A few years before his death, Sam Simon—animal activist and co-creator of the television series The Simpsons—asked Moonlite Bunny Ranch owner Dennis Hof to be on his radio show. During the program, Simon asked Hof, “In all the years I’ve known you, Hof, I’ve never asked you for one favor, have I?”
“No, you haven’t,” Hof said.
“Well, I’m going to ask you for one now,” Simon replied.
“I want the Bunny Ranch to start participating in Meatless Mondays.”
“You got it,” Hof said without hesitation, and ever since, Meatless Mondays at the Ranch have been going strong.
Founded nearly 14 years ago, the international Meatless Monday campaign was created by marketing guru Sid Lerner and for years has drawn celebrity support from Oprah Winfrey, Paul McCartney, Mario Batali, and Sheryl Crow. The Ranch’s inclusion of vegan food might shock some, as the venue is a world-famous legal brothel that’s been open for business since the 1950s.
“We’ve cut back on meat consumption by 21 percent since we started Meatless Mondays two-and-a-half years ago,” Hof said. “And it has made us more conscientious of what we serve on other nights of the week. In fact, since Meatless Monday has been implemented, we’ve committed to adding at least one vegan side dish or entrée to the rest of the week’s menus.”
Vegan menu options at the Ranch include stir-fry vegetables, stuffed mushrooms, jasmine rice, kale pesto pasta, vegan burgers, tofu, and an array of desserts. They even have a round-the-clock salad bar full of fresh fruit and vegetables. Having vegan food on-site for Meatless Mondays has benefited the staff and the customers, current Bunny of the Year Caressa Kisses says.
“My favorite entrée at the Ranch is lemon pepper tofu and stir-fry veggie,” Kisses says.“I’ve always known how to eat healthy because I was an operating room nurse. But after Meatless Mondays started at the Ranch, I began to seriously reconsider my diet. In fact, since it has started, I’ve cut way back on my meat intake. I’m close to being vegan and I’ve lost eight pounds.”
The thought of Hof being an animal lover and activist might be surprising, but he’s an ally of four-legged friends. The 69-year-old is a supporter of NoBearHuntNV.org, a coalition of individuals and organizations opposed to a regulation allowing Nevada’s small bear population to be hunted. Historically, bears in Nevada have been protected until 2011, when the State Wildlife Commission passed a regulation allowing an inaugural bear hunt. According to Las Vegas Review-Journal, 14 bears were killed in the third hunt season and that number has unfortunately increased since.
Hof also allows herds of wild horses—native to the Carson City, NV area—to graze on ranch property. “The bloodline of the beautiful wild horses dates back to the 1850s,” Hof says. “I want them to be able to roam freely and have a happy life.” These days, Hof’s constant companion is his beloved black-and-white dog Domino (who happens to be the star of the HBO series Cathouse).
“I’ve always had a soft spot for animals,” Huf says. “I was happy to oblige when Sam asked me to partake in the Meatless Mondays movement, and we will continue in his [Simon’s] honor. He was a good man and great role model for others looking to help animals.”
Erin Goldmeier is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Radar Online, PETA Prime, The Virgin Atlantic Airways Blog, and Southwest Virginia Living.