On Saturday, March 19th, Hollywood celebs, entertainment execs, and dressed-to-impress animal activists of all walks of life—including a few of the four-legged variety—traipsed the red carpet and communed in a posh ballroom under a cascade of crystal chandeliers for the Humane Society of the United States’ 25th Anniversary Genesis Awards.
This annual event toasts news and entertainment media—writers, producers, directors, and other media folk who raise the curtain on animal injustices worldwide. While star-studded, Genesis isn’t your typical Hollywood awards dinner. In this circle, “toasting” calls for a flute of organic champagne—or, just as sought after, a sprouted, whole-grain dinner roll with a smear of vegan spread.
This year’s nominees included How to Train Your Dragon, The Colbert Report, The Simpsons, Anderson Cooper 360, Larry King Live, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and more. Sex and the City’s Kristin Davis received the Genesis Awards’ top honor, the Wyler Award, for working to bring the plight of African elephants into public consciousness.
I am lucky enough to have attended this gala twice before—but there was something special about this year’s event. I sensed it immediately although I couldn’t quite define what it was. Valet: check. Press pass: Check. Dogs in evening gowns: check.
It wasn’t until I caught up with HSUS’s president and CEO Wayne Pacelle on the red carpet that I realized what made this year’s event so extraordinary. This was, of course, the milestone 25th Anniversary gala: we weren’t just there to celebrate the previous year’s outstanding works, we were there to celebrate the past 25 years of animal issues in the media.
“The Genesis Awards really tracks the growth of our movement and you can see an incredible rise in awareness and media exposure of animal issues just by looking at the track record of the Genesis Awards,” said Pacelle. “I am convinced that the wind is at our backs and we’re going to continue to build awareness about food issues, about other domesticated animal issues, and about the protection of wildlife.”
The three-course vegan menu—designed by Chef Tal Ronnen and Chef Manfred Lassahn—included an arugula and faro salad, a chantrelle-dusted Gardein chick’n filet served with chantrelle mushroom ravioli and broccolini drizzled in a “beurre blanc” (pictured), and either a Frangelico laced coffee and ladyfinger tiramisu or a maple “cheesecake” with graham cracker crust and berries. You could tell from the rounds of clean plates that were cleared from the table, the fare was a huge hit with the crowd.
While you’ll have to prepare your own 3-course vegan dinner, it’s not too late for you to raise your glass to this year’s winners, and to 25 years of outstanding works. Tune in or set your Tivo for The 25th Anniversary Genesis Awards one-hour special, which will air on Animal Planet on Saturday, April 30 at 7:00pm ET/PT and Sunday, May 1 at 9:00am ET/PT. (All other time zones, check your listings.)