By Julia Simon
January 31, 2017
This Saturday from 7-10 p.m. at C3 Lab, animal rights advocates, authors, chefs, foodies, and fans will gather to celebrate The Humane League’s 4th year of making groundbreaking progress for animal rights in Charlotte (and beyond) at their annual Charlotte Gala. Our city’s growing interest in plant-based foods and lifestyle has been reflected in an increase in vegan options, inspired new activists and eco-friendly festivals. Charlotte VegFest (organized and underwritten by The Humane League) grew to 4,000 attendees last year and anticipates even greater crowds this year, in part due to THL’s outreach and campaigns. This year’s gala is also expected to be the biggest to date, with 120-150 people in attendance.
Gala revelers can expect a buffet of delicious drinks and mouthwatering vegan appetizers and desserts, open bar, and inspiring speakers, including Kristie Middleton, Senior Director of Food Policy at The Humane Society of the United States, as well as a packed silent auction that will help raise funds for THL’s 2017 campaigns. There’s also a VIP hour from 6-7 p.m. for those hoping to network with movement luminaries and enjoy organic juice-based cocktails and plant-based cheeses from Viva Raw.
We sat down with Maddie Segal (Charlotte Grassroots Director) and Andrea Gunn (Managing Director) to chat party details and what they’re most excited for at this year’s Gala.
CLTure: THL Charlotte’s Chapter is four years old this year, and the gala in part celebrates that birthday. What are some of your favorite accomplishments from this past year?
Maddie: We’ve gotten so much done this year, and that’s part of what we’ll be talking about at the gala – we’ll run through the numbers and talk about successes, and give out awards for notable local activists and actions from 2016. Nationally, THL got over 100 corporations to address farmed animal abuse in their policies (many went cage free on egg sourcing, for example), and that’s HUGE! We’ll talk about those national and international wins, as well as local campaign successes.
CLTure: So what’s your favorite part of the Charlotte Gala?
Maddie: The food! It’s a really good opportunity for businesses to show off that they’re vegan friendly. Sunburger is a new company this year and he’s doing some good stuff, Sunflour is doing some baked goods, Pinky’s is donating this year too — they’re so vegan friendly! Other deliciousness from businesses like Nourish, Masa Casa, Living Kitchen, Fern, and Terra Flora will be there, and this year we’re adding a vegan cheese bar that will include cultured cashew cheeses from Viva Raw, artisan almond cheese from SAMA Spread, and organic hummus from Roots hummus. Open bar wise, there’ll be local brews from Birdsong Brewing, kombucha from Lenny Boy, and a selection of vegan wines from Tryon Distribution. Other than that, I love the excuse to get fancy…There aren’t that many opportunities to do that, and to do it for a cause. What’s better than that?
Andrea: The food is what I hear that people love the most. The variety of food from so many different vendors. It’s a very special table, so many delicious local options and new places to learn about!
CLTure: Tell us about the swag at this year’s silent auction!
Maddie: It’s really fun to see how many companies get behind this event by donating. It’s not just vegan and vegetarian businesses! I find it really fun to meet new “reducitarians” and make new allies, all these different people that want to help end animal suffering. There’s so much to bid on this year: a vegan basket from Whole Foods Market Charlotte, a full hair salon service and cruelty-free hair care products from One The Salon, eco-friendly and vegan items from The Greener Apple, beer and swag from Sycamore Brewing, soaps from Small Key’s, plant based meat coupons from No Evil Foods, tickets to the Raptor Center, carpet cleaning from Prestige Chem Dry, a purse from Starling and Ivy, and more!
Andrea: And there’s a trip to Italy! It’s actually a national prize from all of our Galas, and we’ll announce the winner at the end of Gala season. So cool.
CLTure: This party is meant to bring our city’s animal rights scene together and honor past successes, but also fundraises for future THL campaigns. Any big plans for THL or our local office this year you’d like to let us in on?
Andrea: We’ll be more focused this year on empowering people to not only make a change in their diets and lifestyles, but to also give the community a voice with big corporations through targeted campaigns around the world.
Maddie: For example, we’re working on broiler chickens next. We have a few “asks” we make of these huge corporations that are all doable, but improve the lives of the animals involved drastically. And in this way, we make real change in the livelihoods of the animals in our food chain and take a step in the right direction.
Andrea: Right. So the message is not just You Can Go Vegan this year, it’s more You Can Go Vegan AND…Help Make The World a Better Place for Animals Too.
Maddie: Moving the spectrum of Animal Rights, is what I like to say we do (laughs).
Complimentary open bar and buffet are included, smart casual (or dressier) attire suggested.