People who care about animals, about healthful eating and about the environment are finding common ground -- "finally the right idea at the right time," said a cardiologist who was among the speakers at a dinner at vegan hot spot Crossroads.
Dr. Dean Ornish, a professor of medicine at UC San Francisco, also said that many health problems can be prevented or even reversed with diet and exercise.
While the organizers of the Monday night dinner in Los Angeles, the animal rescue and advocacy organization Farm Sanctuary, promote a vegan diet, Ornish noted that every bit helps. Not ready to turn vegan? Meatless Monday is a start. "What's personally sustainable is globally sustainable," he said.
A plant-based diet would save "an enormous amount of water" during California's drought, said Gene Baur, co-founder and president of Farm Sanctuary.
"People are starting to want to eat in a way they feel good about," he said.
Baur said the evening was primarily meant to raise awareness. "This restaurant is a great example of the food we can be eating -- good for us and good for the planet. ... If we can live well and not do harm, why wouldn't we?
The food cooked by chef Tal Ronnen at Crossroads is an indication that it's "never been a better time to be a vegan," he said.
Actress Emily Deschanel, actor Kevin Nealon and musician
Also on the panel before dinner was Timothy Pachirat, author of "Every Twelve Seconds," a book about slaughterhouses. He noted that 27 million animals are slaughtered every day; he worked undercover at a slaughterhouse because he wanted to learn "how violence was structured in our everyday lives," he said.
Ornish said it's easy to feel overwhelmed by problems in the world, but offered this prescription: a plant-based diet, yoga, meditation, loving more and moving more.
Diners, who paid $200 a ticket, ate, among other dishes, kale Caesar salad, roasted Brussels sprouts with pine nuts and maple mustard vinaigrette, kabocha squash with onions and harissa-toasted pumpkin seeds, pumpkin mousse and spice cake. Proceeds went to Farm Sanctuary.