tells his grandfather not to eat meat "because good people don't hurt animals and it is just wrong". His grandfather can't ignore his cuteness.
As for everyone else in the world, I'm with the above commentors, just cook em good food and prove that being vegan doesn't mean deprieving yourself of anything tasty.

Anonymous said...

How? You know I don't even think about it.

We cook FF Vegan which started because of a heart problem. I guess you could say some of this comes from the sideline of that. I worked for a while with Zaar in cleaning up their Vegan category and hosting their Vegetarian and Vegan forum. Part of that was finding out if products where Vegan or not so I could say yes or no to something. I followed the policy if they weren't willing to say it was safe for Vegan consumption, it was a No. I also tend to point out that most things can be made Vegan and cheaper than using meat and meat by products as well as the accidental Vegan recipes around. Simply providing good solid subs for what they normally make and use does wonders. Esp since they tend to be cheaper and more healthy. Providing information on how to make that tofu dish and how to cook tempeh and how to make one fantastic broth you can use in place of chicken works. It may not be fast but it beats the world I grew up in where a Vegan was consigned to 4 vegetable dishes at the local dinner of whatever boiled veggie they had that day.

Next I work with our local rehabber. I take some of the guys she can't release. Currently I house 8 pigeons who are not able to fend for themselves. I have 4 cocktiels who are disabled and two parrots who were driven crazy by abuse. They have formed a flock.

I find that living in a rural area when someone says why don't you eat ... when I say simply "Unsound farming practices. I know how the hamburger you are eating was raised and butchered and you couldn't pay me to take that risk." tends to end the conversation right there and they don't finish the hamburger while I eat my Vegan burger with relish. However they do tend to go and read up on it. Preaching doesn't work. Reality does.

Vegyogini said...

Aren't David and Molly wonderful?

My favorite form of activism is through the tummy! Everyone loves delicious food and I find that baking vegan goodies and distributing them is the best way to open minds and hearts.

Chickpea said...

My favorite form of activism is helping with tours for school groups at my local farmed animal sanctuary. Children naturally have such love for animals. We just have to help them remember that sheep, goats, pigs, and bulls are worthy of their compassion too! If we can start planting seeds in children, maybe they won't be afraid to question the status quo as they mature.

Also on my workdays I pack a two or three course vegan bento lunch. It's an instant conversation piece, and it shows people that veganism is far from deprivation. People are always envious of my lunches while they're pulling lukewarm burgers out of a greasy bag.

lao80 said...

For activism I serve up as much awesome vegan food to anyone I come in contact with.

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