The Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Critics’ Choice Awards and now the Oscars have made history this year by featuring plant-based-only menus. It seems only natural that LA’s young philanthropists would throw themselves into the movement by learning how to prepare plant-based Latin classics from celebrity chef Eddie Garza.
Last Thursday at Surfas, Chef Eddie taught members of Humane Generation, a philanthropy program of the Humane Society of the United States, how to prepare Colombian picadillo empanadas, Mexican chiles rellenos and more. The entirely plant-based menu was also 100% gluten-free, soy-free and nut-free so everyone was able to enjoy the final dishes. Each Humane Generation member brought at least one meat-eating friend.
"This was one of those extra special nights you never forget,” Garza said. “The amazing energy in the room when we all gathered together to celebrate the joint labor and interacted like family – equally sharing and listening – was just so overwhelming. I think the plant-based eaters and carnivores in attendance were equally delighted with the results.”
Garza, who is one of the HSUS’s culinary pros, ran this class like one he and his colleagues hold with foodservice directors, chefs, cooks and dietitians. Since 2015 the HSUS has trained nearly 11,000 culinarians at schools, colleges and universities, major corporations, hospitals and military bases on ways to incorporate more plant-based cooking, resulting in hundreds of millions of meatless meals being served across the country.
“By encouraging each Humane Generation member to invite a meat eater to attend, we were able to increase the organization's visibility within members' communities and circles of influence,” said Courtney Stroum Meagher, who runs HSUS’ Humane Generation program. “We’re also excited we were able to highlight the HSUS' efforts to improve the lives of farm animals and provide a tangible -- and edible -- plant-based takeaway that encouraged everyone in the room to make choices that favor the welfare of animals.”
Members of Humane Generation and their guests included: Michelle Trachtenberg, Angie Banicki, Nathan Turner, Kristin Vogelsong Lurie, Desiree Kohan, Humane Generation Chair Kimberly Ovitz, Minnie Mortimer and Victoria Gracie.
“Diversifying my kitchen is difficult, especially with kids, but the new ways to replace meat products with animal-friendly alternatives has inspired me to test out some new products and recipes in my home,” Gracie said. “The flavors were rich and hearty and felt genuine to their origins. Not only did we have fun in the kitchen, but we healthily feasted together. No post-meal guilt here! This was a fabulous event that should happen more often.”
Humane Generation plans to host a second cooking class in New York this spring and will be hosting a Humane Generation Summit in April 2021.
About Chef Eddie Garza
In addition to his work with the HSUS, Chef Garza is a cookbook author and leading figure in the movement to reform food systems in Hispanic communities. Garza and his work have been featured by many media outlets in the United States and Latin America, including CNN, ¡HOLA! TV, People en Español, Telemundo, Univision and many more. He has cooked for a host of plant-powered stars in the entertainment industry, including television host and model Daisy Fuentes, singer-songwriters Richard Marx and Rob Thomas, and actors Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Cybill Shepherd and Maria Conchita Alonso.
About Humane Generation
Humane Generation is the next generation philanthropy program of the Humane Society of the United States. The program cultivates mission-motivated, well-networked young leaders, forging a pathway to deeper engagement and advocacy for the welfare of animals. About 30 committee members, primarily divided between New York and Los Angeles, actively support numerous causes. Garza’s plant-based cooking class highlights the work of the HSUS farm animal protection campaign and plant-based culinary program.
About the Humane Society of the United States
Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States and its affiliates around the globe fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, the HSUS takes on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries, and together with its affiliates, rescues and provides direct care for over 100,000 animals every year. The HSUS works on reforming corporate policy, improving and enforcing laws and elevating public awareness on animal issues. More at humanesociety.org.