On Oct. 4, the 2nd City Council Gallery hosted the third annual Compassionate Cuisine to celebrate World Vegetarian Day. Guests bid on auction items and tasted vegetarian fare that was so good that you could swear it was—oh, never mind, it was absolutely delicious in its own right, and if you weren’t there, you’ve got to go next year if only to eat. Of course, everyone took note of the reminders to vote YES on Proposition 2 to help stop inhumane treatment of animals, farm animals in particular.

Compassionate Cuisine benefits all programs, particularly humane education, at Animal Acres, a farmed animal sanctuary and compassionate cuisine. Long Beach resident Melissa Witul organized the event after visiting Animal Acres and decided to do something different in Long Beach to bring awareness to the sanctuary’s good works.

“I got together with two great committee members, Virginia DeMoss [co-founder of the Found Theatre] and Kristie Brewer. We all put our talents together—Virginia came up with the name and Kristie designed the logo—and three years ago, we gave it a go.”

The event has been increasingly successful every year, and it is now planned for a larger venue at the Earl Burns Miller Japanese Garden on Friday, Oct. 9, 2009, from 7–11 p.m.

Lori Bauston co-founded and directs Animal Acres, which is located in Acton, California. Bauston said that she grew up eating steak, potatoes and dairy and at the same time was a staunch animal lover.

“I had no idea that what I was eating had any relation to animals,” Bauston said. “Then, as a teenager, I thought, I love animals so much, why am I eating them?”

She now is working to end the inhumane treatment of what she calls the undercows, underchickens and underpigs. She is buoyed by the idea that there are now around 25 farm animal sanctuaries in the country and that large organizations like the Humane Society are behind Proposition 2. She has no desire to convert the carnivorous masses, but wants to educate them to the idea that anyone can help end animal suffering, whether they eat them or not.

“That’s a personal decision,” she said. “But we as humans have the responsibility to end the suffering of the most unfortunate in our society, and those are farm animals.”

“Ozma doesn’t know what to do with all the eggs we lay, and we are never eaten or harmed in any way, as chickens are in your country.” Billina the Hen, The Emerald City of Oz, L. Frank Baum

To contribute to or volunteer at Animal Acres, visit animalacres.org. Then sling on your overalls and go up there.

Visit yesonprop2.com to read the facts behind the proposition and to see how you can help pass it.

Here are some moments that Pet Post writer Judy Crumpton recorded and the humane people whom she interviewed at this dynamic event. All photos by Judy Crumpton.

Raw in the family: Vegans Antoinette and Ramon Rascon and their 9-month-old son, Esiah.

View of the banquet table and discerning diner.

“You’re not cheating yourself of anything here!” said Lynda Sheklow of Native Foods, regarding all the great vegan stuff there was to eat.

One World Vegetarian Cuisine

Whole Foods

Native Foods

Follow Your Heart

Zephyr Vegetarian Café in Long Beach


Musical entertainment was provided by Makena and True on Earth.

Generous donors provided donations for a gentle life—everything from cruelty-free food for people to grass for the cat.

A walk in the garden.

The information table.

He went from hunting to humane: Anthony Kalaj of Whittier, seated left with his wife Terryl, said that he’d been conditioned to eat meat and hunt, but quit hunting 10 years ago, and now uses a camera instead. “I felt guilty,” he said. “We’ve been conditioned to think we need meat. After I found out how the animals are being treated, I freaked out.” The Kalajes haven’t gone veggie yet, but they’re trying it out.

Jane Velez-Mitchell, former KCAL news anchor, television personality and winner of two Genesis awards for her reports on animal cruelty, was a terrific mistress of ceremonies whose bark and bite were about equal. “Most people are shocked when they find out that pigs, which are as intelligent as young children, are kept in crates the size of their bodies, never able to turn around. The meat and dairy industry has gone to great lengths to keep those images away from the public because they know, inherently, that they are wrong. Californians are going to make the right choice in November—we are compassionate people.”

“Three great committee members”: Compassionate Cuisine’s organizing committee, consisting of Virginia DeMoss, Melissa Witul and Kristie Brewer

 “Our gallery has two missions: supporting art and art education, and community. That’s part of our official mission.”—Cheryl Bennett, with husband Dwight. The Bennetts operate 2nd City Gallery and have generously offered their gallery for Compassionate Cuisine.

Lori Bauston, Animal Acres co-founder and president. “This is something any human can do.”

Heather Carpenter, HSUS staff member; Paul Shapiro, senior director of Farmed Animal Campaign, Paul Shapiro and Jane Garrison, LA County Coordinator for YES on Prop 2. “There’s never been an animal issue where one single vote can alleviate as much suffering as Proposition 2,” Garrison said. “None of us would ever dream of confining our pets in filthy, cramped cages, and we shouldn’t force farm animals to endure such misery either.”

“I couldn’t be more pleased by the broad base of support the YES on Prop 2 campaign has garnered,” Shapiro added. “It’s clear that Californians don’t want to see farm animals confined in tiny cages in which they can barely move for their whole lives. Anyone concerned about preventing some of the worst animal cruelty will surely vote YES.”