Category Archives: Around Town

A Place To Breathe

The Toronto Veg Fest was this weekend and for the second year in a row I had the chance to volunteer with Mercy for Animals, one of my favourite animal protection agencies. They are organized, on-time, and they know what they’re doing. Not only does this appeal to the Type-A side of my personality but it also makes volunteering that much more fulfilling. When you can focus on the animals instead of whose supposed to be doing what, it’s much easier to remain positive and engaged with the task at hand and it removes unnecessary frustration and stress. Continue reading

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If We Can’t Advocate for Animals Now, When?

One of the most common “arguments” animal-eaters use against vegans is that we should be putting humans problems first, as if we can’t simultaneously care for humans and animals or that speaking up on behalf of animals must mean we don’t care about the suffering our own species. These are long-held assumptions that are not only false but are indicative of two things in our society: 1) we don’t value animals very much and 2) we don’t want to believe that we might be part of the problem when it comes to how animals are treated.  Continue reading

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Making Animals Visible Again

I’ve been out of a job for nearly three weeks now and the upside of that is it’s allowed me the chance to do more activism.  I had a job interview on Monday and though I’m still actively looking for work, I’ve welcomed this time to get out there and do some of the things I couldn’t do when I was working full-time. One of those things was attending slaughterhouse vigils with Toronto Pig Save, an animal rights group here in Toronto.

I don’t want to assume everyone knows what vigils are so here it is: vigils consist of standing outside slaughterhouses, on public property, and watching the animals marked for slaughter come in on trucks. The purpose is to document what is happening to them with photos and videos, and to also raise awareness by holding informative signs visible to the public driving or walking by. Inspired by the writings of Leo Tolstoy, “bearing witness” to the suffering of another living being is a powerful act: it is upsetting, yes, but when you see it with your own eyes, and happening in your own city, it does push you to do more. The pain you feel from seeing suffering up close also becomes the force that drives you to keep going. A double-edged sword, to be sure, but one I feel honoured to carry. Continue reading

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“What Difference Does It Make?”

The title of this blog is in quotes because those are the words that someone yelled at us last week at a vigil in front of Maple Leaf Foods, a chicken slaughterhouse here in Toronto. Actually, his precise words were, What FUCKING difference does it make? but I decided to edit that part out since it doesn’t make for as strong a title. The man who yelled at us was an employee and it was after two truckloads of chickens – about 7,000 birds per truck – had been driven onto the property and were being held in an area prior to slaughter.

This is only the second vigil with Toronto Pig Save that I’ve been to.  The first was in 2015 when I joined in one held at Maple Leaf Foods, St. Helen’s Meat Packers and Ryding Regency Meat Packers, all three which are located very close-by to one another (both St. Helen’s and Ryding slaughter cows, calves and lambs, Maple Leaf slaughters birds).  Although nothing can ever prepare you completely, I was more mentally ready this past week and had at least some idea of what I was going to see.  And smell.  Even just standing outside of a slaughterhouse on a chilly night in November, the smell of blood and feces and raw flesh hangs in the air. It’s an unmistakable stench and all the Styrofoam, refrigeration and plastic wrap in the world could never make me forget it.  Continue reading

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Willful Ignorance is the Real Crime

Yikes – it’s been nearly three months since I’ve written a blog post. There’s been no good reason for it, although I did start a new job two weeks ago so my schedule has changed quite a bit.  Mainly my lack of writing has been a combination of procrastination and feeling overwhelmed. One thing I am never far from as a vegan is the awareness of animal suffering. It’s everywhere – in ads, in movies, in conversation, and yet their suffering is made invisible through euphemisms (e.g., “pork” and “beef”) or conveniently ignoring animals as the original victim despite humans often claiming to know how it feels to suffer as they do (e.g., “we were treated like animals”).  Sometimes I go through bouts of not being able to process any of it at all, feeling completely incapacitated by the sheer scale of the issues surrounding animals and their current place of value and low priority in our world. Continue reading

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Activism and the End Goal

I had the pleasure of attending Toronto’s Pride Parade this year and, for the third year in a row, marching with Mercy for Animals, one of the over 180 participants walking alongside so many other great organizations. For someone who hated parades even as a kid because of the crowds, it’s a testament not only to how much I believe in the work MFA is doing but to the genuine fun that is the Pride Parade. Obviously it was not always this way – Pride Week in Toronto evolved from the now-infamous 1981 Bathhouse Raids, where Toronto Police violently raided and arrested over 300 people from the LGBT community. It was only this year that the Toronto Police Chief issued a formal apology for those actions.

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