The 24th Genesis Awards Rolls Out the Red Carpet for Animal Advocates in the Media

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Photo: Actress and animal advocate Tipi Hedren, recipient of the 24th Genesis Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. Check out more photos from the event on Vegetarian Times‘ Facebook page, in the album “24th Genesis Awards.”

The 24th Genesis Awards was held Saturday, March 20, 2010, at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. The gala ceremony, produced each year by The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), honors major news and entertainment media for producing outstanding works that shine the spotlight on animal rights issues.

The evening began with red carpet arrivals. As celebrities made their way down the red carpet, I had the opportunity to meet and greet a procession of friendly faces including President of the HSUS Wayne Pacelle, musician and animal advocate Moby, Twilight: Eclipse star Boo Boo Stewart (escorted by his sister Fivel Stewart and mother Renee Stwart), and the celebrated actress and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Tippi Hedren.

While these high-profile personalities came from all walks of life, they were united by their compassion for animals and their passion for animal advocacy.

The question I was most curious to ask was, “What’s your favorite vegetarian dish?”

Nicole Lapin, a CNBC news anchor nominated for a CNN News investigation on downer pigs, raved about the “Faux Fabulous” dinner party she recently hosted with “you-wouldn’t-believe-it’s-vegan” versions of classic American dishes. A vegan, she commented, “This is the only event that I can actually eat at!”

Moby, a vegan of over 20 years, spoke highly of the vegan tacos at Real Food Daily in Los Angeles and the vegan Sushi at Souen in New York.

Boo Boo Stewart answered with enthusiasm: “Tofu, my mom makes it all the time!” Renee Stewart was happy to share her recipe for her Japanese-style tofu: Drain it; cut it in cubes; drizzle it with sesame oil and soy sauce; and sprinkle it with dried chives, sesame seeds, and dried seaweed.

Trial attorney Lisa Bloom, a legal analyst for CNN and CBS News, replied: “I make a really good vegan lasagna from the Real Food Daily cookbook.” Braden Pollack, Bloom’s boyfriend, vouched for its deliciousness. A vegetarian of 32 years, Bloom went vegan a year ago. On this note, she commented, “ I didn’t do it for me, I did it because I wanted to opt out of all the animal cruelty.”

After the red carpet arrivals, I rushed to my seat at a table inside the hotel’s International Ballroom, arriving just in time for the first course. The dinner menu, to be served to about 700 people that evening, was created by the world-renowned vegan chef Tal Ronnen. I was thrilled to meet Jordan Nagai (the voice of Russell in Up) and his family, who were seated at my table. Nagai was also a presenter. While each course was delicious, my favorite was the dessert, a tropical fruit coconut cream served in a martini glass and garnished with a dark chocolate leaf.

Celebrity presenters included Emily Deshcanel, Ginnifer Goodwin, Pierce and Keely Brosnan, Eric Stonestreet, Kristen Bell, and Melanie Griffith, who presented The Lifetime Achievement Award to her mother, actress and animal advocate Tippi Hedren, for dedicating more than 40 years to protecting animals.

When you think of Hedren, you probably think first of her starring role in Hitchcock’s The Birds, but it was the 1981 film Roar, in which she starred with her daughter and 50 big cats, that indpired her to take her lifelong animal advocacy work to the next level. “My heart went to the lions and tigers,” said Hedren. “After we finished filming, we didn’t know where the cats would go, but we knew they would stay.”

That’s when Hedren set up The Roar Foundation’s Shambala Preserve, an 80-acre wildlife refuge in Acton, Calif., that today offers sanctuary to 68 exotic cats (lions, tigers, and cougars) abandoned by private owners, zoos, and circuses. As well as being a nurturing “den mother,” Hedren co-authored The Captive Wildlife Safety Act of 2003, a federal law that prohibits the interstate commerce of exotic cats as pets. She continues to work on federal legislation that would ban the breeding and trade of exotic animals in the U.S.

Hedren expressed her hope for all animals, that they may “run if they legs, swim if they fins, and fly if they have wings.”

Among the roster of stellar nominations, the Academy Award-winning feature film Up and the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove, took home Genesis Awards, as did Family Guy, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Whale Wars, Bones, O: The Oprah Magazine and many other moving works. For a complete list of this year’s winners and nominees, click here.

After the ceremony, there was a silent auction and an after party where attendees enjoyed champagne, vegan finger food (including some really tasty vegan sushi), and vegan desserts.

The event airs on Animal Planet on April 24 and 25.