This last weekend on Saturday night, I drove up to West Hollywood after work and attended a lovely soirée at the jaw dropping mansion of James Costa, nestled way up in the Hollywood hills with a stunning 180 degree view. Downtown L.A., fireworks shooting off in the distance, twinkling lights of other stunning homes tucked away, and a sliver of a crescent moon hung low in the sky between the clouds, all setting the mood. Why was I in attendance of such a lavish setting you wonder? It was a benefit for the animals of course! More directly, honoring Mercy for Animals.
Mercy for Animals is a non-profit organization which was started by Nathan Runkle in the late 90's, who was at the time a mere 15 years old. I could regurgitate and recap all of the wonderfulness that this man is and how he started this amazing organization and how much it has grown, but instead I will link you here, to an article from 2007 Satya magazine which will introduce you nicely. I urge to you learn more about this organization and if you can, please donate to their cause! To be brief, this sweet guy is an immeasurable inspiration and hero, I love him. What an amazing soul! Mercy for Animals has grown considerably in the last couple of years, as they've accomplished several huge feats going up against HUGE farms and companies, all in the name of justice for animals. As he said that night "we're going up against people who have more money than god and we're winning!!" These heroes really are the true voice for these defenseless animals. They do the work that I know in my heart I simply could NOT do. Not in a million years, and to them I bow down in gratitude. Going under cover in the most miserable, loathsome conditions to capture footage and document the most malicious mistreatment and vile abuse of these poor factory farmed animals. If you've ever seen Earthlings or other undercover footage, you know what I'm talking about. The second you start watching your eyes flood with tears and someone reaches into your chest, pulls out your heart and serves it on a platter to some wealthy corporate asshole. Yes, it's that bad! The Ohio case last year was, I believe, one of the first real shockers they exposed to hit the mainstream, getting big press coverage on all the networks. Please, see this link for details- warning- the video is disturbing and graphic.
Alas, the evening on the contrary was quite lovely. People were meant to bring their coin purses and let em flow into those donation envelopes! The featured star of the night was Bob Barker. He was honored with a much deserved award for all of his contribution$ to MFA. That night he came with a check for $250,000. Shortly after, with some gentle prodding, people started yelling out more donations of their own "$25,000!!!", shouted Cindy Landon, widow of actor Michael Landon. "Do I hear another? $500, $1,000? $5,000?", asked James Costa, trying to rile up the obviously wealthy crowd into giving as much as they could to this wonderful cause. "$1,000!!!" yelled another woman, "$1,000!!" another yelled.... It was pretty amazing to witness, as I merely paid for my $100 ticket to attend and barely had enough gas money to drive up there and back from San Diego. I know, of course every bit helps, and you'd think I would've felt out of place in this house oozing with money and status. On the contrary, however, I didn't. I felt at home and at one, knowing everyone was there for the same reason- love and compassion for animals and making a difference in whatever way each individual could in their lives. What a dynamic guest list, it was like vegan superstar central! Filmmakers of several documentaries including Earthlings and Forks Over Knives were in house, along with Steve-O, and so many other glamourous animal activists and representatives of various animal rights groups, farm sanctuaries, vegan publications and every other kind of angle in the vegan industry you can imagine. Among the many beautiful people I met that night were a couple from Orange County running a group called Friends for Seals, who are contributing however they can to fight the endless slaughter of seals, another guy Ryan who is Vegan Filmmaker and a lovely writer named Katarina who wrote this great article capturing the evenings details. I even ran into a gal I met in Paris years ago in a vegan restaurant who was in Paris at the time working for PETA to crash the fashion week by jumping on the runway stating that fur is MURDER! I couldn't have felt more comfortable at this party actually, everyone was very lovely, approachable, and kind. One of my favorite Bob quotes of the night was, “I care about all living things. All animals, all people, all trees, all plants. I care about the world.” We would all do well to learn from this compassionate philanthropist who is approaching 90 years old.
And so, I return to my blog and making delicious vegan food and treats, doing what I can, trying to be the change I wish to see in the world. I was blessed in this life to make vegan food taste good, that is my (non-harming) weapon of choice, or should I say bait. ;-)