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PETA honors Ellen DeGeneres and Tim Gunn

After winning the PETA honors, DeGeneres and Gunn will join some mighty fine people like Oprah Winfrey and West Virginia senator Robert Byrd

Los Angeles, January 1 -- American comedienne and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and style guru Tim Gunn have been named 2009 Woman of the Year and Man of the Year by People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for their efforts to promote a lifestyle which is friendly to nature.

On Wednesday, PETA awarded its highest honor to not one, but two individuals who have stood up for their beliefs to stop animal cruelty.

DeGeneres and Gunn PETA’s idols
The high-profile animal rights group bestowed the title of Woman of the Year on talk-show host and the new American Idol judge DeGeneres for campaigning to stop animal cruelty, while simultaneously awarding PETA’s Man of the Year to “Project Runway” host Tim Gunn.

“Tim Gunn and Ellen DeGeneres show is that one person really can make a difference in the world by rejecting cruel deeds in favor of compassionate acts,” says PETA president Ingrid Newkirk. “Their message that animals must be treated kindly and respectfully has reached scores of people, and many of them have changed their buying habits, all because Gunn and DeGeneres spoke up for the voiceless.”

Veganism earned DeGeneres the title
PETA praised DeGeneres' decision to go vegan in 2008 and her use of her popular talk show to "highlight a cruelty-free lifestyle".

The talk show host explained her decision to give up animal products on her official Web site, saying: "I personally chose to go vegan because I educated myself on factory farming and cruelty to animals, and I suddenly realized that what was on my plate were living things, with feelings."

Gunn praised for anti-fur stance
Gunn, who is also the creative director at fur-free Liz Claiborne Inc., also was praised for his anti-fur stance.

In addition to narrating PETA's video, "Fashion Victims", which focuses on the fur trade and the sometimes violent methods used to skin snakes, Gunn also regularly touts compassionate designers who use mock croc, fake snake, and other animal-friendly fabrics, PETA says in a news release.

"Wearing fur is like wearing a big sign reading, 'I'm in favor of inflicting cruelty and pain on animals as a fashion statement,'" Los Angeles Times recently quoted Gunn as saying.

Both DeGeneres and Gunn will receive an award plaque and a letter of appreciation from PETA.

After winning the PETA honors, DeGeneres and Gunn will join some mighty fine people like Oprah Winfrey and West Virginia senator Robert Byrd.

Oprah won the PETA Person of the Year award in 2008 for highlighting puppy mills, factory farms and a vegan diet on her talk show. Sen. Byrd won the title in 2007 for using his political position to draw attention to issues like dog fighting and humane slaughter legislation.