Animal Planet Makes Foray Into Food Programming (Exclusive)

6:00 AM PST 03/29/2011 by Marisa Guthrie
Danielle Konya

The Discovery Communications network orders 12 episodes of "Sweet Avenger," about a vegan baker and animal lover.

NEW YORK -- Animal Planet is making a foray into a genre that has been a meal ticket for many of its cable competitors. The Discovery Communications network has ordered 12 episodes of Sweet Avenger, about a vegan baker who is out to save animals one cupcake at a time.

The docusoap centers on animal rights activist and vegan baker Danielle Konya, the 36-year-old founder and owner of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based Vegan Treats. The series is set to bow this summer and revolves around Konya’s busy life — she’s a single mother raising an adopted daughter – and her growing business, which she runs with a little help from her mom and best friend.

“I want to show people that by eating a vegan confection, you’re directly saving the lives of cows, chickens and thereby the environment and habitats of thousands of other exotic species,” says Konya. “There’s nothing appetizing about the suffering of 10 billion animals a year, and my treats can satisfy both the palate and the conscience.”

Konya’s creations have won her fans among Hollywood’s celebrity vegans including Alicia Silverstone and Joan Jett. And Sweet Avenger should also ingratiate Animal Planet to animal rights activists.

The network’s Taking on Tyson, which documents former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson’s entry into the world of competitive pigeon racing, has drawn criticism from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals despite Tyson’s life-long affinity for the birds. But the network’s Whale Wars, which chronicles the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s ongoing struggle to end Japanese whaling, has earned high marks from conservationists.  

“Animal Planet made a big brand statement with Whale Wars,” said Marjorie Kaplan, president and general manager of Animal Planet. “Now with Sweet Avenger, muscular conservation has a deliciously different new face.”

Sweet Avenger is produced by Optomen Productions. Monica Ramone, Dominic Stobart and Nicola Moody are executive producers for Optomen. Melinda Toporoff is executive producer for Animal Planet.

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