Mercy for Animals Finds Perfect Balance Between Entertainment and Activism, Raises 1.8 Million at Annual Gala

Mercy for Animals Hidden Heroes Gala
Image via MercyForAnimals/Instagram

Mercy for Animals is on a roll. Within the short three month span of September to November, this LA-based animal rights non-profit will have launched a new book penned by its founder, hosted its extravagant Hidden Heroes annual fundraising gala, and pulled off its second vegan festival and benefit concert, Circle V.

Mercy for Animals is plowing full steam ahead, and thanks to the $1.8 million dollar fundraising success of the Hidden Heroes Gala last month, the organization has the financial support and influencer endorsement to fuel its forward momentum.

On September 30th, an exclusive crowd of plant-based celebrities, influencers, food industry leaders, and activists gathered at the gorgeous Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles for the Hidden Heroes Gala. The goal was to raise funds for the organization’s operations, thank its supporters, and honor the individuals who have made significant contributions to the cause – often at a great sacrifice to themselves.

The evening featured a robust silent auction, an engaging reception,a four course vegan dinner, an entertaining awards presentation, live auction, and finally, a starlit after party, complete with vegan sushi and a silent disco. In short, the night was a true red carpet event – the Academy Awards equivalent of the animal rights non-profit world.

Celebrities at the MFA Gala
Evanna Lynch with Elliot Knight, image via MercyForAnimals/Instagram

Dozens of vegan leather stilettos and dress shoes graced the event’s red carpet, adorned by some of the most famous plant-based influencers. Celebrities included Evanna Lynch with Elliot Knight, Carrie Ann Inaba, Leona Lewis, Moby, and Diane Warren, among others. Plant-based industry leaders such as Miyoko Schinner, Kat Von D, and Micah Risk also attended. To round out the crowd, activists and social media influencers like Constantin (Vegan Club) and Tim Moore (Vegan Fat Kid) completed the star-studded guest list. All were dressed to impress, decked out in statement making gowns and expertly tailored suits.

Guests mingled and nibbled on plant-based bites prior to entering the grand ballroom of the Vibiana. Standouts include the Treeline cheese plates and delectable hors d’oeuvres provided by Tofurky (we’ll admit to chasing down the server with the puff pastry-wrapped vegan sausage topped with sauerkraut). Attendees also stealthily attempted to outbid each other over the silent auction items, taking breaks to pose for the interactive photo booth. The four-course dinner began with hot rolls served with delightfully rich Miyoko’s vegan butter, in addition to a generous sampling of Miyoko’s vegan cheesesThe meal continued with a compressed watermelon salad, a savory rosemary risotto cake and spicy Italian sausage from Hungry Planet –– run by brother and sister co-owners Jody and Todd Boyman –– and finally, a chocolate olive oil cake.

Vegan Hors D'oeuvres
Plant-based hors d’oeuvres by Tofurky, image via MercyForAnimals/Instagram

The gala was both glamorous and inspiring, indulgent yet purposeful. Despite the multiple entertainment aspects, guests did not lose sight of the mission to end factory farming. The dinner and awards program recognized the true “hidden heroes” within Mercy for Animal’s undercover investigation staff. These dedicated individuals put themselves at risk to reveal the atrocities of factory farming. Their work has led to increased awareness and even some changes within the inhumane industry. Various video clips from these investigations were projected throughout the hall, adding a very sobering element to the environment. However, these images also served to remind guests that there is still work to do. The awardees were each given the opportunity to speak, and they all elevated the mood by inciting hope amongst the audience. By practicing and sharing compassion, we can create lasting, positive change. Mercy for Animals Founder, Nathan Runkle, echoed their sentiments by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.”

The formal program concluded with a rousing call to action in the form of donating dollars. Runkle was joined onstage by Ari Solomon, Vice President of Communications, and the evening’s honorees. Together they energetically asked the audience for their financial support. The pledges began at one hundred thousand dollars, which would fund an entire undercover investigation. Hands were raised, pledge cards distributed, and the room livened up. Runkle slowly made his way down in major increments (50K, 25K, 10K, 5K, 2.5K, 1K, and 500), and each amount was tied to a specific cost. For example, 25K will fund an entire drone investigation, whereas $500 will cover the costs of the masks, boots, and protective clothing needed by the undercover investigators. Encouraged by the cause and Runkle’s dynamic stage presence, guests enthusiastically opened their wallets, raising over one million dollars within twenty minutes. The evening was an astounding success.

Want to experience a Mercy for Animals event for yourself? Those in the Los Angeles area will have the opportunity to support the organization and enjoy a full day of top notch entertainment at the November 18th Circle V festival and concert. This inclusive, far more casual affair, will feature some of the most crave-worthy vegan food in Los Angeles, speaker panels, and musical performances. Purchase your ticket and check out the extensive line up of vendors, speakers, and musicians. Nosh on some delectable vegan food, meet your favorite plant-based influencers, and dance the night away while promoting compassion and an end to factory farming. With Mercy for Animals, its always a win-win.

Find Tanya on Instagram and The Vegan Potluck Podcast. 

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