Kevin Nealon was host and Tracey Stewart and Emily Deschanel were co-chairs of the swanky fundraiser and auction in support of the organization, which rescues and rehabilitates farm animals, the largest population of abused animals on the planet, at locations in upstate New York and California.
Co-founded by Gene Baur, Farm Sanctuary “gives a voice” to those who can’t stand up for themselves.
“Kindness to animals is also good for us,” said Baur.
Honorees of the evening included Allene Lapides, animal-rights activist, musician; artist and animal-rights activist Kat Von D; Grammy Award-nominated singer and activist Leona Lewis; upscale vegan eatery Crossroads Kitchen. Richard Marx provided musical entertainment, singing acoustic guitar versions of his 1980s Billboard hits, “Right Here Waiting” and “Don’t Mean Nothing.”
While watching educational videos and slideshow presentations of the work Farm Sanctuary does to help animals, guests dined on a 100% plant-based meal custom designed by Beverly Wilshire in partnership with Gardein Executive Chef Jason Stefanko, which included roasted tomato and fennel bisque with vegan cheddar cheese and thin cracker garnish, and triple chocolate cake and vanilla bean cake with fresh berry garnish.
But while animals were the focus, the election was still acutely on people’s minds.
“In light of recent events, it is so nice to be in a room tonight with so many progressive, forward-thinking, conscientious people,” said Nealon. “Tonight feels like a recovery meeting of sorts. They used to say in America that anybody can grow up to be president, and now we know anybody that doesn’t grow up can be president.”
A longtime supporter of Farm Sanctuary, Nealon joked about his unsuccessful efforts adhering to a strict vegan diet.
“I will only eat bear-caught salmon,” he said. “The hardest part of the process is getting the salmon away from the bear.”
After Lewis lead the crowd in a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” to Farm Sanctuary, Moby took the stage to remind guests that midterm elections are only two years away.
While trying to remain upbeat and positive about the future of Donald Trump’s presidential reign, Moby also said he also wants “to f–king crush the Republicans.”
“This past week it’s felt like God is on vacation and Satan is just sitting up there,” Moby continued. “First we won the election by not losing — thanks to the electoral college — and then Leonard Cohen died. The only thing getting me through was knowing that Saturday night I would be in a room of vegan animal rights activists. So thank you for helping me get through a really challenging week.”
Upon accepting the Compassion in Action award, Von D said, “being vegan changed my life in the best possible way. On the other hand, I literally lose sleep over this every day, knowing that so many animals are suffering. But being uncomfortable is not a good enough excuse to not fight for these animals.”
Lewis, who received the Friends, Not Food award pointed out that “rescuing animals is as much about rehabilitating them as it is about rehabilitating us. They teach us kindness, they teach us compassion and they teach us how to forgive.”
Stewart, who presented the Gift of Life award to Lapides, poked fun at his wife Tracey’s obsession with saving abused animals. This October, Jon and Tracey Stewart announced that they are partnering with Farm Sanctuary, to open the organization’s fourth location at their New Jersey farm.
“I never know what she’s going to come back with,” quipped Stewart. “It’s usually OK long as it’s not an animal of prey. We draw the line at panthers.”