Tag Archives: Animal Slaughter

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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There Is Nothing Wrong With An Emotional Response

I don’t hate the word “emotional” but I’m careful how I use it.  The reason is because it’s a word usually associated with weakness, hysteria, and is often assigned to females, implying some out-of-control aspect of their response to a situation.  What I’ve also noticed is that the word is sometimes used interchangeably to describe an overreaction even though having an emotional response and overreacting are not the same things.  Related, yes, but not the same things.  When people learn to restrain or control their emotions, it’s not that they’ve learned not to feel anything but rather they’ve learned to control how they display their responses to particular feelings.  This can be a good thing if you’re hot-tempered (like I am) but unhealthy if it means suppressing something that is fundamentally wrong, such as people who work in slaughterhouses and have to basically die a little themselves in order to carry out a very traumatic job day after day.   I suppose what I’m saying is that the term “emotional” is one I would use more were it not for some of the stereotypes that accompany it, including how it relates to one’s reaction to animal suffering. Continue reading

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Childish Things

Do you remember when you were a kid and thought Santa Claus was real? In fact, most of us did more than just think he was real, we believed it.  Why?  Likely because our parents and other adults in our lives told us so each year at Christmas.  Our belief in this magical tale was further bolstered with such stories and annual TV specials like, The Night Before Christmas or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

And do you remember when you found out it was bullshit?  Hopefully when you did you were of an age that was old enough not to be insulted nor completely devastated by it either.  I found out when I was nine or ten and it was by accident.  I used to love going through my mom’s jewellery box as a kid, usually while she was getting ready to go out.  I would try on her rings and bracelets and she would tell me the history of some pieces.  One day I opened a tiny box I’d always wondered about and found a bunch of teeth in there.  For some reason – I don’t know why – I thought they belonged to my Nana who had recently passed away.  When I asked about them, it was then that my mother looked sheepishly at me and told me they were mine. Continue reading

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A War Ignored

Today is Remembrance Day in Canada and a deservedly important one.  As I wrote this time last year, I fully believe in taking the time to recognize the people who have dedicated their lives to the service of their country and whose sacrifice has allowed me to live as freely as I do today.

I have never been directly affected by war.  Though I have lost distant relatives to it, they were not people I knew or would have ever known even if they had lived to die of natural causes.  I have never had my house bombed, never been forced to flee my country, never had to live in a refugee camp.  I have never had to ration food, hide my nationality or change my name just to survive.  I have never lost a spouse, sibling or child to war and I don’t even personally know anyone who has.  “Lucky” does not begin to explain how fortunate I am to live the life I do. Continue reading

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