It feels odd that my first post on the new Main Street Vegan site takes place a ways from Main Street – more like Wilshire and Santa Monica in Beverly Hills! But what’s so wonderful about the growth of awareness of both animal issues and healthy eating is that both of these are showing up everywhere. So, indulge me, please, in a premier post that’s a bit glittery.
I expected to be dazzled – the celebrities and photographers, the gowns and the brilliance in film, television, and journalism being honored at the 26th annual Genesis Awards, where the Humane Society of the United States recognizes media achievement on behalf of animals. What I didn’t expect was how inspired I’d feel, how reinvigorated and rededicated I would be to the cause of ending animal suffering.
Just being there was a wonder, and it was thanks to the lovely Jill Fraser, the co-founder with Milan Lazich of Jill Milan – glorious, high-end vegan bags handmade at a 200-year-old atelier in Florence. Jill “found” me a year ago through a blog on vegan fashion/beauty I wrote for the Huffington Post. Now we’re friends, and I see her as the cruelty-free Louis Vuitton! She and Milan invited me out for the event, along with Roseann Marulli Rodriguez, a dedicated vegan and managing editor of W magazine, which features a Jill Milan clutch – only twenty of these exist on the planet! – in its April 2012 issue.
The first VIP we met was Uggie, the rescue dog turned Hollywood star (see photograph). We also ran into Moby, whose gracious endorsement is on the back cover of Main Street Vegan, and Award nominee Jane Velez-Mitchell of the Jane Velez-Mitchell show on HLN (she’s on the host committee for the NYC press party for Main Street Vegan). We also got to know Fiona Gubelmann of the FX hit show Wilfred – she is as delightful and “Main Street” as she is beautiful! And all evening, as the clips rolled with the powerful footage of wrongs done and, in many cases, righted, I felt so hopeful to see eyes and minds opening and the world changing – not fast enough, but changing for certain – before my eyes.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes won for best feature film, and Born to Be Wild 3D, about two indomitable women who rescue and rehabilitate baby elephants and orangutans orphaned by poaching and habitat encroachment, won for best documentary. The Ellen Degeneres Show won in the talk show category, and Stephen Colbert won the Sid Caesar Comedy Award. Chef Gordon Ramsay won for TV Documentary with his BBC America production, Shark Bait, about the brutal practice of shark finning and his success in persuading London’s Chinese restaurants to stop serving shark fin soup.
The International Humanitarian Award went to Pritish Nandy, India’s most acclaimed poet, who is also an award-winning journalist, television host, and movie producer. In the world of animal protection, he co-founded People for Animals (PFA), to act as a strong network of compassionate men and women working to bring change in attitudes, laws and lifestyles to help mitigate animal suffering in his country and beyond.
Sunday morning, I went to a nearby Starbucks (free WiFi), and Mr. Nandy was there having his breakfast. We had the most delicious conversation. I’ve spent time in India on two occasions and am familiar with some of the issues there around animals, and what has been accomplished – the banning of bullfights, for instance, and no more horse-drawn carriages in either Mumbai or Delhi – was so gratifying.
Today is business as usual. The fancy beaded dress went back to Rent the Runway (do you know renttherunway.com – it’s a great resource for a onetime, big-deal evening out), and I’m working in my apartment in Harlem, one of New York City’s “Main Streets.” But my compassion is greater and my resolve is deeper than it was two days ago. That’s worth a lot.